Four citizens stood before city councilors Tuesday and pleaded with them to ensure that Colorado Springs police officers are trained to deal with troublesome dogs.
Their voices shook and one woman fought back tears as they individually recalled the Aug. 30 police shooting of Josh Burch's dog Cara, a brown pit bull. The shooting happened as Colorado Springs police officers investigated vehicle burglaries in southeast Colorado Springs. Police said the dog charged at an officer.
Jeffrey Justice told the council that he worked for FedEx for years and was charged by more dogs than he cared to remember. But he said some simple techniques kept the dogs from attacking or hurting him. Police ought to be taught those techniques instead of shooting dogs, he said.
"The problem here is there is a lack of training on how to handle these dogs," he said.
In the Aug. 30 incident, police said they fired four times at the dog and one of the bullets ricocheted off the ground and hit the Burches' house. A bullet hole was visible in the upstairs master bedroom window. Burch's wife and children were asleep inside.
"I'm appalled to see this happen in this city," said resident Mercedes Cordova.
Colorado lawmakers, six months ago, approved a requirement that police receive three hours of training on recognizing dog behaviors and techniques on nonlethal control methods.
Resident Beth Mosley urged Colorado Springs City Council to follow the state law and get police trained on handling dogs.
"We love our dogs and we want to be able to trust the police," she said.
Resident Diane Whitley said she is disabled and her dog is trained to jump around and make noise should she fall down and go into anaphylactic shock.
"If I am laying on the sidewalk, she will carry on to let you know and I don't want her shot," Whitley said.
Councilor Jill Gaebler said she is reviewing police training requirements and hopes to meet the police chief about the issue.
"We do take this issue very seriously," she said. "We are pursuing this and we consider this an important issue."