Denver Police Threaten a Good Samaritan While Dog Suffers and Dies

A 14 year old mixed breed dog named Harley ran out a door accidentally left open by his kids last week.  His family began searching for him by putting up fliers around the neighborhood and online.  Unbeknownst to owner Dani Juras, Harley had been hit by a car just 2 blocks from home that night.  Ross Knapp, a compassionate resident who lived near the scene of the accident, brought water out to Harley, who was severely injured, and stayed by his side to comfort him while waiting for help to arrive.

Instead, the Denver police arrived and told Mr. Knapp he could not comfort Harley or take him to a vet for treatment.  Mr. Knapp tried repeatedly to get back to Harley’s side as he lay gasping for breath in the street but the police threatened to arrest him if he did not leave.  Denver police contacted the on-call ACO and stood guard over the suffering pet for more than an hour, preventing anyone from assisting.  Harley finally died shortly before the ACO arrived.

Screengrab from the ABC 7 website depicting Harley's owners meeting the Good Sam who tired to help him.
Screengrab from the ABC 7 website depicting Harley’s owners meeting the Good Sam who tired to help him.

The heartbroken owner would like to see the officers held accountable for their cruelty in some way.  One local pet advocate wrote to city council, asking that the city stagger its ACO shifts so there would be better coverage for community pets in need during evening hours.  Dozens of people attended a memorial for Harley last night.  But the police department has stood by the actions of its officers:

Denver Police said injured dogs are unpredictable and helping them puts both the animal and the person at risk.  Police posted a YouTube video in which a veterinarian and animal control officer explain why it’s best to wait for professionals to handle an injured animal.

While we can all agree that allowing a trained professional to handle an emergency situation sounds ideal, it’s not always practical in real life.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to allow the Good Sam to transport the dog to a vet and free up the resources of the police department so they didn’t have to stand guard over a dying pet?  I mean, assuming Denver still has actual crime happening?

Harley’s right to live should have been protected.  Instead, he was left to suffer an agonizing death while the police threatened someone willing to try to save Harley’s life.  Trying to help an injured dog is not a crime.  If these officers are not needed in Denver to fight real crime, perhaps they should be laid off or at least transferred to the Threateners of Good Samaritans department, since Denver apparently sees such a need.

(Thanks Tonya for sending me this story.)

58 thoughts on “Denver Police Threaten a Good Samaritan While Dog Suffers and Dies

  1. No animal should have to suffer and for so long like Harley did. How sad for the owner that they have to live with the knowledge that Harley may have been saved if the police had acted compassionately. I don’t understand why Harley couldn’t have been muzzled, even with a makeshift muzzle, slid onto a board, and transported to a veterinary clinic.

    1. I wonder how the Denver police handle a mentally ill person standing on the roof of a building in the night. Oh we called a psychiatrist who will be here in an hour or so. Til then, no one do anything.

      1. Is there really some kind of law in Denver that prevents people from helping injured pets?? That would be ridiculous in and of itself. I thought law enforcement existed for the very definition of their name – to ENFORCE law… not make them up as they go. Either way – this is shameful of the Denver PD.

      2. Comparing an animal to a human is insane. I love animals too, but I use common sense. It’s two totally different situations. Get a grip.

      3. Comparisons should be done on an individual basis. There are many ‘humans’ who are not the equal, let alone the ‘superior’ of a particular animal. I know someone who raped a 14 year old. If he was in a burning house, along with his dog (which he also treats badly), and I could save one of them, I’d save the dog, and I would not have done the wrong thing in my book. In this case, the cop has shown he deserves less respect than the dog he refused to help in any way whatsoever. Luckily for him, he probably won’t have to die in agony and alone, although he should have nightmares about that happening to him. He certainly deserves that.

  2. You call police because you want help. Instead, they hinder. And they wonder why people don’t trust them.

    I think you should be able to call police when you need them – and if they aren’t helpful, you should be able to send them away, again.

    1. Police have to conduct themselves within the boundaries of the written law. When he steps out of those boundaries then he should be called on the carpet. Just because he doesn’t do it the way you want him to does not mean he is not right. You should join an auxiliary police dept. of your local city then you can learn a little more. Then you may understand more of what you are talking about. Walk a mile in their shoes then you will understand. Don’t talk about these good men they put their very lives on the line to protect you. You ever thought you may be the hindering one and possibly an action of yours could cost one of them their life.

