Colorado Senate Approves “Don’t Shoot My Dog” Bill

Maggie Couch holds her sign during the rally.

Newspapers littered with stories of police officers shooting innocent dogs have outraged many dog lovers, but now there is reason to rejoice:  a Colorado senate committee has unanimously passed a bill that aims to limit these kinds of tragedies.

Senate bill 226, dubbed the “Don’t Shoot My Dog” bill, will require police and sheriff departments to provide online training courses for officers and deputies so they can learn to understand dog behaviors and recognize body language.  This will allow them to better determine if a dog poses a threat and to control dogs using nonlethal means.

The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee was preceded by a rally on the Capitol steps.  Supporters cheered and blasted the song “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  Sponsors of the bill, Senators Lucia Guzman (D-Denver) and David Balmer (R-Centennial), were among those who brought their dogs to the rally.  Signs were held bearing the messages “Protect our Furr-kids” and “Pro dogs, pro cops, pro 226.”

Senator Balmer with his dog Digby, a German shorthaired pointer, and Senator Guzman with her rescue beagle, Lula.

At the rally Balmer asked, “Why do we have slobber marks all over the sliding glass doors?” and “Why do we say yes to whatever the vet says it will cost for a procedure?” and “Why have we spent so much time writing this bill?”

The answer, which crowd members chanted, was “Because we love our dogs.”

The atmosphere turned somber when a weepy Brittany Moore spoke about how a police officer killed her dog, Ava, and how painful it has been for her daughters, who were five, six and seven at the time.  She believes this bill, had it been in place earlier, might have saved her German shepherd.  The officer might have understood that Ava, who was shot in the back, was not a threat.

“The only threat was an officer discharging his weapon,” Moore said.


  1. tambra gee says on  04/03/2013 at 8:50 pm

    This should be enacted across the country. I really fear for the safety of my dogs around police officers.

  2. KiplingKat says on  04/03/2013 at 9:23 pm

    Yes…because we all learn so much from the online training courses we all have to take for work.

    LOUSY idea. They should have real classes with professional dog trainers.

  3. Anonymous says on  04/03/2013 at 10:43 pm

    So happy to see this law. It is time officers are accountable for taking the lives of our family members. The irony is those who are supposed to protect us shooting the very animals who do! And the dogs don’t even get paid to do it, they do it out of love and loyalty. Postmen manage without guns and they travel to many more doors than these officers. Use mace, use stun guns, but don’t kill our loved ones. This is against our rights and when the officers repond out of “fear”, they are the animals. We trust them to use their heads in these situations, not their guns.

    • Anonymous says on  07/09/2013 at 5:02 pm

      Not to rain on your parade, but I didn’t see anything listed about accountability. There are no consequences for them shooting a dog, they just have to take a class first now.

  4. Furkid Mom says on  04/04/2013 at 12:23 pm

    I agree with Kipling Kat – who can even say they will pay attention to an online course. Real hands on training with professionals.

    I probably will get some negative comments for this but I would also like to see a codicil that officers who do shoot a dog will be subject to a full investigation that could lead to suspension without pay and even dismissal should the shooting prove unjustified. That alone might make them a little less trigger happy.

    • Dawn says on  07/09/2013 at 3:52 pm

      I agree with you-the classes should be w/ a professional dog handler, but this is at least a start! I also agree officers should be investigated when they DO shoot a dog. Several stories I’ve read where the cops shot a dog, their attitude was, “Oh well…go get another dog”. That’s like telling someone to go buy another child in my book. NO regards for the fact dogs ARE family members.
      And instead of shooting dogs, just pepper spray them.

  5. Randi says on  04/04/2013 at 9:01 pm

    YAY Colorado. Now if the rest of the country had a clue!

  6. Trista says on  04/23/2013 at 1:36 pm

    I agree whole heartedly with Furkid mom, there needs to be investigation of these incidents. Lack of training is only one piece of the puzzle, I think trigger happy cops is another piece and unless there are consequences to these shooting then they won’t stop.

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  8. Joe Random says on  07/09/2013 at 1:32 am

    I’ll take Furkid Mom’s a step further and say that police should have far less immunity than they do. Shooting dogs indiscriminately is only one way they abuse their authority.

  9. Triple B says on  07/09/2013 at 12:31 pm

    I saw the video that sparked this. While I don’t like how the cops started the situation, when a Rott comes out of a car off his leash to defend his master, unfortunately the police have to defend themselves and people around. If that dog had ripped the throat out of one of the police who shot it, this story would be alot different.

    I understand the outpouring of sorrow at the dead dog. But this knee-jerk reactionary legislation is ridiculous.

  10. Ed says on  07/09/2013 at 2:09 pm

    The wider context (which the bill apparently does not address) is the militarization of the police.

  11. Jesus says on  07/09/2013 at 3:59 pm

    More meaningless feelgood legislation with all the problems we have. Never mind that if a person feels threatened by an unreasoning animal they have a right to defend themselves. Never mind that dog owners have a responsibility to care for and secure their animals, no, it must be the cops fault. Let’s waste time on this useless bill instead of tackling real problems.

    • Anonymous says on  07/09/2013 at 6:53 pm

      I think you need to re-read the article. The legislation about teaching cops when the animals pose a real threat so animals that don’t aren’t shot. I don’t think anyone would argue that unnecessary discharging of a firearm in city limits is something we should all be ok with, so how about trying to reduce unnecessary violence?

      Or, maybe you think when a cop executes a dog that an animal control agent has captured, it’s self defense? Or, when a cop shoots a retreating dog in the back, it’s self defense? Or when a cop shoots a dog through the front window of a house with nobody home, it’s self defense? Or if a cop picks up an 8 pound dog and throws it down some stairs – is that self defense? Perhaps a cop who could simply sit down in his car rather than shooting an approaching dog rightly chose violence rather than shelter? These are real examples, though not all from Colorado.

      Your ignorance of the topic and the scenarios which have people upset is in plain view.

  12. period says on  07/09/2013 at 4:40 pm

    another waste of time and money watch this solve nothing

  13. Anonymous says on  07/09/2013 at 11:54 pm

    As a resident of Colorado I am aware of situations when a family pet was shot when there was NO THREAT to the officer or the public. In fact, I’m outraged that an officer would be allowed to discharge their weapon in such close proximity to children and not be fired from the police force. While this legislation won’t solve the problem it is a step in the right direction. We have to start somewhere. For those of you that think this is a waste of time and money…how would you feel if your pet accidently slipped out of the door and as your children are trying to call the dog into the garage and inform the officer it’s their pet, that it’s shot in front of them? Would that still be okay with you?

  14. Stan P says on  07/10/2013 at 8:37 am

    The law is one step, but I don’t think it will have any effect at all. Police shoot dogs because they can. Without accountability, nothing will change.

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