Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado – Today the District Attorney declined to file charges against Cole Sammons related to the fatal shooting of a dog on December 17th 2018. The District Attorney also declined to file charges against Jeffrey Fowler for having a dog at large. The District Attorney’s Legal Conclusions are attached.
From the evidence, it appears that the dog “Demon” was owned by Robert Ballard and left under the supervision of Jeffery Fowler. Mr. Fowler let the dog out of the house and it ran to the adjacent property belonging to the Sammons. There it entered a bull pen and began chasing and biting at livestock. Mr. Fowler was unable to call the dog back. Cole Sammons saw that the dog was chasing, biting and barking at the family livestock in the bull pen. Mr. Sammons fired one shot wounding the dog in the bull pen. After the dog left the pen, Mr. Sammons fired a second shot killing the dog.
Colorado Revised Statutes, § 35-43-126, states that “Any dog found running, worrying, or injuring sheep, cattle, or other livestock may be killed, and the owner or harborer of such dog shall be liable for all damages done by it.” “Worrying” is defined in case law as “to run after; to chase; to bark at.” The statute’s express authority to kill the harassing animal contains no limitations. For instance, there is no requirement for a livestock owner to fire a warning shot or make any effort to drive the dog away before killing the dog. Because we conclude that Mr. Sammons had complete authority under this statute to kill “Demon,” the District Attorney’s Office will not bring charges against Mr. Sammons.
It appears that Mr. Fowler did not exercise appropriate control over “Demon.” However, the District Attorney’s Office has elected not to file charges against Mr. Fowler for having a “Dog at Large,” in violation of a county ordinance, recognizing that Mr. Fowler and Mr. Ballard have suffered the loss of the dog.
Legal Conclusions Dog Shooting.pdf