Virginia’s 4th Circuit reverses dismissal of law enforcement shooting of a suspect’s dog.

Recently, the 4th Circuit of Virginia reversed the dismissal of a suit based upon the shooting of a Plaintiff’s dog during a police investigation. As written about in the Fairfax County Times, Augusta County Law Enforcement was called to investigate a domestic assault. The dog , Jax, was placed on a zip leash and had no issues with law enforcement on scene.

As reported, the law enforcement officer in question arrived sometime later when he encountered, Jax, who was understandably freighted. Jax approached the officer barking. In response, according to court documents, the officer stepped back, pulled his firearm, and shot the dog.

In it’s reversal, the 4th Circuit explained:

“[I]t is unreasonable for a police officer to shoot a privately owned animal when it does not pose an immediate threat to the officer or others…a reasonable officer in Roane’s position would have known that his alleged conduct was unlawful at the time of the shooting in this case.”

As the Fairfax County Times quoted:

“Finally, the 4th Circuit has said what we all know: that police have no business killing family pets,” Mike Donovan, President and CEO of Nexus Services, Inc. whose company funds Nexus Derechos Humanos, said. “I’m only saddened that the law only permits a civil remedy here. The officer should be prosecuted for animal cruelty. Jax was a part of Tina’s family, and Michael Roane’s irreparable act ripped that family apart. Not only should he be forced to pay, he should be removed from law enforcement privileges and be held accountable for his crimes.”