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Old April 17, 2011, 11:30 PM   #1
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Dog Threat? How to Handle? Laws?

This is something not discussed very often, but I very nearly had to draw down on a <large aggressive dog> today while driving home. I saw the situation unfold from a stopsign, as a woman walked by a fence and I saw the dog run out from under a house in that classic attack mode. The woman heard the dog and was actually walking to someone's vehicle and saw the dog. She WAS able to make it to the vehicle, and I did not make it to the point of actually pointing at the dog. So that being said I have a few questions.

In that particular situation would it have been legal for me to dispatch the dog? I felt that it would have been my obligation because a <large aggressive dog> vs a small framed young woman would not end well and standing in her shoes I would have damn sure killed the dog.

2nd: How often do we consider the threat a dog can be? Being very used to dogs(growing up in an animal hospital having been bitten on the face by a <large dog>), I can say this might be a consideration.

I would say some of the standard get off the X drills might work on a dog, but honestly I would also look at some of the African pro-hunter methods (I mean mark sullivan dropped a cape bufallo at his feet[no his feet watch the video]). I would think there might be some similarities in a charging lion and a dog(angle of shot and placement).

Short version: My holy s moment got me do we react to an animal threat as concealed holders? What is our legal right? What might be some things to consider if anyone has had specific training?

Oh and the police were notified about the dog. Animal control picked him up(called it and watched it).
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Last edited by JohnKSa; April 17, 2011 at 11:47 PM. Reason: Eliminated unnecessary information.
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Old April 17, 2011, 11:35 PM   #2
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ONE MORE NOTE! lol. Human's are actually genetically engineered to distinguishing the kind's of barks a dog produces. Our years of domestication of dogs has actually taught us that, but it also has taught them to react to human behavior(they actually know more about the human body than the chimpanzee who is almost genetically identical to humans[like 98%]). That is something else to consider. It may not be that important, but now you know and knowing is half the battle....G...I...JOE!
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Old April 17, 2011, 11:50 PM   #3
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Just a quick warning since dog threads have a way of veering away from TFL's focus.

Dogs can be a serious threat to humans under the proper circumstances so discussing self-defense against large dogs is certainly a valid topic for TFL.

HOWEVER, TFL is NOT the proper forum for discussing the relative merits or disadvantages of particular breeds of dogs. If that's your thing then I'm sure there are forums on the internet with that focus. This is not one of them.
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Old April 18, 2011, 12:39 AM   #4
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It is a tough call, even though you may be justified in using deadly force in the self defense of yourself or others, you just shot someone's pet and that doesn't look good in court. Just because you are carrying a firearm does not mean you have to use it.
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Old April 18, 2011, 12:41 AM   #5
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One sensible thing for us to do would be consult the beat cop for an opinion and the folks in animal control depts to get a history of such issues in our areas. In central Texas, cops have shot several attacking pit bulls in the line of duty. Here nobody would expect a citizen to suffer a dog attack, but there is always the remote possibility that the owner may press animal cruelty charges which will cost you a ton of lawyer money.
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Old April 18, 2011, 01:07 AM   #6
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wow thats somthing i never concidered. I am working on getting my concealed weapons permit. I would have to agree that it would probably be a situation that would end up with alot of unnessecary hassle for you because you just shot someones pet, but i think it would also depend on some other factors such as (not going into specifics) breed and actual perceived threat. How big is the dog compared to the woman? is the dog going to bite her, or get her on the ground and go after her neck? etc.... I would agree that as a responsible concealed carry you would have somewhat of an obligation to at least consider your route of action. Just know that PETA will expect you to get the death penalty it you were forced to fire on the dog :barf:
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Old April 18, 2011, 01:19 AM   #7
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In my CCW class, the instructor who is also an expert witness in many cases each year related the story of a man and his dog attacked on his property by his neighbor's dog. He shot and killed the dog and that cost him $235,000 in legal fees. Fortunately, his home owners insurance paid a substantial portion of that and in the end he prevailed. That was simply for a dog. Using our right to self defense with a gun can be a very expensive proposition even though our right is still constitutional.
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Old April 18, 2011, 03:15 AM   #8
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I suppose the standard "in the face of imminent death, or great bodily harm" conditions would apply to dogs as well.
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Old April 18, 2011, 07:44 AM   #9
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If that was my wife, . . . I would expect you to get out of your car, . . . and do everything possible to keep her from being mauled by Fido, . . . and I don't care if Fido is a $50,000 AKC champion, . . . or a Heinz 57 mutt.

Dogs have no authority, right, or duty to initiate harmful attacks outside of their property where they lawfully may provide protection and if they do, . . . whatever force is necessary to stop the attack, . . . should be used.

It is the same rationale for a human attacker.

