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A pair of dog owners has filed a lawsuit against a Michigan Department of Corrections investigator after he allegedly shot the pair's 15-year-old dog while looking for a fugitive in the wrong house.
The investigator was one of a team of officers who raided the Flint home of Erica Morena and Katti Putnam earlier this year, reports the Detroit Free Press. The officers were looking for a fugitive -- who was actually in the house next door.
The investigator was in the home's backyard when Morena and Putnam's 15-year-old mixed breed dog Chloe came down the stairs and out the backdoor to do some investigating of her own. According to a neighbor who witnessed the shooting, the investigator then shot Chloe in the face.
In the lawsuit filed against the investigator in federal court last week, Morena and Putnam claim that after Chloe was shot, officers told them to take the dog to the vet, adding "[w]e'll take care of this." In a somewhat ironic twist, the owners were actually pulled over by a state trooper on the way to vet for speeding, but not cited. In fact, the trooper provided an escort to the vet's office.
Remarkably, Chloe survived the shooting, but only after three surgeries and removal of one tooth and part of the dog's tongue. The owners' lawyer told the Detroit Free Press that the officers have not followed through on their promise to "take care of it" and the vet bills have begun to pile up. In addition, the lawsuit claims that the officers' actions violated the dog owners' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.Police Dog-Shooting Lawsuits
Lawsuits against police and other law enforcement officers for shooting or killing dogs have unfortunately become fairly commonplace. The lawsuits aren't subject to the same rules as claims of police brutality against people, as dogs and other animals don't generally have constitutional rights.
However, dogs may be considered property and any illegal seizure of that property, such as killing your dog, may violate the Fourth Amendment. In addition, the dog's owner or owners may be able to allege that the incident caused emotional distress for which recovery may sometimes be made. Chloe's owners are also seeking punitive damages in their lawsuit.
Officials from the Michigan Department of Corrections were unavailable to comment on the lawsuit, reports the Detroit Free Press.