WHEN YOUR ATTACKER IS NOT HUMAN
CCW Safe recently received a request for an article on dealing with dog attacks from a member (my apologies to readers who might have thought based upon the title that it was going to be about zombies or aliens from outer space). Upon receiving notice of this request, I immediately started on such an article since it covered a subject close to my heart. I live in the country and have an old labradoodle that I occasionally take on walks, and it is not uncommon to come across one or more free-roaming dogs.
The reader was primarily concerned about free-roaming pit bulls and other terrier mixes. I think they are great dogs for the most part. Their bite strength is no greater that dogs like German Shepherds and from what I understand that the medical treatment associated with a pit bull bite is similar to that for a bite from a Labrador Retriever. In terms of unprovoked aggression, pit bulls are probably no more likely to attack than other breeds.
There is one factor that should cause all of some concern. Pit bulls are a popular breed and consequently there are large numbers of them. They are frequently owned by persons attracted to their fearsome reputations and allowed to roam. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that if a person walking their dog on a leash should come across one that they are immediately concerned that a dog fight may be about to happen. The same is true for joggers and bicyclists. I am not a canine psychologist and am unable to explain why dog attacks on people happen, but the simple fact is that they do. In addition, it is not just pit bulls and terrier mixes that we should be concerned about. Any strange free-roaming dog, and especially a pack of free-roaming dogs, should cause us to be prepared for possible contact.
Is it considered lawful in most jurisdictions to use a firearm against a dog attacking a concealed carrier or members of his or her family? I will say yes if the animal has the ability to cause serious injury or death. Obviously, the risk to life and limb posed by a small dog like dachshund (which is one of the more aggressive breeds) is non-existent under most circumstances unless smaller children are targeted. When I say most jurisdictions, there are likely city ordinances somewhere that say it is unlawful, but those are usually the same cities that make ownership or possession of firearm unlawful also.
Is it considered lawful in most jurisdictions to use a firearm against a dog attacking a concealed carrier’s dog? I will say no in most instances. Dogs are property, and unless I live in a state where it is lawful to use deadly force to protect property I can be prosecuted. Even then, there are certain definitions of what constitutes property and when deadly force can be used to protect it. Concealed carriers are encouraged to read the use of force laws in the states in which they reside in order to be fully informed.
I live in the country in a small rural county in Texas that is definitely pro-Second Amendment. In Texas, we can use force to protect our property with certain limitations, but I will still not shoot another dog that has attacked mine. In addition to legal considerations, there are simply too many people out there that are capable of harassing my family, and a media that may try to exploit that event for their own benefit.
However, whenever I walk my dog I carry a walking staff and I always carry a cannister of pepper spray, or OC. I have been sprayed twice in the police academy, and it is hard to fight through. A dog’s nose is far more sensitive than a human’s and they are extremely susceptible to its effects.
The OC comes out just as soon as I see a free-roaming dog, and if it starts running at us I start spraying as soon as it gets 20 feet away (approximately one-car length). I have broken up dog fights in the past and a sharp strike with a staff accompanied by some hearty yelling often does the trick. If the dogs are locked up and whirling around (which is quite common when they are evenly matched), both get sprayed and I will clean up my dog later. As soon as possible, I am going to call 911 and report what happened followed by a call to CCW Safe. I strongly encourage readers to contact CCW Safe in the event force is used even against an animal and that they follow any directions they provide.
One last thing: visualize every member of your family living with you being attacked by a large dog or dogs and what that might look like. That member may be on their feet or on the ground. The dog might be biting an arm, a leg, or on top of them going for their face or throat. It is not going to make things better if we inadvertently shoot that person while trying to save their life. This was something that I gave significant thought to during my time on a Special Response Team since contact with large dogs was possible during entries and I had other team members to think about. My plan if a team member was attacked was to move into near contact distance, select a substantial part of the dog’s anatomy that was farthest from my member, check my angle in order to ensure that an exiting bullet would strike the ground well away from any part of the member’s body, and shoot until the dog broke contact with the team member.
The idea of shooting a dog is especially repugnant to me as it should be to all of us. Unfortunately, we do not always have a say when it comes to the actions of others who make it possible for those kind of actions to occur. The good news is that there are tools available that when combined with some pre-event planning and keeping a cool head can greatly reduce the chances of having to ever do so.
Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.