ASPCA Urges Colorado Governor to Sign Dog Protection Act

Legislature unanimously passes SB 226 to develop law enforcement training program for canine behavior
April 23, 2013

NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Colorado legislators for passing Senate Bill 226, the Dog Protection Act, which will create a law enforcement training program on canine behavior to provide police officers with the tools needed to handle cases involving animals. Sponsored by Sens. David Balmer (R-Centennial) and Lucia Guzman (D-Denver), and Reps. Lois Court (D-Denver) and Don Coram (R-Montrose), SB 226 passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month, and yesterday, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 64-0. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.

"The ASPCA commends Colorado legislators for their commitment to removing dogs from the line of fire by passing legislation ensuring that local law enforcement officials are properly trained to handle cases involving animals," said Deborah Foote, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southwest region. "The Dog Protection Act will make our communities safer for man's best friend and we urge Governor Hickenlooper to sign this much needed legislation."

Most instances of police shootings of dogs are avoidable. In the last five years alone, 30 non-threatening family dogs have been shot by local law enforcement officers in Colorado, leaving families devastated after they were helpless to prevent the killing of their pets. Police department policies generally grant broad powers to officers to shoot animals, even if they pose no actual threat. These policies only require that an officer "feel" threatened, which sets a very low threshold and may create a presumption in favor of shooting–an act that not only endangers well-meaning dogs, but can threaten public safety. Without proper training, officers may shoot a dog who barks or approaches them, even if the dog is not threatening.

"There are a wide variety of non-lethal tools and techniques available to law enforcement officials," added Foote. "With the proper training, these tactics could be employed to prevent the unnecessary deaths of Colorado’s animals."

SB 226 received strong community support at Colorado Humane Lobby Day on April 17, and again on April 3, when animal welfare advocates joined the bill sponsors at the Capitol for the Dog Protection Rally to lobby on behalf of the bill. The outdoor rally had a large turnout, with many attendees bringing their dogs to Denver to discuss the need for this legislation with lawmakers.

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