Dogs & Laws

Federal Court Ruling: Police Can Shoot a Dog if it Moves or Barks When Officers Enter a Home

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A ruling by the 6th Circuit Federal Court in Michigan last week gave police nationwide the authority to shoot a dog if it moves or barks when officers enter a home.

The decision stems from a 2013 incident in Michigan where police shot and killed two dogs while executing a search warrant looking for drugs inside the home of Mark and Cheryl Brown. Following the incident, the Browns filed a petition with the court to hold the officers and city of Battle Creek responsible for the deaths of their dogs.

One officer testified that he shot the first dog after it “had only moved a few inches” in a movement that he considered to be a “lunge.” The dog then ran away from the officer to the basement, where it was shot again and killed.

The second dog was shot in the Brown’s basement after it was simply barking at the police, court documents said. The officer “testified that after he shot and killed the first dog, he noticed the second dog standing about halfway across the basement,” the court’s opinion explained. “The second dog was not moving towards the officers when they discovered her in the basement, but rather she was ‘just standing there,’ barking and was turned sideways to the officers.” The same officer shot the dog twice before a second officer “didn’t want to see it suffer,’ so he put her out of her misery and fired the last shot,” killing her.

“Given the totality of the circumstances and viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer, the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety,” Judge Eric Clay wrote in the decision.  “The standard we set out today is that a police officer’s use of deadly force against a dog while executing a search warrant to search a home for illegal drug activity is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when…the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety.”

According to court documents (below), the ruling allows “for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments.”

View the court documents here:

Court documents noted that the officers were aware, by a “Beware of Dogs” sign posted outside the home, verbally from the dogs’ owner, and by personally witnessing the dogs through a window before entering, that at least two dogs were present inside the home.

According to court documents, federal courts have also ruled that the “unreasonable killing of a dog” does constitute a “destruction of property” under the Fourth Amendment.

Still, in this case, the court sided with the officers.

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Pingback: Two Dogs Shot - This is Terrible... - PupBuzz

  2. Karen Wainwright

    Jan 17, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Nine year dog bite study results:

    **Lethal dog bites count for 1/1000th of 1% of deaths.

    (There are roughly 70-80 million dogs in the USA and about 320 million people. We kill 1.2 million through the shelters annually and more through other nefarious venues and activities.)

    **Non-fatal bites are only 1/10th of 1% of E.R. visits.

    **You are twice as likely to be killed by lightening; odds are even on death by either cow or forklift (careful in those Big Box shops, my city friends) and for children same on the playground and three times as likely to drown in a five gallon bucket.

    **80.5% HAD FOUR OR MORE OF THESE MAJOR FACTORS INVOLVED WHEN IT CAME TO FATALITIES:

    87.1% No able-bodied person being present to intervene

    85.2% Victim having no previous relationship with dog(s)

    77.4% Victim’s age/physical condition compromises ability to manage interactions with dog(s)

    76.2% Owners who keep residential (aka yard) dog(s), rather than family pet dog(s)

    37.5% Prior mismanagement of the dog(s)

    21.1% Abuse/neglect of the dog(s)

    **IN NONE OF THEIR STUDIES DID BREED PLAY A FACTOR**

    So, the Police do have a right to protect themselves, but if a wounded dog, that you’ve just shot, runs into the basement, and is followed by the other, why go after them? Is closing the door and waiting for Animal Control too risky? Is this the new acceptable Police brutality, now that they’ve been called out too much for their treatment of minorities?

    These officers are the type of trigger happy guys that escalate situations and put everyone at risk. Or in this case; end tragically for the dogs and no doubt, for many in the future. Shame on them, the judge and the country. My dog’s job is to do just what this dog was. We create and destroy.

  3. Frank

    Jan 4, 2017 at 3:49 am

    The United States has become the dumbest country on the planet.That judge should be treated the same way those dogs were.

  4. Pingback: Half of Intentional Police Shots Are Fired At Dogs, Study Says – The Dogington Post

  5. Denice Schaeffer

    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:53 am

    This is horrifying! It’s a dog’s nature to protect. What dog ISN’T going to move it bark when a stranger comes into their home? This needs to be challenged. I understand the safety of the police is important but this is absurd. Police killing pets that aren’t even aggressive has gotten out of control.

  6. kathy

    Dec 31, 2016 at 12:47 am

    maybe officer training needs to include something on learning the body language of dogs to determine if the dog is just barking or means to attack. And what would happen if a 5/6 yr. old kid grabbed a pair of scissors and ran at the officers yelling at them? would the officer shoot the kid? After all its a ‘threat’

  7. Kathy P

    Dec 30, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    This is WRONG and a crime! To me, this amounts to the murder of a family member. That would be like saying a citizen could shoot a K9 officer, if he/she barked. Both the furry family member and the K9 officer are doing what they would do naturally. Surely this ruling can be retracted. Who would come up with such a heinous idea?

