In response to a series of seriously unfortunate incidents involving police shooting dogs, Colorado lawmakers have introduced a bill that will require law enforcement officers to undergo canine behavioral training in an effort to stop the use of deadly force when dealing with dogs.
One incident involved a 3-year-old lab mix named Chloe who belonged to Gary Branson. Chloe was staying with a relative while Branson was out of town when she escaped through an open garage door. She was later cornered in the garage and tried to escape when she was caught on a catch pole, at which point an officer shocked her with a taser and then shot her five times.
They claimed she was aggressive, but a neighbor caught the whole thing on video and it doesn’t really look that way. It looks more like a dog who is wary of being menacingly cornered by multiple strangers who then only tries to escape the situation. According to the Denver Post, Officer Robert Price is facing a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Branson is left with nothing but memories and a ceramic paw print. He told KRDO he can’t bring himself to watch the video, but hopes that this legislation will give Chloe’s life a bigger purpose and help save other lives in the future.
Unfortunately, what happened to Chloe was just one of many incidents in Colorado.
According to the bill, the Dog Protection Act, there have been more than thirty dog-related shootings by local law enforcement officers in the state. A report from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, also found that in most police departments the majority of intentional firearm discharges involve animals with the most frequent victims being dogs.
Now, lawmakers want to see law enforcement officers undergo training designed by an animal behaviorist or veterinarian that is intended to help them identify canine behaviors and learn how to use alternatives to lethal force, along with teaching them how to work with animal control officers. They also intend to see a policy adopted that will allow owners, or whoever is responsible for the dog at the time of an incident, the opportunity to intervene to save their dog.
According to Colorado lawmakers:
Many of those dogs are beloved pet, service and companion, sporting and working dogs, most which were docile and well-trained and had no history of threatening behavior, and in many of these cases the dogs were shot despite not exhibiting any signs of aggression.
These shooting tragedies cause profound grief to the dogs’ owners, trauma to families and neighbors witnessing the incidents, great physical suffering to the dogs, and undermine the confidence that communities have in their law enforcement to protect and serve in an appropriate and humane manner.
Not surprisingly, the Senate voted unanimously this week to pass this bill, which is now being considered in the House. If it becomes a law, it will be the first to require law enforcement officers to complete canine behavioral training in the country.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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