Family says Thornton police shot, killed their dog; Thornton PD says pit bull was acting aggressive

THORNTON, Colo. - A dog owner is outraged after she said Thornton police officers shot and gravely injured her dog last week when it was cornered.

However, police say the 70-pound pit bull had  gotten loose and had tried to attack a child, a man and a police officer.

The incident began last Tuesday afternoon when police and animal control officers were called to a mobile home at Thornton Parkway and Huron Street. The male caller reported that the dog tried to attack and bite a 10-year-old child playing in a yard. The man said he helped rescue the child but then the dog tried to bite him, Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes said.

That man called 911 once he got inside his house and reported an aggressive dog at large.

Police said while an animal control officer and police officer were attempting to take the dog into custody with a catch pole, the dog charged and attempted to attack a police officer.

"He fired one round as the dog was 1-2 feet from him," Barnes said in a statement sent to 7NEWS.

The dog's owner, Kacey Stringham, admits she didn't see what happened. She said she was taking a shower when her dog, Sara, escaped the house. She said when she got out of the shower, she found out Sara had been shot across the street.

The dog survived the shooting. Police said animal control took the dog immediately to an animal hospital. Stringham said she begged officers for 25 minutes before they agreed to take Sara to the vet.

At the hospital, vets determined the gunshot had paralyzed Sara. Stringham said because there was no hope for recovery, she chose to have Sara humanely euthanized. 

While the doctor was prepping Sara for euthanasia, Stringham said Animal Control officers issued her a citation for Dog at Large and Vicious Animal.

Barnes said Thornton police have been dispatched to the area several times over the past year and a half regarding dog issues.

Stringham has hired attorneys with the Animal Law Center to represent her and Sara.

"It’s unfathomable that we are once again grieving for another dog shot in Thornton by police," said Jennifer Edwards, lawyer and founder with The Animal Law Center. "As you may recall, this is the very situation that we want to prevent with the passage of Colorado’s new Dog Protection Act. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have the training program already in progress. Sara’s death was unnecessary and without a doubt avoidable."

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