GBI probing alleged abuse of police dog by officer

GBI spokesman John Bankhead confirmed Saturday that Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh had asked for the investigation of the recently resigned senior dog handler, who has not been identified because he is not charged with a crime.

According to the Gainesville Times, the handler, who had been on the force 10 years, unexpectedly resigned three weeks ago. Consequently, the Belgian Mallinois was assigned to another handler, who became suspicious of the dog's aggressive behavior. The department then reviewed videotapes of the dog's training sessions.

Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper, who could not be reached Saturday for comment, told the local newspaper that the training methods used with the dog, named Diego, were "bizarre" and "unorthodox." Hooper said a collar was placed around Diego's midsection that shocked the dog's genitals when the animal tried to bite.

"We look at our canines as part of our department," Hooper told WSB-TV.

According to the Gainesville Times, an independent dog handler consulted by the department said poor training methods, before and after Diego's arrival with Gainesville police nine months ago, may be the source of the dangerous behavior.

Diego was euthanized about three weeks ago after veterinary and police dog experts said the canine could not be rehabilitated, according to the newspaper.

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