Police dogs: police or dogs? and why it matters

Mar 4, 2021

A procession to honor K-9 Luna was held Saturday, February 27. Members of the public, many with dogs in tow, lined the streets and law enforcement from Hibbing to Rochester attended.
Credit ©Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved.

K-9 officer Luna, the 3-year-old Dutch shepherd killed last week responding to a domestic violence call, was honored by a procession last Saturday, one that began at the emergency veterinary clinic where she died after being shot by the suspect, and ending at the pet cremation services building in Scanlon.

K-9 officer Luna's death sums up the dichotomy: she was sent after the suspect because she was not a human (and presumably to save human lives) and yet she was mourned and celebrated much as a human officer would be for bravery and sacrifice.

So what makes a person? In recent years, the idea of "non-human personhood" has evolved, including such diverse entities as corporations and an orangutan named Sandra.

So how do we start unpacking what makes a person - and what excludes someone from "personhood"? The questions - and the stakes - are more important than you might think.

You can learn more about "non-human personhood" at the Nonhuman Rights Project's website.

And the ACLU just published an article called Robot Police Dogs are Here. Should We be Worried? You can read it here.