  8. Natasha

    Dec 30, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Absolutely despicable! I’d like to shoot the officers who did that!

  9. Melissa Glenn

    Dec 30, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    These kind of killings of dogs is outrageous. If cops are so afraid to deal with dogs non-lethally then they should call animal control before entering the premises. This is just bad training on the police forces part and there are many other ways a police officer could have dealt with this. These kind of killings show what these types of police officers are … SAVAGES!!! Just because they hold a badge doesn’t make them any different than felony animal abusers.

  10. Joan

    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Another example of complete broken society! Every time an officer is called to action there should be an officer with skills to keep within the the law using common sense to protect all involved. Killing dogs just to relieve any obstacle is so wrong. Children may be in the home and if so, they will be trying to protect thier pet. And the pet is there to protect the fsmily. This law is inhumane and stupid. Using the word STUPID is the only word that describes this law. Dumb would be another word to use!!!!

  11. Ken Burritt

    Dec 30, 2016 at 10:35 am

    That just enabled every evil, trigger happy cop to needlessly execute non threatening dogs. What a travesty of justice.

  12. Tammy Wellock

    Dec 30, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Tjis can’t happen again. A petition needs started and signed by the masses against this action, the judges decision and that animals have rights! They were murdered in their own home with plenty of knowkwedgr the dogs were in the house before entering and liking them. This is a classic example of cops who love to kill and give good cops a bad name. They are dangerous men who have no business wearing a badge and carrying a gun!!

  13. Susan

    Dec 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I have registered my dogs because they are service dogs with my local police department . If they come to my house I can guarantee its my accident or for a medical emergency . None the less if it’s a police offficer, fireman, or EMT I do not want them to have a fear of my ver large dogs I want them to know they may bark but they are friendly and will take your commands . And most importantly will go to a room were they can close them into a room where all will be safe.. I go out at every chance for the fireman, EMT and the Policeman to meet my guys at all community activities.

  14. JP

    Dec 29, 2016 at 9:56 am

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous law! Dogs get excited and protective when people they don’t know enter their house. To say its ok for an office to shoot a dog for barking, is saying its ok to shoot a dog for simply being a dog. The broad sense of this law pretty much gives police the ability to shoot a dog at will after entering anyone’s house because a normal dog will likely bark and/or run to see who it is. This needs to be changed immediately!

  15. Pingback: Did a Federal Judge Rule Police Can Legally Shoot and Kill Dogs? – snopes.com

  16. Robelle

    Dec 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    My dog has 2 teeth left and is barely two inches off of the floor. He barks at everyone he doesn’t know. To him, he is just protecting me and the home he lives in when his previous owners neglected him and left him alone. By the time we got him, he was terrified of everybody and was skin and bone. Any stranger who appears as a threat to him would be barked at. This is a ridiculous court ruling.

    • Sandie Abel

      Dec 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Cops are supposed to serve and respect. Most of them do. When they don’t they should start looking for a different line of work. Lots of restaurants need dish washers.

  17. Cliff

    Dec 28, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Sounds more like the officers impose an imminent threat to the dogs !!!

    • JP

      Dec 29, 2016 at 9:58 am

      That’s exactly what it is!

  18. diana

    Dec 28, 2016 at 12:08 am

    This judge is a complete moron, and obviously has it in for dogs. Even service animals will be killed now by trigger happy idiots

  19. Rebecca Thomas

    Dec 27, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    This is so wrong. My dog is family and I would not want her shot simply by barking, she is just doing her job by alerting me that someone is near.

  20. Dee

    Dec 27, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I am a law abiding citizen. How does this happen? We have lost control. For one “judge” to put this into law, says a great deal. The only thing a law like this will lead to is anger and civil unrest. It’s not just the lack of common sense, it’s the shear arrogance. What’s next?

  21. Nancy Sellars

    Dec 27, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    This new law is so wrong. I am completely dumbfounded by it. All the officers have to do is use common sense. If there is a sign saying “Beware of dog” then proceed at your own risk OR call out, announcing your presence. If a dog rushes at you, again call out. And killing a dog on a leash or tether is just plain stupid! Why would you do that? Use COMMON SENSE! Stop murdering our dogs.

  22. Dustina

    Dec 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I am blind and my dog is a guide dog and he cost $60,000. If the place where the sheriff come to my house to issue divorce papers and my dog barks nearly to alert me that there is someone at the door and I opened it with the police officer shoot my Dog? Please officers arrest people who shoot their service dog and issues jail sentences up to 40 years, can I have them arrested and them sentenced to prison for 40 years for shooting my service dog?

