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Old March 26, 2014, 09:51 PM   #1
DavidAGO
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I am not sure what I am saying/asking

For the first time ever I drew my pistol with the intent to protect myself. It was from a pit bull. I had backed my truck up to the door of a rent house I own because I needed to do some repairs, I got out of my truck and walked back to the porch when this dog came around the side of the house barking at me. It stopped several feet away and just sniffed around the trash cans there. I edged back to the cab of the truck and the dog started at me barking, I retreated to get to the porch, but the dog lunged at me, the hairs on his back bristling. I stumbled into the porch and pulled my pistol, He lunged to within 3 ft of me. It all happened about as fast as it took to type this

He stopped and I did not fire, I suspect he stopped because when I backed into the porch I sat down hard and my feet kicked up toward him. It ended up OK, no bites, no shots, but I let that dog get too close; if he had wanted to attack me he would have been on me before I could have fired.

I have been carrying for about 4 years; I practice and shoot often with the two guns I carry, a Ruger LCP and a S&W 642. I thought I had worked out in my mind that I could shoot someone/something if I needed to, and in my mind it has always been a human attacker. but this was a dog, and I did not shoot. I let that dog get within 3 ft. of me, and I did not shoot. I was aiming at him and I was steady; my practice has paid off in that my hands and eyes knew what to do, but my mind was not ready for me to actually shoot.

I now have some doubts if I could pull the trigger if it was a human attacker, even one that close. There are no exercises to get your mind trained to actually fire. At least I don't think there are. It is not really self doubt; and if the situation had been different, say if my wife or grandson had been with me I would have fired when he first lunged. I think.

What would you do if you were in my place, what words of wisdom or advice do you have?

David
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Old March 26, 2014, 11:54 PM   #2
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Stop doubting yourself, for one. NOBODY knows how they will react when the balloon goes up. Are you a dog person? I might hesitate due to that reason alone, as i have/have had some wonderful pups in the past.
Also, a dog is generally much smaller than a human, and more naturally able to "sneak up" on a human than most human attackers are likely to do, unless you are being stalked by ninjas, in which case we're splitting up your gear.
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Old March 27, 2014, 12:03 AM   #3
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Some people can pull the trigger and some can't. One never really knows until they're faced with the situation.

If you were confronted with a human rather than the dog you may have reacted differently. Then again, maybe not.
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Old March 27, 2014, 12:22 AM   #4
JohnKSa
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There are no exercises to get your mind trained to actually fire.
Of course there are. You are not the first person who has wondered what they will do in an actual violent encounter, nor the first person who is concerned that they might not be able to act decisively when such action is required.

