A POLICE operation has been launched as officers change the way they respond to ‘dangerously out of control’ dogs in Dorset.

Operation Indie is to become Dorset Police’s standard response when a dog has bitten a human or killed another animal.

The county force said it was forced to change the way it responds to dog attacks following a rise in incidents.

Operation Indie will mean that when a dog is involved in an incident, a dog handler will be deployed to the offending dog’s home address.

The handler will then carry out a risk assessment and give advice that has been written up by a top dog behaviourist in the UK.

The aim is to keep the dog from being seized, while putting the onus on the owner to prove responsible dog ownership.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “Seizing a dog is the last resort and so if people can show that they are doing everything to ensure that the dog cannot bite again, then we prefer the dog stay at home for its own welfare.

“However, if a bite is so bad then it would leave us with no option but to seize.”

The force is also ensuring dog handlers are receiving the appropriate training to respond to incidents.

The spokesperson added: “We are lucky enough that unlike some other forces, our handlers on the dog section will all be dart delivery trained by April 2024 and so instead of seeing a dog out of control in public being shot dead, officers can attend and sedate the dog and then transport it to a vet.

“The vet can administer whatever care the dog may need as sometimes a dog’s actions can be because they are suffering an injury that we cannot see. “

As reported, a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed 317 dog attacks were reported in the force area between January 1 and October 31, 2023 – an increase on the previous three years.

Dorset Police suggested the rise is “likely to be the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic”, when a lot of people brought dogs during lockdown and these dogs were not “suitably environmentally trained”.