View Full Version : Question about .22 bullets and a quick kill? Warning, graphic.

JD Powell
January 5, 2012, 11:01 AM
Rough morning here. Got a call that one of my dogs had been hit by a car. Three year old male Siberian husky roughly 70lbs. Broke his hip and spine. Brought him home to put him down.

I keep my H&R 999 loaded with 1200fps CCI copper plate round nose. But thought the rem subsonic hollow points I had would be a better choice and swapped out.

Put three rounds in through the forehead. Midway between the eyes and ears. with the muzzle about 3 inches away. Watched him stop breathing, and felt for heartbeat. Went to get the tractor to dig a hole. When I returned,(20-30 min) he was laying there whining!? I quickly put 4 of the CCI rounds directly behind the right ear, and that finished it.

Replaying the scene in my mind I have to wonder if bullet choice was my mistake? I remember trapping as a teenager. Where I dispatched many a coon and fox with a single .22 short. Only one coon ever required multiple hits, and he was in the end stages of rabies.

Sorry if this is a bit gruesome, didn't really know where to post it. Just trying to make sure this never happens again.

Art Eatman
January 5, 2012, 11:24 AM
Shame. BTDT. Might be that you hit too far forward; I dunno. Back side of brain seems to be more productive.

January 5, 2012, 11:29 AM
I had to put my mom's deaf and blind dog down after she died ..... I was afraid of not using enough gun, so I used a 30/30. It was quick. And messy. I washed up and bawled like a baby.

Brian Pfleuger
January 5, 2012, 11:33 AM
Very sorry to hear that sir. As Art suggested, I think your problem was shot placement more than ammo choice.

I've seen a number of large-ish animals (sheep, goats, cows, pigs) dispatched cleanly with a single bullet directly behind the ear with a 22LR using generic WalMart type ammo.

I hope you never have the misfortune of trying again.

January 5, 2012, 12:24 PM
As a "country boy" for all my life, I have lived with stock and pets now for 55 years.

I have had to kill MANY animals over the years, and some were dearly loved pets.
The mistake most folks make is to want to make a "small mess" more then to dispatch the animal instantly. It's a concession we make to ourselves, because we don't want to see gore when killing a beloved pet in mercy. As I said, IT'S A MISTAKE!
Use enough gun. Yes it can be more gory. So what? It's not being done for us! It's a mercy to the pet. So put your feelings aside completely and use something that you KNOW will kill with one shot.
I typically use a 357 mag on dogs and cats, and I use a 44 mag, a 454 Casull or a 30-06 with 180 or 220 grain bullets on large stock from 150 to 2000 pounds. On big bulls I have used a 375H&H in the past.

Can I kill cattle with a smaller caliber? Sure. I have done it. As small as a 22 LR.
But I have never seen any suffering with a larger caliber and I HAVE seen it with smaller ones. Perfectly placed, a 22 LR dropped cattle in their tracks. So does a hard 357 Magnum. There in NO disadvantage with using a but more then you need, but sometimes there is in using a bit less.

January 5, 2012, 12:39 PM
There in NO disadvantage with using a but more then you need,

Other than being splattered with brains, no there is not. 30/30 was excessive for a small dog.

January 5, 2012, 12:58 PM
I will also chime in with BTDT and as I was told by my late FIL after a similar situation to USE ENOUGH GUN to get the job done!
And Here is to hoping to never have to do that again!

JD Powell
January 5, 2012, 02:36 PM
Um, no idea what BTDT means. Care to clarify?

Shot placement seems to be the consensus here. That sucks. Behind the ear shots from now on.

Also going to try out the 60grain SSS ammo from Aguila. Think the heavier slower bullet may be more suited to the use this revolver will see. Just got the revolver for Christmas to hunt rabbit and squirrel. Crappy that the first kill with it was a botched job on my own dog.

Wyosmith, Unfortunately my only larger caliber is 12ga. So that was not ideal either. I am now considering a .38spcl might be the ticket for this particular type of work. As it was not the first or last pet I've had to put down.

January 5, 2012, 02:48 PM
It may well have been the sub-sonic rounds. A dogs brain pretty well fills their skull, so its doubtful all three shots would miss the brain.

.22 LRs rounds to the brain have killed untold thousands, upon thousands of animals, hogs, calfs, wounded deer, etc, etc. So I don't think you were wrong in assuming it would cleanly do the job.

Brian Pfleuger
January 5, 2012, 03:09 PM
Btdt is "been there, done that"

January 5, 2012, 03:12 PM
How horrible.

January 5, 2012, 03:19 PM
I've put several animals down, from diary cows to deer to cats. If you can get them to stay still long enough, put the barrel of a 5 inch of long bbl 22lr in its ear lined up with the ear canal. They drop instantly without a whimper.

