Sixth Circuit rules that police cannot arbitrarily shoot unlicensed dogs during a search, they rule dogs are valuable property and that shooting them arbitrarily amounts to an illegal seizure under the Fourth Amendment

Article at American Bar Association.

Opinion of the Court with dissenting opinion.

The District Court initially dismissed this case, but the Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the Sixth Circuit and by a 2 to 1 margin, the Sixth Circuit reversed and reinstated the case.

The Plaintiffs are dog owners whose dogs were shot during a search for marijuana. The Defendants are the City of Detroit, the police department and the individual officers involved.

The issue at stake was whether the owners forfeited property interests in the dogs due to the fact they were unlicensed. The District Court initially said yes, but the Court of Appeals ruled that they did not forfeit property interests in the dogs.

From the ABA article linked to above:

One of the two officers had testified he had previously shot 39 dogs. As of July 2016, he had shot at least 69 animals, the lower court opinion said.

Not sure if this guy is a police officer or a sociopath with a badge.

And while they arrested the couple for having marijuana, the stupid cops didn’t bother to show up to court, so the charge was dismissed.

There are numerous facts in dispute in this case that will be resolved as the case moves forward to trial, but I get the impression that the court wasn’t buying the officer’s story of being in danger from the dogs.

This case must still be tried in the District Court and much is still up in the air legally, but this opinion puts another VERY MUCH NEEDED check on police. And the opinion established dogs as protected property under the Fourth Amendment. Due process must be had before an owner can be deprived of a dog.

If it is TRULY and for REAL a case where a dog is actually attacking a policeman or a third party and the officer fires in true self defense or defense of a third person, that is well and fine. It appears that is likely not the case with most of the dogs this officer has shot.

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How the hell is an officer shooting dozens of dogs without some sort of serious public outcry demanding action?

We live in a ■■■■■■ up society where we serve the police not the other way around. Too many trigger happy tough guys

I can shoot my neighbors dog dead and get nothing nore than a ticket for destruction of personal property. Its true

How the hell did we get to a point in society where abusing an animal will get you a longer prison sentence than killing a human?

Good ruling. There was a case in I believe California. Cops looking in backyards for somebody and they killed a guy’s dog after they trespassed. Horrible.

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When I worked for animal rescue league few about 6 months got a call from police.

Apparently police raided the wrong house and shot the family dog.

Dog was alive but shot in the head…kids crying, owner yelling. When I taken him to the one of the vets on my list we have to put him to sleep.

Miracle they didn’t shoot a kid.

I agree that cops can’t just summarily shoot pets. And the guy seemingly bragging about how many he has shot doesn’t reflect well on his profession. (Of course, we just get an out-of-context statement about how many dogs he has shot. If his job focuses on ferreting out illegal drugs, (and a lot of people in that universe use intimidating dogs as an extra layer of security to protect their stashes), his full testimony might very well demonstrate that they were all justified killings as a matter of self-defense.)

But the case highlighted here used a lesser justification for killing the dogs. “They were unlicensed.” Seems to me that a cop can’t know that fact until after the incident. In a sense, they were “lucky” to have that loophole to use. (Even though it ultimately failed.)

The linked article DOES cover testimony wherein the cops described threats from the dogs, so it’s curious to me why they didn’t stick with that argument and instead went to the licensing issue.

The whole drug world is a messy thing. People on both sides of the equation begin to see it as a war against each other. And in that context people on both sides can easily become sociopathic and even psychopathic. I’m glad not to be in any way even remotely connected to it.

Sweet… Dogs are cool.

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Dogs Matter?




  1. in a summary manner; without the customary formalities.

Interesting word.

Some people need killing.

Many officers have been trained to just shoot the dogs out of hand. So much for animal cruelty laws.

It’s not just a guy. Just about any cops that serve a warrant using dynamic entry will almost always shoot your dog(s) if it approaches them or even barks at them.