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U.S. Court Allows Police Officers To Kill Dogs If They Do Anything But Sit Silently
What do you think about the judge's decision and how it will affect the safety of pets in the coming years?
Britanie Leclair
08.28.17

Some people just don’t like the police, and while it may not be the best attitude to hold, some events can definitely make us wonder whether police hold a bit too much power in today’s society.

In December of 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit made a ruling that has the potential to put any dog who comes into contact with the police in jeopardy.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr
Source:
Thomas Hawk/Flickr

The ruling was made after police in Battle Creek, Michigan, shot 2 pit bulls while searching Mark and Cheryl Brown’s home for drugs in 2013.

After the raid, the Browns’ sued the Battle Creek Police Department on the basis that killing their pets equated to “unlawful seizure of property”— a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.

According to legal records, when Officer Christoff Klein entered the Browns’ residence, a large, brown pit bull jumped off the couch, barking aggressively.

Although Officer Klein claimed the movement was a “lunge”, and he feared he was going to be attacked, he also admitted the dog “had only moved a few inches” before it was shot.

melgupta/Flickr
Source:
melgupta/Flickr

Officer Klein tells the court the wounded, brown dog then “moved away” from the officers and towards the kitchen, then down the stairs and into the basement”, where a smaller, white pit bull was also hiding.

As officers were going down the stairs to perform the sweep of the basement, they noticed the wounded brown dog “obstruct[ing] their path.” Court records explain that Officer Klein “did not feel [they] could safely clear the basement with those dogs down there.”

As officers descended, the wounded brown pit bull began barking, and Officer Klein “fired two fatal rounds” at the already-injured pup.

After the first dog was killed, Officer Klein noticed the second standing halfway across the basement.

Lisandro Sanches/Flickr
Source:
Lisandro Sanches/Flickr

Although the second, white dog was barking, the lawsuit makes it clear that she “was just standing there.”

Despite this fact, Klein still fired 2 rounds in her direction.

Although the 2 rounds did not kill the brown pup, she did try to run to the corner of the basement to hide. Another officer then shot her because she was “moving” in his direction.

After the third shot, the brown dog flees behind a furnace in the back corner of the basement, where a third officer notices “blood coming out of numerous holes.”

Not wanting to “see [the dog] suffer”, this third officer then fires a fourth and fatal shot, in order to, as documents state, “put her out of her misery.”

Ed Oswalt/Flickr
Source:
Ed Oswalt/Flickr

Judge Eric Clay ultimately ruled that the police officers were correct in killing the dogs, and the Browns’ rights had not been violated.

He said, “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.”

While this ruling seems fair, many critics wonder whether the two pit bulls did actually post an ‘imminent threat’ to the officers.

By all accounts, none of the officers had been injured and aside from barking, all the dogs had done was move.

What do you think about the judge’s decision and how it will affect the safety of pets in the coming years?

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By Britanie Leclair
hi@sbly.com
Britanie Leclair is a contributing writer and editor at Shareably. She is based in Northern Ontario, Canada, and can be reached at britanie.leclair@gmail.com.
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