Colorado Springs Police Release Statement About Fatal Shooting Of Dog

Owner Joshua Birch shares this photo of a bedroom window after a bullet ricocheted and penetrated his home. Police say they were forced to shoot Birch's home after his dog came charging at them and refused to back down.

The family that lost their pet during the course of a police investigation early Friday morning tell 11 News they're devastated.

They're even more shaken up that a bullet went through a window into their home.

Springs police say officers were forced to shoot and kill a pit bull after it came charging towards them and refused to back down. Police tell 11 News the dog was exhibiting aggressive behavior, and the officers were afraid of being attacked.

The officers were searching the 1100 block of Sandpiper Drive for suspects in vehicle break-ins that had been reported just after 3 a.m. Their encounter with the dog happened just before 4 a.m.

Joshua Burch says he was sitting outside with his dog keeping watch over his street. Birch says he was doing so because they've had a lot of suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

But the late hour finally took its toll, and Burch says he fell asleep. He woke up to gunshots--and then saw police shooting his 2 1/2-year-old pit bull, Kara.

Then to his horror, he realized one of the shots had gone through his home.

"I was torn up they killed my dog," Burch said through tears. "But my biggest concern was they could have killed someone in my family."

Birch's wife was asleep in the bedroom where the bullet tore through the window. His two young sons were in the next bedroom over.

Police say the bullet ricocheted off the ground, causing it to enter the bedroom.

Colorado Springs Police released a statement Friday on their version of the events.

The statement is:

On 08/30/2013 at approximately 0320 am, two uniformed Colorado Springs Police Department officers were looking for suspects who had been breaking into cars. As the officers were driving in a fully marked police car in the 1100 block of Sandpiper Drive they encountered a male lying on the ground. The male, later identified as the owner of the dog was on his back with his feet up on the west curb. He was laying outstretched so that his legs, back and head were on the blacktop of the road.

As an officer approached to check the male’s welfare, the officer verbally identified themselves. They stated “Police” and requested the male show his hands. The male stood up and staggered towards the middle of the street. The male was noticeably intoxicated. The second officer noticed a large dog running towards the first officer.

The first officer asked the male several times “Is this your dog?”, as they backed away from the rushing animal. The dog was charging aggressively, barking and growling. The dog moved forward from a distance of fifteen feet to within five feet of the officer. The officer fired a total of four shots at the dog. The dog succumbed to the injuries.

Officers were contacted by a female due to a ricochet that had entered the window of a home. The female was identified as the wife of the male who was lying in the street. At the time of the incident the dog’s owners were not cited pending conclusion of the investigation.

When officers from the Colorado Springs Police Department make the difficult decision to use a firearm in order to protect themselves from an animal attack, they are guided by General Orders and Operating Policies.

General Order 720 states in partial that “Officers may use deadly force only to protect themselves or others from what the officers reasonably believe to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury”. “The killing of an animal is justified to prevent substantial harm to the officer or another person, or when the animal is so badly injured that humanity requires its relief from further suffering.”