On Edgerton, Wisconsin’s Police Dog

There’s an old expression that “every dog gets one free bite.” The expression is sensible — a person may do something wrong, but one should be lenient with a first offense. One could apply the expression to either dogs or people — an initial misdeed offers no prior history or warning for misconduct.

I’m sure public safety officials in Edgerton are familiar with the expression, but I they apparently have no grasp of its implication: that one should react more strictly to a second misdeed, from dogs or people. The second bite’s not free.

Edgerton, Wisconsin has a population of approximately five-thousand. Most of that number are probably very sensible people; regrettably, not enough of those sensible people are distributed among those in local government.

I know that that must be true, because after an Edgerton police dog has twice without command attacked someone, it yet remains an Edgerton police canine. See, Edgerton police dog will stay on job.

The two-year old dog, a German Shepherd, “on Monday bit and significantly injured the arm and face of Stephanie Balis, an administrative assistant at the police department.”

Here are the details of German shepherd’s latest bite attack:

In a report to the committee at a special meeting Friday, [Edgerton Police Chief] Klubertanz admitted he made the mistake of leaving a fledgling police dog untied and without a muzzle inside his office at the department, moments before it bit Balis.

“We had an unfortunate accident. I feel bad that it happened. I have since day one,” Klubertanz told the committee Friday.

Klubertanz said he had brought the dog into the police department Monday morning, leashed and muzzled, to show it to workers. He took the dog to his office and removed its muzzle so it could chew a treat Balis had given it earlier. He said he untied the dog for a moment while searching for some files.

That’s when the bites occurred.

According to a department report, Balis approached Klubertanz’s office from a darkened hallway carrying some paperwork. The dog was startled, and went into the hallway, Klubertanz said.

Balis declined an interview, but her husband, Marc Balis, said Balis was in the hall near the chief’s office when she heard a growl and saw the dog lunge at her.

As Balis threw her hand up to block her face from bites, the dog clamped its jaws onto her arm, her husband said. The dog then bit Balis’s nose and cheek before Klubertanz was able to pull it away, her husband claims.

Klubertanz claims the dog, which is trained to protect its handler, became defensive and must not have heard his commands to stop.

The bites required 16 stitches on Balis’s arm and face, and one of her nostrils was “tore open” by the bites, her husband said.

I write that this is the latest biting atack by the dog, beause earlier “[o]n April 13, during training at Steinig Tal kennel, Campbellsport, the dog bit a city of Wisconsin Dells K-9 officer who was training another dog, a Wisconsin Dells Police Department report said. The Wisconsin Dells officer was handing a leash to another officer when Edgerton’s police dog lunged and bit the officer’s left wrist and right hand, causing puncture wounds and a laceration, the report said.”

One dog, two incidents. That’s at least one too many. It’s also why, according the the Gazette story, Edgerton’s insurer has recommended that the city should replace the dog.

Seems sensible, doesn’t it? If a police dog bites, and fails to obey commands, it gets replaced by a more obedient, disciplined dog. The city would still have a police dog, but one that wouldn’t bite other police officers or office workers.

That the city wants to continue training the dog is secondary to the dog’s current inability to behave as commanded. That alone should disqualify the dog from current service. After two bites, a sensible city would send the dog away, and find another.

I suppose, as an alternative, the City of Edgerton could buy hockey pads and face masks for all its workers, and later all its residents. That would, though, cost far more than getting a new dog, and those protective garments would be uncomfortable in summer weather.

For those who wonder how aggressive these dogs can be, I have embedded a video of police dogs when attacking . (The name of the video is When Police Dogs Attack, but I’m not embedding it to tease, as the title is not mine. Rather, I am including it to show how strong and powerful these dogs can be.)


One might grow attached to a dog, but a service animal is meant to help defend people from crime, not to injure other police officers or innocent people. Here’s a community that would be better off with another dog, and officials sensible enough to know as much.

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