Can you shoot a dog on your property in Michigan? Surprising Answer

If a person ever had occasion to kill a dangerous animal in self-defense, then it would be up to a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer to decide what would happen.

When it comes to the use of force and deadly force to defend oneself, others, or property from animal attacks, Michigan law is a hodgepodge of different laws that are not contained in just one section of statutes.

It is important to know how the law defines large carnivore. According to § 287.1102(f), a large carnivore is any type of wild or captive bred cat, including by way of example, a lion, leopard, jaguar, tiger, cougar, panther, and cheetah. Bears are also considered large carnivores but wolves and coyotes are conspicuously absent from this definition.

According to Michigans Large Carnivore Act, § 287.1111, a person is permitted to kill a large carnivore if the person sees a large carnivore chasing, attacking, injuring, or killing a person, livestock, or poultry. In that instance, the use of deadly force against animals in Michigan is justified.

Animals, even dangerous animals, have a high degree of protection in Michigan. That does not mean a person cannot ever kill a dangerous wild animal in self-defense, but it does mean that doing so is wrought with potential civil or criminal liabilities.

Laws About Killing a Healthy Animal Yourself

If your dog could have a decent standard of living for several years, you can’t kill them. Killing a healthy and happy animal yourself is always considered illegal.

Your options under these circumstances are:

  • Keep the dog
  • Surrender them to a shelter
  • Find them a new home
  • You also can’t abandon a dog or let them go free. Also, some shelters have the right to euthanize healthy dogs. This falls under their own business ordinances and state laws.

    You can never kill a domesticated animal that doesn’t belong to you (except in rare circumstances, such as when a dog is on your property or posing a danger to animal or human life). This is considered the destruction of property in the eyes of the law.

    Laws About a Vet Killing a Healthy Animal

    If you ask a vet to put your pet down, it is called “owner-requested euthanasia” or “convenience euthanasia.”

    Your vet has the legal right to euthanize a healthy animal if:

  • It is beyond behavioral rehabilitation
  • It is dangerous or has behavioral issues
  • Nothing can be done to safely rehome the dog
  • Deciding that an animal is beyond help is subjective to the veterinarian. They have euthanasia guidelines to follow under the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

    Sometimes a vet may refuse euthanasia, and they will surrender the animal to a shelter, which may choose to euthanize the animal.

    There are criminal penalties for animal cruelty. Anyone can report you if you kill a pet in a manner that is considered:

    Animal cruelty penalties can include jail time, probation, or fines. You will face criminal charges in court and need an attorney to defend you.

    The laws and ordinances can be different for farms, slaughterhouses, and working farm animals. Check your local ordinances if you are not sure.

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    You can legally euthanize (meaning kill to relieve pain) your pet under specific circumstances. You must meet the two criteria that are detailed below to kill your pet lawfully.

    You can face animal cruelty criminal charges or other penalties if you kill a pet using methods not described below. There are also regulations and ordinances about killing a healthy animal, so it is illegal to kill your pet for no reason.

    If you can no longer care for your sick pet or afford their medical needs, you can surrender them to a shelter at no cost to you and with no legal penalties.