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Old January 13, 2009, 12:32 PM   #1
azredhawk44
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Walking the dog, and stray dog/coyote attack

Hasn't happened to me, but I've had my dog on a walk (on leash) a couple times now and seen coyotes not 25 yards away on the other side of the street in good old suburbia.

Let's say a stray dog or yote comes up to you and your dog. You're properly controlling and restraining your dog, but the stray animal closes distance outside of your ability to retreat or go another direction.

The stray is obviously interested in your dog, not necessarily in you.

I see two options:
#1 - let your dog loose.
#2 - shoot the stray.

Letting your dog loose doesn't guarantee that the fight won't make its way back to your legs anyways, resulting in the injuries you were trying to avoid. It also exposes your dog almost certainly to injuries or diseases carried by the stray/yote. Possibly even in death of your dog (being a piece of property in the eyes of the law).

Shooting the animal stops the threat. But, it leaves a lot of ambiguity about the appropriateness of the shoot. Requires police response, disposal of animal, at least a cursory interview or investigation into the righteousness of the shooting event.

Note that I don't mean to infer that it's okay to pop yotes while walking your dog at the neighborhood park... I'm just not sure what is "right" to do if a yote decides to get territorial with my dog on a leash and me unable to get away faster than the yote advances.

Would that fall under a "stand your ground/castle doctrine/no obligation to retreat" situation?
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Old January 13, 2009, 12:35 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Would that fall under a "stand your ground/castle doctrine/no obligation to retreat" situation?
No, those rules are designed to prevent killing of people.

The only laws would be:

1)Is the animal protected in some way?

2)Is it legal to shoot in the area you are in?


If the answers are no,yes... shoot it on sight, if you are so inclined.

If it's somebody's pet and it's not legal to discharge your gun in that area then you or your dog better be under attack before you shoot it.

My last option would be to let my dog fight with another animal on purpose.
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Old January 13, 2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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Tough call for sure. Might be good idea to have OC spray and or an air horn as an alternative/first response for just such an occasion. I know OC does not always work (air horns don't either) but as we all know every bullet fired has a lawyers name attached to it. You might want to pose this question to your local DA office to determine if that would be shooting to protect property and whether or not that is legal in such a case.

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Old January 13, 2009, 12:45 PM   #4
azredhawk44
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if that would be shooting to protect property
And that's what I'm trying to get to here... is this just a shooting to protect property (dog), or is this a shooting to protect my own well being?

Letting the dog go in the hopes of keeping the fight away from me... is that my responsibility, or do I have a legal option to retain my dog (property) even in light of the danger advancing (coyote) to both myself and my dog?

Let's say I have a baying chipmunk in a backpack, along with 5 pounds of day old ground beef (instead of the dog). Am I obligated to drop the squeeking bag of smelly-goodness and give it to the yote as he advances (yield property), or do I have an inherent right to defend myself from the aggression presented?

Can it be considered like a mugger with a knife who "just wants my money?"
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Old January 13, 2009, 12:52 PM   #5
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I own pugs, so....purposely allowing them to "fight" with another animal any larger than a hamster would be ludicrous. I would protect them, of course, should an unrestrained animal attack them, but I don't think I would do anything unless it was quite obvious that an attack was inevitable.

