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Federal judge puts stop to "unconstitutional" Detroit dog seizures

A pit bull
Flickr user audreyjm529
Bad Dog? One Michigan state lawmaker wants to ban pit bulls by 2021.

A federal judge has put the brakes on a Detroit Animal Control practice of seizing dogs from homes without a search warrant.

A controversial Detroit ordinance allows animal control officers to do that.

But a number of city residents are now suing over the practice, claiming it violates their constitutional right to due process.

Plaintiffs allege their dogs were illegally seized from their homes, sometimes for minor infractions such as escaping from the home.

In some cases, the plaintiffs allege the dogs died at the city’s shelter or soon afterward.

On Monday, federal judge Nancy Edmunds handed the plaintiffs an early victory, putting a stop to seizures of any property, including dogs, without a warrant, consent, or “exigent circumstances” through a preliminary injunction.

“The public interest is served by an injunction here because it will protect the due process rights of all dog-owning Detroit residents,” Edmunds wrote in her order.

A trial in the case is set for later this year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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