      1. In this case, the police not only didn’t help a suffering dog, but actively prevented a citizen from doing so, while the dog lay there, dying, in pain. That’s cruelty. Blather about protecting the citizen as well as the dog is exactly that–blather. This was WRONG, unambiguously.

      2. John, stop being a fool. You act as if there are simple, across-the-board ‘rules’ that should be used without thinking at all about whether they actually apply, let alone help a situation. The idiot cop was in no danger, and even if the good samaritan had been bitten, he can’t sue the police or the city, so there was absolutely no reason for the cop and his chief to fall back on the ‘protecting the public’ bullshit. No one needs to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ to understand that 1) there was no ‘investigation’ going on that the citizen was interfering with, and 2) the citizen was not putting anyone else in danger by helping the dog. The cop was flat out wrong in his actions. Being a power-mad jerk, just because you’re wearing a uniform, doesn’t make your actions right.

  3. And yes, any injured animal can be dangerous. But that doesn’t mean that EVERY injured animal is dangerous. Surely they should be able to evaluate on an individual basis?

    1. Then become an officer or shut up! Don’t judge someone unless you do what they have to do. Join the nspca like me if you want to be on call to come to the aide of these animals. You can love animals but don’t let it get in the way of your common sense if you have any. We as overseers must realize that treating them humanely does not mean they are human. I watched firemen and police officers give mouth to mouth to a litter of puppies 6 in all that was overcome by smoke from a grass fire. You know you don’t have a dog in this hunt.

      1. Wrong.

        We as citizens DO have both the right and the responsibility to evaluate how the police are doing their jobs. They are public servants, not public masters, and no, the fact that they do risk their lives does not exempt them from being judged for bad behavior.

        No one was served by preventing help to this dog and allowing the dog to die in pain without even any comfort. It’s a moral outrage, and I wonder if you’re the cop who did it. Because it sure wasn’t the firefighters and cops who give mouth to mouth to pets rescued from a fire who committed this outrage.

      2. Well stated about the police being public servants. It really is a matter of human decency. How do you “protect and serve” and let a living breathing creature suffer for so long.

  4. Thank you for doing the blog. I was so upset and then to see the animal control officers laughing, makes me when to throw up. My heart goes out to the family who is suffering.

  5. The Denver Police force is a joke. How many family pets have they shot over the past few years? That cop had an opportunity to do the right thing and being the uncaring POS he is that poor dog died. The dog could barely breath and they were afraid he was going to bite? Really?
    And the Information Officer is a jerk too. “I don’t have time to watch the video but I am sure the correct procedures were followed”
    Just recently a motorist in the Baltimore area hit a dog. She found am officer who parked his car to protect the dog and tended to him until AC arrived, which was not 90 minutes. That is a real man!

  6. Outraged!! Something should be done. I’d do a youfundme account, look for a lawyer, sue the police dept or at least attempt to make their life hell. I’ll be damned if I don’t get irate over someone letting an animal suffer rather than letting me help!!

  7. This happened to me in Calif. where a dog was hit by a car right in front of my house. I could not stand the look on the dog with such pain so I tried to pick the baby up. At this time a police car had come by and yelled at me to get out of the street. I said “NO” and the police car turned around. I was not going to leave the dog in the street to be hit again. I wanted to take him to a vet and teh officer said No I couldn’t cause it wasn’t my dog. The police was going to ticket me and I said “go ahead”. I will not leave this dog. Finally the officer helped me atleast get him out of the street. The officer kept saying it was not good as he wasn’t going to make it. I asked him if he was a Vet to beable to offer that advise ? I finally had my way and the officer even helped me put him in my car. Ofcourse he died but not alone.

    1. If the good Samaritan would have gotten injured after the officer got there then the officer, police dept. and city could have been held responsible. I love dogs too. I was a police officer and there is policy put into place to protect both the officer and pedestrians in situations like this. You have to use your head and not just your heart. Remember the police are the fine line between you and lawlessness. Maybe they should strike for about a month. You would change your comments then. You are going to need them someday. So remember what your saying about them the next time you turn on the news and see that one has been killed in the line of duty trying to protect someone like you. Oh yea look on you tube at the police officers risking their lives to save animals. How about starting a petition of thanks to those officers. Or are you one of those people who just hate the police no matter what?, and look for reasons to down grade them. I’m glad they don’t feel that way about you . If they did they would not be officers of the law.

      1. John, an individual citizen is NOT able to sue a cop or a city concerning anything that happens ‘during the performance of their duties’ no matter how horrendous the situation. Show me one case that succeeded and I’ll show you a thousand that don’t evn get a hearing. Cops and their departments and cities are not held responsible and I’m sick and tired of that bs being used as an excuse for crappy behavior.

