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Old 05 August 2014, 12:15 PM
floydzepplin floydzepplin is offline
 
 
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Default Protecting pets against police/dog interaction

I'm getting concerned about all the stories I have recently read about police/dog interaction. The one that really pushed my button was about an officer that was looking for a lost child and entered the yard of the search area and encountered a family pet. No attempt was made to contact the owner. The dog was shot and killed.

I want to make sure that I am doing everything necessary to protect my pets. On-line searches on this subject have not been successful. I e-mailed the Sheriff asking what steps I can take to ensure that a law enforcement / dog encounter on my property does not end badly. I haven't heard back on that yet.

My back yard is fenced and I'm considering putting warning signs up but my dogs aren't aggressive and I don't want to scare the neighbors. If someone enters the back yard they will hurry over to greet the visitor but there is little barking and I've never seen them display aggressive behavior. My 3 year old granddaughter sits on and crawl all over them and they remain perfectly calm. Playing with the dogs is the highlight of her visits.
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  #2  
Old 05 August 2014, 04:00 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Don't leave your dogs in your backyard unattended. I know that sounds extreme, but it's the safest method
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  #3  
Old 05 August 2014, 04:48 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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You might also start locking any gates if you don't already. In the case of the SLC shooting, the officer was looking for a missing child. If the gate is locked, then it is unlikely that the missing child would be in that backyard (no foul play was suspected AFAIK) so the officer might not need to go into the yard. Also, not every officer can scale a 6' fence, so they might simply search from outside the fence.
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  #4  
Old 05 August 2014, 05:16 PM
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Luka_the_Pooka Luka_the_Pooka is offline
 
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Dog

I've got to admit, that story made me rather uneasy - especially since the missing child was found inside their own home (why not search the child's own house thoroughly before wandering over to the neighbors'?) Can the police really just stroll right into someone's gate and into their yard?

My dog Hugo is a family-only dog - he adores us but is very wary of anyone he doesn't know, and will bark loudly if they get too close. He wears one of those bright yellow "Please give me SPACE" vests when we are out on a walk. We have a large, fully-fenced yard, and he hangs out there while the family is at work/school. You can't really lock our gate - a large part of it is on wheels so that the cars can enter the driveway. The thought that he isn't safe there, in his own yard, exactly where he's supposed to be, is terrifying. The chance of him being shot by a police officer is incredibly small, but irrational worries are irrational.
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  #5  
Old 05 August 2014, 05:27 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luka_the_Pooka View Post
Can the police really just stroll right into someone's gate and into their yard?
IANAL, but under certain circumstances, yes. Generally it has to be exigent circumstances (like hearing screams from the backyard, pursuing a fleeing suspect, etc). Often the prohibitions on what police can't do regarding privacy are "punished" by excluding any evidence found that doesn't pertain to the reason they entered. For example, I believe that if the officer in the SLC case had found pot plants while looking for the child, they could not use that discovery in court for a case against the homeowner.
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  #6  
Old 05 August 2014, 06:02 PM
Onyx_TKD Onyx_TKD is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floydzepplin View Post
My back yard is fenced and I'm considering putting warning signs up but my dogs aren't aggressive and I don't want to scare the neighbors.
I take it you were considering "Beware of dog" type signs? I think that could be unwise--not only do you not want to scare neighbors, if an officer does go into your yard for whatever reason, you don't want to plant or encourage the idea that the dog inside is threatening.

Have you considered signs along the lines of "Don't let the dog out! Keep gate closed."? That would notify anyone entering that there is a dog inside without implying that the dog is aggressive.
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  #7  
Old 05 August 2014, 07:34 PM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
IANAL, but under certain circumstances, yes. Generally it has to be exigent circumstances (like hearing screams from the backyard, pursuing a fleeing suspect, etc). Often the prohibitions on what police can't do regarding privacy are "punished" by excluding any evidence found that doesn't pertain to the reason they entered. For example, I believe that if the officer in the SLC case had found pot plants while looking for the child, they could not use that discovery in court for a case against the homeowner.
The applicable exception here would be community caretaking.
Quote:
The emergency doctrine recognizes that police function as community caretakers in addition to their roles as criminal investigators and law enforcers. Cervantes, 219 F.3d at 889. See also Mincey, 437 U.S. at 392 (noting the Court did "not question the right of the police to respond to emergency situations"). This exception has three requirements: (1) The police must have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an emergency at hand and an immediate need for their assistance for the protection of life or property; (2) The search must not be primarily motivated by an intent to arrest and/or to seize evidence; and (3) There must be some reasonable basis, approximating probable cause, to associate the emergency with the area or place to be searched. Stafford, 416 F.3d at 1073–74. See also United States v. Russell, 436 F.3d1086, 1090 (9th Cir.2006).
http://www3.ce9.uscourts.gov/jury-instructions/node/153

The enforcement mechanism if your rights are violated in a noncriminal case such as having one's dog killed during a search for a missing child would be section 1983 action against the state actors.

As for signs, it might possibly help to have no trespassing signs posted on your backyard gate/fence. It might make officers more conservative about whether an exception applies. (This is just speculation on my part, though). I second the advice against beware of dog signs. Those would tend to make people more likely to interpret friendly or neutral actions as aggressive. I also second the advice not to leave the dog out unattended.

Last edited by erwins; 05 August 2014 at 07:41 PM.
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  #8  
Old 05 August 2014, 07:44 PM
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Chloe Chloe is offline
 
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Custom sign? DOG IS NOT DANGEROUS DON'T HURT HIM

I must admit this worries me too. I can't even read those news stories.
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  #9  
Old 05 August 2014, 08:15 PM
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crocoduck_hunter crocoduck_hunter is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryda Wong, EBfCo. View Post
Don't leave your dogs in your backyard unattended. I know that sounds extreme, but it's the safest method
That's good advice in general: the dog is going to be much happier to be with the family than cooped up in the back yard.
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  #10  
Old 05 August 2014, 08:29 PM
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Lots of people have dog doors so they can do whichever they prefer, but that also means the dog would likely respond to noise and activity in the yard.
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  #11  
Old 05 August 2014, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
IANAL, but under certain circumstances, yes. Generally it has to be exigent circumstances (like hearing screams from the backyard, pursuing a fleeing suspect, etc). Often the prohibitions on what police can't do regarding privacy are "punished" by excluding any evidence found that doesn't pertain to the reason they entered. For example, I believe that if the officer in the SLC case had found pot plants while looking for the child, they could not use that discovery in court for a case against the homeowner.
My understanding is that they could use it. I'm not a lawyer so I am only going off a fictional case I saw. Police had to break in to a property to assist firefighters trying to free a child stuck between that place and the one next door. They saw drugs and arrested the owner. (There was a sense of urgency as the child was freezing to death and the responders could not get to him without breaking the wall down).
I can't remember the terminology used by the lawyers though.
Does this vary by state.
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  #12  
Old 05 August 2014, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onyx_TKD View Post
I take it you were considering "Beware of dog" type signs? I think that could be unwise--not only do you not want to scare neighbors, if an officer does go into your yard for whatever reason, you don't want to plant or encourage the idea that the dog inside is threatening.

Have you considered signs along the lines of "Don't let the dog out! Keep gate closed."? That would notify anyone entering that there is a dog inside without implying that the dog is aggressive.
I've seen signs that say silly things like, "Poodle on patrol", or "Beware of the Chihuahua".
Could you get your own sign made up.
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  #13  
Old 05 August 2014, 09:48 PM
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Little Pink Pill Little Pink Pill is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
Lots of people have dog doors so they can do whichever they prefer, but that also means the dog would likely respond to noise and activity in the yard.
My dog has a door so she can romp, sun, or relieve herself at whim, but when I'm not home (I work from home, so when I leave it's for short periods) she's in her indoor kennel. If there is ever an officer at my (locked) gate at a time when my dog has access to the yard, she will respond, but I'll hear her and hopefully be able to intervene before anything happens.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
Also, not every officer can scale a 6' fence, so they might simply search from outside the fence.
Or they'll break it down and then refuse to pay for it, which happened in my town when a 8th grade runaway scaled a neighbor's fence after a fight with her parents, and the officers chasing her couldn't match her jr. high ninja moves.
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  #14  
Old 05 August 2014, 09:53 PM
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Horse Chestnut Horse Chestnut is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
Lots of people have dog doors so they can do whichever they prefer, but that also means the dog would likely respond to noise and activity in the yard.
I don't know if my experience is typical, but I've found after installing pet doors that my pets immediately retreat into the house if something/someone makes them frightened or uneasy. Also while you may believe your dog would react in a friendly manner to strangers, many dogs will show some fear aggression if they are alone at home and are approached by a stranger. I learned that the hard way when I walked into my sister's house, while her daughter's normally friendly dog was home alone. I had to back out of the house with a chair held in front of me.
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  #15  
Old 05 August 2014, 10:06 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
Police had to break in to a property to assist firefighters trying to free a child stuck between that place and the one next door. They saw drugs and arrested the owner. (There was a sense of urgency as the child was freezing to death and the responders could not get to him without breaking the wall down).
I'd think they'd have a problem with #3 from erwin's link as it appears they were simply searching everything they could, especially since they hadn't searched the boy's actual house yet. The cases cited in the link are cases where a single, specific person or residence was searched with some evidence to support the search.

In New Jersey's State v. Vargas, officers entered an apartment for a welfare check because the landlord reported not seeing his tenant for some time. They found pot, evidence of money laundering, and firearms. SCOTNJ ruled that the evidence was not admissible because the warrantless search was not justified due to there being no evidence that there was an emergency in the apartment. So it isn't quite the same, but in the case in SLC, there was (AFAIK), no evidence that there was an emergency in the man's backyard either.
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  #16  
Old 05 August 2014, 10:17 PM
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Hero_Mike Hero_Mike is offline
 
 
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Or the signs that say "Dog is Friendly. Beware of Owner."
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