DENVER (AP) — They say every dog has its day, but in Colorado they get an entire legislative session.
As shelter dogs and cats were designated the official state pets Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper also signed a measure requiring police to undergo training to prevent animals from being shot.
The measures passed the Colorado Legislature last month amid a combative lawmaking term, putting the state's four-legged friends among the big winners of the recently completed session.
The training legislation, which all 100 lawmakers supported, appears to be the first of its kind. As the bill was being discussed the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents police chiefs and sheriffs, said he was not aware of any state or local government with such a requirement.
Dog lovers pushed for the law, saying several recent deadly pet shootings by authorities were unnecessary and showed that officers needed help in identifying threats.
The legislation requires sheriffs' offices and police departments to offer three hours of online training on recognizing dog behaviors and employing nonlethal control methods.
"The idea here is to keep officers and animals safe," Hickenlooper said. The Democratic governor brought his dog, Skye, along for the bill signing. Hickenlooper also picked up the Akita-bulldog-chow chow mix from a shelter.
The state pet proposal was brought by schoolchildren, in what supporters say was an effort to teach them about the legislative process. It was a true civics lesson, as the measure sparked a fight and almost failed in its House committee.