        And LOTS of cops look down on civilians. Saying that they don’t is stupid. I live just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. The 30+ cops who fired more than 130 bullets into a car at two people should tell you cops often look upon civilians as scum, deserving of the most extreme actions. The two people in that car can’t tell you that, of course, because they’re dead.

  8. Unacceptable..these cops need to be punished for this. i just dont understand one has any empthay for thoughts and prayers go out to this family and my heart goes out to this poor dog…

  9. Please go to and start a petition for change…This is so sad and I am so sorry for the little girl and her family that lost there baby….God Bless You

  10. I’m so sick of the actions of the Police! They have no compassion nor common sense! I’m sure they feel no remorse for letting Harley did! And they wonder why people are against them! They’ve lost all respect!

    1. You must have received a citation for speeding or texting while driving from a police officer or at the least been given a warning. God forbid anything happen to you that an officer has to come to your aide or get between you and danger in order to keep you from getting harmed. What would you think of that officer then. The next time you see a police officer you need to thank him for putting his life on the line in order to keep you and your family safe. I love dogs, I own dogs and I was also a police officer. Go put a uniform on for a while you will soon change your mind, because you will soon meet someone like yourself.

      1. John, stop trying to say that because a cop MIGHT ‘put his life on the line’ for citizens that that allows them to act like cretins and bully, intimidate, harass, and otherwise treat civilians like annoying problems not deserving of thought. And suggesting that all it takes for someone to be unhappy with cops is getting a ticket, is showing what an ignorant, nasty person you are. Please go home and hug your dog. Realize that the dog gives you compassion and love all the time, whether you’re being a jackass or not, and that’s why dogs are so often better ‘people’ than people.

  11. police like this seem to be bullies just because they can – there was NO reason why they could not have done the rightful and humane thing… these police are suppose to BE THERE FOR THE COMMUNITY NOT to BOOST their own ego,muscle power and glorification..

  12. Those idiots, what do they like seeing an animal suffer? They have no souls or hearts, they have no brains those stupid Denver cops!!!! They should be arrested for what they did!!!

  13. • Here’s something for the policemen and
    politicians to consider before writing their future…
    Mr. Policeman, a little food for
    thought…for every dog that is or was murdered by a policeman you have left or
    will leave behind a trail of children with PTSD, some may not even realize it
    for days, weeks, months or even years. You are singled handedly and sub-
    consciously removing all trust in law enforcement they may have had and taught
    them all about murder. You are not killing a murderer, robber, etc….but instead
    you are killing a companion, a friend, someone they love. Don’t be surprised if
    one day all of this comes back to haunt you and the only one to blame will be
    Every time a child watches a video or
    hears of a policeman shooting / killing
    or dragging someone’s pet off or talks about a policeman shooting / killing or
    dragging someone’s pet off, which with today’s technology will be every minute
    of every day, another child will develop PTSD.
    This is your legacy for the children of our
    future. —- And when a child experiences a traumatic
    event, which is what you are providing a lot of, it will often follow them
    throughout life. Obviously policeman shooting/killing and dragging dogs off to
    their deaths is a practice of brutality that has been going on for some time
    and it is only because of today’s technology / social media that it has been
    brought out in the open and exposed it
    to the masses.
    World is watching and speaking …and I hope these policeman stop and think about
    the consequences of their actions and change their practices before they create
    a society of children with little to no regard for life….they are affecting
    their own children as well and are probably not even aware of it. The children
    are watching not only the policeman but any and everyone involved including the
    politicians allowing this barbaric practice…
    when your child or any child asks you why that policeman is killing peoples
    dogs/pets/family members….give them the police department, mayor, governor and
    anyone else involved phone number and tell them to ask that person….They are
    the ones murdering these dogs/pets/family members let them explain it to the
    children they are affecting…..
    Continue taking pictures and videos for
    posting so the world can see. Also provide a list of Names with email
    addresses physical addresses and
    phone numbers to Police
    department heads, government
    offices and anyone else you can think
    of, so people of the world can have a
    medium to voice their opinions/feelings on what is being done there and so they can SHARE…SHARE…SHARE… These agencies need to
    be and will be bombarded with calls,
    emails and letters
    from around the world… then maybe they will rethink what they are
    planning to do….who knows maybe and
    Hopefully “ANONYMOUS” will pick up on this and assist in our
    fight. Their motto is “JUSTICE IS COMING’… just
    ask the police dept. in Hawthorne California..
    . …..your actions serve only to further
    desensitize the minds of the people and our children regarding law
    Get any and every bit of information you can about that
    cop to include pictures of him, place of employment with phone numbers and
    email addresses and anything significant. Then post it and
    SHARE—-SHARE—-SHARE for the World to
    see. This will also give the world a venue to respond and voice their opinion
    on that cops murderous action. No one likes their dirty laundry exposed,
    especially to the world…

    1. Very well stated and we need more people to be outraged at this lack of human compassion. We pay their salary and this is the best they can do?

