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Denver police criticized for neglecting dog hurt in car wreck

It’s one thing for police officers not to offer any help to a suffering dog. It’s another — and maybe even more shameful — for them to prohibit a citizen from doing so.

That’s what happened in Denver last week.

A dog hit by a car spent 90 minutes gasping for air and died as police investigated the accident. A citizen who tried to help the dog was shooed away by an officer and told he was impeding their investigation.

Apparently police considered the dog evidence, as opposed to a living thing. Apparently, protocol was more important than saving his life, or putting him out of his misery.

Video shows the dog, which had a collar and leash but no tags, laying in the middle of Federal Boulevard for nearly 90 minutes, Channel 7 in Denver reported.

Ross Knapp, a bystander who sought to help the dog and bring him water, says he was threatened with being arrested.

“I had one of the officers tell me I had to leave and couldn’t be near it. I tried a couple of times to go back and he just finally said I’m impeding on an investigation and if I came back I’d be arrested,” Knapp said.

Channel 7 reports 15 minutes passed before police called animal control, and that it took the animal control officer an additional 60 minutes to arrive.

“It’s always about the personal safety of that individual. It’s not trying to be cruel to the animal or cruel to the individual. It’s best if we get the animal control people in there, let them do what they do as experts and let them take the actions,” said Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson.

harleyMany were distressed by the video, but none more so than Dani Juras, who’d been searching for her 14-year-old black Lab mix, Harley, since he escaped from her home Wednesday.

“I recognized Harley … I watched the video a couple of times and had others watch it hoping that somebody would say it’s just not him,” Juras said.

Juras contacted Denver Animal Control and confirmed Saturday morning that the dog seen in the 7NEWS video was her missing lab. Now she wants the officer who ignored her dog’s suffering to be held accountable.

“This animal was neglected and neglected by somebody that’s supposed to be there for your safety, supposed to take care of us in times like this,” Juras said.

Denver Police, in response to growing public indignation about the incident, posted a YouTube video in which a veterinarian and animal control officer explain why it’s best to wait for professionals to handle an injured animal.

Meanwhile, an online petition demanding an apology from the police department had nearly 8,000 signatures Sunday night.

Among them is that of Juras, who said she signed the petition before she even knew it was about her dog.

(Photo: Harley with his owner, Dani Juras / provided by Juras family)


Comment from Judith Pannebaker
Time April 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

What can you expect from a city that has BSL that has killed thousands of pit bulls since being enacted. Oh, and incidents of dog bites have actually increased!!!

Comment from Anonymous
Time April 14, 2014 at 5:57 pm

The officer should have put the dog down. They have the means , the training and the authority. So make the decision and do it.

Comment from Jen Brighton
Time April 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Regardless of rules, sometimes humanity leaves much to be desired. When my “pit bull” mix was hit on the freeway after chasing a deer, I am so thankful for the good Samaritans who pulled over to help him with no care for their safety. As I was running to the scene, this wonderful woman and her husband were trying to give my dog water, despite the fact that he was lying in one of the lanes of the freeway, bleeding from a head wound. Thankfully he lived and lesson learned for me about how far and fast a dog can run (including jumping a 4-ft fence)!

I believe I can truthfully say that the law enforcement personnel in my locale would never let a suffering dog lie for 90 minutes until it died and keep other citizens away who wanted to help, especially when it was obviously someone’s pet dog.

Comment from debbie
Time April 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I think not everyone understands, how, for a lot of us, our animal companions hold a very special place in our lives. While it’s true, that many folks still consider pets property, still other many folks do not. Being sensitive to others connections to their animal companions should be common empathy or courtesy, that comes from the heart, but nothing is common anymore. ‘Sensitivity training is a joke…if you have to be trained to be sensitive, then there’s something missing ( like a heart! )