Commerce City Police dog shooting: Owner devastated, confused by pit bull label

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As we've reported in our previous coverage, on view below in its entirety, Chloe slipped out of the garage where she was being kept. A neighbor, Kenny Collins, saw her running loose and called the authorities -- and upon the arrival of officers, he recorded what happened next on a cell-phone camera. As captured in raw footage on page two of this update, Chloe is tased by a policeman and snared on a catch pole by a community service officer. But the policeman felt Chloe remained out of control and fired his weapon five times, shooting and killing her.

In later statements, the Commerce City Police Department maintained that this action was taken with an eye toward maintaining public safety, and stressed that those responding to the scene had undergone special training prompted by a previous dog-shooting incident in 2010.

But plenty of folks who've seen the video feel the shooting was unjustified and are sharing their feelings on the Justice For Chloe Facebook page (2,196 likes and counting) and a Justice for Chloe petition that has collected more than 4,100 signatures at this writing.

In the meantime, Chloe continues to be referred to as a pit bull in much of the case's coverage, prompted by the initial CCPD release, which dubbed her as an "unknown aggressive pit bull." The Animal Law Center's Jennifer Edwards, the attorney representing Branson, regards this as an example of "puppy profiling" -- assuming that by calling the dog a pit bull, people conditioned to think of the breed as vicious will naturally assume the shooting was justified.

As for Branson, he's puzzled by the pit bull claims. "She's a chocolate lab," he says, slipping unconsciously into the present tense.

Continue for more of our interview with Chloe's owner.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts