Animal Law Review


Elizabeth Olsen

First Page



This Article discusses situations in which an officer has shot a companion canine, and evaluates the efficacy of the different potential civil claims that an owner may have against the individual officer, his supervisor, the department, or the municipality. It then goes on to suggest that the relief granted, even for successful claims, is insufficient to alter municipal policies governing officer’s interactions with canines because such relief is typically retrospective in nature. Additionally, this Article discusses the serious problems that arise in relying on civil litigation as a mechanism for addressing officer-involved canine companion shootings because of the status of dogs as property, and seeks to identify alternative legal strategies which could yield prospective relief in the form of an injunction or writ of mandamus. Although attempting to seek prospective relief predeprivation presents difficulties in establishing standing, under the right circumstances, a plaintiff’s status as a municipal taxpayer is sufficient to establish standing. Finally, this Article sets forth a potential legal framework for bringing suit against a municipality or police department seeking prospective changes to police department policy, based on standing as a municipal taxpayer rather than as an aggrieved individual whose companion canine has already been harmed.



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