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What are some ways to identify what kind of dog you're dealing with?

By Chris Cole
Published On: Feb 15 2014 07:07:48 PM CST

Following this week's incident in Filer, where a police officer shot and killed a black lab, many have begun to question what to do in that type of situation.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

Following this week's incident in Filer, where a officer Tarek Hassani shot and killed an unleashed black lab, many have begun to question what to do in that type of situation.

While Nampa Police Department officials decide investigate the specifics of the case in Filer, Pocatello Animal Control Officer Josh Heinz said there are no black and white answers when it comes to how to best deal with dogs.

"A lot of times a scared animal will tuck its tail and turn its head away from you because it doesn't want to engage you," Heinz said.  "It's afraid, but it's letting you know, "I'm afraid, don't come near me."

Heinz said in this case the dog will likely not attack you, depending on your actions.

"It's a fear bite, basically," he said.  " If you're the aggressor or approach a dog in a manner where it's afraid it will snap at you just to defend itself."

But what if a dog is barking at you and wagging its tail?  

"You want to keep an eye on the face, the teeth, the hackles above the shoulder blades," Heinz said.  "The dog will bare its teeth and let you know."

Heinz said a dog's tail could be wagging for any number of reasons. The hackles are a sure sign they might be aggressive or scared, but it's definitely a sign to stay away.

"You just want to stay away from any dog, pretty much," said Heinz. "If you don't know the dog, that's going to be your best bet."

And as for the worst-case scenario of a dog actually attacking you?

"Defend yourself," he said.  "That's the biggest thing, defend yourself. Kick, scream, bite. Do whatever you have to do to defend yourself."

However, Heinz also said it usually wouldn't have to be your responsibility to know if the owner was following leash laws and taking charge of their pet.

"People have dogs for protection, and they want to know when someone's coming, so when the dog barks that's fine," he said.  "That's one of the things animals are supposed to do."

Heinz said because he doesn't know the details of the situation in Filer he can't comment on them, ultimately a dog is the owner's responsibility.

"The owner really needs to take charge," Heinz said.  "When you own a pet, you take responsibility."

As for the two dogs in Filer, officer Hassani was called to the area because they were running around the neighborhood without leashes or supervision.  Hassani arrived at the owner's home where the dogs began to bark and run back and forth toward and away from him, resulting in Hassani shooting and killing the black lab on the property.

Hassani has been put on administrative leave until the investigation in completed.

For more information about the incident, click on the links under "Related Content."

Chris Cole on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/126vPsW) and on Twitter (http://bit.ly/126vO8n).

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