Detroit police shoot local singer's dog at Navin Field

May 27, 2015 at 2:32 pm
Local alt-country singer Alison Lewis regularly performs around town. In fact, she just sang at Jumbo's Bar for Metro Times Blowout. Often, Lewis' dog Millie takes the stage with her, occasionally howling along to the chorus. In 2014, Millie even won MT's critic's choice for Best Onstage Dog in our Best of Detroit issue. 

But Millie won't be taking the stage again anytime soon. Instead, she'll be recovering from surgery due to a gunshot wound inflicted by a Detroit police officer.

Earlier today the Detroit Free Press reported that Millie was shot while Lewis and a couple of friends were playing with their dogs inside Navin Field on the site of old Tiger Stadium. When some cops pulled up, Lewis' friends were able to get their dogs leashed quickly, but Millie approached an officer before Lewis could dig her leash out of her purse. According to the Freep, the officer shot at Millie while Lewis pleaded with him to hold his fire: 

About the same time Lewis arrived at the field on Sunday, a couple of other people were nearby loading equipment from a just-finished baseball game into their cars parked on the grass. The parked cars drew the attention of Detroit police. A squad car pulled up and two officers got out. Lewis and police agree on this much of the story.

As the officers approached, Lewis said her two friends put their dog on a leash. As Lewis reached for her purse and leash, Millie, who was unleashed and about 15 feet away, started to "gallop" toward one of the officers, she said.

"He went for his gun. It was about as long as I had to say, 'What are you doing? Please don't do that. She's not going to hurt you,'" Lewis said in an interview on Tuesday. "It was: Hand on gun. It was out. Boom."

After the shot, Millie bolted away. Lewis said at first she thought the cop shot into the ground, just scaring the dog. But when she caught up with Millie, she was bleeding heavily. She rushed Millie to an animal care facility, and the dog went into surgery. Millie has been released and is recovering, although she is having a hard time breathing and will need to be re-evaluated, Lewis said.

Now, Lewis is starting a petition. She wants justice for Millie. She's hoping that by accruing enough signatures, the Detroit police officer that shot Millie in the face will receive the maximum penalty for animal abuse. Friends are also starting a GoFundMe page to help Lewis cover the cost of Millie's emergency surgery and a lawyer. 

Lewis' friend Heather Ineich says she's concerned about more than Millie's physical recovery.

"One of my concerns now is that Millie is going to be emotionally damaged when it comes to humans," she says. "I hope she learns to trust again. She is a great dog. Those cops were trigger-happy, and it's time cops stop shooting everything and start using their heads. I have worked with a lot of rescues, including [Detroit Dog Rescue], and there are great cops out there who work to help animals, but these cops just shot and that's wrong."

According to the Freep, the Detroit police officer identified Millie as a pit bull, deeming her dangerous; however, Lewis says she's a cattle dog-mix. Ineich says she feels that shooting a dog because of its breed is as irresponsible and wrong as shooting a man because of his race. 

"Millie was shot just because 'she looked like a pit bull,'" says Ineich. "And that's breed discrimination and it's wrong. She's not even a pitty." 

Alysa Offman is associate editor of the Detroit Metro Times.