Yes. The agency for which the handler works can be held liable for the actions of the K9 team under the Monell liability doctrine. See Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs. (1978) 436 U.S. 658. This doctrine held that municipal corporations (cities, counties, states, etc.) were “persons” who could be sued when execution of an official government policy or custom inflicted the constitutional violation. If an agency has a policy or a custom that allows for constitutional violations, then the agency may be sued. In addition, if there is a failure to supervise, failure to adequately train, history of institutional action the violates the Constitution, etc., the agency could also be held liable. This is why it is so important to have up to date and adequate policies and procedures in place for each agency that has K9 teams.
In addition, for use of force cases that are prosecuted as resisting arrest or assault on LE, the Heck doctrine comes into play. This doctrine precludes or bars a Section 1983 claim (federal civil rights violation action) as well as state constitutional claims based on actions which would “render a conviction or sentence invalid” where that conviction has not been reversed, expunged, or called into question by issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Heck v. Humphry (1994) 512 U.S. 477. The Heck doctrine, in other words, says that if a criminal conviction arising out of the same facts stands and is fundamentally inconsistent with the unlawful behavior for which section 1983 damages are sought, the 1983 action must be dismissed. Smithart v. Towery (9th Cir. 1996) 79 F.3d 951, 952 (here, however, the court also concluded that since suspect claimed excessive force was used to subdue him, suspect could still sue for violation of civil rights based on this claim, This is because to be convicted of a crime against LE, it must be shown by the prosecutor that LE did not use excessive force. Since suspect claimed excessive force, this claim was allowed to proceed. )