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After Another Dog Killed, Animal Training Begins For Police

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - Police across Colorado will learn how to deal with aggressive dogs and other animals next week as part of training mandated by state law.

In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed the Dog Protection Act, which requires law enforcement officers to receive training on differentiating aggressive and non-threatening behavior and how to employ non-lethal means of subduing an animal.

The training comes after a Commerce City officer fatally shot a dog Wednesday when the dog bit the officer's leg and wouldn't release. The officers arrived at the house to look for a suspect in a child abuse case.

The dog's owner said the officer didn't need to shoot.

"The other cop had told him he should have Tasered the dog or something first instead of shooting him," Nikkol Hopkins, the dog's owner, said.

But Chief Troy Smith said his officer was justified.

"The dog immediately attacked one of the officers, biting him on the lower leg. The officer was unable to get the dog to disengage," Smith said.

The dog, named Bugs, was a mastiff-lab mix and weighed approximately 40-50 pounds. The officer, who hasn't been identified, was treated at a hospital. An investigation is ongoing.

Commerce City Dog 2
The dog killed Wednesday (courtesy to CBS4)

Commerce City police have killed dogs in four other incidents since 2009, including the infamous Chloe case that sparked protests and led to increased training for the city's police.

Smith said officers' training includes the "identification of vicious animals, the examples of animal body language, the reasons animals bite" and other factors.

"I'm happy to report that the task force has nearly complete their duties and the training will be up and running next week," Diane Balkin, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund said.

Commerce City police have already increased the number of officers who deal with animal control and given officers tools -- other than guns -- to help them deal with dangerous pets.

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