The San Francisco SPCA issued a statement Friday condemning what the organization described as “Vacaville animal abuse,” regarding a video that went viral on social media this week depicting a Vacaville police officer punching his K-9 partner during a training exercise.

After the video circulated on Twitter and Facebook, the city of Vacaville announced Wednesday that it has undertaken what it described as “a thorough investigation of the incident,” has separated the dog from the police officer and is reviewing its canine training program.

In response to the video, the organization said Friday:

“[T]he San Francisco SPCA, being a leader in dog behavior and training, would like the public to know that physically threatening or harming an animal is never acceptable, regardless of the animal’s behavior.”

The organization’s vice president of rescue and welfare said being aggressive toward a dog can cause problems.

Jeannine Berger of the SPCA said:

“It’s a misguided belief that dogs need to be dominated to be trained. The idea that a person must assume the ‘alpha’ position pervades our society and has significantly damaged the welfare of our canine companions and put many handlers at risk for serious injuries.”

Berger, who is a veterinary behaviorist, said:

“Being aggressive toward your dog will often cause your dog to become more fearful, anxious and potentially aggressive. This popular belief is causing serious harm to pets and working dogs alike. It hurts our relationship with our dogs and causes more problems than it solves.”

The city of Vacaville also said Wednesday that it has retained an independent third party with expertise in police canine training to review the incident, as well as the police department’s policies and procedures and canine training program.

The city said:

“Once the review is complete, the city will take appropriate action – including any necessary discipline and/or training, as well as any needed changes to policies and procedures to ensure the police department’s canine program is in line with the industry best practices.”

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