A coyote isn't likely to attack with a human around, but around these parts (southeast Texas) they are considered pests and lots of folks will shoot them if they see them on their property. Personally, I wouldn't believe my helpless pugs were in too much threat from a coyote if I'm around.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:00 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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or do I have an inherent right to defend myself from the aggression presented?
Yes. Unless you can read the mind of a coyote then you don't know what it wants. It could be rabid, it could be starving and desperate. If I could fire a safe shot against an aggressive wild animal I would, regardless of the technical legality of it. I know how the police around here would respond and I'd call them myself afterword. They'd say "Good job, somebody could have been hurt."
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; January 13, 2009 at 01:06 PM.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:14 PM   #7
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If I were walking my dog and a stray came at me with obvious intentions of harm, I feel there are a few other methods for stopping the animal short of using a firearm. I have a Siberian Husky and she is going to want to play more than attack so I would not have the option of using my dog as a defense.
I know lots of people who carry OC spray with them and even one woman who has scars from such an attack (she now carries her mace whenever she is walking her dog).
If the dog is really wanting a fight...I mean foaming at the mouth and looking to eat you and your dog, and you don't have any other means of protection, I don't see where firearm use cannot be justified as long as you are not emptying the clip on it and hottin and hollarin around like Yosemite Sam . I know a few people who have shot rabid raccoons within the city limits and the police don't even bat an eye.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:25 PM   #8
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I have worked with Greyhound adoption groups for a number of years now. One of the pluses of adopting a retired racer is our adopters can expect a lot of support from the rest of us. One of the side affects of this is we communicate with each other on a very large scale. I know of at least a dozen incidents in the last 5 years in which a greyhound adopters and/or their hounds were attacked by stray/loose dogs. Most of these attacks resulted in injuries to the hound and expensive vet bills at the least. There were 2 cases where our adopters required stitches, one woman got a dislocated shoulder. There were a couple of seriously injured hounds and one hound that had to be euthanized as the result of injuries sustained in the attack.

I can only speak for myself here but my hounds are members of my family. They are well trained, well behaved (Pops works as a therapy dog in a nursing home), and under control at all times. I wouldn’t think twice about shooting a coyote or even the neighbor’s loose and out of control lab to protect myself and my hounds if I thought the other animal was being aggressive and there wasn’t a person standing behind it that might get hurt.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:39 PM   #9
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People are funny about dogs - the difference between shooting a dog which may or may not be someone's pet who has gotten loose in the neighborhood and shooting a coyote is huge. In our litigious society, shooting a dog opens yourself up to a world of lawsuits if it turns out the animal is someone's pet; to the point where if I'm walking around in my neighborhood I would have to be in imminent peril of death or grievous bodily harm before I'd shoot a dog.

A coyote on the other hand isn't a pet, and as a "wild animal" doesn't enjoy the protection of popular conception - as such if a coyote was attacking my pet and I had a safe shot, I would take that with much less hesitation than I would on a dog.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:43 PM   #10
azredhawk44
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To all: Please note that I am not talking about shooting an animal (dog or coyote) just because it's within pistol range. I'm talking about a situation where an obviously stray dog (no collar, mangey, etc) or coyote makes a deliberate attempt to close distance with a dog being walked on a leash. Said animal has territorial/aggressive body language and continues to close distance, but prior to a lunge or charge.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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the difference between shooting a dog which may or may not be someone's pet who has gotten loose in the neighborhood and shooting a coyote is huge.
Not if they're attacking me or my dog it's not. Bang. Sure, people will be mad about the dog. Oh well, keep it locked up. Better yet, don't own a dog that will attack other dogs or people if it's loose. I just solved the problem for them. Now, if it's some ankle biter that I can keep away with my foot, that's different. If it's big enough to be dangerous or it's a wild animal, Bang.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:47 PM   #12
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Pepper spray, get what your mailmail carries, and a good solid walking stick or cane. Check out the different offerings from cold steel. They sell a nice looking one that looks like a hawthorn but is made of resin. A good tall wooden hiking staff would work too. Since you are out walking the dog a walking stick is not out of place at all. A revolver too. If you do have to shoot you might not be able to until it's already on you or your dog, necessitating pushing the gun into the attacking animal. This is no time to push your pistol out of battery or have it jam on the return because it is still too close to the animal.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:49 PM   #13
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A threat is a threat. I wouldn't be the least bit hesitant to shoot someone else's dog, even if I knew who owned it, if it was attacking my dog(s). Doesn't matter it has a collar, doesn't matter it normally is friendly. If it's attacking my dogs, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to stop it. If that means killing it, so be it.
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Old January 13, 2009, 01:56 PM   #14
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my parents neighbor(a old lady) just went thru this. her dog was attacked by a much larger dog in her yard, it was dragging her dog across the road when she shot and killed it.
she called the cops, and the judge ordered the (attacking)dogs owners to pay vet bills.

