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Old February 15, 2005, 04:23 PM   #1
Boilermaker
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Would you be justified in drawing your gun?

I've been watching my brothers 80lb (all muscle), 1 year old lab for the last couple days and it finally got nice out today so I took him for a walk when I got home. I live in the city and houses are pretty close together and the area around my house is not the best so I grabbed my gun before going. On my way back there were two women with a 5 or 6 year old girl out at the sidewalk. The child was intrigued by my pooch and I knew he was going to want to jump on her and lick her to death so I tightened him up to my side and made it past them. Just as soon as I got past the next house, I hear a dog viciously barking so I automatically stop to find where it is coming from, then I see this dog come charging off the porch of the next house at me and I start to back up but realize the small child is back there and I did not want to draw this dog closer to her. Thank god at this point I see that the dog is on a cable tie in the yard and it hit the end of it. BTW this is about a 60lb mut and I'm thinking this dog could easily pull the cable tie-out loose and attack.

I've now got my dog secured with my left arm so if need be I can let him go and draw my gun on this dog with my right hand, knowing there's not much I'm going to be able to do in a dog fight and labs aren't to good in fights either. I've got to thinking now, I know my first instinct would be to let my dog go as no animal's life is more important than mine(and for any animal lovers, I would only put my mothers life before my own). I am most likely no longer in danger if the two dogs are fighting. Would I be justified at this point pulling my gun on this dog in the middle of this residential street? Most likely me pulling the gun is going to freak these ladies out more than a dog fight, especially if I shot it, and the cops would be called as soon as the women saw the gun.(I was legally carrying) What would you do in a situation like this?
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Old February 15, 2005, 05:05 PM   #2
1BadF350
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If you pull it out on the dog you better have to use it. I don't think the dog is going to see your gun and go "Oh sh*t" and stop.

Anyway, I would have stopped dead in my tracks and seen how far the other dog was going to get and held my dog tight. If the cable broke and the dog charged I would have released my dog to intercept hopefully giving the young girl time to get away, who knows if the other dog would go after her instead, right. If there was a good length left of the other dogs cable, as the two dogs were fighting I would grab the end of it and tie it to the nearest secure object, then grabbed my dogs leash and dragged him away from the fight as hard as I could. If I had no other choice I would have to put down the other dog and deal with whatever happened when the police showed up.
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Old February 15, 2005, 05:12 PM   #3
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I think that you would not be justified in pulling your weapon on a public street unless the dog was threatening to you or another person, not another canine. If you attempted to break up the dog fight (not advised) and the dog turned on you.............well, could you make a jury believe you were threatened? Probably. I'd try to avoid it if at all possible.
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Old February 15, 2005, 05:17 PM   #4
woodland
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and labs aren't to good in fights either
I don't know. We had an 80 lb yellow lab when I was a kid, and I saw him take down a chow, and a malimute that was a good 100 lbs. Not at the same time, but he could handle himself pretty good.
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Old February 15, 2005, 06:10 PM   #5
Erich
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Boilermaker, I'm a lawyer. There's another TFL lawyer who lives in Lafayette (I'm assuming - due to your "Boilermaker" moniker - that you're in W. Laf.), too. I think we'd both tell you that these "Would I be justified?" threads are probably the WORST way to get legal advice.

With any criminal law legal question, the best answer is usually "it depends."

Whatever you do will be second-guessed by the cops who arrive at the scene and - if that goes wrong (in increasing order of the trouble you'd be in), the prosecuting attorney, the grand jury, the judge, the jury and the appeals court.

Tell me, would you have felt comfortable that a hypothetical cop driving by would have felt you justified in pulling your gun? Do you think that the prosecuting attorney would have agreed?

These are pretty good questions to ask yourself.

No one here can give you a definitive answer about your scenario. But if you think that a cop who happened to be driving by on the street wouldn't have been comfortable with you pulling your gun - well, partner, that ought to be something to consider.
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Old February 15, 2005, 09:43 PM   #6
Nnobby45
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Sad Tale

When my next door neighbor's Siberian Huskie got loose, it ended up in my other next door neighbor's yard, terrorizing chickens and goats. This wasn't the first time. Well, this time Patty was home. She stepped out on her porch and drilled him behind the shoulder with her ever present .22 rifle. DRT.

The Sheriff Deputy arrived (she called him), and he proceeded to chew her tail explaining that "you just can't go shooting somebody's dog", etc, etc. Then the animal control officer arrived, chuckling the whole time, proclaiming, "yes she can", and showed the deputy a long list of complaints. Seems the dog had terrorized the neighborhood immediately before making the mistake of going into Patty's yard.

It was a sad incident. The young couple who had just moved into the neighborhood, a semi-rural area with 1 acre lots, were pretty shook up, and moved away before they really got settled. They'd tried to keep their dog penned up, but he kept breaking out. Felt a little sorry for them to tell the truth.

