ELYRIA, Ohio - Growling and barking, Buddy, a bull dog mix at the Friendship APL in Elyria appeared to be in no mood to make friends.
Buddy is one of several dogs officers felt were too aggressive and wouldn't even approach, but Lorain Police officer Richard Broz enters the dog's cage after patiently spending time making the dogs feel comfortable.
Broz won Buddy's trust and the dog, no longer growling, wags his tail and lets Broz place a leash on him, pet him and take him for a walk.
Broz shares his tips with other officers now so they can be better prepared in the field when they encounter a dog they perceive to be threatening.
First, be patient, move slow and always give the dog an opening.
"I go to the back of the cage, he sees that he still has daylight or an opening, so he doesn't feel cornered and when he realizes I'm not a threat to him he lets me pet him," Broz said.
Secondly, you can't bluff a dog.
"If you're scared of a dog he knows it, so you have to suppress your fear because a dog senses fear as aggression," Broz said.
Finally, if you're not comfortable leashing a stray dog, get someone who is. That's what police have been doing, calling Broz in to work his magic.
Broz hopes it means fewer dogs will have to be shot.
"Show me someone who is a dog whisperer and I'll show you someone with lots of dog bites, because you can't read a dog's mind. You have to win their trust with calm body language. Never tower over them, it makes them feel threatened," Broz said.
Officer Broz said dogs that charge police officers will still be shot. But he says, most dogs are growling because they're scared.
After leashing or looping the dogs in the field, Broz works with the dogs for weeks at Friendship APL to socialize them, so they can be placed for adoption.
Broz has encountered hundreds of dogs in his 24 years on the job and said he's had to shoot at least two dogs who charged him or someone else.