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

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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.




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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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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