Animal lovers attend tribute for dog hit by car, left to die on street; ask for police policy change

DENVER - A memorial for a dog that died on a Denver street united the dog's owner with a local man who tried to save the pet.

Dozens attended the tribute for Harley the dog Wednesday, as motorists honked for people holding signs that read, "Harley Deserved Better" and "Justice For Harley." One dog wore a cardboard sign around his neck that said, "Denver Police don't care if I die."

Harley was hit by a car on April 9 near Federal Boulevard and 21st Avenue. As Denver Police blocked the scene from those looking to help, he laid in the street for more than an hour, visibly struggling to breathe, before an animal control officer arrived.

Harley died before the officer got there.

Dani Juras, Harley's owner, said she is grateful for Ross Knapp, the neighbor who tried to intervene and bring her dog water and comfort before police threatened to arrest him. The two met for the first time during the Wednesday evening gathering.

Knapp brought Harley water and was there, comforting him when police arrived.

"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.

Many in the community are outraged that Denver Police officers refused to let Knapp help Harley or even sit next to him.

"I wish my dog didn't have to die alone," Juras said in an interview with 7NEWS.

Knapp had also offered to take Harley to a veterinarian.

Denver Police said injured dogs are unpredictable and helping them puts both the animal and the person at risk.  Police 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.

In an email to Denver Councilwoman Susan K. Shepherd, a local realtor expressed thoughts from the community and asked for policy change.

The changes ask for new emergency after-hours procedures that would extend animal control officer hours.

"With the current number of staff, it is not productive to have all of the [Animal Control Officers] begin and end their shifts at the same time and only one ACO on standby," Sarah Solomon wrote.

A petition asking the Denver Police Department to issue an apology for their handling of the situation has gained more than 10,000 signatures.

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