What All Dog Owners Should Know About “Puppycide”


According to the Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University, there’s a new term animal lovers should become familiar with: “puppycide.” Puppycide is a word used in cases where a police officer shoots a family pet, usually a dog. Statistics on the shooting of family pets by law enforcement show that these incidents are becoming more common in certain parts of the U.S. What can pet owners who find themselves in this sad situation do?


The Animal Legal & Historical Center notes that in many cases, the owners of pets shot by police can take legal action in court by claiming that their rights were violated. Pets are classified as personal property in all 50 states, so they can be protected from “unreasonable seizures” and “unlawful takings” in certain circumstances.


Each case of puppycide is unique, and a lot depends on whether or not the police acted in a reasonable manner in each particular situation. The courts can also decide that the police officer and department are immune from liability because they were operating in an official capacity.


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What measures can be taken to ensure that family pets are protected in police-canine encounters? Some local jurisdictions that have had high-profile puppycide cases have implemented training for police officers on dog behavior, humane methods of controlling dogs, and better communication with dog owners, particularly in charged situations. The increased use of body and dash cams can also be helpful in addressing the tragic issue of puppycide.


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