It should be pointed out that there were no homes behind Patty, at that time, and she endangered no one else. She wasn't cited, but could have been, perhaps, and then things would have been settled by the aforementioned legal system described by Erich. When I go for walks, I'm armed, but I also carry a walking stick, with the unfriendly dog in mind. I've had to use it, but never considered drawing my SIG. (or Glock 36).

Maybe the best lesson it that you don't always know how LE is going to see things, and that taking legal advice from the Board isn't a good idea, although asking people's oppinions makes for interesting threads---just don't take the advice.
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Old February 15, 2005, 11:02 PM   #7
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If you're in reasonable fear for your safety, you're at LEAST justified in pulling your gun. Best thing to do with dogs is just stick the barrel out there and wait for them to bite it before you blast em. That's where an 8 3/8 bbl. comes in handy, but a 2" will work in a pinch(er).
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Old February 15, 2005, 11:18 PM   #8
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If a large dog is charging at you, I think you could make the case, depending on where you live. But I don't think I'd want to.

However, I think the dog would have to actually attack me or my family before I'd shoot.

I've had plenty of dogs run up to me and stop three feet shy and just stand there and bark. Normally, if you just stand there and look at them, they gxo away.

Now, if you had bite marks on your leg, you'd certainly be justified IMO.

This is just my opinion of course, and is based on what I feel is reasonable. Read: I am not a lawyer, either.
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Old February 15, 2005, 11:22 PM   #9
chris in va
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If you're in reasonable fear for your safety, you're at LEAST justified in pulling your gun
I agree. Why wait until the dog has grabbed your leg and shaking the crap out of you to draw? Or at least have your hand on the grip...
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Old February 16, 2005, 01:19 AM   #10
Sir William
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Under the circumstances described, NO. If the anial is restrained and on the owners property, you cannot draw or shoot. There is 0 threat. You might have been charged with brandishing, terroristic threatening for each adult with the child and you could be charged with child endangerment. Those are the realities. IF the dog was loose and running towards you? Let the lab have him. If the dog ran after the child? Wait and see. If the dog attacks you or another then there is a threat. Shoot and be accurate.
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Old February 16, 2005, 03:59 AM   #11
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If I were to see a large dog attacking or in the process of attacking an infant then depending on the situation, I would not hesitate to take full advantage of any opprotunity that allowed me to end the canine's aggression with deadly force, if necessary. If the dog is already attacking the child, however, this is difficult because you stand a good chance of hitting the child instead and would have a hard time justifying this shot to yourself and to a jury even if you didn't.
In this situation, if a dog had attacked, I would have released my dog and picked up the girl. An 80 pound lab is fully capable of fending for itself, a 5 year-old girl is not. With the girl on your shoulder she is out of danger. If you must still draw your weapon, you most likely could, but chances are if the vicious dog gets past yours, you'll be able to keep it from doing any real damage. A swift kick to the head usually works.

My brother and I have used sticks and paintball guns to fend of aggressive dogs, but I am a dog lover myself and don't usually like doing permanent damage to them. I blame bad animal behavior on bad human behavior because in my experience, dogs will, for the most part, treat others how you treat them. I'd rather shoot the dog's owner than the dog. I wouldn't hesitate to use lethal force if I felt it was necessary, of course, but there are very few circumstances where I would consider lethal force against a dog to be justified and applicable.
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Old February 16, 2005, 12:45 PM   #12
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It is best to use your gun to protect yourself, and not others, as far as the law is concerned IMO. I have seen, and arrested many people who pulled a gun to try to save someone else, and the situation was not as the person thought it was. In this case I would say you should not have pulled the gun. As far as Arizona law is concerned you could be charged with brandishing a weapon, if you did fire and let’s say somehow missed and hit that little girl you would be charged with manslaughter here in AZ.

