Erica Morena and Katti Putnam from Flint, Mich., have filed a federal lawsuit against a Michigan Department of Corrections Investigator who shot their dog in their own backyard as police attempted to recover a fugitive who apparently was next door. The 15-year-old dog, Chloe, survived but needed three surgeries to correct her injuries. Chloe lost part of her tongue and one canine tooth.
The wrongful dog shooting took place on June 18, 2014, when Department of Corrections Investigator Ron Hughes, along with several Michigan State troopers, arrived at Moreno and Putnam’s home to recover a fugitive.
After Hughes entered the backyard, he shot Chloe as she entered her backyard through an open door. Officers told the pet owners they went to the “wrong house” and that they “would take care of this,” but as of today, Moreno and Putman are still waiting for the officer to pay the veterinary hospital bill.
A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said that Chloe did not attack or threaten any officer, yet the dog was shot below the nose.
On October 3, 2014, the pet owners filed suit in federal court. Chris Olson, lawyer representing the dog and her owners, said that “unfortunately, this tragedy is part of a nationwide epidemic of law enforcement officials shooting family pets.”
Police encounters with dogs are common because many people have dogs, but only a limited amount of law enforcement personnel have the necessary training to know how to deal with pets and avoid unnecessary shootings.
“The Defendant violated my clients’ Fourth Amendment rights,” said Olson. “We have asked the Court for relief under the federal Civil Rights Act, which authorizes compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys’ fees for such violations. In short, we want relief for Clohe’s injuries and to prevent other senseless shootings of people’s pets.”