Milwaukee police have shot more than 400 dogs in the line of duty in the last decade, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 2004 death of a 7-year-old Labrador/springer spaniel mix named Bubba appears to be the first such case to go to a federal civil rights trial in Milwaukee, where it is set to begin before a jury this week. His owner, Virginia Viilo, sued the city and two officers, claiming her constitutional rights were violated when an officer fired shots into her already-injured dog.
Courts have held that unnecessarily killing a pet violates the owner’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure. The city already has lost an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Viilo says Bubba was a playful dog who romped with neighborhood children and visited residents at the nursing home where she worked. Police say Bubba was a threat to them on the day they encountered the dog. They say he charged them, growling and baring his teeth.