A federal court rules police can shoot your dog if necessary

SAVANNAH, Ga. – A federal court recently made a ruling that could be pretty scary for most dog owners. It said police can shoot your dog if the animal moves or even barks when an officer tries to enter your home.

But, is using that kind of force on a dog too excessive?

“I think that really the first option should be their Taser not their gun,” Cindy McManus, a dog owner said.

McManus is a dog lover and works at Savannah Animal Care. When she first heard the ruling she was in shock.

“It’s disheartening,” McManus said.” I mean, I do believe that by in large or I’d like to believe that most police officers that would not be their first course of action.”

This started after police shot two pit bulls in Michigan while searching the home for drugs. The lawsuit the dog owners filed against the police department, earlier this month, states the officer shot a dog that was moving towards him.

That Michigan couple argued that shooting and killing their two pit bulls violated their Fourth Amendment right. Basically, an unlawful seizure of their property, but the court didn’t see it that way.

“My dogs can’t tell or differentiate a burglar or a man in uniform,” McManus said. “They don’t know what the difference is. To them it’s someone coming into their house.”

Most dog owners expect their pets to bark at strangers, badge or no-badge.

“If an intruder comes in my house I would like my dogs to bark at them and growl and scare them away,” McManus said.

And if an officer uses deadly force no matter the scenario it could affect a family forever.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people that do,” McManus said.  That to them it would be like you coming in and shooting their child. I know that’s an extreme comparison, but people treat their dogs like their family members.”

Only time will tell if this becomes an issue in our region. News 3 has reached out to Metro for a response on what they would do, but have yet to hear back.