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Seattle K9 units don’t have to pick up their waste

Pele is a Seattle police dog used to track down suspects. (Seattle Police Department)

Seattle police K9 units are responsible for a lot of things, but picking up after themselves is not one of them.

Among the questions fielded by Officer TJ San-Miguel on Reddit, one yielded an interesting answer.

It seems, according to the officer, that Seattle police dog handlers are exempt from laws that other dog owners must follow. Specifically, officers are not responsible for picking up dog waste. Officer San-Miguel explained:

We actually are not required, by law, to pick up our dog’s poop. Of course, we don’t do that, though. If we are in the middle of looking for a suspect and our dog has to go the bathroom in your front yard, we’ll come back later and pick it up. If your garbage can is close by, sure we’ll use it. Thanks!

According to Seattle’s municipal code, that is correct. As Seattle’s law is written: “Animals owned by the Seattle Police Department and used to assist in the law enforcement and the carrying out of its duties shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.” This is similar to how local regulations address service animals and their waste.

Officer San-Miguel points out they will most likely come back and clean up after their pups, after they deal with other priorities, of course.

Beyond the K9

The law does not just speak to an SPD K9. Seattle’s horse-mounted police officers fall into this regulation as well. Police horses are trained to walk on when they … take care of business. What is left behind, technically is not required to be picked up.

According to a 2014 blog on the topic, officers often are not aware their horses have left a trail in the road. SPD has looked into horse diaper systems in the past to address the issue, but have not found a decent system. But while officers aren’t required to pick up their horses’ waste, just like Officer San-Miguel, they are inclined to clean up.

The 2014 blog post reported:

‘If it’s in a cross walk or on Park property or a sidewalk, we dismount and shovel and bag it up,’ says Sgt. Scott. ‘If it’s in the street, we leave it for the nightly street sweepers.’  However, from high up on horseback, Mounted Unit officers can’t always tell when their equine partners have done their business.

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