If I were experiencing the doubts you have, I would do my best to accomplish the following.
  • Become involved in one of the "practical" pistol shooting competitions in your area, set aggressive performance goals for yourself and work diligently to accomplish them.
  • Find some good trainers/training organizations focused on practical firearm self-defense and take some professional training. You don't need to become a professional student, but there's a lot that can be learned from those who have dedicated their careers to equipping people to save their own lives.
  • Make it a priority to do some big game hunting and don't give up on it until you can call yourself a competent hunter.
  • Carefully formulate your own philosophy of self-defense. Start by writing out what you believe about self-defense, why you feel that self-defense is something that is worthwhile for you, personally and what you and others have to gain from your actions taken to defend yourself. Detail under what circumstances/situations you, personally, feel that self-defense would be the right choice to make. Explain why you believe that violent self-defense is and should be tolerated, even endorsed by society.
  • Do some study. I recommend you start with Jim Cirillo's book, Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights and also look into the works by Dave Grossman--I don't agree with all of what Grossman says, but the topics he covers will expand your ideas about violence and violent self-defense even if you don't agree with all his conclusions.
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Old March 27, 2014, 10:14 AM   #5
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While John KSa's advice is excellent, I am not sure you should beat yourself up over a good result as you seem to be doing. Maybe you subconsciously picked up on some little clue the dog gave that it was about to back off, and refrained from firing. Getting out of an incident safely without firing is actually the best result you can ask for. Firing in this case would have meant a dead or injured dog, dealing with police and their reports (at least), and very likely an angry dog owner who is absolutely sure that his/her dog would not act like that.
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Old March 27, 2014, 07:29 PM   #6
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Some people are hesitant to "go to the gun" and either dither or just freeze up at the last second. Others are too quick and fail to use all their options before firing. There's no cut and dried answer as each confrontation has it's own unique personality.
Shooting an uncontrolled, aggressive dog would seem to be fairly easily justified legally. The only second guessing I'd do is suggest you might have made a tactical error by not reentering your vehicle and calling animal control(if there was such an option) instead of heading for the porch although "gaining the high ground" is logical.
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Old March 27, 2014, 07:52 PM   #7
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Our dog is exactly like that. Black lab mix , but she's 2 and 80 lbs. UPS guy hates her. She barks so mean , her hair Stan's up on the back of the neck and don't get me started on teeth and face.
But if you make a step towards her , she turns tail and runs in a garage and keeps barking from there. .
Glad it turned OK.
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Old March 27, 2014, 08:01 PM   #8
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You left the incident unhurt with no shots fired. That's a good outcome.
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Old March 27, 2014, 08:10 PM   #9
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Facing an aggressive dog is much different than a human thats aggressive. The dog has its 'weapons' always ready and cant put them down. It also wont stop its attack when you display your weapons back at them.

Humans can be talked to and possibly reasoned with, dogs cannot.

You are doing good by thinking about the use of deadly force, had the aggressor been a human, you could be here posting the exact same thing, that you drew your weapon and the aggressive person went away without you firing a shot.

Its not as if you drew and let the dog attack you.
3 feet is close. I have had my own experience with such, wasnt carrying a gun, but used pepper spray. All it did was distract the dog for a few minutes.
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Old March 27, 2014, 08:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Getting out of an incident safely without firing is actually the best result you can ask for.
Absolutely. Avoid at all costs that "hey, waste that sucka!" mentality.

This is also yet another example of how people react under intense stress. This was a "free stress lesson" for you. Fun, wasn't it? Your body stiffened, your breathing became very shallow, you got tunnel vision, and your mind shut down - you didn't sit there thinking, "hmmmm, let's see, what should I do...." THIS is what it's like.

But it's a tough call with a dog. I've worked with very aggressive feral dogs for many years, and it's very common for dogs to come at you like they were going to tear you apart, but not follow through with it. It's all an act.... USUALLY. You just don't know. You can pull your gun out, but, well, the dog doesn't know what a gun is; you can't say "back off, or I will shoot."

And there are other variables, like your confidence, your knowledge of dogs, and your ability to scare off the dog - they can sense when you're afraid - or not afraid.

In any case, as others have said, it's better to have dealt with it without shooting. Glad you're OK!
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Old March 27, 2014, 09:29 PM   #11
Willie Lowman
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I will agree with Ruark

Knowing when and how to shoot is one thing.

Knowing how to deal with dogs is another.
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Old March 27, 2014, 09:31 PM   #12
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What SORKO said.

I have no doubts that if needed you would have fired. Remember no sane person wants to have to kill a living thing unless necessary, and we often wait until we understand that using deadly force is the last and only option.
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Old March 28, 2014, 01:15 PM   #13
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There's a reason that the police carry alternate weapons, other than their guns.
Batons and mace/pepper spray, for example.
Having a choice of weapon options, and being prepared for an escalation of force situation, can be a life saver.
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Old March 28, 2014, 01:56 PM   #14
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I've been stitched up twice from dog attacks. Legs and arms.

When I turned in my sales case after a summer of door to door book selling, there were multiple tooth marks in the case from multiple dog attacks.

