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Pueblo police officer shot service dog to defend himself, department says

April 21, 2017 Updated: April 25, 2017 at 8:22 am
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The Pueblo Police Department released additional information Friday about what lead up to an officer shooting and killing a service dog last week.

While acknowledging that "many of our citizens have a significant connection to their pets and dogs in particular," the Police Department wrote on Facebook that "the officer had no other recourse but to protect himself from an imminent threat."

Police said the property's gate was open, the dog charged at the officer and the officer was retreating when he fired "in an effort to get away and not have to take this action."

A six-year veteran, Officer Diaz, arrived at the 1400 block of Cypress Street on April 14 to assist with a reported fight and a man suffering from medical problems, police said. Diaz walked past a house with a 7-foot fence and two "beware of dog" posters, police said. The gate was open.

The pit bull growled, came out of the house and charged at Diaz "in an aggressive manner," police said.

"Officer Diaz immediately began to move backward, firing three times at the attacking dog who was within 2-3 feet," police said. "The dog continued to charge at Officer Diaz who then fired another 4 shots."

The shots were fired in about 1.78 seconds, police said. Diaz continued to move backward before the dog ran away.

Diaz asked for medical help for the dog, but it was 16 minutes before the dog was transported, police said. An officer "who was struck by shrapnel from a ricochet" was bruised but otherwise unhurt.

The pit bull was Leslie Hanson's service dog, Crios, The Gazette reported earlier this week. Hanson believes the dog was coming to check on her, since he's trained to stay by her side.

She had called police for help after hearing a loud noise and a man walking around outside her house, but when she realized it was a neighbor outside, she ran to help.

She wrote on Facebook that Crios was not attacking - "at most he might have growled" - and the officer gave no warning. Crios was later euthanized, his injuries too significant to overcome, according to the vet report Hanson provided.

Hanson said she adopted Crios at 8 weeks old, after her doctor recommended getting a service dog to help with her PTSD. She trained him, registered him and had been using him to "go places and do things I couldn't do on my own."

"The Pueblo Police Department has reached out to Ms. Hanson today affording her the opportunity to come down to the Pueblo Police Department to review video footage, and the associated reports, but she has declined that offer at this time," according to the Police Department statement.

Hanson said she got a new pit bull to train as a service dog - someone who read her story donated the 10-month old pup Hanson has named Kronos.

She plans to start training him in service duties immediately, which she says also serves as a reminder to continue advocating for better police training to spare the next dog.

"It's not a replacement, but a new start," Hanson said.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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