A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit on Wednesday after ruling that dog not properly licensed are considered “contraband” and are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. According to MetroTimes, all dog owners need to heed the latest decision; stating if your dog is not licensed, a police officer can come to your home and shoot your pet through the head or the heart – and you will have no recourse.
U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh wrote in his ruling Wednesday. that dogs have no rights, and if they are not licensed, Fido and Fluffy are property even though many pat parents consider dogs as part of their families.
“The requirements of the Michigan Dog Law and the Detroit City Code, including that all dogs be current with their rabies vaccines, exist to safeguard the public from dangerous animals,” Steeh wrote. “When a person owns a dog that is unlicensed, in the eyes of the law it is no different than owning any other type of illegal property or contraband. Without any legitimate possessory interest in the dogs, there can be no violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any search warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Nikita Smith never imagined her three dogs would be shot dead by police after authorities executed a search warrant and fatally shot each of her family’s beloved pets in January 2016 – including a pregnant dog that died in a pool of blood in the “corner of her basement.” According to Smith’s attorney, the officers searched multiple locations in the home, and wherever there had been one of the family’s dogs, shot and killed them “like a death squad.”
When officers knocked at the family’s door, Smith told authorities she first needed to put her dogs in the basement, however police entered without permission and shot her dogs several times through the closed bathroom door. They then went into the basement and shot the pregnant dog; Smith claimed that pet had not barked nor made any aggressive moves toward the men.
At the time, police had a different version of the disturbing events resulting in the death of the family’s two pit bulls, Debo and Mamma, and a Rottweiler named Smoke -stating the dogs had been aggressive, and they were following department procedures to shoot any animals perceived as threats. That evening Smith was arrested after police found marijuana at her house, but in court Smith pleaded not guilty; the officer never appeared at the proceeding and the case against her was dismissed according to the Detroit News.
And as distressing as the decision made by Steeh, the news gets worse. Reason reports even if the dogs had been licensed, the Smith’s suit would have still been dismissed since the police stated the dogs presented an “imminent danger to the officers.” Graphic photos showed the dogs were behind the bathroom door and were shot and killed in barrage of bullets; how does that explain danger to the officers?
“Reason has also been tracking lawsuits against the Detroit Police Department related to dog shootings. According to the latest documents obtained by Reason, one officer has so far killed 73 dogs during his career. Two other officers involved in the Smith case testified that they had shot “at least 19″ dogs over the course of their careers.”
Bottom line – instead of training officers how to read a dog’s body language, avoid canine aggressive behavior and preserve life for all humans and animals, it’s Steeh’s opinion to allow police to shoot family pets and not give a hoot. Shame on you judge!
(Photos of dogs as “contraband” via Nikita Smith’s family dogs)
Weigh in and tell us what you think about this decision.
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.