Canine footwear for police dogs entering Muslim homes?

July 6th, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 6 (IANS) Police sniffer dogs may have to cover their feet when entering Muslim homes in order not to cause offence. Efforts by security agencies to respect Muslim sensibilities in crime probes has come down to this - canine footwear. Guidelines being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) urge awareness of religious sensitivities when using dogs to search for drugs and explosives, reports The Sunday Times.

The guidelines, to be published this year, originally designed to cover mosques will now apply to other buildings, including homes.

Where Muslims object, officers will be obliged to use sniffer dogs only in exceptional cases. Where dogs are used, they will have to wear bootees with rubber soles.

The new rule has its roots in a crime prevention poster of the Tayside Police of Dundee in Scotland featuring a german shepherd puppy. A Muslim councillor objected to the poster, saying some of his brethren may find it objectionable on the ground that dogs are unclean.

However, Muslims say it is stretching things too far. One of Britain’s leading Imams, Ibrahim Mogra, says: “In Islamic law the dog is not regarded as impure, only its saliva is. Most Islamic schools of law agree on that. If security measures require to send a dog into a house, then it has to be done. I think Acpo needs to consult better and more widely.”

John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, says: “The police are in effect being overly sensitive to potential criminals and not being sensitive enough to the public at large who need to be protected. These sort of things have a counter-productive effect because they cause huge friction between different communities.”

Dog lovers are not far behind lampooning the police. Caroline Kisko, of the Kennel Club, says: “We would not condone any attempt to make search dogs wear special clothing, which could cause them distress.”

Police dogs at present are issued with footwear only at scenes of explosions to prevent them injuring their paws on broken glass.

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