I love dogs, . . . have had many in my lifetime, . . . but any dog that is aggressive enough to just go after strangers anytime he/she feels the urge, . . . needs to be put down. Period.

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Old April 18, 2011, 08:23 AM   #10
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I assume, since animal control took the dog, that there was no underground or wireless fence. Several people around here have one or the other. We have the wireless type.

One of my dogs might run toward somebody, but it won't leave the property. Shooting one of my dogs on my property would be bad for one's arrest record, one's permit, one's wallet, and possibly one's health.
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Old April 18, 2011, 08:27 AM   #11
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Defense against dogs depends a lot on where you live.

I remember several years ago an off duty cop was jogging (Portland OR) when he was attacked by a large dog. He had his pistol with him which I think is a requirement in Oregon, and dispatched the dog. The officer was in all kinds of trouble, I believe he was suspended and charge. I was visiting my daughter in Portland at the time but I don't remember the final outcome.

Now compare that with Wyoming, it seems the sheriff's department don't want to be bothered. Twice in the last couple years I call telling them my intentions ( to cover my butt), once when a pack hamstrung one of my horses, once when they came after my wife who got out of her car to get the mail (mail box in at the highway, 1 mile from the house).

Both times I was told to "deal with it". Dogs can be dispatched when observed harassing live stock or wild game.

There is no one size fits all, different locations have different rules. Another example, loose cats in Wyoming are considered varmints.
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Old April 18, 2011, 09:44 AM   #12
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ok I am with Mleake on this one. Leave my duachshound alone! If a dog is attacking someone else you may have to shoot it. If it is attacking you there are some non-lethal ways to deter any dog; they do involve breaking the poor things leg or legs though.
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Old April 18, 2011, 10:05 AM   #13
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I realize dogs can be a touchy subject, I've owned several and love them. Here's what I teach in my class:

1. There's a huge difference between an angry poodle and a dog that weighs upwards of 40 pounds. You need to use your judgement and treat them differently. I jog and have kicked at small dogs that have run from their yards to nip at me.

2. Assuming the dog could be a serious threat, you don't have to let your self be bitten or mauled before you act.

3. As in any defensive scenario you can act to protect yourself or others.

4. In the moment, you have to decide how serious the threat is or if there are other choices (escape, use less force, etc).

5. If you believe there are no other options then you have the right to defend yourself or others by all means necessary.

6. Like any other self-defense act, there may be consequences, both criminal and civil.

7. Make no mistake, a large dog(s) can kill or maim very quickly depending on the size and strength of the victim.

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Old April 18, 2011, 10:12 AM   #14
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He shot and killed the dog and that cost him $235,000 in legal fee

Good gravy! Why so much? Did he get sued for mental anguish, etc?
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Old April 18, 2011, 10:33 AM   #15
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I walk in my neighborhood a lot. If you have a buried fence, and a large dog comes running out at me I have no way of knowing he is going to stop before the sidewalk. I'm not going to let a dog bite me if I can stop it. A couple of years ago a young person was walking his large dog while I was in my yard. The dog was trying to get me while the kid was holding the leash and laughing. I very seriously let him know that if the dog got loose I would consider it an attack from him and both parties would be dealt with swiftly. Then I made sure he could see my carry piece under my shirt. He quit laughing and I have not seen either since.
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Old April 18, 2011, 01:12 PM   #16
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double bogey...

... I suggest you back off the yard a bit, IE give yourself some room. If the dog leaves the yard, it's another matter.

There's no requirement to notify of an invisible fence, or to have a visible one, so far as I know - at least not around here. Unless your area specifies a containment system, it may well be the same in your neighborhood.

Would I fault you for drawing, or being ready to shoot? No. But I'd expect you to NOT shoot my dog in my yard, and if you did so I would take every reasonable, legal step to make your life as unhappy as you would have just made mine.

Last edited by MLeake; April 18, 2011 at 01:21 PM.
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Old April 18, 2011, 02:28 PM   #17
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I would suggest at least trying pepper spray on an attacking dog before going to guns. Mind you, pepper spray is not a guaranteed stopper, especially on dogs, but if you end up having to shoot, you can show that you at least tried non-lethal means first. Another consideration: If you're trying to save another person from an attacking dog, shooting may be out of the question...if the dog is all over the victim, your bullet[s] could end up striking them instead of Fido. This, to me, is a pretty solid argument for having a substantial folding blade. I'm partial to a Cold Steel 6'' Voyager myself......
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Old April 18, 2011, 02:57 PM   #18
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@mod...sorry. Wasn't aimed at the breed. Was just saying that there is clearly a difference between a big dog vs a little dog.