If they won't stay still, I've found the 38spcl round nose lead bullet to the back of the head just above the neck does the job too. It is a little messier, but it's kind to the animal.

January 5, 2012, 05:30 PM
Seen a lot of guys do this, get a bigger gun on a loved pet. I use a 22 mag or larger on a dog. Nothing worse than seeing a dog you love get back up and make a bigger mess flinging blood around.

Had to put down a few animals in my life, if I use a 22 it is a fmj.

I did use a 30-30 once on a pit bull, no mess, he died right there no suffering.

January 6, 2012, 10:22 AM
How horrible.

Yes, horrible ...... but less horrible than toting a suffering animal off to the place that he associates the smell of with pain, fear, and isolation.

.......and certainly less horrible than admitting to yourself that you don't have the intestinal fortitude to do what is necessary, and paying someone else to do what is your duty.

* or in my case, an aged, blind deaf and arthritic dog- same thing

January 6, 2012, 10:56 AM
Jimbob, excellent point! You just touched a nerve. My dear old friend, Bridger the lab, had reached the end and couldn't get out of bed a few years back. I took him to the vet and they did their work.

I have never been able to forgive myself for not taking him to the ranch and letting him be in his favorite spot while "I did my duty". Live and learn.

I will use the .22 mag next time! Sorry for the loss of your dog JD.:(

January 6, 2012, 08:02 PM
and next time I will use the .38
Having my hands on Fergie I used all 8 shots (.22) and there was still quivering.
I'm inclined to think a lot of DRT isn't really:(

January 6, 2012, 09:13 PM
Very sorry to hear your misfortune,

I have never put a close pet down but I have often contemplated on the fact that I will have to do it some day. I wouldn't want it to be too messy, but I definitely would want to get it done quickly. I think that a 22 would do the trick, but no shot can be 100% predictable. But in the urgent task at hand you would have to use whatever is available.

Many domestic dogs are quite resilient and they can linger for some time after suffering horrific injuries.

Again I have been no help, but I am very sad for your loss. I have a few dogs and some are very close buddies.

Brian Pfleuger
January 6, 2012, 09:27 PM
When both legs and a spine are broken, this doesn't apply, but one of the reasons why I really, REALLY like our vets office is that they go to great lengths to make it a HAPPY place for animals. Our dog (and even cats) aren't the least bit nervous about being there. The dog (new puppy) acts like we're taking her to Disney Land.

Our last little dog, a Maltese that was my wife's constant companion, had developed heart failure and could not be saved within reasonable means. We had little choice but have her put to sleep. The vet said that she wasn't in pain and would just get more and more "tired" until we would know when it was time.

When the time came, my wife took her to the office. The dog was calm and "happy" the entire time. It was very sad but she seemed to know what was happening. Near the last few minutes, she was on the table and actually walked over to my wife, put her paws and head on my wife's shoulders, sighed, slid down, walked over to the vet and laid down.

As I said, when they've been hit by cars and need to go NOW, it's one thing, but I wouldn't have a vet that my dog couldn't go to peacefully, for exactly the reasons of how it went with our last dog.

JD Powell
January 6, 2012, 09:49 PM
Maybe we're just wired differently..
But I could never take one of my animals in for lethal injection. I would sure rather myself to be taken down by the creek and shot in the head than poisoned that way.

I had put a fair number of smaller animals down with a single .22 round. Just didn't think I could screw it up. Normaly death is instant. And if its over before the dog knows whats going on I don't go to bed feeling like Judas. At any rate, this is a lesson I intend to learn exactly once. The mistakes will not be repeated.

Brian Pfleuger
January 6, 2012, 09:52 PM
I guess we must be. Lethal injection causes no more pain than a rabies vaccine (I've never even seen a dog react to the needle) and frees me from the blood, gore and the life-long memory of shooting my animal (and yes, I've done it). Lethal injection is as merciful as it gets, so long as the animal is not left in excruciating pain on the trip to the vet's.

January 6, 2012, 11:08 PM
Maybe we're just wired differently..
But I could never take one of my animals in for lethal injection. I would sure rather myself to be taken down by the creek and shot in the head than poisoned that way.

+1000 - Seen it, ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Sorry for your loss.

I've put many animals down w/ a .22LR, large and small. My rifle doesn't shoot Stingers worth a toot but I keep a box around for putting the "special ones" down.

Paul B.
January 7, 2012, 02:19 PM
"I guess we must be. Lethal injection causes no more pain than a rabies vaccine (I've never even seen a dog react to the needle) and frees me from the blood, gore.'

