By Calvin Thompson | Colorado Watchdog
DENVER — Chloe was a mixed-breed dog staying with a friend of her owner in Commerce City when she got out of a garage, where she was kept. In November, police found Chloe roaming the street, where she had been for a few hours. They captured her with a snare pole, shocked her and shot her five times.
There are more like Chloe, some 30 in the past five years in Colorado, according to various newspapers and police records. In most instances, the dogs were neither acting aggressively nor actively trying to run away when they were killed.
Created in response to the shootings, which came almost as a matter of procedure, the “Dog Protection Act,” which mentions Chloe and many other dogs killed by Colorado police, would require police to undergo mandatory training. The training is intended to teach officers about dog behaviors and act less brutally in their treatment of pets.
The bill, which passed with initial Senate approval Monday, would require that most law officers pass a three-hour webinar that teaches them to deal with dogs without resorting to violence. It would also mandate that local law enforcement agencies establish a set code of protocols when dealing with dogs, so an inexperienced officer would not have an excuse to simply open fire in any circumstance.
The Dog Protection Act has seen widespread support from activists, dog owners, politicians and law enforcement, with the County Sheriffs of Colorado expressing support. A bi-partisan collection of senators sponsored the bill, which passed unanimously through committee.
One of the major benefits is that the bill calls for a volunteer task force, which would manage the required training, passing few costs onto Colorado taxpayers.
Here’s the irony.
Forbes ranks Colorado Springs as America’s Most Pet-Friendly City, and “Dog Fancy” magazine regularly rates Colorado as one of the most dog-friendly states. The town of Telluride boasts a larger number of pets than people. While Colorado may be unparalleled in its enthusiasm for dogs, it is not the only state to see law enforcement act with excessive violence toward canines.
Among the most brutal of the hundreds of documented cases of police violence against dogs transpired in Maricopa County, Ariz. A 2004 police raid to apprehend someone wanted for traffic violations ended with a home in flames. The “Phoenix New Times” reported that a puppy tried to run out of the burning building. It was chased back inside by an officer of the law, where it burned to death.
During a July 2008 drug raid in Berwyn Heights, Md., officers shot and killed the mayor’s two black Labs. One was shot twice, the other four times.
Another Colorado incident came in August. Thornton police shot Scar, a bulldog mix, while pursuing a person wanted on misdemeanor drug charges. Witnesses said Scar neither left his yard nor acted aggressively. He died of the gunshot wounds.
One of the more recent shootings happened March 29, in Auburn, Wash. The local “Komo News” reported that police shot a pit bull in a family’s yard as the officer was investigating vandalism across the street.
Colorado appears to be the first state to consider a canine protection bill. But with violence against dogs spread across the nation, and the estimated 46 million American homes with dogs, perhaps it will not be the last.
“An army of dog lovers started to contact us…” Republican Sen. David Balmer, one of the bill’s sponsors, told the “Colorado Statesman.” “We’re going to be a giant movement nationwide that began here in Colorado.”
Contact Calvin Thompson at [email protected]