The officer, who the Commerce City Police Department would not name and was not injured, has continued with her normal duties after the shooting Wednesday afternoon at a home at Rosemary Street and 88th Avenue.
Homeowner Frank Agazio had misdialed 911 while programming a phone.
A dispatcher called back and was assured there was no emergency. That information was relayed to the responding officer before she arrived at the home.
The Agazio family assumed the incident was over before it began. Twelve minutes later, a shot was heard from the front driveway.
"I just saw my dog die right in front of me," 13-year-old Maria Agazio said. "My dog was lying on the ground twitching."
Zoey, a mixed breed, weighed approximately 35 pounds, according to the family. Two other dogs, both smaller than Zoey, were in the area.
A written release from police said the officer was "immediately confronted by three large, vicious dogs" and that Zoey "attempted to attack."
Police spokesman Officer Chris Dickey says the dogs ran at the officers barking. Dickey says that behavior, while consistent with a dog protecting its territory, qualified it as "vicious."
Zoey was not aggressive and did not have a history of altercations with strangers like deliverymen, the family said.
Dickey said the officer had pepper spray, but opted to use her firearm because she felt her life was in danger.
"People want to jump to conclusions and say that the officer was trigger-happy or that they were eager to kill a dog. That's not the case" Dickey said. "We do not enjoy doing something like that. However, our safety is paramount in these situations."
"I just think she should have stomped her foot, hollered at the dog, or even, pepper-sprayed it, instead of putting a bullet in its heart," Frank Agazio said. "I'd think shooting a dog would have been a last resort."
Dickey would not say how long the officer has been on the force; however, he said it was the first time she had discharged her firearm while on duty.
The officer did not make a mistake, Dickey said, but an internal review of the incident is ongoing.
Dickey says residents should be aware that 911 calls remain classified as a priority call; even if a dispatcher has been told there is not an actual emergency, such as in the case of a misdial.
According to Dickey, callers should expect an in-person visit from an officer to ensure there truly is no emergency.
The Agazio family and police confirm that the dispatcher did not inform the family that an officer was still coming to the house.
Rene Dominguez, a supervisor at ADCOM, which handles dispatch duties for the Commerce City Police, says dispatchers intentionally do not tell accidental 911 callers to expect an officer shortly.
Dominguez says the element of surprise is necessary for officers to determine what is actually happening at the location.
Frank Agazio said that, had he known an officer was coming, he could have corralled his dogs and saved Zoey's life.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)