Police say they acted to end wounded animal's suffering http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2008/dec/29/boulder-police-criticized-raccoon-shooting-univers/ By John Aguilar (Contact) Originally published 04:46 p.m., December 29, 2008 Updated 04:57 p.m., December 29, 2008 Shad Finney was heading to a midnight Christmas Eve church service on University Hill Wednesday when his quiet stroll was interrupted by the flash of a muzzle and the sound of a gunshot. And then another. He slipped behind a telephone pole and called 911 while his friend dove for cover next to a garbage bin in an alley. Finney, 39, and his friend had just passed a parked police car and were worried that a horrifying gunfight had erupted between law enforcement officers and pistol-packing criminals. “I heard the two gunshots go off and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope those officers aren’t in a firefight,'” he said. On his way home from church, Finney passed by the scene of the commotion — on College Avenue, between 10th and 11th streets — and saw a dead raccoon with clear entrance and exit wounds in its body. Finney said a couple of things about the evening confused him. He was surprised police officers decided to fire their guns in such a densely populated part of Boulder to put down an animal. Finney said he worries that the bullets could have easily ricocheted into a nearby home. “Maybe someone could remind them to be more cautious about discharging a gun in the inner city,” he said Monday. Finney also couldn’t understand why the raccoon was left lying along College Avenue for two days before animal control officers finally picked it up. “Can we take it somewhere where it’s not deteriorating and possibly spreading disease?” he asked. Finney said he was concerned that without having undergone a closer inspection, the raccoon may have suffered after being shot and died a slow and agonizing death. Boulder police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said the officer, who had responded to a call of an injured or “half-dead” raccoon at 10th Street and College Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, acted appropriately. She said the officer followed the city’s use-of-force policy, which permits police to shoot dangerous or severely injured animals in self-defense or to end the animal’s suffering. Huntley said police know how to fire their weapons without putting the public in danger. “Our officers are well-trained in the behavior of projectiles and the use of firearms,” she said. Huntley acknowledged that police overlooked relaying a message about the need to dispose of the raccoon’s carcass to the city’s animal control division. “I can’t find a record that we did this in this case,” she said, blaming the late-night call and the holiday for the oversight. “But the risk of that animal being there for a couple of days from a public health perspective is minimal.” Lisa Pedersen, the head of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, agreed. She said the chance of anyone becoming infected by the dead raccoon was “very minimal.” The Humane Society contracts with Boulder to enforce the city’s animal control ordinances and is the agency that normally responds to animal incidents throughout the city. Pedersen said while animal control officers don’t carry guns. They rely instead on catch-poles or nets to capture an animal and on sodium pentobarbital injections to euthanize it, she said. But, Pederson said, using a well-aimed bullet is considered a humane form of animal euthanasia by the American Veterinary Medical Association. ==== Shad sounds like he should move to San Francisco. What the hell would he of liked the cops to do?