That has not been my experence. We've had to put down seven dogs over the last 32 years ans it's never been pleasant. Most went quietly like you mention but two definitely felt something when thosr drugs hit the heart. Loud yelps aren't cries of joy. The part that hurt the most was both dogs, one a Rat Terrier and the other a Boston Terrier were my personal favorites. Both were rescue dogs, and I had to fight some dude to save the Rat terrier. We had her for 17 years. The Boston was found sitting down in the middle of a Houston Texas freeway. My daughter who lives in Houston spotted the dog and with some danger rescued it and called me. Two days later the dog arrived at the Tucson Airport for me to pick him up.
When it comes to putting the dogs down, I would just as soon put them down myself, as hard as that may be but my wife insists we take them to the vet to be put down.
I did put one dog down when living in Las Vegas. Seems it was hit by a car and a cop was bashing it over the head with his billy club. I asked why didn't he just shoot it and he said he didn't want to have to fill out the paper work. I told him I'd do it, went back into my apartment, got my .22 and shot the dog. There were about 20 people standing around and that damn cop arrested me. The crowd all started giving me contact info and said they'd be in court as witnesses. They also ask for and got the cop's name and badge number as they wanted to file complaints against him for cruelty to the dog. He decided to unarrest me.
FWIW, all the dogs we've ever owned, or should I say owned us were rescue dogs.
Paul B.

January 9, 2012, 05:56 PM
Saw 2 guys stomping on a cats head one day, they hit it with their car. It had a collar on it with the address. I run em off, put the cat down and took the collar to their house. Gal was very upset over it and called the police, I gave em the plate number. Sorry I ever saw that.

January 11, 2012, 06:21 PM
My father was a vet and he had put down many of our dogs.
Most were taken to their special place in the farm or field and my father would use a round of 38 special to back of the head. I think they were shot in the back because he didn't want to stare them in the face. All were effective and instant.

Couple years ago I saw a large male GSD get hit by a car in front of me during a rain storm. Basically the dog's rear third was flat and the dog was going to die soon but in the meantime the dog was suffering. The car that hit the dog drove off leaving the dog by the side of the road. I stopped and got out to see if I could help the dog... there was nothing I could do. I took my jacket off and covered the dog's head to calm it down a little and I fired one round from my 45ACP pistol to the back of the head as I've seen my father do. It was instant and there was no movement at all. It was obviously someone pet as it had a collar with name tag and address. I took the dog and placed him off the road and I took the collar and tag home. I mailed the collar and tag to the address on it with a note that read "Sorry but your dog died tonight. It was instant and painless. Sorry for your loss". I didn't rite anythign elas eand I didn't put my name or address on the envelope.

January 12, 2012, 12:11 AM
1 shot right behind the ear in that crevice will/should completely end it. I think you did the right thing in the situation. Although strange that he was still whining after a shot to the head. I know that must've been hard. Hard to watch animal suffer, i can never bring myself to shoot them idk why. I had a horse that was foundering and still couldn't bring myself to put him out of his misery. Recently had a 25+ year old cow withering away. One that dad raised from calve hehe we called her "pet" because she wasn't skittish of you and would literally walk up to you and let you pet her. Dad couldn't shoot her either.

January 12, 2012, 12:40 AM
Used a soft point Rem Core-lokt .270WIN on a Pitbull before from 20 feet. He was sick and one directly in the heart through the chest was real quick and no mess.

I think your mistake was trying to go through the skull with a .22, the skull is thick and hard for a reason. To protect the mainframe. Going in behind the ear usually avoids the skull.

Old 454
January 12, 2012, 12:50 AM
I feel your pain with the loss of a dear family friend. I was lucky when my loved Lab Sophie had to be put down, our vet came to the house and put her down with all of her loved ones around her and she went quitely to a bettor place.

For what its worth I have been told that all the children that have passed on to heaven take care of all of our beloved pets that have passed on. Rest assured they are in good hands and are happy.

January 12, 2012, 08:27 AM
When younger I checked traps with a .22 and used .22 short hollow points. I did not want a pass through when I shot a fox in the head. I also used them on coons and possems with out a problem. One morning I shot a really big coon and it went right down. I had more traps to check and left it to pick up on the way back. When I got back the coon was sitting there like the RCA dog and really mad. I gave him one in the ear and that was that. When I skinned him out I found that the first bullet (In the forehead) had gone into a sheet of muscle across the head and just flattened out on the bone and only knocked him out. It was regular .22 shorts after that. It would have gotten pretty exciting if I had thrown him into my pack right away. Some older animals develop muscle that the young animals do not have yet.

January 13, 2012, 12:07 AM
I would want an instant neural disconnect that kills the pet instantly. firing a bullet, especially a small, low energy bullet could allow the pet to perceive sensation prior to dying. If it were practical I would put the pet in a small concrete bunker with a treat to calm it and use high explosive. A contained blast would shatter the animal's organs and likely the cellular structure in few milliseconds which is faster than they could perceive pain. Short of that a shotgun blast at the base of the skull as has been described with a pistol.
Messy, but painless to the animal, but not the animal's owner. Relative to injection you probably want to do it they same way it is for human executions which uses a uses several drugs. IIRC to first induce unconsciousness and then to kill.