  14. Shirley – you read my mind with your comment about an at risk mentally ill person needing help. This is what a Good Samaritan does. Gives of themselves freely to help another in need. Since when is this illegal?? Anyone can jump in an help at any time and freely put themselves in danger if they are led to. The police are not culpable for human actions like this. It makes me sick. This is the same tired, horrendous excuse w2e hear law enforcement say when they shoot family pets…the dog was “unpredictable.”

    1. This situation is totally unacceptable. No justice for the heart break the family is going through and no excuses for law enforcement who let this happen.
      It is pure evil.

  15. I’m afraid they would have to arrest me
    I am a Vet Nurse Student & there is no way
    I would of stepped aside & watched Harley
    Pass away all alone!!! Too many people still
    Think that animals do not have feelings or
    Emotions….this is Not True !!! Poor Harley
    I feel bad for his family as well. I’m sure
    They are upset in more ways than one!
    I hope one day the world will realized that
    Animals live, breath & feel just as we do

  16. This is sad and utterly stupid on the Denver Police. Did they think Animal control was going to zoom over there like an ambulance and help the dog? HELL NO! I think the police should be held accountable for the death of this dog because if he would have gotten help from good samaritan that he could have been taken to the veterinarian’s office and even if he didn’t make it, he would have died in comfort not on a hot street. Sue the hell lout of these stupid officers.

  17. I am a dog lover and I was a police officer. My heart goes out to the family. That dog was family. Even if the dog is not human it does not mean he’s not loved like he is human. But people have to realize that even the most humble and loving dogs when in pain and shock can change and become very defensive of their injuries. In this case the police where right in the way they handled it. It’s a shame it turned out the way it did. Believe me that officer felt really bad, but policy is policy. If the dog would have injured the good Samaritan after the officer got there the officer and police dept. could have been held accountable. The police are looking out for the safety of the public, their job is to protect and serve.
    I personally witnessed what an injured dog can do to someone. I was familiar with the dog as being a really friendly dog always greeting everyone he met. It was hit by a car and the owner went to it and the dog bit him on the hands and arms because the owner was causing more pain to him. I think after everything settled and the dog got the care it needed it comforted the owner as to say it was sorry. I understand both sides I ask the public to try and understand too. Give the police a break you don’t know the pressure they are under everyday.

    1. John, you don’t know what that particular cop was thinking or feeling, so stop excusing his behavior. Maybe you would have felt bad about not helping and not allowing anyone else to help a dog, slowly dying in fear and pain (although I doubt that), but there is no excuse to keep saying the cop was ‘helping protect’ anyone. Even if the man had been bitten, he can’t sue for it, so stop saying that what the cop did was right. It wasn’t.

  18. What crappy thing for the police to do…do they learn that at the academy? because there is an epidemic of cruel cops like this…

  19. Why was Harley “left in the street”? At the very least the Police should have allowed Harley to be moved out of the street, as he would create an on-going danger not only to himself, but to traffic. And I wonder what “regulations” the police are “following” that states that an on-looker or “responder” such as this citizen are not allowed to give aid to an injured dog? Again, this is a family that most likely won’t be able to ask these questions in a “legal” setting, i.e. courtroom…but I would sure LOVE to see some of the cases taken to court and the Police sued.
    In regard to injured animals biting and/or lashing out…OF course they can…but as a first responder, or a concerned person that wishes to “help” you take that risk. And to a great extent, this gentleman was not trying to handle the dog…he was offering water, and simply sitting with the dog until someone COULD help in more depth.
    As for the Police? Well, yes, I do understand the pressure they are under. I have/had family that served as State Troopers and local Police as well. You can read literally hundreds of articles these days from around the country about the poor interaction of police and dogs. Police need to be better trained in animal issues, since they seem to run into them on an almost daily basis…and in many cases, the dogs ARE ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY, and still at risk of being shot and/or killed.
    But until it is your dog…these incidents don’t seem to be too important.

