Contraband? That’s how a federal judge in Detroit characterized Debo, a nine-year-old Pit Bull; Smoke a seven-year-old Rottweiler, and Mama, a seventeen-month-old pregnant Pit Bull.
This decision from the federal court in Detroit dismissed a civil rights claim for the shooting death of three dogs during a search of Plaintiffs’ house. The judge ruled that, because the dogs were unlicensed, in contravention of state law and city ordinance, the guardians no longer had a legitimate property interest in the animals and therefore no basis to sue the City.
When David Favre, professor of law at MSU College of Law (and a long-time AFA member) approached us about signing on to an amicus curiae (“Friend of the Court”) brief he was preparing, we jumped at the opportunity. The quote below is our statement of interest in the case. Two other parties joined, Michigan Humane Society and the Animal Welfare Clinic of MSU College of Law.
Prof. Favre argued that the court’s analysis of “contraband,” a novel theory, was inconsistent with Michigan and federal law; it resulted in the loss of judicial review of a practice by government agents which has a significant impact on the public; and that categorizing of unlicensed dogs as contraband “is contrary to public expectations and removes the certainty of peaceful possession sought to be established by the longstanding property laws of our common law heritage.”
You can read the brief in thecase of Smith v City of Detroit, 6th Circuit Case No. 17-1907, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: Smith Amicus Brief 6th Cir 102817
“AfA has long been concerned about the growing incidences of police shooting
of dogs, and have welcomed the results in the many cases
brought under 42 U.S. Code § 1983 that awarded significant damages
to families whose companion animals were wrongly killed.
AfA was equally discouraged by the
results in the referenced case,
believing it to be a misreading of the Michigan Dog Law
(a statute with which we are familiar and that we have been working to update),
and bad public policy.”