I know some of you are pet lovers out there, and your pet is part of your family. But, in the eyes of the law, your pet is merely your property. You have to know and understand that so we can have a conversation about this.
I don’t have pets that I’m that attached to but I used to have an old Camaro that was my baby. I know it sounds crazy now, but I used to yell at people for leaning on it. I wouldn’t let people eat in it (even girl friends at the time and my current wife), and no one drove it but me. I loved that car and would have done unspeakable things if someone tried to steal it. That wasn’t right, but it’s how I felt. Somewhere I had to find the right side of that and let it go as property. I sold the car a couple of years ago after having it for over a decade and I cry a little every time I think about it.
Under the law, there are very few times you can use force to protect property. I live in Texas and it has one of the most liberal use of force set of laws when it comes to property I’ve ever seen. Every state is very, very different on this. You need to look up the laws (multiple because there will be a bunch of them) in your state that surround using force to protect property. Texas is liberal when it comes to using force, but there are a bunch of different laws that govern when and how much force you can use to protect what type of property, and that all changes at “times of darkness.”
If you plan to protect your family dog, cat, chinchilla, etc… you need to know your state’s laws about using force to protect them.
In the case of animals, it’s a lot easier to legally justify using force against the animal than it is to use force to protect the animal (especially when it comes to dogs). Dogs are always the hot topic, because a dog can be vicious and actually do enough damage to really hurt or kill someone. Now, you might think I don’t like dogs, I love dogs! My wife doesn’t, but that’s a different story. I just think human life is more important than a dog’s life, especially if that human life is mine, someone I love, or anyone that isn’t a bad guy (bad guy definition: anyone actively trying to hurt someone else illegally or immorally).
Let’s look at using force to protect, or against, a dog from a couple of different points of view: Dog Owner/Pet Lover and a Person Being Attacked.
If you are a dog owner, or any pet for that matter, it is your responsibility to make sure your animal doesn’t hurt anyone. In the case of a dog, that means obedience training. Do it yourself, get a book, or find a place to help you. Doesn’t matter, you just need to do it. The bigger your dog, the more important this is. Even a big playful dog can be deadly to a little kid. And yes, someone can use force to stop your dog from hurting someone even if the dog doesn’t mean it (or is just playing).
If you are the person being attacked, best way is not to be there. If that fails, use your command voice. A lot of times dogs will respond to a harsh “no” enough to leave you alone. Don’t run. Running puts the dog’s instincts to hunt pray in play, and you don’t want it hunting you.
If your dog attacks someone, you better help that person. Hopefully your dog is obedient and you can call it off. If not, you are the only one that can physically remove the dog without getting badly hurt. If you can’t remove the dog without getting hurt, you need to get the dog trained or get rid of the dog. You are a problem looking for a place to happen, and it’s not the animal’s fault, it’s yours.
If you are being attacked by a dog, try to see what the dog is like and how much damage it will do to you. If it’s a small dog that’s just nipping at you, you could probably take a little nip to keep from shooting the dog and not have to worry about much. Yes it sucks, and no if you think you are going to be seriously hurt, defend yourself by any means necessary. If you have to shoot the dog, remember that dog’s owners will probably treat you like you shot one of their kids. That will create more problems in your life from the owner right at that moment and later down the line.
I hate pepper spray, don’t carry it because the only one pepper spray effects all the time is me. Yes, I’ve been sprayed. Yes, I’ve been cross contaminated. And, yes, I can power through, but it sucks a lot! Being attacked by someone’s dog is the only reason I even consider carrying it. I don’t want to shoot a family dog if I don’t absolutely have to.
If someone shoots your dog, it’s going to suck a lot. Try to remember that person was trying to protect themselves, not kill your dog. And you probably have no legal right to take action against the person that shot your dog. This may sound harsh, but the law does not let you take revenge for anything. If the action that put someone or something in danger is over, you must stop as a good guy. No one said that was going to be easy.
So, in the end, shooting a dog sucks. There isn’t a way around that. But if you are a dog owner, you should be looking at this and thinking about it, and as a person that will defend yourself, you should be thinking about all the threats you might face.