By Tonya Bina, Sky-Hi News
A Kremmling resident is angered that a police officer shot his dog.
Adam Baird's Weimaraner-Labrador mix named Piston is “not a violent dog,” Baird said, despite an Oct. 15 incident when, according to Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade, Piston “lunged” at Kremmling Officer Tom Backer.
Spade said that Backer was right to use force in that situation.
Piston had escaped his fenced-in area attached to the Baird home that day and allegedly showed his teeth and growled at a lady in the vicinity of the Mountain Dollar Store across the highway, which led the woman to call dispatch stating she was “almost attacked” by the dog, according to the Grand County Sheriff's Office calls log.
After Piston had already returned home, Backer and the victim located him.
Officer Backer exited his police vehicle parked in the Baird driveway, according to Spade, and as he walked toward the Baird home, Piston jumped over the fence of his enclosed area and “lunged” at Backer, the dog allegedly barking and baring his teeth.
At that point, the officer discharged his firearm with the intent to harm Piston, but the bullet “grazed” the dog.
Baird had been home at the time, but did not see the event, he said.
“I understand my dog was out, and I understand he might have scared someone, but without him biting someone, to use deadly force I think is unacceptable,” Baird said.
According to the dog owner, Piston has never bitten anyone, although he can appear “boisterous” and intimidating.
“If he doesn't know you, he'll bark at you to protect the kids,” Baird said.
To Baird, Piston was just protecting his home and Baird's two young children, who were also home at the time. “There were kids running around,” Baird said. “(Piston) barks at people here and there but, other than that, there has never been an incident where he's bitten someone and, if he did, I wouldn't own him anymore.”
Spade confirmed there have been no formal past complaints concerning Piston.
After the shot, Piston immediately returned to his enclosure, according to both Baird and Spade.
Baird was cited for having a “dog at large” and for having a “viscous dog.”
According to Spade, the officer felt as though he was in harm's way and shot Piston to protect himself.
“Joe Public can't go out and be shooting dogs, but neither am I going to allow my law enforcement officers to put themselves in jeopardy,” Spade said.
Last week's incident echoes a similar shooting in March of 2006, when Chief of Police Glen Trainor killed a 50-pound pregnant boxer he mistook to be a pit bull in Fraser. The shooting of the dog, named Angel, in that incident similarly took place prior to the arrival of Animal Control.
According to a news report based on the police account of the 2006 controversial dog shooting, Angel had frightened pedestrians near the dog's home, and when Trainor arrived, the dog left the porch and “aggressively advanced towards Trainor while growling and barking with its ears laid back and the hair on its neck standing up.”
Because a gun was discharged, the case of Piston is now under investigation through the Grand County Sheriff's Office and the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.