In my very limited experience:

1. The Barkers and Growlers are not the ones to worry about.

2. The Full Bore Never Slowed Up dog is the one coming for you.

My $0.02.
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Old March 28, 2014, 02:17 PM   #15
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The way I read your incident recap some inner instinct guided you, and you chose the correct alternative and didn't shoot. You have the luxury of proof when the dog didn't press home an attack. Proof by the way that you wouldn't have if you had killed the dog. That said, almost anyone including highly experienced and skilled people after a near shooting incident will wish that they were better even if the situation culminated in a successful defense--its the healthiest response.

In Post #4 JohnKsa laid out a plan of action to improve self-defense capabilities about as succinctly as I've ever seen it.
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Old March 28, 2014, 03:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
You left the incident unhurt with no shots fired. That's a good outcome.
I agree.

From what you wrote, I think your instincts were perfect.

I am a dog person, and I get REALLY mad at law enforcement when I see/hear of them shooting barking dogs that are not a real threat. If you look on Youtube, and have the stomach for it, you can see JERK LEOs shooting dogs that are more a nuisance than a threat. That is the wrong answer.

While you would have been justified in shooting, and the owner is very irresponsible for leaving an loose pit bull in your yard, I'm glad you did not.

Dogs are fast, and 3 feet is danger close. But I suspect you believed there was some hostile intent, but it wasn't enough for you to shoot. Some pit bulls are just barkers but are very sweet dogs. They get bad press for being aggressive.

As the property owner I would have a stern discussion with them because YOU would be liable if that dog killed someone. YOU would be sued and YOUR property insurance would be called upon.

I had an incident a few years back. In a nutshell I was working in my front yard, and down in a vulnerable crouched position, when I looked up an two huge pits were a few yards away, loose, and watching me. I slowly raised up, and drew my gun at the low ready. They could have easily attacked in an instant, and killed an adult like me. They were in my yard, and very close. I would have been justified in shooting them. But they were just curious, and when I shouted at them they ran off.

Shooting should be the absolute LAST result with NO other options available. LEO have largely lost that mentality. YOU however responded perfectly, with the exception of perhaps you could have yelled at the dog to shoo it away. Most dogs will respond to people yelling at it, because that's how they were raised.

I'm glad I didn't shoot. The stress and anxiety of the lifelong consequences of shooting would not have been worth it for me then, or you now. I'm also glad you didn't shoot. Trust your instincts and training, as I think you responded very well.

Consider also the consequences of shooting unjustly (in the eyes of the owner, who comes outside in a rage with a loaded 12 gauge!). Perhaps the unexpected consequences of shooting his pet could have forced you to choose between life and death with an angry armed person. Someone may have acted irrationally toward you in the heat of the moment.

Last edited by leadcounsel; March 28, 2014 at 03:24 PM.
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Old March 30, 2014, 08:20 AM   #17
DavidAGO
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Thank you all, reading your posts has given me a different perspective on the incident. The thing I appreciate the most is no one suggested that I just should have shot without thinking anything about it. That mentality seems to me to be wrongheaded.

I still carry, I did not retire my weapons, I have started on a path of retraining my mind, books are awaited from Amazon.com. I hope to never again have to draw my pistol.

David
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Old April 1, 2014, 07:01 PM   #18
iraiam
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Me Too

The only time I drew my CCW weapon so far was also with a dog, I didn't fire either, but it was close, one bite by the animal, and I would have fired.

Look at it this way; you don't have to deal with the police or angry dog owner and you didn't get mauled, so I would say you did everything perfectly.
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Old April 1, 2014, 07:16 PM   #19
Mainah
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Don't beat yourself up. Dogs interpret and react to body language in their own way. That's not to say that a moron on bath salts is easier to deal with or predict, but it was a dog. I'm pretty sure that everyone here would rather have read your story than one about an idiot who sent a stray round into someone's kitchen.

