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Police defend right to enter property after a 'Beware of Dog' sign was ignored

Beware of dog sign not enough
Beware of dog sign not enough
KREM News screenshot

Police are defending the right to enter private property after a "Beware of Dog" sign was ignored Wednesday, resulting in the death of a mixed breed named Cash. KREM News reported on the right of police to enter property that's posted in an August 28 article.

Most property owners get upset when police come onto their property and kill the family dog. This is what occurred August 27 when a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputy was bitten twice by a pit bull mix in Greenacres. The dog was shot and killed by Deputy Ryan Smith during the struggle.

Brad Beck questioned the legality of police to come onto his property for a purpose of returning a hat and a set of keys. Brad believes the Beware of Dog signs posted around his property should have kept Cash safe.

KREM2 News spent Thursday afternoon tracking down an answer to this issue. They spoke with members of law enforcement, as well as attorneys, to learn just how well the "Beware of Dog" defense would hold up in a court of law.

Apparently in this case, it wouldn't. Attorneys told KREM for the case to be considered trespassing, a "No Trespassing" sign should have been visible on the property. In this case, there was no sign warning against trespassing.

The other reason the police won't be considered as trespassing is because they were on the property in an official capacity. Officer Smith was there on a courtesy call to return property he believed belonged to the person who lived there.

What does this mean to people who have lost the family dog during a drug raid, wrong address or chasing a suspect through the owner's property and the dog gets in the way and is murdered?

In the case of a $333,000 settlement paid to a Chicago family whose dog was killed during a drug raid, it didn't hinder a guilty verdict against police. It not likely the family had a "no trespassing" sign on their apartment door. Yet the family still won their settlement.

While the police may argue the family doesn't have a case without the second sign, it should be a matter of common sense to use discretion when approaching a dog behind a warning sign.

Officer Smith thought the dogs were behind an electronic fence. It's a shame he was injured, but this type of sign should be taken seriously. This includes police.

Residents may post a "Beware of Dog" sign as a deterrent to crime, whether a dog is present or not. Shouldn't it be considered the sign is there for a reason, and that reason is to keep a person from entering the dogs territory.

Now the Beck family is mourning the loss of their family dog, whom they believed safe inside a gated fence with a sign to warn those who come onto the property of the potential for harm.

Do we all need to go out and buy "No Trespassing" signs? Are the police and attorneys questioned on this matter mistaken about the rights of police to enter onto private property on a non-emergency call?

Please leave a comment on whether you believe this family has a legitimate case. Or was the officer within his rights to enter onto the property and shoot the family dog because he was being attacked.

To read more of Elisa's articles on dogs shot by police, click here.

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