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Law enforcement warns Police not to shoot family dogs

Discussion in 'Canine News/Informative Articles' started by Dobs4ever, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. Dobs4ever

    Dobs4ever Hot Topics Subscriber

    Law Enforcement Today article warns police not to kill family dogs

    James P. Gaffney recently wrote an article which appeared in the online magazine for police personnel called Law Enforcement Today. In his article he told police officers to expect a lawsuit should they wrongfully kill a family dog while performing their job as an officer. Mr. Gaffney is highly qualified in these matters, as he served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years as a patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant and an executive officer. He also teaches university level criminal justice courses as an adjunct professor in the NYC area.
    Gaffney wrote that police officer's need to realize that procedures within the law enforcement field change from time to time. What was acceptable behavior for an officer ten years ago may be considered entirely unethical in this period of time. This includes how the family dog is to be treated.

    More and more family dogs are living as a member of the family. No longer confined to chains or tethers, most dogs these days enjoy the luxury of living, eating and sleeping inside with family members. For those with fenced in yards, this is merely a way to confine family dogs as they take potty breaks. In the old days, the fence meant safety for the dog. Unfortunately, that has changed with the new breed of officer, supposedly serving the public, who has the attitude to shoot the dog first and ask questions later. The new status quo these days is when an officer kills a family dog, they have in effect robbed that family of the years left with what many dog owners consider another "child."

    Police departments nationwide advise their officers to take whatever measures are necessary to keep themselves safe when facing down a dog. In most of the dog shootings that take place today, the officer involved is sorely lacking in both common sense and compassion. Whenever a dog is seen inside a fence, the first thing an officer should do is to use the brain (some police officers still have one of these) and remember a stranger on the property could provoke the dog into barking, snarling, and yes, even attacking. This does not give the officer a free pass to shoot the dog before coming onto the property. Especially if the person living there hasn't committed a felony.

    Police officers are also cautioned to use objective reasonableness based on the circumstances at the time they arrive on scene. This means an officer should think through a situation before it gets out of hand and act accordingly. If a dog is behind a fence and may pose a danger, it's common sense not to open the fence. Too many dogs are killed and 20/20 hindsight used to try and explain their actions. Was deadly force REALLY necessary? Most times the answer is no.
    The Fourth Amendment has now been used in court to back up this logic. The family dog is now considered property, which cannot be seized without cause. It gives people rights against a search and seizure by police without probable cause. Since a large majority of these cases involve police being at the wrong address to start with, perhaps a good GPS system would also prevent many of these tragic shootings.

    An easily understood explanation of the Fourth Amendment states that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. The federal courts recognize a dog, or canine companion, as an effect. This means an officer should not shoot a dog coming over to say hello. He should also refrain from chasing the dog onto another property in order to kill it, or from shooting the dog as it retreats.

    Laura Scarry is a Chicago based attorney who represents police officers accused of state and federal civil rights violations. Last month she spoke at a seminar for International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), where she advised those officer's attending of the family member status dogs now share in most households.
    The precedent in place that many dog defender attorneys use is a result of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Fuller v Vines, 36 F.3d 65,68 (9th Cir. 1994). In simple language, the officer shooting the dog constituted a violation of the dog owner's civil rights based on the part of the Fourth Amendment that deals with search and seizure. At least three federal circuit court decisions have found an officer guilty of violating this amendment when the officer killed the family dog.
    To police officers who may be reading this article, in simple language it means dogs are now considered protected under the Fourth Amendment. If you shoot a family dog, the family will likely sue you, your police department and your city. Combine this with the change in perception by the courts, a guilty verdict is highly likely. A few officer's have been charged with animal cruelty for acting irresponsibly. Many times this shows not only a lack of common sense, but also an officer who shows no compassion while performing his duties.
    This also means a police department internal investigation may find an officer guilty of a civil rights violation. With the number of lawsuits being filed, more and more officer's who take it upon themselves to kill the family dog will be personally held liable for their actions. Police officers will likely find themselves under arrest for animal cruelty in the near future, should they act without very strong cause to kill an innocent dog.
    Please circulate this article among dog owning friends, as well as any police personnel who need a bit of training as to how to treat a family dog while on the dogs property.

