Colorado Dog Protection Act: Longmont man pushes for jump in training schedule

July 25, 2013

Jeffrey Justice is a champion in the dog loving community of Colorado, where he led a protest July 23 in an effort to speed up the Colorado Dog Protection Act. Times Call News reported Jeffrey’s efforts in a July 23 article.

The Longmont resident was outside the Adams County Sheriff’s Officer Headquarters in Brighton for most of the morning in an effort to get Colorado police departments to implement the training before 2015 given when the bill was signed into law.

¬†Although Longmont hasn’t had any dogs shot by officers, Jeffrey wants the training to begin so their record stays clean.

In a widely publicized case, an Adams County police officer was cleared after he shot a dog when the officer went to the wrong address.

That officer said the dog, an 8-year-old blue heeler/border collie mix, charged him, giving the officer the right to defend himself. Ziggys owner, Jeff Fisher, said Zizzy was just running outside to check things out.

Jeffrey, who is a dog owner, became involved in dogs shot by police by reading about the almost daily media reports of dogs being shot. He believes most of the shootings could have been prevented.

He’s also concerned about the possibility of police injuring someone, should they find it necessary to shoot a family dog. There have been multiple cases this year where police and even children were hit by a ricocheting bullet.

So far Jeffrey has spoken twice to the City Council and written Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler in his effort to get officers trained in dog behavior. Butler has yet to respond.

Training coordinator for the Longmont Police Department Sgt. Gregg Ferrill said a state task force should have criteria for officer training put into place sometime next year. Once a program is in place, all officers will be trained by 2015.

Sara Spensieri, animal control officer for Boulder County Sheriff’s Officer said she is working on a use of force training session specific to dogs. The training will teach officers to read dog body language and behaviors that give clues the animal is about to bite.

Many times officers mistake a dog coming over to say hello as being dangerous. According to Spensieri, deadly force will be allowed if the deputy “reasonably believes such action is immediately necessary to protect the deputy or officer another person or animal from imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.”

I’ve done several Examiner articles now on the Colorado Dog Protection Act. I urge all of you who are trying to bring about legislation to read how the Colorado law works. There are countless “Justice” pages on Facebook, telling of one dog or another shot by police.

Those who are fighting for justice for an individual dog are always trying to have a new law named after the dog who was killed. While noble, and meaning well, this will only confuse those in government.

It would be best to attach a copy of the Colorado Dog Protection Act to any correspondence. Senators and Congressmen are familiar with this law, and it could be named after each state, rather than the thousand or so dogs out there who now have the Facebook pages in their memory.

While we all want to remember each individual dog, because that dog meant the world to the person who lost it, we have to work together for the greater good. To create a dog protection act for each state that is based on the one in Colorado should be our primary goal.

Jeffrey, keep up the good work. It’s a shame that police departments have been given so long to enforce the new act, but that’s government for you.

Do you think we should use the Colorado Dog Protection Act as a base when we petition congress in each state? Or do you prefer that each dog shot should have a law. Personally, I don’t think a lot of animal advocates realize just how many dogs have lost their lives at the hands of police.

Readers, your comments are welcome.

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