Dacono, Colorado police shoot service dog
An internal police investigation is being conducted after a Dacono, Colorado police officer shot a 3-year old service dog on May 5. Witnesses to the shooting say the shooting was unnecessary, and the family is demanding answers as their family dog recovers from a gunshot wound to the test.
Mongo, a pit bull belonging to Iraq was veteran James Vester, got loose Sunday evening as Vester was doing some work in his yard on MacDonald Street. Mongo is a certified emotional service dog given to James to help alleviate PTSD after returning from the war.
A neighbor called police after Mongo escaped and came to her fence and started barking at her dogs. Since animal control officers are typically off on the weekend, two Dacono Police Department officers took the call. Those police officers have a very different story to tell than neighbors who witnessed the shooting.
According to officers, the dog became aggressive, barking and lunging at the officers. That's when officers fired one shot at Mongo, hitting him in the chest with a .45 caliber weapon. Police reported the dog as growling until they shouted and aimed a flashlight at it. After the dog was shot, police say they followed a trail of blood back to the owners home, where the dog allegedly lunged at them again.
Neighbor Heather Viera witnessed the shooting and said Mongo didn't bark, didn't growl and didn't lunge. In an interview to KDVR News, Heather stated “There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” Police ordered her to go in her house.
Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens backed up Heather's statement “There was no barking. It was dead silent — There was not a bark, there wasn't a growl,” said Stevens. “The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn't yell anything.”
Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs told KDVR that the police have their own witnesses, who claim the officer's were justified in shooting the family dog. The officer hasn't been placed on any kind of leave while the investigation takes place. It will take approximately two weeks before the police announce whether the officer did or didn't have the right to shoot Mongo.
Right now James Vester, who witnessed horrific events during his time in Iraq, is now dealing with the post traumatic stress of watching his best friend get shot when other non-lethal methods were available.
This shooting occurred on the heels of the Dog Protection Act being passed in Colorado, which will require police officer's to undergo training on dog behavior.
Mongo is in stable condition and expected to survive the shooting.