Federal Court Rules Police Can Shoot Your Dog If It Moves or Barks

Police have nationwide authorization to shoot any dog if it moves or barks when officers enter a home thanks to a decision by the 6th Circuit Federal Court in Michigan.  That’s right, if your dog simply moves, police are authorized to shoot it.

The disturbing decision came after a 2013 incident in Michigan where police shot and killed two dogs while searching for drugs inside the home of Mark and Cheryl Brown.

The Browns, obviously upset that police entered their home and needlessly killed their pets, 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 “lunged” even though it “had only moved a few inches.” The dog then ran away to the basement, and officers followed the wounded animal to finish it off, shooting it 1 more time.

The second dog was also killed in the basement, but this one was killed for barking as her friend was killed.

The officer “testified that after he shot and killed the first dog, he noticed the second dog standing about halfway across the basement,” court documents stated. “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 dog killer shot the barking canine 2 times before another officer “didn’t want to see it suffer,’ so he put her out of her misery and fired the last shot,” killing her.

Even though the dogs were not being aggressive, the judge sided with the officer, saying a reasonable officer would consider the dog an imminent threat.

“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.”

View the court documents here.

Federal courts have previously ruled that the “unreasonable killing of a dog” does constitute a “destruction of property” under the Fourth Amendment. However, this ruling says otherwise.