A Federal Appellate Court Ruled That Police Officers Can Shoot A Dog If It Moves

Avril is at the San Bernardino City Shelter

A recent federal court ruling states that once a police officer has entered a home, he or she may shoot a dog if it barks or just moves. This decision has caused animal lovers much concern.

It started when a home in Battle Creek, Michigan was searched for drugs in 2013. When the police officers approached the home, there were two pit bulls in the residence. While a man outside the home said he had a key to the house, the police used a ram to break open the front door.

The officers claim that one of the dogs barked aggressively at them. Many extremely docile and friendly dogs will bark if someone breaks into their home. This dog did the same, but was immediately shot. The shot dog and the other dog ran into the basement. The officers shot the injured dog again when it was at the bottom of the basement stairs barking at them.

It’s what happened to the second dog that is the most heartbreaking part of the story. The opinion on the appeal states the facts:

“Officer Klein testified that after he shot and killed the first dog, he noticed the second dog standing about halfway across the basement. The second dog was not moving towards the officers when they discovered her in the basement, but rather she was “just standing there,”barking and was turned sideways to the officers. Klein then fired the first two rounds at the second dog. After being shot by Officer Klein, the second dog ran to the back corner of the basement. The second pit bull was in this corner when Officer Young, who was also clearing the basement, shot her because she was “moving” out of the corner and in his direction. After being shot by Officers Klein and Young, the second pit bull ran to the back of the furnace in the back corner of the basement. Officer Case saw that “[t]here was blood coming out of numerous holes in the dog, and . . . [Officer Case] didn’t want to see it suffer” so he put her out of her misery and fired the last shot.”

So, in the case of Mark Brown and Cheryl Brown, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v Battle Creek Police Department, et al., Defendants-Appellees, the appellate court upheld the granting of summary judgment by the district court. While the dogs belonged to the Browns, they were in the residence of a known drug dealer named Jones. The opinion goes on to state that:

Given Jones’ criminal history, gang affiliations, the types of drugs he was suspected of distributing, the fact that the officers had no time to plan for the dogs, in addition to the officers’ unrebutted testimony that the dogs either lunged or were barking aggressively at the officers, the nature and size of the dogs, the fact that the dogs were unleashed and loose in a small residence, all culminate into a finding that the officers acted reasonably when they shot and killed the two dogs. Viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, we find that a jury would conclude that Officer Klein, Officer Young, and Officer Case acted reasonably in shooting and killing Plaintiffs’ dogs. Summary judgment was therefore appropriate.”

The complete opinion can be found here. The dogs (bully breeds) below need rescue or adoption.

What does this mean for dog owners everywhere? Most have already read news articles about police officers going to the wrong address and shooting a dog that barks at them. It’s imperative that people secure their dogs before answering the door. Some people have said that they invite the local police to meet their dogs to see that they are friendly. There are probably no hard-and-fast answers, but in light of increased adoptions of pit bulls and other bully breeds, there may be more instances of officers coming into contact with these dogs that have such a misplaced negative reputation.

Keep your dogs safe. Keep them leashed at all times. Get involved in animal advocacy on a local level.

(Note: Dog in large photo is Avril. She is at the San Bernardino City Shelter (California) and needs adoption or rescue.)


Pamela Kramer

​Animal lover and rescuer. Lives with 4 cats, 4 dogs, 1 bird, 2 frogs and usually one foster animal (and very understanding husband). Reviews books (especially about animals) and educates children about compassion toward animals. Former household animals include rabbits, rats, and other assorted creatures. Also writes at pamelakramer.com


  1. ursula morgan says:

    So much for protect amd serve!

  2. Leila Singuero says:

    They don’t ONLY shoot PITTBULLS (even though they’re the #1 enemy TO THEM!) I had a black Shepherd that could pass for a lab mix & when they came in for a friend. They didn’t break in because they surrounded apt. but when they came in & I walked them from the door to the back of my apt, the cop in the rear said, “you keep your gun on her (meaning me) & I got my gun on the dog!!) Thankfully my dog sensed this and listened or would be dead a few years earlier….. Mine ended good in NY surprisingly but since seen and heard cops shooting dogs in their home here & all over this country! Not changing this with a TRUMP REGIME!!!

  3. Elizabeth Hiscott says:

    This is bullshit! I guess this means that if the cop forcea his/her way into my house then I get to shoot them for moving! That goes two ways and I’ll be damned if you’re gonna get away with shooting any of my dogs inside THEIR home just cuz they moved. You’re invading THEIR home so you’ll be the one getting shot. Not my dogs. 😈

  4. Chris says:

    So don’t stop just because some stupid court ruled in their favor? Do you think it’s easy to get this currently entrenched government to change? It isn’t. We can’t ever stop. Freedom and justice demand our sacrifice. So don’t forget these poor precious dogs. March. Protest about them. Pick one story of suffering and make it your life’s work to turn it around and change the world. Do not stop fighting until these men are run into corners cowering and begging for their lives against an angry mob who are SICK of their murders. Change the way the story is told at the end of the day, because right now it is a tragedy and WE THE PEOPLE are the only ones who can change the ending.

  5. Donna Hanneken says:

    This is rediculous

  6. RADHA SEN says:


    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      Puppycide is rampant among police forces around the country even though there is a FREE program offered to teach non-fatal interaction. Yet too few police depts take advantage of it. Shameful. They’d rather kill than switch.

  7. Albert Leo says:

    Too many of the wrong kind of people go into police work.

  8. Sally says:

    This is completely and utterly insane! I have 2 Irish Setters and 1 Bioder Collier ( very non agressive breeds) and you can bet they would react. After all this IS THEIR PROPERTY!!!
    Stop this attack in Pitts. Attach the trainers of these poor animals….not the animals. Get it straight!!!!!

Comments are closed.