they tried to sue the old lady for destruction of private property, but the judge threw it out.
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:05 PM   #15
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Yes. Unless you can read the mind of a coyote then you don't know what it wants. It could be rabid, it could be starving and desperate. If I could fire a safe shot against an aggressive wild animal I would, regardless of the technical legality of it.
A BIG +1 to THAT! Rabies is final, if the stray has it and bites your dog, it WILL die. Shoot and shoot quickly before it can close with your animal.
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:26 PM   #16
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It's interesting to read this. I just posted over on THR with a small experiment I did. I'll repost here because I think it's relevant to the topic.

The short summary is that you need a LOT more buffer distance between yourself and a canine than I previously thought.

Quote:
semi-realistic speed draw test
I wandered through the living room while the wife was channel surfing last night and caught part of some movie where a wolf charged a "sheriff" character, knocked him down and killed him. I was thinking to myself "now that's stupid, why didn't he draw and shoot".

Then I got to thinking about how fast my dog Donny runs around the yard when we're playing chase and fetch.

So I took my favorite CCW rig and an unloaded airsoft pistol and went out into the dark back yard with the dog. It was after dark but I had one of the back yard lights on so I figured it would give me plenty of illumination to see the "target".

Then the dog and I played "hide n' seek" a bit to get him warmed up (he sits on the porch and waits for me to call, then he comes to find me). The dog has learned that if he wants to "catch" me he has to alter his routes around the various backyard obstacles (outbuildings, trees, shrubs) and believe me he's gotten to be a sneaky cuss

So my pretend scenario was that I "didn't know" there was a threat and could only start my draw when I actually SAW the dog approaching.

I called Donny and waited. I spotted him (roughly 30 ft) as he snuck up from the side and bounded towards me at a flat out run. I swept my cover garment, pulled the airsoft gun, and he "tagged" me before I could raise and take aim.

Second try, He made it easy and beelined from the porch right to the bush I was standing near. Spotted him at about 40ft, swept the cover garment, drew and took aim. I estimate I would have had time for two, possibly three shots but aiming was VERY tough since my "target" was running straight at me, in the near dark, at top doggie speed.

Third try, He got sneaky again and came around an outbuilding. Spotted him at less than 20ft and had time enough to sweep and grab the grip (but not draw) before he "tagged" me.

We did this about seven times before the dog got winded and slowed down. Of those seven attempts I estimate that I would have had one, that's right ONE good hit before I was tagged. Giving myself the benefit of the doubt I might have hit two other times but they wouldn't have been good COM hits.

And this was with the reaction time benefit of knowing that we were playing this game!

Talk about an eye opener regarding response time vs distance!
So in terms of this topic I think I'd be likely to, at minimum, draw if not fire at a far greater distance than I would have previous to my little experiment. I love my dog I'm not going to use him as an expendable decoy. (I live in a fairly rural area BTW)

Last edited by ZeSpectre; January 13, 2009 at 05:08 PM.
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:35 PM   #17
Glenn E. Meyer
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Aren't most pet dogs vaccinated for rabies today - or they are supposed to be?
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:37 PM   #18
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Glenn,
Yes but in many locations (especially rural areas) if your animal is attacked by one with rabies, they will also destroy your animal as well "just to be sure".
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:37 PM   #19
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Let's say a stray dog or yote comes up to you and your dog. You're properly controlling and restraining your dog, but the stray animal closes distance outside of your ability to retreat or go another direction.
I'd say if you walking a public street or in a park, and an animal actually attacks you or your dog, or anyone else, for that matter, you would be morally justified in shooting it, legally - well, that depends on where you are.

