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April 08, 2013 01:19 PM UTC

Balmer, Guzman, Court and Coram Advance Sensible Dog Legislation

  • by: ProgressiveCowgirl

Let's all take a moment today to recognize a piece of well-written, sensible legislation. SB 13-226, the "Dog Protection Act," is on its way to the Senate floor after receiving unanimous committee approval. Cosponsors in the Senate are David Balmer (R-Centennial) and Lucia Guzman (D-Denver). Their House counterparts are Lois Court (D-Denver) and Don Coram (R-Montrose). 

The proposed legislation reacts to a rash of dog shootings by law enforcement, characterized by pet dogs and service animals killed without giving owners a chance to contain their pets. Some such incidents were captured on video, showing no trace of aggression on the dog's part. Most police officers aren't animal behavior experts and may mistake a friendly greeting for an aggressive display. 

To reduce needless deaths of non-dangerous dogs, the Dog Protection Act empowers a twenty-three member volunteer task force to create training for law enforcement officers on dealing with dogs. The legislation requires that, in non-violent situations, law enforcement must give dog owners a chance to contain their dogs before using lethal force. This requirement allows for flexibility according to any exigencies present, such as whether officers are responding to a call involving a dog that has bitten a person. 

There are a few especially noteworthy things about the Dog Protection Act:

  1. It comes at almost no cost to the state, because the majority of the work commissioned by the Act is to be performed by a volunteer task force.
  2. Volunteers serving on the Task Force receive an exemption from liability for good-faith performance of their duties. This is usual, but worth mentioning because several lawsuits related to dog shootings are already making their way through the courts.
  3. Common-sense exemptions are already written into the law's only mandate (reasonable opportunity to control or remove) and each local law enforcement agency will write its own specific procedures.
  4. There's no punitive element. The Dog Protection Act is not an indictment of law enforcement agencies. The authors understood that most, if not all, law enforcement officers would gladly take advantage of an opportunity to receive training in this area.
  5. It's genuinely bipartisan. Balmer and Guzman are both dog lovers and have both been seen visibly advocating for this measure in a heartfelt and sensible way. Senator Guzman even brought her own Beagle to a rally in support of the Dog Protection Act.

Although this legislation seems to be headed for prompt passage–as it should be–it can't hurt for dog lovers to send a friendly, personal reminder to their legislators that a vote in favor of SB 13-226 is a vote in favor of the Colorado lifestyle. We're outdoorsy, friendly, loving people, and the hundreds of dog-friendly eatery/coffeehouse/brewery patios in the state can testify to the role which dogs play in our social lives. Any Coloradoan should be able to reasonably presume that a non-violent encounter with law enforcement won't result in shots fired at any family member, whether canine or human.


9 thoughts on “Balmer, Guzman, Court and Coram Advance Sensible Dog Legislation

    1. ESPECIALLY from someone like Balmer. It's a nice reminder that even those whose policies generally seem nutty from our side of the aisle really are making a good-faith effort to govern well. Their idea of "well" is just dramatically different from ours.

  1. I say we pack this team off to D.C. and have them hold classes for those ill-beaved brats in Congress in how to work and play well with others.


  2. Last year I sat behind Balmer at a committee hearing a bill on foreclosure reform. As foreclosure victims were testifyimg about how they had lost their homes due to the fraudulent and even illegal actions of banks, Balmer had his laptop on surfing the web looking at dog sites and dog pictures. He then voted against the foreclosure reform bill which was killed.

    As a dog owner myself I'm glad Balmer is sponsoring this bill. But I wish he could show as much compassion and empathy for the families of foreclosure fraud as he does for our four legged family members.


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