Court: Police can shoot a dog if it moves, barks when officers enter a home

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NATIONAL  —  The sound of a dog’s bark could mean several things.

Like, there’s some one at the door or I want another treat. But the sound of a bark can also be a threat.

“Officers are going to go out of their way prior to discharging a weapon at a dog. Obviously, they have to be able to articulate that the dog was a threat to them or to someone else,” said Deputy Chief Dennis Arnold.

Springfield police Deputy Chief Arnold says at times when an officer arrives on a scene they are greeted by a dog. And sometimes the cop has to draw a weapon on the K-9.

“Unfortunately in the past we had to shoot aggressive dogs. We don’t do it a lot and officers will go out of their way not to do it.”

And now a federal court ruling that came down Wednesday makes it clear. If the dog barks or moves when the officer enters a home showing a threat the officer can shoot and kill the dog. But departments say killing a dog or person is never their attentions when entering a home.

“The last thing we want to do is have to discharge our weapon you know and kill a K-9,” said Arnold.

The Animal Protective League hates to see any animal killed but understands the circumstances police are in.

“As an officer goes through those things that they choose to use non-lethal force first vs. lethal force first,” said Andrew Smith.

The APL says if you know you’re going to call the police then here’s some tips to keep you and your dog safe.

“If you know police are coming let them know you have an animal, let them know you have a dog. And most of them will ask do you have your dog put away,” said Smith.

The ruling comes after a case out Battle Creek, Michigan. Officers shot two pit bulls while searching a home for evidence of drugs in 2013.

The dogs’ owners filed a lawsuit against the department and the city. They claim that killing amounted to the unlawful seizure of property in violation of the fourth amendment.

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