03-02-2013, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Colorado Senators to Intorduce Bill to Require Cops Take Dog Training
Two Colorado senators alarmed at the number of incidents where police have shot dogs are planning to introduce a bill next week that would require officers to take annual canine classes.
Sens. Lucia Guzman, a Denver Democrat, and David Balmer, a Centennial Republican, said they hope the training will help police understand the difference between a barking dog and a dangerous dog.
"Landscaping companies, delivery companies — they deal with dogs all the time, and they don't shoot dogs," Balmer said.
Both Balmer and Guzman own dogs.
Among those expected to testify in favor of their bill is Gary Branson of Pueblo, whose 4-year-old labrador mix was shot multiple times by a Commerce City police officer after the pet escaped a relative's home.
A draft copy of Balmer and Guzman's bill mentions the death of Branson's dog, Chloe, and other dogs shot by police in the metro area.
The bill would require police departments to adopt policies and procedures for dealing with dogs, including allowing owners to first try to handle the pet. Officers must initially go through a two-hour course, then a one-hour refresher course annually, which could be Web or video training.
The bill includes exceptions for using force, such as when police are responding to a dangerous dog call or violent crime.
"We think the bill strikes the right balance," Balmer said. "It is very respectful of law enforcement, but it is intended to safeguard our beloved dogs."
The bill deals only with dogs.
"I don't know of an officer shooting a cat," Balmer said.
"We want to make sure people know we aren't talking about a fox that comes into some neighborhood," Guzman said.
Branson's attorney, Jennifer Edwards of The Animal Law Center, said the bill is needed.
"The reason I think it is important is dogs are not just property to most people, they are their short, hairy children," she said. "They are a part of the family, and it is absolutely devastating to lose an animal and to lose an animal so wrongfully when it could be solved by better training and better understanding of dog behavior."
In Branson's case, the 58-year-old left Chloe with a relative while visiting his brother in California last November. The dog got out through an open garage door and was running around the neighborhood.
Commerce City police said the dog was aggressive and continued to behave that way after being restrained with an animal-control noose. Chloe was shocked with a Taser and then shot multiple times.
Commerce City police Officer Robert Price faces a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, which the state Fraternal Order of Police has called "outrageous."
I really hope it passes. The Chloe incident was just awful, and unfortunately, not the only one.