When you think of using dogs to attack and scare inmates, you probably think of the inhumane conditions at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison where years of human torture occurred. But actually, using dogs to scare and hurt inmates is not something you only see in a torture prison. In fact, it's a legal tactic in 5 states
.Sign on if you think Utah, Delaware, Connecticut, South Dakota and Iowa should stop this inhumane practice.
Using animals as weapons in this way is so wrong. They train dogs, lots of times German Shepherds or other working dogs, to be so aggressive that they literally attack, bite and drag prisoners from their cells
. This is horrifying on so many levels. First of all, no human being, regardless of their crime, should be physically attacked while serving their sentence. Second of all, the dogs they are using are being exploited and used as weapon
Usually a guard will bring a dog outside an imate's cell, unmuzzle it — because it has been trained to be extremely aggressive and requires a muzzle when dealing with handlers —and allow it to bark and terrify an inmate. Inmates will try wrapping their arms with towels, blankets and even paper towels to try to protect themselves from what comes next.
The dog is then released into the cell to bite the inmate and drag them out of their cell. The dogs are trained to take a "deep and full mouth bite" on whatever part of the inmate they get to first.
Another problem with this heinous practice is that many inmates in the U.S. are severely mentally ill folks who end up in prison due to lack of social services on the outside that could have helped them thrive. In some cases, mentally ill folks will respond to an attack dog in a way that makes the dog become even more aggressive, thus making mentally ill inmates extremely vulnerable targets for dog attacks.
These "cell extractions" are used when an inmate won't leave voluntarily, which could mean anything from not moving quickly enough to not understanding the instruction due to mental illness to being afraid of the guards or other inmates due to the rampant violence in prisons. None of those reasons warrants a violent animal attack.
We should not be training dogs to do this. Dogs that are trained to be this aggressive against humans will have a very hard time getting re-homed after they're done working, meaning that most probably get euthanized. That means these dogs live short lives marked by violence — and no dog deserves that. Please sign on to ask these five states to ban the practice of using attack dogs on prisoners.