I've owned quite a few big scary looking dogs (all of whom were well trained). But when I've been charged by aggressive dogs it always got my heart pumping and scared me. I own a 642, I've been charged by a pit bull- that would be a tough shot. Others here are much more qualified experts, but it seems to me that it comes down to managing the fear when you have to.

Last edited by Mainah; April 1, 2014 at 07:25 PM.
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Old April 2, 2014, 09:12 PM   #20
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An aggressive charging pit bull within 3' of me and my gun is out! It is far more likely that I would have fired than not. I love animals as much as the next person and hate what man has done to exploit a very good breed of dog but I realize what happens when a pit bull attacks.

Can't tell you how many of these dogs I have been around in my life time but I have raised a few. My last one was put down after it got through a whole in the fence and nearly killed a neighbor. I have not owned one since and it was the most tame dog around family and friends. I trusted it around my nephews (just kids at the time) and seeing what it did that day and what I have seen them do since really proved to me that stability is never permanent or predictable.

It hasn't been a month since someone was killed just south of me by a loose pit bull and being around them my whole life, I know how they can be. The idea that pits are misunderstood is not as true as people misunderstand pits and if your the only person it ever attacks, it would not surprise me. They can be stable their whole life and one day the internal button gets pressed.

Still to this day people try to convince me how they are misunderstood and not so dangerous but they are unwilling to accept how they can attack without warning. A friend of mine Had 32 stitches from his when he drooped a cigarette between his leg, when he moved to fast to get the cigarette and keep it from burning him, the dog latched onto his back and tore him open pretty good. The dog had never done anything like it before.
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Old April 2, 2014, 09:24 PM   #21
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For one, some people would rather shoot an angry person than an angry dog.
Second, the dog probably would have run away if you had shot into the ground. A dog that isn't used to the sound wont know what to make of it and will turn his attention to what he just heard instead of you.
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Old April 3, 2014, 09:10 PM   #22
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There are a lot of chest thumpers here that talk big and tough but I bet many would freeze when the time came. Its not natural to shoot another human being. at least it should not be. In the Marines I had to find out what that is like. I know I can pull the trigger but I hope to God I never have to again.
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Old April 4, 2014, 04:09 PM   #23
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If you have doubts that you may not be able to shoot a person, you should not be carrying.

The time to find out if you can or not, is NOT when someone is about to do you harm. By that time, you might end up dead.

Last edited by 2123; April 4, 2014 at 04:32 PM.
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Old April 4, 2014, 04:22 PM   #24
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You left the incident unhurt with no shots fired. That's a good outcome.
+1, and I am not necessarily a "dog person" ..... depends upon the dog.

I have no compinction whatsoever in putting a vicious dog down, if necessary.

That said, every bullet that leaves your gun carries with it a load of Liability, and if someone owns that animal, even if they are irresponsible owners, they can make trouble for you.

No Harm, No Foul.
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Old April 4, 2014, 04:34 PM   #25
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In my very limited experience:

1. The Barkers and Growlers are not the ones to worry about.

2. The Full Bore Never Slowed Up dog is the one coming for you.
-serf'rett

You just never know- depends upon the dog. When I was a kid, we had Blue Heeler/Lab mix on the farm that, when someone drove into the yard and got out, while the other dogs would stand and bark at the person, would run around the backside of the house, come up behind the person and bite them on the back of the calves. Otherwise a very nice dog ..... though he was about a smart as driftwood.

You never can tell what an unfamiliar animal will do. Err on the side of caution.

Quote:
Carefully formulate your own philosophy of self-defense. Start by writing out what you believe about self-defense, why you feel that self-defense is something that is worthwhile for you, personally and what you and others have to gain from your actions taken to defend yourself. Detail under what circumstances/situations you, personally, feel that self-defense would be the right choice to make. Explain why you believe that violent self-defense is and should be tolerated, even endorsed by society.
- JohnSKa

+1. Know what you believe before you have to act. Crunch Time is not the time for self doubt. Jeff Cooper's writings are a good read in this area as well.
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