DENVER — Several dogs will descend on the state Capitol Wednesday in a show of support for legislation aimed at protecting canines from being shot by police officers.
Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, is the first proposal in the nation aiming to require local police and sheriff departments to provide canine behavioral training to help officers better discern when a dog actually prevents a threat.
Balmer, the owner of three dogs and a self-professed “dog lover”, was moved to introduce the legislation after seeing widely aired home video of a Commerce City officer shooting a lab-pit bull mix named Chloe after tasing it last November; the officer, who claimed the dog was a threat, was later charged with animal cruelty.
It was hardly an isolated incident, but one of some 30 dog shootings by Colorado law enforcement officers in the last five years.
“We understand the pressures and dangers our law enforcement officers face on a daily basis,” Balmer said. “We know that the last thing an officer wants to do is kill a family dog. By undergoing this training, officers will be able to distinguish between frightened or threatening dog behaviors and react accordingly without resorting to deadly force.”
Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is co-sponsoring the legislation, which will get its first committee hearing in the Senate at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, following a press conference on the Capitol’s west steps.