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Deputies Try New Approach with Unruly Animals

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies are using new tools to protect themselves and animals when responding to complaints.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies have to put themselves into a lot of dangerous situations, and some of them involve animals.

Deputies now undergo training to show them how to be more effective in dealing with animals, so fewer officers and animals get hurt, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

Authorities' response to animal complaints was questioned recently when an officer in St. Petersburg fatally shot and killed an elderly golden retriever, and when a Manatee County deputy shot a pet dog in its owner's yard after a mistaken call to 911. The animal had to be euthanized.

At the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department on Thursday, deputies demonstrated how they capture and contain animals in their squad cars by using a pole. At a news conference, they also demonstrated techniques they use to calm distressed animals. Gualtieri said that using the methods has kept deputies from using lethal force in some extreme sitations, which included corralling an alligator.

Gualtieri reaffirmed his department's commitment to responding to all complaints, even those involving unruly animals. 

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