Assistant Detroit police chief responds directly to rising number of dogs killed by officers

Detroit police shoot at dogs 337 times in 3-year period

DETROIT – An assistant Detroit police chief is responding to questions about how many dogs Detroit police officers have killed over a three-year period.

Between 2020 and 2022, there were 100 shootings and 337 shots fired. Detroit police shot at 107 dogs and killed at least 74 of them.

Compared to other cities, like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Grand Rapids -- Detroit officers are shooting at dogs more than three times as often.

In that same three-year period:

  • Detroit police shot at dogs 100 times.
  • Chicago police shot at dogs 31 times.
  • Milwaukee police shot at dogs 12 times.
  • Grand Rapids police shot at dogs just three times.

Detroit police assistant chief David LeValley speaks with Local 4

The city has been combating a stray dog issue for years. There are also a number of dogs used to protect illegal operations in the city. Police said officers are frequently put in a situation where they feel shooting a dog is necessary.

“How do you think your department is dealing with dogs in the city?” Local 4′s Karen Drew asked.

“I think we’re dealing well, with dogs. You know, there’s a lot of dogs in Detroit, it’s been an issue that we’ve had to deal with for, for quite a few years, a number of stray dogs,” Detroit police assistant chief David LeValley said.

“When should an officer shoot a dog? And when is it too much?” Karen Drew asked.

“Our rule and our policy is it an officer would shoot at a dog when either the officer or somebody else is in imminent threat of being attacked by the dog,” LeValley said.

“I think there’s a question of shooting a dog on the dog’s property. We pulled numbers and there are about 100 shootings in the past three years. Thirty of those were on the dog’s property,” Karen Drew said.

“An officer has to make a split second decision whether or not it’s safe and feasible to retreat, or are they going to get bit, you know, in our policy is not that an officer has to subject themselves to being bitten by a dog,” LeValley said.

“Can the department do better?” Karen Drew asked.

“Certainly, you know, we can always look at best practices, see what type of training opportunities are out there. I know recently, the city has invested a lot in our animal control. Which is big, because that gives officers an option, somebody to call who’s more well trained in how to deal with animals,” LeValley said.

When asked about the comparison of cities, the assistant chief said there was not a uniform way of reporting dog shootings and he was unable to comment.

Detroit has seen a surge in dog bites. In May of last year, they had over 100 people in the city of Detroit bit by dogs. Police said dogs on the loose are a huge issue.

Owners do have responsibilities when owning a dog. The dogs have to be contained, fenced, licensed, registered with the city, and on a leash when they are outside of their yard.

View: All of our coverage on Detroit police shootings involving dogs

Do you have more information about this or a similar story? Reach out to Karen Drew at

Detroit Police Department reports

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.