Skip to comments.Shooting Dogs OK? It Depends, Southwest Michigan Authorities Say
Posted on 03/27/2013 5:11:18 PM PDT by nickcarraway
In White Pigeon, a man is charged with animal cruelty, accused of killing a dog he says saw chasing deer.
A Sturgis woman considers arming herself, unnerved by a dog attack that left her pet Pomeranian dead.
An Animal Rescue Fund Award offers a $1,000 for information leading to a conviction in the death of a dog found shot on Cowles Road in Burr Oak.
A spate of troubling dog cases in St. Joseph County has drawn attention to laws regarding dogs, and the law's view of dogs as property at a time when many people view their dogs as valued family members, said Tom Miller, director of St. Joseph County Animal Control. Culturally, views about animals and their place in society have shifted over time, Miller said, and to some extent the law has kept up, by meting out punishment for animal cruelty and neglect.
But lethal force may still be allowed to stop dogs wreaking havoc.
Shooting dogs running deer? Only if you're an officer of the law
For instance, a law enforcement officer is allowed to shoot dogs chasing the state's deer herd or other wildlife, and the dog's owner may be held liable to the state for property damages.
That privilege does not extend to landowners who shoot dogs chasing wildlife. Dallas Barnhart of White Pigeon was arraigned March 14 in St. Joseph County District Court on a charge of animal/killing torturing, accused of shooting a pit bull he said he witnessed chasing deer.
Shooting a dog attacking you or your livestock? OK, but think twice.
State law allows a person to kill a dog in self defense, though, or in defense of another person, or if the dog is in the act of attacking livestock, including poultry, Miller said. Poultry's right to "free range" is generally protected everywhere but cemeteries and airports, Miller said, something that may dismay the owner of a $500 dog shot in the act of killing a $3 chicken who learns the law is on the side of the chicken owner. Farmers who used to follow the "shoot, shovel, shut up" practice of taking care of offending dogs, though, would be better to let the law handle livestock issues, Miller said. The county maintains a fund to reimburse farmers for livestock killed by dogs, but only for their market value as meat. If an animal control officer is able to identify the owner of dogs that killed livestock, they may be liable for the actual value of breeding or show stock, he said.
Do-it-yourself euthanasia? It's the owner's call, if it's done right
The law also protects a person's right to dispose of his or her own dog, with or without a reason the neighbors may find acceptable, using methods distasteful to others as well. For instance, it is not clear that any laws were broken in the case of the dog found dead in Burr Oak from a gunshot to the head, Miller said.
The dead dog is not the animal originally rumored to be, the pet of the man who once lived there. Miller located that animal alive and well and living with another family member.
Because the dead dog has not yet been identified, and the body was cremated, there's no way to determine whether the case involved someone killing his or her own dog, legally, with a properly placed gunshot to the head; someone shooting another person's dog, with permission, again, possibly legally; or, a stray, which would likely be against the law unless the animal was attacking, Miller said.
This dog was euthanized after it killed a Sturgis woman's Pomeranian earlier this month. The pit bull's owner never came forward. Courtesy Guidelines for humane euthanasia
Shooting a dog in and of itself is not necessarily against the law.
Although the kinder, gentler view of animals is reflected in the recently released AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition -- a 102-page expansion of what used to be a brief listing of acceptable methods of dispatching with animals -- the guidelines are intended only to assure that humane methods are used when animals must be killed. A properly placed gunshot or blow to the head are still methods of euthanasia accepted under the 2012 guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The guidelines protect a law enforcement officer called upon to put a dog struck by a car and fatally injured out of its misery, but offers little legal defense for the guy who decides to "take a baseball bat to the beagle chained to a doghouse," state veterinarian Steve Halstead said.
The law does somewhat protect the right of a dog owner who does not have a veterinarian, or who believes paying for euthanasia is not a priority, Miller said. As long as acceptable methods are used to kill the pet, killing one's own animal may be legal, even if it conflicts with a neighbor's values, he said.
Though shooting a dog in the middle of attack might be necessary, killing a dog by gunshot after an attack is not a good idea, Halstead said, because a gunshot to the head will destroy brain tissue needed to test for rabies. A bite victim may then have to go through a series of injections as a precaution that might not have been needed, he said.