  20. John- As someone who has risked my own life to get out in the street to comfort injured animals more than once in my life, any risk is the Good Samaritan’s to take. I’m sure nearly all of us have heard about how dangerous an injured animal can be. I was raised hearing it. I was also raised hearing my mother say that if I ever died young, it would be “from some damn animal”. And yet I have never in my 50 years passed up an injured animal ( including a few wild ones) without helping in whatever way I could. It was MY risk to take, and I chose to take it. Just as the man in this story was choosing to take it. And no cop should have had the right to stop him.

  21. Maybe the Denver Police should talk to Baltimore,MD city officers, because they reach out to All pets. They have a way to understand what a dog needs. Maybe the Denver Police needs more training in helping injured pets, or strays for that matter. Carry some food, and a leash. They are scared and hurt. Why in the world would you not do something to help them, or allow a citizen to help them if you the police officer is TOO SCARED! Absolutely an inhuman approach. Have your congressman change some rules!!!!
    Glad I don’t live in Denver! I’d fear for my dog.

  22. I’ve seen petitions asking the police to apologize etc., but did anyone start a petition to change a policy or a procedure. The bottom line is that something very wrong happened here. I hear all the sides, but the thing is, something has to change. Maybe it’s as simple as allowing a good samaritan to take responsibility. If something like that were “legal”–I don’t know if it’s legal in Denver or not. But someone should have been allowed to do something. That dog wasn’t just a dog (not that there is such a thing); he was a family member. He lived two blocks away. He loved and was loved. And it seems that for a bunch of people to stand around for 1 1/2 hours and watch a dog die is just plain wrong. Could the equivalent of an ASPCA have been called? A local emergency vet? I would think something could be done so that this doesn’t ever happen again. I’ll gladly sign a petition if one exists.

  23. Injured animals can be dangerous, but a dog can only bite with his mouth – how hard would it have been to take a shoelace or something to secure the dog’s mouth (even partly open for breathing if the dog is gasping) so that you can safely handle him? But no, instead they allowed him to lay there and suffer – when he might have been saved with a fast trip in a cop car to the emergency vet.

    Rules may be rules, but compassion should rule the day. To say that “no one got hurt because they followed procedure” is wrong – look at the grieving family and tell me again that no one was hurt by their enforced inaction.

  24. The dog was unable to get up and was barely breathing, I don’t think he was much of a threat. The man who was helping the dog wasn’t being forced to and the police could have let him comfort the dog knowing if the dog bit him they would testify that he did so voluntarily after being warned by the police. I’m sure they had some sort of recording device and plenty of other witnesses. That way the dog would have been comforted and the police would have covered their butts. People just don’t think or care.

  25. I feel sorry for Harley and his family. I also feel angry about people making excuses for the non action of the police officer and stating that the police department and the city would be sued if officer allowed the Good Samaritan to continue helping the dog. First off, the person is assuming the risk of being injured by the dog when he went to give the dog water and sit by it. When a person assumes a risk, they are liable for their own actions and would have a hard time proving that some one else owes them a liability in a court of law. Second under the Good Samaritan law, the person helping out is protected from being held liable for any issues that arise from their help. Third, where is the State Statute or case law that prevents a person or bystander from helping an injured animal. If there is no statute or case law that prevents the help and the officer was not going to provide the dog any help, he should of stepped aside to let the Good Samaritan to continue to help and comfort Harley.

    John, I am not a cop hater. I appreciate most police officers and what they do everyday in their line of work. The ones that I do not appreciate are the ones who think, feel, and act like they are above the law and society, the ones that bully the good citizens of our communities. The police community is just like any other community, there is the good and the bad in it. It is terrible to think that every person that disagrees with the action of the police is a cop hater. As a citizen of our society, I have the right to question the action/s of people who represent our law and government and to agree or disagree with their action/s. Under the First Amendment, I have the right to voice that opinion as long as I am not infringing on that person’s rights. To say I disagree with the way the officer handled the issue is not infringing on the officer’s right of handling the issue the way the officer saw fit at the time or is it infringing on the way the officer will handle any upcoming issue. Most of these people are just pointing out that the problem could have been handled in a more humane way and that maybe there is a need for more and/or better training in this area.

  26. Common sense would be a wonderful criteria for law enforcement to have, don’t you think?… no reason why they refused to allow this person to help this dog. And, why couldn’t they transport the poor dog to the vet themselves instead of standing over it for an hour waiting for animal control to get there? Idiots! Cruel idiots… RIP Harley…

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