The Dog Protection Act Passed!

Good news for Colorado dogs- on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 the Colorado senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 226, dubbed the “Dog Protection Act”!

According to Senate Bill 226, dogs are one of the most beloved and popular animals in the United States, and approximately 46 million households contain at least one dog with Colorado listed as one of the most dog friendly states in the country.

The bill further states that in the last 5 years law enforcement officers shot more than 30 dogs- most with no history of aggression and no display of aggression at the time they were shot.

More than 30 dogs shot in the last 5 years? This statistic is heartbreaking! My dogs are my furry family. I worry about my dogs- especially because of the prejudice and myths surrounding “pit bulls”. Some people judge my dogs on the basis of their appearance and not their behavior. I’ve seen people shake their heads disapprovingly as I walk my dogs in my neighborhood. Other people just cross the street.

You might be surprised to read more about the dogs involved in the 30+ dog shootings that have occurred over the last 5 years- I was. The shootings involve a variety of breeds and mix breed dogs, dogs that were confined in their homes and yards, and dogs that displayed no outward signs of aggression at the time of the shooting.

The “Dog Protection Act” specifically names 9 dogs shot in Colorado by law enforcement professionals. Eight of the dogs named in the bill died as a result of the shooting.

One of these dogs is Chloe, a mixed breed therapy dog. Chloe was tasered, collared, and shot 5 times in November 2012 by Commerce City law enforcement after escaping the garage where he was confined. As a therapy dog Chloe would have had an excellent temperament and displayed extraordinary patience and friendliness with people.

Another dog listed in the bill is Ziggy, a blue heeler-border collie mixed breed dog shot and killed in January by Adams County law enforcement responding to a call at the wrong address. Ziggy and his family were not causing any nuisance or public safety risks when police showed up at their door.

Ziggy, fatally shot by Adam's County law enforcement responding to a call at the wrong address.

Ziggy, fatally shot by Adam’s County law enforcement responding to a call at the wrong address. Photo by Jeff Fisher.

These are just a few of the tragic stories of beloved family pets shot by Colorado law enforcement officers in situations that could very well have ended differently.

I choose to believe the law enforcement officers involved in the shootings felt threatened when they pulled out their guns and fired but this is the very reason officers need training to determine when a dog is actually a threat to public and personal safety.

The Dog Protection Act requires local law enforcement agencies to train and enact policies and procedures to prepare officers to safely and humanely deal with dogs they encounter in the line of duty.

There’s plenty of work ahead for Colorado law enforcement agencies and passing this bill is a step in the right direction. While it remains to be seen if Colorado will see a reduction in officer-related shootings of family pets, I remain hopeful we’ll look back in 5 years time with drastically reduced statistics of dog shootings by law enforcement. Thanks, Colorado senate!

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