Texas Police Canines Search and Seizure Standards and Compliance

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Thomas E. Payne

Advisor Department

Criminal Justice


Dogs have served man since the beginning of time. Early cave drawings depicted dogs helping in the hunt for food. As society evolved, so did the varied use of service dogs, first in wartime, then in peacetime. As dogs evolved from war dog to police dog, the courts started considering the legal implications of using police service dogs in the areas of search and seizure. In the State of Texas, police canine units have been established in nearly twenty-five percent of the law enforcement agencies. The State of Texas has no mandatory testing, or certification standards, for canine units. This research was conducted to identify the voluntary compliance with court-recognized standards for canine units. The purpose of this study is four-fold. It (1) briefly surveys pertinent historical literature, relating both the positive and negative operational experiences that have combined to form contemporary professional opinion on canine law enforcement; (2) examines the types of legal liability that now confront law enforcement agencies generally, and more especially the holdings of the courts that establish standards by which law enforcement agencies might reduce legal liability in canine law enforcement; (3) identifies the compliance rate of Texas law enforcement agencies with said standards; and (4) induces recommendations that might improve the compliance rate.