Being the son of a vet I am very hesitant to kill a dog. But we all know that there are situations where someone could be in danger from. I mean there are always reasonable steps to avoid dogs, but every once in a while things happen. I have seen dogs run right through invisible fences. So I think the question remains...can you shoot? Would you? I would not be upset if someone killed my dog out of self defense IF they had a reason to do so(as in not on my land and it WAS attacking). Some people are just naturally afraid of dogs though.
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Old April 18, 2011, 03:41 PM   #19
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Always a tough call on dogs...good example.

A LONG time ago when I was (more bllz than brns) 20 yo at a fellow officer's house playing with his 6-7 2yo pitbulls....we were doing some serious rough housing (like most big dogs they get a bad rap and are really a bunch of sweeties) I was tossing dogs everywhere and they were slamming into me and knocking me down and I was literally at the bottom of a pile of 6-7 snarling pitbulls on top of me and there I am rolling around grunting and yelling underneath them.

You know, playing keep away the rubber chew toy .

When I yelled stop or no they would isntantly quit and stand there with their tongues hanging out and tails wagging with that "awww come on" look on their face.

You may disagree with his style of play for the dogs, but these were a "single guy's" dogs...we roughhoused as a way of life....hell we boxed for fun at that point in my life.

Went, got a drink of water, came back out and started back up for another 15-20 minutes. Next thing I know about 3 squad cars came screeching to a halt, 4-5 officers are jumping out and drawing down....I yelled stop and sit, the dogs stopped and sat down...thank god i had a shield on me because the dogs wanted to go play with the officer's that dressed just like their owner!

End of story is that I basically had to jump up and yell..."officer on scene, all clear, stand down". Trained LE personnel could not tell the difference as a 3rd party watching between a mauling and "play time"....act too quick and you will act wrongly sometimes. Once they saw I was okay we threw the frisbee a few times....but I never did play with dogs like that again because it would have broken my heart how it could have turned out.

There had been multiple reports of a man being KILLED by a pack of wild dogs on the lawn of a house.

Take it upon yourself to act without knowing the whole story and be prepared to face the piper.

Last edited by Chainman; April 18, 2011 at 03:55 PM.
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Old April 18, 2011, 03:49 PM   #20
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Always a tough call on dogs...good example.
I would say an excellent example.
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Old April 18, 2011, 03:54 PM   #21
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I'm not sure how people can question whether or not to shoot a dog that is a clear and present threat to life and limb but not question the same about a human attacker. As the son of a vet, I grew up in a gun-free household with animals, raising and protecting baby squirrels, rabbits, etc. We never had fewer than 4 pets in the house. However, I know from experience in the office how dangerous and aggressive animals can be - even bad cats, which are far weaker than dogs, can rip you to shreds. Any animal bearing any number of legs that attempts to attack anyone where they don't have the right to protect things will get kicked, stabbed, or shot if necessary. People don't realize how many aggressive dogs there are out there... to fully understand, you'd have to talk to a guy like my father-in-law, a UPS driver who has been bitten countless times despite assurances of owners and electric fences.

EDIT:That's a great example of why you shouldn't assume! Thank you for sharing.

Last edited by Daekar; April 18, 2011 at 04:00 PM.
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Old April 18, 2011, 04:22 PM   #22
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All human life is way more valuable than a dogs. I love dogs, own 6 shorthairs myself but if one ever went for a human it would be dead quick.

In Omaha several people have been attacked by dogs, one guy shot one and saved the gal, he was a hero in the media. Folks just are not willing to put up with this type of behavior.

Responsible pet owners dont let their dogs run loose.

the story of a man and his dog attacked on his property by his neighbor's dog. He shot and killed the dog and that cost him $235,000 in legal fees.
What state was this in? Iowa the owner of the attacking dog would be charged. Dog would be dead as I can shoot them on my property. legally
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Old April 18, 2011, 04:33 PM   #23
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This is something not discussed very often
Actually it is a fairly regular topic on this forum.

Check your local laws.
There will always be questions about what the appropriate amount of force might be. Just because in your mind, deadly force is the right thing to do, doesn't mean that everyone will agree with you, or that is even the case.

You should expect that you will have to defend your actions.
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Old April 18, 2011, 04:40 PM   #24
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My philosophy is pretty simple. Take the bite then shoot the dog. Often a dog barking and rushing you has no intention of biting you. But you didn't know that. If it does bite you or someone else you have the right to defend yourself or protect the other person.

No one wants to shoot someone's pet but with pet ownership comes responsiblities. One of them is for your pet to not be a nuisance to other folks.
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Old April 18, 2011, 05:46 PM   #25
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I'm w/McQuail, and I've used this as my standard on a couple of charges. None of the dogs actually ever bit, although they sounded and looked like they would. Once was by two charging dogs.

First bite, and it gets shot. Anything short of that, and I think you're on the defensive trying to explain why you shot and killed some 5 year old girls pet. Bite marks, and there is no question the animal was vicious and you feared for your life.
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