A controversy has erupted in Denver after police left a dog that was hit by a car alone for 90 minutes and threatened to arrest a neighbor trying to comfort the animal.
The incident happened on Wednesday in the middle of Federal Boulevard at West 21s Avenue and was captured on video. The footage showed the dog gasping for air for nearly 90 minutes.
A man who saw the dog hit by the car said the animal was clearly in pain.
“It was in shock, its pupils were totally dilated. It couldn’t really move,” said neighbor Ross Knapp.
Knapp also gave the dog some water and tried to calm it down, but when Denver police arrived they threatened to arrest him.
“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.
By the time Animal Control officers arrived, the dog was close to death and did indeed die minutes later.
Denver police later stood by the decision, saying that no one on the scene was properly trained to treat the dog.
“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.
But many Denver residents are angry at how police handled the situation. One even started an online petition calling on the department to apologize.
The petition read:
“[The] Denver Police Department should be held to the highest standards of professionalism. As leaders of our community it is within their responsibility to handle any emergency, even one concerning the life of an animal, with compassion and concern. When the department fails to do this, they let down the public and create an image of mercilessness and cruelty.”
Records obtained by The Denver Channel indicated that Denver police called animal control 15 minutes after arriving on the scene of the dog hit by a car, but it took an officer an hour to arrive because he was coming from home.