Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Educate Police Officers to Keep Community Safe for Dogs

To the Editor of the Denver Post,

How Commerce City police officers came to kill Chloe, a lab/pit bull mix, provides a tragic opportunity for reflection.

The officers were clearly unprepared to either evaluate or assist this frightened dog. As a dog trainer and behavior specialist, I assessed Chloe's body language in the video and could see she was terrified, not dangerous. Officers in these situations need specific, compassionate, non-confrontational, non-violent training. Chloe, who was away from home and disoriented, needed containment, not killing.

When government employees behave in such a brutal way, they seem barbaric, unprofessional and unintelligent, and do not serve their community.

I can't help but wonder if the pit bull stereotype came into play with Chloe's killing. Had she been a Golden Retriever, for example, would officials have responded in the same way? We must confront this absurd prejudice that has no statistical basis locally or nationally.

One goal of a new coalition, No Kill Colorado, is education. We need to understand what dogs are communicating and why, so that reactive public officials don't kill more vulnerable unattended dogs.

It is as inexcusable to kill a terrified dog because she is a pit mix as it would be to murder a frightened person for the color of her skin.


Lorraine May, M.A.

Founder and Executive Director, Misha May Foundation Dog Training and Rescue
Vice President, No Kill Colorado