What MTMilitiaman said works, pick up the little girl, if the dog goes to attack you take action.
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Old February 16, 2005, 01:14 PM   #13
Dusty Miller
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A jury (civil or criminal) will want to know why you didn't first employ a less than lethal force such as pepper spray to subdue the animal. I know they work because I once stopped a large doberman male right in its tracks with a short burst of pepper spray.
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Old February 16, 2005, 03:56 PM   #14
cje1980
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In most cases you wouldn't be justified drawing a firearm in public for an agressive dog. Rules for drawing in public while carrying are a little different than home defense. Any time you draw while carrying in public you better count on using the firearm. Like MTMilitiaman said, dogs usually don't have to be shot in order to stop them. Most dogs will go down with a kick to the thread or throat. Dogs are also really sensitive just in front of the rear legs. Dogs actually have pretty vulnerable bodies compared to humans. Drawing a gun is serious business.
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Old February 16, 2005, 05:23 PM   #15
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I was attacked by 2 pitbulls who would not let me out of my house once. I was outside working on my car when I saw them running towards me. I grabbed my hose and hosed them down but that made things worse. I retreated inside and tried to wait them out. After 5 minutes I opened the door. The pitbulls had apparently been waitting in ambush around the corner of my house and when they heard the door open, they rushed the corner charging. I retreated back inside and called animal control whom said they were busy somewhere else so I called the police. Officer Friendly showed up and was immidiatly attacked himself by the pitbulls. He had pepperspray hit both of them several times. The only thing it did was stop them from charging. They did not run away which he said was odd. The continued to harrass us ( comming no closer than 6 feet now). After a while, they got bored and ran down the street. Officer Friendly said he would call Animal Control and left. I will never trust pepperspray anymore.
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Old February 16, 2005, 08:13 PM   #16
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My first line of defense when walking our dog at night is my 6 cell Maglight. A good crack on the head should do the trick. If that doesn't do it, I flick open my speedy Kershaw pocket knife and poke a hole or two. It would have to be really bad for me to draw my Kel-Tec .380.
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Old February 17, 2005, 07:27 AM   #17
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A small dog like that I would have given it a kick to the ribs if it were to attack me. I dont think I would draw my gun for that.
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Old February 17, 2005, 08:21 AM   #18
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You would not have been justified in pulling your weapon unless you had to use it to save a life. The barking dog would not have been intimidated by it. This dog was not attacking. He was on a tether. There was no cause to draw your weapon in the scenerio you posted. Your gun should have stayed holstered.

The dog was acting with his territorial instinct. You were setting off his internal alarms, and your "passers-by" right of way meant nothing to him. It does not matter where you thought his territory ended, he has his own thoughts on the matter, and human customs and laws won't change his views.

Dogs rarely fight to the death, although they might injure each other before they settle a dispute. Usually one dog will roll over, submit, then be allowed to run away with the victor snarling at his heels. It takes conditioning for a dog to fight to the death. Considering this, had the barking dog broken loose, I believe the best response would have to been to release your dog from his leash to let him sort things out. You should retreat to where the little girl was at to give her protection if needed, and meet a few witnesses. Chances are, your dog would also retreat, as it would remove him from the other dog's territory and end the canine dispute with the least bloodshed. Your dog understood what the barking dog was communicating. Your dog was hampered in his response by his willingness to obey you, his master, and your attempts to assert your human rights on a dog's view of things. Had your dog been alone, he would have left the area unscathed. He understood the barking dog. You did not.
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Old February 17, 2005, 09:55 AM   #19
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Keep in mind that I am not any type of lawyer, so my advise is just an opinion, but, I would think that you'd have gotten yourself in a heap of trouble. The dog was tied, and in the confines of the yard, ie private property. That most likely would have been REAL ugly had you done something drastic. Now had it been off the chain, and running towards you, ect, then yeah.....i've been in that situation, with a really vicious type dog, and don't think I would hesitate to shoot, if ever put in that type of situation again.
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Old February 17, 2005, 02:18 PM   #20
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I think the poster was asking if he could shoot had the dog NOT turned out to be tethered.

The real value of posting such questions may be that the feedback may suggest how a jury would see the case.

My brother once did shoot a neighbor's vicious dog as it charged him. It didn't inspire me to use a two-inch .38 on a big dog, but it did put it down.

The neighbor was enraged. He and his wife were oblivious to the reputation the dog had in the neighborhood, and made little effort to meaningfully restrain this big mutt. It had previously chased my mother in her yard!

The jerk owner frothed at the mouth and called the police, but they just calmed everyone down and warned the owners to keep the dog under better control.

It did recover from the shots, lead Plus P hollowpoint Winchesters, from a S&W M60. The wounds were in the shoulder area and a couple of rounds went into the lawn. Had a bullet entered the body cavity, the snub .38 might have been more effective.

Had the neighbor had my brother charged, he (brother) would have filed charges, civil and criminal, pertaining to the ower's laxness in controlling a dangerous animal. It was, of course, in violation of the leash law, and on my mother's property at the time, and had scared others nearby for months.

For what it's worth, I don't like dogs much and consider them a very real menace when not properly controlled. In this city, several have attacked children. In one case, a grandmother stabbed one attacking a kid with a kitchen knife. The blade broke, but not before several stabs had inflicted fatal wounds. The child, I think, recovered, but was badly mauled. Other children have died. Some who lived will be marked for life.

I am especially offended by people who criticize those who keep guns, and say to get a dog for protection. In my opinion, the gun is safer in careful, prudent hands. The dog does what it wants. The gun does only what you tell it to!

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Old February 17, 2005, 07:11 PM   #21
waterman
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Well, ok, I am a lawyer - but not in the perjorative sense of the word. I will give you a straight answer... No. Not even close. Lots of good reasons outlined above.
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Old February 17, 2005, 07:17 PM   #22
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While having a job that requires me visiting people at their homes for work it is always amazing to me how ignorant people can be when they own vicious dogs. some people seem to be controlled by the animal then the other way around. I would have no problems at all putting down a vicious animal that was coming after me. I would think I was doing a justice.
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