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K9 Care and Handler Compensation.doc

K9 Care and Handler Compensation.doc - Written by Sergeant...

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K9 Care and Handler Compensation Written by Sergeant Bill Lewis II (Retired) How does one establish what is a reasonable amount of off-duty time to care for a police service dog and determine justifiable compensation? It may come as no surprise to anyone associated with law enforcement to learn that there are differing opinions as to the proper and reasonable method to compensate K9 handlers for the off-duty care and maintenance of their police service dogs. I am currently consulting on two California cases involving handlers' compensation which has provided me the recent opportunity to research the matter and form various opinions and recommendations. First and foremost, there is no case law, generic template or magic formula that exists for off-duty care and maintenance compensation that will universally apply to every agency with a police K9 program. Secondly, compensation should be based on justification. What is care and maintenance? Each agency should determine the specific activities that will be required of the K9 handler for off-duty and on-duty care and maintenance and specify those activities in a written policy or operations manual. An agency should then confirm that each K9 handler has read and understands the applicable policies and procedures and can provide the necessary care and maintenance. According to the Department of Labor, bathing, brushing, exercising, feeding, grooming, cleaning of the dog's kennel or transport vehicle, administering drugs or medicine for illness and/or transporting the dog to and from an animal hospital or veterinarian and training the dog at home are all compensable activities. Off-duty care and maintenance activities identified by an agency and those activities identified by the Department of Labor as compensable can be different and should not be considered synonymous for the purpose of differentiating off-duty and on-duty activities. The Department of Labor does not specify those activities that are to be conducted on-duty or off-duty, only that they are compensable. An agency will determine which of these activities will be performed on-duty or off-duty and the appropriate compensation. For example, an agency may decide that training is a compensable activity that will be performed only on-duty or with authorized overtime. The care and maintenance of a police service dog by a new K9 handler should not be presumed. The activities to properly care for the police service dog should ideally be identified, presented and demonstrated if necessary to the new handler by a qualified police service dog trainer and K9 supervisor during the basic training school or "bonding" time period prior to basic training. It is the responsibility of the handler and the supervisor to understand exactly what type of care and maintenance is required as well as an estimated time to generally perform those activities.
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