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Pit bulls at center of two shootings by Colorado police officers in two days

The debate about Denver's longstanding pit bull ban continues to raise passions among those who love the breed, as well as people who fear it. And this week, two separate incidents have fired more debate. One in which Edgewater officers killed a Rottweiler after the dog and a pit bull chased a postman has gotten the most attention in these parts -- but a day earlier, a Colorado Springs Police officer shot a pit bull in the head after the dog attacked him during a call.

Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Howard Black tells the story of the latter, which took place on July 31 at 4110 Shining Way. His says officers were dispatched to the home after receiving reports of shots fired. Upon their arrival, they discovered a pit bull in the yard, "so they weren't able to make contact," Black says. However, officers could see three kids inside, as well as an adult female. "They tried to make contact, but she just totally ignored them," he notes. "She wasn't going to come to the door."

Given the reported gunfire, supplemented by interviews with neighbors, who said they'd seen a man with a weapon, the cops called in canine units, as well as representatives from the Humane Society, and waited. Finally, after half an hour or so, "one of the kids opened the front door, and officers were able to secure one of the canines on the exterior of the house," Black says -- and inside, "they saw a male laying face down on a couch with a baseball bat next to him."

The man didn't respond to officers' commands, so they approached to see if he'd been shot. At that point, a pit bull emerged from an upper bedroom and came at one officer in what Black describes as "attack mode," prompting him to fire a single shot to the dog's head. The pit bull died immediately.

What came of the call? Black says there have been no charges related to the shooting, in part because all parties, including a man who'd left the scene a short time before police arrived, have refused to cooperate. That leaves the woman, identified as Karissa Chavez, 31, as the only person busted to date. She had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants, and has also been accused of failure to obey a lawful order and child abuse -- the later because she was obviously intoxicated, Black says.

The next day in Edgewater, the second dog shooting took place, reportedly prompted by a Rottweiler and a pit bull chasing a mail carrier on the 2400 block of Newland Street. He called 911 from a nearby address and cops soon arrived -- at which point the Rottweiler attacked one of the two officers, biting him in the thigh, and cornered the second one, who says he was chomped, too, before pulling out his gun and shooting the dog to death.

The pit bull wasn't directly involved in attacking the officers, but the dog had previously been impounded for going after the same postman -- and it's generated other complaints as well.

Despite these two incidents happening in such close proximity to each other, CSPD's Black says pit bull attacks are "uncommon -- so I think it's a coincidence. It does happen, but not with great frequency."

When it does, though, it makes big news -- just like everything else involving pit bulls. Look below to see a 9News report about the Edgewater incident.

More from our News archive: "Inside Denver's Pit Bull Row.'"


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