A federal court just ruled that cops were not responsible for killing a woman’s three dogs because her pets were legally considered contraband.
Detroit, MI – Nikita Smith filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department after they killed her three dogs during a raid of her home in search of pot last year. On Wednesday, a judge absurdly ruled the dogs were considered “contraband,” noting that Smith had no legal basis to sue the police department for shooting and killing her dogs, due to the canines not having been properly licensed.
Subsequently, the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Smith after a raid of her home by the Detroit police was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh.
According to a report by Reason:
The ruling is the first time a federal court has considered the question of whether an unlicensed pet—in violation of city or state code—is protected property under the Fourth Amendment. Federal courts have established that pets are protected from unreasonable seizures (read: killing) by police, but the city of Detroit argued in a motion in March that Smith’s dogs, because they were unlicensed, were “contraband” for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment, meaning she had no legitimate property interest in them and therefore no basis to sue the officers or department.
Sadly, Judge Steeh agreed with the city’s ridiculous assertion that since the dogs were not licensed, they were not a legitimate property interest, thus giving Smith no legal basis to sue either the department or the individual officer/s that killed her dogs.
“The Court is aware that this conclusion may not sit well with dog owners and animal lovers in general,” the judge Steeh wrote in his opinion. “The reason for any unease stems from the fact that while pet owners consider their pets to be family members, the law considers pets to be property.”
“The requirements of the Michigan Dog Law and the Detroit City Code, including that all dogs be current with their rabies vaccines, exist to safeguard the public from dangerous animals,” he continued. “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. Without any legitimate possessory interest in the dogs, there can be no violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
Think about that for a moment, the judge is legally equating owning an unlicensed dog, with “illegal property or contraband.”
So, does someone owning an unlicensed car give you no Fourth Amendment protections over it, and does it constitute illegal property or contraband simply because it isn’t licensed with the city/state?