January 13, 2012, 01:11 AM
I believe if it were my pet, second thing is I would've used a bigger gun. First thing is I would've kept my dog I'n my own yard and none of this would've happened.

January 13, 2012, 05:13 PM
I would put the pet in a small concrete bunker with a treat to calm it and use high explosive

I checked the hardware store, they would not sell me explosives...... do you have some I can use on a feral cat I have hanging around?

January 13, 2012, 05:41 PM
I've had dogs since I was 4 but was not until I was 45 that one needed help to ease ones pain. Was slow coming and I knew it was time. The vet came to the house, we all joined my old girl under her favorite tree. The vet and assistant administered a heavy narcotic (a morphine derivative I believe). The following drug sent my lab to the rainbow bridge.

The OP had to do the the job NOW. Farming it out was not an option. Terrible situation, do the best you can, pet would have suffered more if he farmed it out, lets all file this away when god forbid we have the same decision to make.

January 13, 2012, 05:44 PM
Sorry to hear about your dog. My view is if my dog was was injured in pain and beyond recovery, if i had not fast excess to a vet then i would shoot it.
But if the dog had a terminal illness i would take it to the vet to be put down.
I had to take my dog to the vet to be put down a while back because of kidney failure, My memories are of the dog lying down in my wife's arms all very peaceful. I would rather have that memory than having to put a bullet in its head. I am sorry that's what you had to do.

January 13, 2012, 10:16 PM
Here is a horrible story that is true. On the family farm many years ago my uncle's dog became a sheep killer and on a farm that means death for the offending dog. My uncle loved the dog did not want to shoot it himself. His cousin, a real class jerk in my opinion volunteered to do the deed. He said Howard take the dog out and tie it to a tree and shoot it. Do not do anything like trying to hit a moving target. Howard was poacher, a racist, and he liked to shoot things from his car like other people's dogs. So Howard did not tie the dog and he wounded the dog and the dog came running back to my uncle, his master, bleeding. That was really one real bad scene.

January 13, 2012, 10:23 PM
markj: I checked the hardware store, they would not sell me explosives...... do you have some I can use on a feral cat I have hanging around?
Since 911 things may have changed. It use to depend more on the state and the feds only required you to do some paper work that was similar to buying a gun. I really do not know how it is now. For myself I personally would not kill a pet and would leave that to the vet for legal reasons. You can get charged in some localities for killing your own pet if someone reports you.

January 13, 2012, 11:42 PM
Brings back to many very recent memories.
So I'll just suffice to say I'm very sorry for your loss.

Irish B
January 15, 2012, 06:53 PM
Having worked many summers at my grandfather's meat shop I always used a .22 mag revolver to put down the livestock animals including large bulls and hogs. One headshot at point blank range always did the trick. Only once was I not successful in a giant boar that took 12 rounds to the head and it only made him angrier to which the solution was 3 rounds in the head from my grandfather's 30-30. The brain stem is all an animal or person needs to retain life function. Even if the rest of the brain is destroyed.

January 17, 2012, 10:58 PM
To the OP, very sorry to hear about your ordeal, have had to do the same thing before and it's never easy. Sometimes it's necessary though and that's what we have to do. I've always gone with the back of the skull, and luckily it's never failed to produce an instant kill in those times where anything else would be heartbreaking. If ever in doubt though, a shotgun is always the answer. Yes it's messier, but sometimes it's the only choice.

If given the decision, I would never let one of my own be given the injection. Have seen it done before with less than painless results. I trust my own abilities more than the vets' cocktail.

January 22, 2012, 03:34 PM

If given the decision, I would never let one of my own be given the injection. Have seen it done before with less than painless results. I trust my own abilities more than the vets' cocktail.

What where the less than painless results. I had to have my one dog put to sleep by the vet. The dog just lay down and was dead in seconds quick and painless. I also know other people that have done the same with the same result quick and painless. Its an overdose of an anesthetic how can that be painful.

January 22, 2012, 04:37 PM
I'm very sorry about your dog and the added pain you had to suffer through.

Thank you for posting your experience.

This helped make it clear to me the legitimacy of using too much gun. If I ever have to put down my old pug my firearm of choice will probably be a .410 bore shotgun to the back of the head. That'll be a sad day for sure.

I've seen vets put animals down and, indeed, it is fast... and almost painless. I short whimper and it's over. I understand that the chemicals burn but it's so brief that I don't see how shooting is any more efficient.

The above stated, the need to end an animal's suffering doesn't always happen at the convenience of a vet's hours. Also, the suffering might well be better rendered as quickly as is possibly... two minutes to retrieve a firearm is far more humane than a 30 minute trip to the vet and a 30 minute wait.