U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh of Detroit dismissed the suit filed by Kevin Thomas and Nikita Smith against Detroit police officers, saying they couldn’t recover because their dogs did not have a city license, Reason reports. The Aug. 2 opinion is here.
Steeh reasoned that, because the dogs were unlicensed, Thomas and Smith had no legitimate possessory interest in the dogs, and there could be no violation of the Fourth Amendment.
(pgs 17-19 of the opinion cites from other cases mulling over similar issues..)
“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,” Steeh wrote.
As precedent, Steeh cited a decision by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held a plaintiff didn’t have a legitimate possessory interest in an unregistered submachine gun seized by police without a warrant.
Steeh acknowledged that “this conclusion may not sit well with dog owners and animal lovers” who consider their pets to be family members rather than property.
Thomas and Smith were squatters in the residence raided by police officers in January 2016. Their dogs were Debo, a 9-year-old pit bull; Smoke, a 7-year-old Rottweiler; and Mama, a 17-month-old pregnant pit bull. Debo and Mama were shot after charging at officers, while Smoke was shot in the bathroom.
Well…..we find this to be very interesting, although it would seem that even if one didn’t have one’s vehicle registered, that doesn’t mean one doesn’t own the vehicle legitimately….we don’t know the rule for owning submachine guns? LOL
As for owning the dogs, we can’t even believe that failing to license means non-ownership…Ownership of animals generally is for a safety issue. A regulatory concern. Rabies. If the killed dogs had their rabies shots then that would be covered (since only vets can normally give rabies shots, but who know what they do in Detroit?) If the dogs were only seized and not given back would that be different? In Detroit, probably not…..