A silent epidemic of what animal rights activists and pet owners call “puppycide” – the surprisingly frequent shooting of family dogs by police and animal control officers – has been taken up by lawmakers in Texas.

A bill in the state House of Representatives that would mandate new training for officers who encounter canines won preliminary approval earlier this week. The measure is expected to move through the Legislature in the coming weeks, reports News Channel 10 (KFDA in Amarillo).

The officer training proposal, introduced in January, came after a rookie officer in Fort Worth killed a border collie last year. The officer was afraid of dogs and had not received training to deal with them out in the field, News 10 reported.

There are no state or national databases that track police shooting of dogs, and the FBI and the federal Department of Justice do not collect data on them. Last year, however, animal rights activists developing a documentary about police dog shootings calculated the incidence from news stories as part of a campaign to push for training reforms.

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