ATHENS, Ohio (Court TV) — You have the right to bark back at a police dog.
That is what an Ohio appeals court ruled last week in the case of Jeremy Gilchrist, who was charged with violating a state law that prohibits taunting or tormenting a police dog.
The appeals court said a lower court judge was right to dismiss charges against Gilchrist, who barked back at a dog named Pepsie. The trial judge ruled that the law violates free speech rights.
Gilchrist had encountered the dog, which was in a police cruiser, as he walked along a street with friends.
His attorney said he was trying to be funny when he barked back.
"The mere fact that the police dog had commenced the barking did not entitle it to a solo performance," attorney Patrick McGee wrote in the appeal.
Officer Krishea Osborne testified that Gilchrist's barking made the dog "work himself up into a frenzy.
In dismissing the charges, Athens County Municipal Judge Douglas Bennett cited the free speech argument and also ruled Gilchrist wasn't a threat to the animal or public safety because he was 30 feet away from the cruiser