Liability Issues for Law Enforcement

Liability Issues for Law Enforcement
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2019-12-05
Unit 1Slide Deck: Liability Issues for Law Enforcement
Unit 2Workbook: Liability Issues for Law Enforcement
Unit 3Recording: Liability Issues for Law Enforcement

The realm of public safety, criminal justice, and animal control protects its personnel by granting some immunities that allow them to perform their duties. However, there are limitations to these and in some instances, liabilities may arise. Something that can be difficult to avoid in officer-involved shooting, seizures, and dangerous dog cases.

Returning to Justice Clearinghouse is Claudine Wilkins, Founder of Animal Law Source and the Animal Law, Enforcement, Veterinary, and Shelter Symposium (ALEVSS) in Atlanta, GA. She is a renowned subject matter expert providing training in animal law and crimes.

Specifics she touched on in this session include:

  • The concept of liability and the parties typically involved.
  • Defining ownership of animals based on state and case laws.
  • The laws that are commonly used to sue police departments for dog shooting cases.
  • The tedious process of proving Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) in torts.
  • The factors that influence whether a case will end up in court and the outcomes that victims expect from litigation.
  • The importance of providing the necessary training on animal handling and behavior.
    • Specific state laws that mandate training and a sample of the inclusions of the training.
    • Including coordination and communication between law enforcement and animal control in training.
    • Excessive force topics that are available.
  • Statutes that outline the protection provided to police and military officers and their dogs – the specific exemptions, the gray areas, and factors affecting litigation.
  • Things to take note of to prevent liability issues when it comes to the seizure of animals.
  • Legal tools that allow the government to dispose animals or demand the defendant to provide money to cover the cost of care of the seized animals.
  • Some important concepts to understand vis-à-vis liability
    • The concept of negligence and the different aspects where negligence is manifested.
    • The transferor’s role and obligations.
    • Breach of duty and what is entailed as a duty when it comes to information disclosure.
  • Protocols during intake that must be observed to prevent potential liabilities
  • The importance of never retaining ownership of an animal to avoid future liabilities.
  • Utilizing a Bailment Agreement so that an animal is reverted if the new owner doesn’t want it.
  • Why bankruptcy cannot protect an individual from liabilities.
  • The obligations that shelters and dog trainers must observe to avert potential liability claims.
  • Why having a liability insurance is critical in these cases – for both the agencies and the owners.
  • Other guidelines related to liabilities in taxes, finances, policies, and operations.
  • Numerous case examples were provided to highlight different concepts discussed.
  • Claudine clarified best practices when it comes to minimizing liability through safety warnings during the Q&A.


Audience Comments:

  • “Really liked the speaker, she was easy to follow and understand.” — Melodee
  • “I really liked this presenter and I liked the subject matter. I hope you have more webinars on this topic.” — Kenneth
  • “Found the Animal Control seizure information and liability issues for animal shelters informative.” — Sarah
  • “Very helpful information for young officers serving warrants.” — Stasia



View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





Additional Resources
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