The law may regard animals as property, "like a toaster," Halstead said, but veterinarians are not required to put down an animal just because the owner wants it done, though the law recognizes the owners right to make that decision.
The county tries to bridge the gap with its services, such as finding adoptive homes for eligible pets that are no longer wanted.
The county shelter will pick up and euthanize dogs that are not appropriate for adoption for an $85 fee, Miller said. For $10 more, the county will dispose of the body.
The shelter staff tries hard "to redirect that business to the owner's own veterinarian, he said, but not all veterinarians are willing, at any price, to euthanize healthy animals, or animals that have not been their patients, Miller said.
Law of 'human decency'
Bottom line, it is the owner's decision about how to deal with an unwanted pet, as long as a humane method is used if the pet is killed, the officials said.
In the case of the Burr Oak dog shot and left, unburied, "I'm not sure if any laws have been broken; however, the law of human decency has been broken," said Thomas Molter, whose organization, Animal Rescue Fund, offered a $1000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible.
"We want to send out a message that ARF will not tolerate animal abuse in this county," Molter said. "We feel that if a person's pet can't live in a decent, happy and safe environment and be treated as another family member, then they should not have a pet." St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney John McDonough said he believes animal laws are straightforward, and that the best way for dog owners to protect their dogs is for them to keep the dogs under their control at all times, either on a leash or in a securely fenced yard or enclosure.
"A lot of situations can be avoided if people take proper precaution to make sure their dog is secured," McDonough said.
Here in MA I am legally able to shoot dogs if they are going after my livestock.
What a coincidence, I posted such a comment earlier today on a thread about Gabby Gifford's husband's dog attacking and killing a baby seal......
When I was growing up in rural northern MI, it was a given that any dog seen running deer would be shot if possible. And the dog's owner would have been ticketed if the DNR was involved.......
Shot for chasing deer? That’s every dog’s greatest joy! (and rabbits, squirrels, cats...)
Armed Federal agents are rumored to be allowed to shoot dogs for the White House menu?
I love dogs. But I also believe, just like any animal gone wrong, there is a time to put them down. Here are a few that come to mind (in no specific order):
1. If they attack, bite, or threaten the health and wellbeing of me or my family (or other human beings - other than in the “line-of-duty” such as police dogs or guard dogs protecting the above).
2. Dogs that are running at-large harassing wildlife, or posing a threat to domestic animals. (I consider any dog that has no collar and no way to identify its owner as “ferrel”.
3. Dogs that are causing property damage, after reasonable efforts have been made to stop said behavior.
4. Dogs that are so grievously injured or sick as to have no hope for anything but suffering. While I personally prefer, when possible, the calming “sleep” injection administered by a vet, that isn’t always feasible (or for some, affordable).
A few years back I watched the DNR kill a coyote that made the mistake of going after some llamas a guy down the road has.
It was a mercy killing.
“Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog”
Well he’s not very handsome to look at
Oh he’s shaggy and he eats like a hog
And he’s always killin’ my chickens
That dirty old egg-suckin’ dog
I’m gonna stomp your head in the ground
If you don’t stay out of my hen house
You dirty old egg-suckin’ hound
Now if he don’t stop eatin’ my eggs up
Though I’m not a real bad guy
I’m gonna get my riffle and send him
To that great chicken house in the sky
You’re always hangin’ around
But you’d better stay out of my hen house
You dirty old egg-suckin’ hound
Being a dog lover i thoguththat was kind of appalling, then I saw the results of what a pack of dogs could do to a deer.
I’ve raised sheep for 30 years and probably lost 25 (=$2500) just to peoples pet dogs. The animal control people are less able to stop predators than cops are at stopping criminals. I’ve never been reimbursed a penny by the gov’t or a pet owner. Pet owners always swear their dog was at home. Man do they get upset and sometimes violent when they pay the price for being stupid and learn they don’t have a dog anymore.
So, I was right all along.
The second from the left *is* a pitbull!
(Do I really need a sarc tag?)
The savage pit bull in action.
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