    Law Enforcement Today article warns police not to kill family dogs - Greenville Dog | Examiner.com
    • Like Like x 8
  2. Dobs4ever

    Dobs4ever Hot Topics Subscriber

    I love it - Police still need to use their brain...

    Half the time they are at the wrong address................Need we say more???
    • Like Like x 9
  3. agift4me

    agift4me Hot Topics Subscriber

    Nope! Amen! I'm thrilled you found this article and posted it, because you can bet your sweet bippy,... I'm gonna share this with a few :censored: cops and walk away smiling :D
    • Like Like x 7
  4. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    FINALLY!!! Glad they are holding them responsible. No more hiding behind their BS reasoning. Will be printing this article and sharing it! Dogs aren't property, they are companions :)
    • Like Like x 5
  5. Gelcoater

    Gelcoater Expert ThreadCrapper $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber

    yep.About time the shoe is on the other foot.
    Assault a police dog the penalty is the same as if you assaulted a human police officer.
    Why shouldn't they be held accountable if they kill or injure a dog if other means of subduing the dog could have been carried out?
    • Like Like x 7
  6. FredC

    FredC Guest

    Boy this is a contender for article of the year. :) Thanks for sharing Suzan! Some police officers are just bad people hiding behind a shield. But im almost certain they operate under union type rules and im sure its very difficult to fire a police officer once he has a bit of time under his belt.

    Ha I posted this directly on my local PD's facebook page..
    • Like Like x 8
  7. agift4me

    agift4me Hot Topics Subscriber

    Ha! I know I'm sharing it ... :yatta:
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Archer

    Archer Moderator Hot Topics Subscriber

    Couldn't agree more!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  9. emtdaddy1980

    emtdaddy1980 New Member

    this article was also shared on the Tennessee gun owners forum. the general consensus there was that we would be joining our dog in the coroner report because THERE WOULD BE RETURNED FIRE.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. ServiceDogUser

    ServiceDogUser Notable member

    I recently read an article about how some cops climbed through someone's window and shot the two dogs in residence. The cops defended themselves by saying that the first dog attacked them but they shot the second one "just in case". Nevermind the fact that a) they entered illegally by breaking in through a window, and b) they were at the wrong address. :cus:

    The matters were made infinitely worse by them arresting the poor owner because she -- rightfully so -- had a bit of a meltdown and got incoherent when she saw the dogs. They held her for some time, leaving the dogs just lying there. Only after she had calmed down did they take the second dog to the vet (the first didn't survive).

    :gun::guns: <-- Some cops.

    This is something that I am truly terrified about. I read at least one of these stories a month, and I am sure there are many more unreported. Dogs left dead for their owners to come home to, dogs shot wile they are clearly restrained, dogs shot while their owners are standing right there and not given a chance to restrain their dog, and even at least one case of a dog shot while in its KENNEL.

    My dog is my service dog, and as such has to be unrestrained. If I were to have an emergency, would the cops shoot her just because she is here? She's so friendly, but she will bark to tell me someone is here. It's sad, but people are so ignorant of dogs here that I'm not sure I can say I don't believe that they wouldn't shoot her for just barking even if she is readily identified, and that terrifies my.

    There is one municipality I read about that is trying to do the right thing by requiring their cops to take a class on dog behavior so hopefully they can make better decisions. It's only something like three hours long, so it could be better, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. I wish it were required nationwide.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Gelcoater

    Gelcoater Expert ThreadCrapper $ Premium Subscriber $ Hot Topics Subscriber

    In the case you describe above,I'm pretty sure those 2 cops would not have arrested me had it been my house.Now,some other cops who show up on the scene at a later time?sure.But not the two who broke in through my window and shot my dogs.;)Just sayin.
    • Like Like x 2

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