Being the in the right doesn't always make something the best choice. People a get little freaky about their pets sometimes, and if you aren't actually shooting it in the road or another public place, you will be shooting it on someone else's property, where the "stray" may actually live. Pulling out a pistol and shooting a dog in someone's front yard is about the last thing I would want to do. Around here, you might just find yourself in a gunfight. I understand your situation, as I live in suburbia myself, and walk quite a bit around my neighborhood. I have had a few instances with non-controlled dogs, but none that made me particulary uncomfortable. I do carry a knife, but no firearm. I would report non-confined problem dogs to the police/animal control, explaining you have been threatened, and the coyotes to animal control or your state fish and game department.

Maybe it's time for some coyote hunting...
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Old January 13, 2009, 02:46 PM   #20
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This is a no brainer to me, SHOOT THE OFENDING STRAY/COYOTE.

Of course Wyoming authorises such shooting to protect your pet and livestock.

It never happened to me (as far as walking the dog, sucker can walk himself)

But more then once a female coyote has set on the hillside calling my (or my neighbors). What happens female try to lure a dog off so it and its mate can kill it.

However, I hear a comotion, I fire up my rifle and shoot the offending (or any other coyote). My main concern is not just coyotes, but skunks, foxes, stray dogs, stray cats, etc, going after my chickens.

I get some pretty good varment hunting without getting off my porch.
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Old January 13, 2009, 04:20 PM   #21
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azredhawk44 - just curious - do you live in a residential neighborhood or in the boonies? Seems it would be a bad idea to be a loose dog around some of these folks.

I understand the folks who live in the country being quick to shoot a coyote or a stray, that's just the way it is there. I used to live a rural setting myself, shot a coyote once and a well, lets say a federally protected bird that was stalking my cat in my backyard.

Now, however, I live across the street from the mall. As I mentioned in my post earlier, shooting a dog/coyote/whatever in someone's front yard or even the road would be the last thing I would do. There is just way too much chance of ricochet, bad line of sight, getting shot by the owner of the animal, etc. I do love my pets, but I'm not going to jail for them...
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Old January 13, 2009, 04:21 PM   #22
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there was a case in my town where an off duty cop shot a dog while he was jogging (it was running lose and chased him)

he is no longer a cop.
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Old January 13, 2009, 04:35 PM   #23
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If there is a threat and I have a firearm, I will dispose of the threat. That includes the neighbor's dog, a coyote, a person, a zombie, whatever. I'm not trying to sound like a hard guy here or anything but if something intends to do me or a loved one harm, I am obligated to alleviate that threat of violence. To me that is only responsible and common sense.
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Old January 13, 2009, 04:47 PM   #24
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I'd agree with the others that suggested pepper/OC spray. By the time you KNOW that a stray dog is a threat rather than just being playful you're going to have a hard time getting a clear shot.

A couple of years ago I heard some noise in the back yard and went out to find a pit bull on my dogs back with his jaws locked onto the back of my dogs neck. My dog was on one of those runners (wow, that was a bad idea) and gotten himself too tangled up to do much of anything. I didn't have any weapons handy so tried kicking the pit until my shoe flew off but he didn't care. I finally just grabbed him by the collar and yanked him off fully expecting him to latch onto my forearm but he actually became submissive almost immediately. Given how close they were and how fast they were moving around I really don't think I would have wanted to risk a shot even if I had been armed. Even putting the barrel up to the pit's head would have risked a ricochet.

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Old January 13, 2009, 05:16 PM   #25
azredhawk44
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azredhawk44 - just curious - do you live in a residential neighborhood or in the boonies? Seems it would be a bad idea to be a loose dog around some of these folks.
Suburbia. I live in Glendale, AZ... near the Arrowhead area if you're familiar with it at all. Pretty nice neighborhood. We've got these silly ponds all over the place with reclamated water that ducks and geese absolutely love. Houses swarming the water like it was beachfront property. Nicer cookie-cutter neighborhood.

Makes for a nice place to walk the dog, though.

The ducks have been attractive to the coyote population that wanders in from the unimproved desert a couple miles north. Sometimes dog walkers and hunting yotes share the park together. Never had a problem so far, but just trying to think ahead and see what's the best way to handle such a situation. I don't like the idea of a $1000 vet bill any more than I like the idea of a $10,000 lawyer bill.
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