An incident between a drug dog and an 18 month old girl at the Carbon County Events Center during the Preparedness Fair on March 26 was a total accident according to county law enforcement officials.
Wally Hendricks, and Carbon Carbon County Sheriff Canine Officer, and Chester, a chocolate labrador drug dog, were at the event with many other kinds of dogs, including crowd control dogs and cadaver dogs, to demonstrate to show goers how the dogs operate on their trained functions. In many cases people were surrounding the officers and their dogs, with a lot of people petting the animals.
According to Hendricks the incident that took place was totally an accident.
"I was standing there with Chester and a little girl was petting him and loving him," said Hendricks in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. "Suddenly I saw the dogs head turn quickly and the next thing I knew another childs hand was in the dogs mouth. As I was bending to free her from Chester, the childs mom realized what had happened and pulled the child back. That left some scratches on the childs hand which was immediatelly treated by the paremedics there. We then had her taken to the hospital to be sure there were no other problems."
However, Hendricks pointed out that the dog did not just grab the childs hand for no reason; the tike was carrying around what appeared to be a hot dog bun with a hot dog in it and the dog saw food and thought he was being fed.
"Chester likes food more than anything," said Hendricks. "He just thought it was a treat."
Hendricks said he has never had an incident like that before and he has been dealing with law enforcement dogs for many years, both in Carbon county and in Duchesne county where he worked before.
County Sheriff James Cordova said that the incident was not typical of the dogs behavior, yet followed a pattern of what the dog likes.
"Chester is a character and he loves food," stated Cordova. "But he isn't mean at all. He went for the hot dog and just got the whole hand instead."
Law enforcement dogs are usually training in one function. Some are used for detecting drugs, as Chester is , some are used for cadaver searches and still others are used for crowd control or pursuit.
Hendricks pointed out that is against the law for people to to feed law enforcement dogs.
Often dogs are trained with dog snacks or food so they don't know the difference between something that is being offered to them and a training exercise.
Both Cordova and Hendricks offered their regrets concerning the situation.