  23. K9

    Dec 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Your all right this entire thing is Bullshit, it is bey6ond me when animal have been elevated to the same level as humans and in some cases beyond. Were there children in the house, how about older people who were being neglected? Nobody even considered that there was a legal search warrant to drug issued. Everyone said that dogs just bark, can you tie the two together. Dogs in a suspect drug house, wonder why, while it isn’t the dogs fault that they were there it certainly isn’t outside of the realm of possibility the dogs were there as a warning for those who were strongly suspected of doing illegal activities, strongly enough for a search warrant to issued. I am amazed that people are willing to even consider dying, and leaving, leaving all the people who love them and that they love to saw and animal or to even consider the though of killing another human because they have killed an animal. If police had said “lets just have open season on dogs” and start shooting them randomly then that is one thing. However I am willing to bet that these were not lap dogs, they were in a house that was a suspected drug den people, I am will to bet that they were not golden retrievers or a St. Bernard, for those of you who didn’t read the entire court ruling they were pit bulls, and belonged to a know gang member. While pit bulls can be a highly faithful and family friendly breed when purchased from a reputable breeder, I highly doubt that these were of that pedigreed. Common sense should tell you that these dogs were not family pets. The were there for one thing and that isn’t to protect that family, they were there to protect drugs. All the dogs in the world are not worth one human life. Dogs can be great companions and add a lot to the lives of their owners but don’t kid yourself into thinking that that was the reasons these dogs were around. Also consider that these dogs were shot in the LAWFUL search of a know gang members/drug dealers house. If you don’t put YOUR dogs in a criminal situation then YOU wont have to worry about police shooting them.

    • Cheryl

      Dec 27, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      That is basically what this IS. SHOOT FIRST ask questions later. You can taze a charging dog just like an unarmed person.
      You come into my house and murder my dog, I’m shooting back.

    • Linda

      Dec 27, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      K9- what about the family dog that was killed when the police entered the house with a search warrant- BUT IT WAS THE WRONG HOUSE! (It has happened.) Police officers need to use common sense. A dog will bark- as everyone has said and police should know that. I am also pro-police, but I am not for murdering animals because they bark. This is one of the reasons police get a bad rap by so many people- their indiscriminate shooting of living things.

    • diana

      Dec 28, 2016 at 12:04 am

      From my understanding thus was a wrong address

  24. Ash

    Dec 27, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Don’t worry everyone. As humans we are going to be extinct soon because of law makers like these judges. Soon there will be a law that if you fart or even make a micro expression on your face for a fart, in front of a cop then you will be shot in your head. So take care with your dog and also the fart. Stupid and ridiculous law.

  25. James Snow

    Dec 26, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    If a police officer shot my dog no matter what the reason, he best find a new home off planet earth, because I am not resting in this life until i do the same to him. I would not think twice, I would not even think about it, I would do him in the same manner. No remorse no way would I ever let that go on answered.

    • Paul and Ella Craddock

      Dec 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      I feel the same toward this stupid shit. I (Ella) retired Police Officer wouldn’t want this Bullshit law. They are only trying to get more Police Officers killed. President Trump needs to get this reversed. Probably Obama stirring more problems before he goes out or he wouldn’t have let this happen.Ella C

  26. Mike

    Dec 26, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Ask some Law Enforcement K-9 units to see this as an acceptable procedure.
    Every year pet owners, worldwide, spend billions of dollars. This judge should consider the revenue from taxes, jobs created, license fees, and veterinarian services. Add to it service dogs for the blind, emotionally, physically handicapped. Rescue K-9 units, drug sniffers, bomb sniffers
    What we need is, less decision makers like this judge and some sensible “use of deadly force” protocols.
    To expect any dog, which most responsible pet owners consider a family member, to be still and not bark when a ‘stranger’ enters their residence is ridiculous. It goes against the very nature of canine behavior.

  27. Brenda

    Dec 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Are they frigging kidding me my dogs bark if someone comes near my house or comes in…this law is redicilous. Oh my a dog barking scares the big bad cops with guns. Watch how many family pets die now. If these dogs don’t attack why are the big bad cops afraid . Any excuse for them to pull the trigger.

  28. Shana Hendrickson

    Dec 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    What is wrong with these people??? Whoever pulls a trigger in the direction of my dogs better be prepared to do the same to me. I would protect them to the same extent they would for me, and if TPB do not understand that, we need people making decisions who have some level of humanity. There is never a reason to shoot an unarmed animal instead of using a taser if absolutely necessary IMHO.

  29. Barbara J Taylor

    Dec 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Are you serious?????????????????????????????? This is ridiculous!

  30. Tamara bredo

    Dec 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    It’s redicolous a dog will naturally bark to protect its owner odiously this judge doesn’t own a pet!!!!

  31. Ken OConnell

    Dec 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    This verdict makes me sick…I am normally TOTALLY PRO-LAW ENFORCEMENT. I would help an Officer in distress or in any other way…BUT if ANYONE EVER harmed one of my Dogs, I would treat them the same way I would treat someone murdering my Child…I would END them. Merry Christmas!

    • K9

      Dec 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      You value your dogs as highly as you do your children? T

  32. Sherry

    Dec 26, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Sorry, and excuse my language, but this is total BULLSHIT! It’s open season on our furry family members folks. This just gives the police an excuse to execute our pets just because they feel like it. This disgusts me!

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