While it always irritates me to read about police officers shooting dogs during routine raids, stories like this tend to restore my faith:

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – The city of San Jose agreed to pay nearly $800,000 to the Hells Angels motorcycle club to settle claims police needlessly killed three dogs during raids on club members’ homes.
Ninety officers participated in the raids on the club’s San Jose headquarters and nine members’ homes following a 1997 killing at a strip club.
Steve Tausan, a bouncer and Hells Angels member, was later acquitted of murder and none of the bikers whose homes were targeted was ever charged.
In a lawsuit, the club claimed the dogs were killed after police refused to give owners and caretakers a chance to secure the animals.
“We sincerely hope the city will engage in changes to its policy and training to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Karen Snell, one of the club’s lawyers, after the settlement was announced Tuesday.
San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle said the city was forced to settle because an appeals court ruled shooting the dogs violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

What that story does not point out is the city’s contention that police officers have an inherent right to shoot dogs when executing search warrants:

During the raids police shot three dogs belonging to club members which club attorney Karen Snell argued was an unconstitutional taking of property because police knew the dogs were at the raid locations and took no steps to restrain or capture them.
?They were beloved pets. They were very, very close to the families and the families were devastated,? Snell said earlier this year when Santa Clara County paid $990,000 to settle the lawsuit.
The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as both San Jose and the county argued that they should not be liable because their officers were serving properly executed search warrants during the raids. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, in effect ruling for the Hells Angels, in December 2005. (Emphasis added.)

If the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the city’s contention, then a search warrant against property would become a death warrant for animals unfortunate enough to live there.
I often worry that freedom in this country is ultimately headed in the same direction as China.
It helps to see a reminder that we’re not living in China yet.
I’m still haunted by the warning from General Tommy Franks:

?It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world ? it may be in the United States of America ? that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.?

Of course, few people worry about what happens to bikers’ dogs in raids.
They forget that (whether because of bureaucratic error or abuse of power) their homes and their dogs might be next.
Fortunately, there are still remedies.
Why do so many people seem so anxious to get rid of them?