For the sake of argument, let’s say your dog was being torn to pieces by another dog in a public park. You tried to separate them physically. No dice. Would you draw your gun? Also, what if your dog was being attacked by a predator: hawk, coyote, bear, etc. in a wooded area—where there was the possibility of other people being nearby. What then? And finally, imagine your dog is being attacked by a human. Beaten to death, in fact. Would you unholster?

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56 Responses to Question of the Day: Would You Draw Your Gun to Defend Your Dog?

  1. In my neck of the woods it would be illegal.

    Use of deadly force (Shooting a gun) can only be used to protect the lives of people (dogs are viewed as property). You have to remember that you will be held responsible for discharging your gun as well as for each and every bullet that you fire. So, I would only do it if I were out in the middle of nowhere. I would not discharge my firearm for the sake of my dog if I was in a public park, walking around my neighborhood, or anything else like that.

    That being said, I would probably pull my gun immediately and pistol whip the other dog into submission.

  2. Wouldn’t it be next to impossible to shoot the bad dog (and not your own dog) once they are entangled? Shooting a wild animal seems a lot less litigious than someone’s pet, but given the situation I can’t say for sure how I would react.

    I don’t currently have a dog, so I’m more worried about off-leash dogs at the park I jog at. I don’t usually carry while I’m jogging there. Even if I did, it would take some dang good shooting to hit a dog if it suddenly decided to attack. My best bet would probably be to shoot it with my right arm while I feed it my left. (Anyone know of a jog-worthy holster that for my PF-9, by the way?)

    • Thunderwear carries up to 2 handguns discreetly,as long as you use loose pants and a loose shirt. I have one from 2004 and recently bought a newer,updated model. I would just advise either a safety or a heavy trigger if you’re carrying a chambered pistol pointed at your goodies!

      • In COD Black Ops, it is best to get into a crouch in a corner to shoot the attack dogs. This puts you on the same plane as them.

  3. I’m trying to envision a scenario in which I am not bitten by the offending animal when I try to separate it from my pet … How would I otherwise be unable to separate them? In any case, I would not shoot another person’s pet to save my own. A wild predator, I would shoot. As much as I love my pets, they are just animals. I’m far more concerned for the damage I would do to another person who might have an unreasonable attachment to his/her beast. I’d let the “law” put down his pet; it’s not my job to do it.

  4. My dog was attacked on three occasions when I was living in inner-city Milwaukee. I never though to myself, “Dang, I wish I had my 1911.” I might feel a bit differently if there was a stray on my property who was attacking my dog, but in a heavily populated area, I do not think shooting an attacking dog is worth the risk to other people. I have used a heavy piece of wood I keep in my daughter’s stroller to separate my dog from a couple of strays, so I am not against protecting my dog, daughter, and myself.

    I keep my dog on a leash at almost all times (off-leash only at my sister’s farm and at the dog-park), so if a bear attacked, I would be in harm’s way, also. I’d shoot in a heartbeat.

  5. I don’t own a dog.

    Would it work to kick the attacking dog, and when he turn on YOU, to shoot him?

    Again, I don’t know much about dogs.

    • Don’t ever forget that a dog will sense if you are afraid of him! If you have to ever square off with a dog-this is my advice, based on my experience with feral dogs: Don’t try and run! Let him come at you. Crouch to lower your center of gravity. Remember, the only true weapon he has is his mouth! If he is charging at you, protect your face, throat, crotch. draw his attention by having your “weak”-non writing hand out and away from your body. Be ready to kick him in the throat, jaw or chest with everything you have. If you have time-wrap a shirt or coat around your weak hand and arm. If he makes contact-jab at his eyes with everything you have! If it gets messy and he has your hand or arm-get behind him! Wrap your body around him and choke him until he’s out. Even if you hear the sound of vertebra shifting-that doesn’t mean he’s dead-he may well just be unconscious! OR-before you do this all-shoot the F###er in the head or chest till he drops! Feral dogs or dogs in a rage are not your friend!

      • In a side note-this is why I believe so firmly in using rounds like magsafe, glaser safety slugs, extreme shock-etc. They are basically pre-fragmented, provide quicker lethality, greatly reduce ricochet and reduce overpenetration. They are expensive, yes, but cheaper than a lawsuit and cheaper than an innocent’s life. If you carry them in a pistol and not in a revolver, just make sure you test a few for reliability of feeding and extraction-just like you should with any ammunition you plan to use for defense. My personal favorites are Magsafe and Glaser Safety slugs-the silver. I find the best prices are at Cheaper Than Dirt and Sportsmansguide.

  6. I’ve thought about this many times. I believe it would be illegal, but I will not stand by and watch another dog kill my dog. If it came down to it, I would shoot the attacking animal and deal with the consequences.

  7. You should not post what you would do in the event of an emergency. If I were a attorney I would look for signs that the person was looking for an opportunity to use their gun. Statements like ‘take them out’ can come back to haunt you.
    But,
    I would defend my property, but only to stop the attack.

  8. I have a couple of coonhounds so anything short of bear or cougar sized predator the attacking dog or single coyote comes out on the short end of the stick. For an urban environment carry a knife. You become the second dog because the attacking dog will be focused on your pet. Not wanting to seem callous but you just stick the attacker and sort out the legal consequences later.

    When I have the dogs in the woods I am usually armed whether I intend to hunt or not. You never know what’s out there. I would shoot a coyote on sight even if there is a pack because the rest will take off at the sound of the shot. I usually only have a 22 bolt action so if its a large predator I would end up pissing it off.

    • Ah, a knife-man after my own heart! I own many blades-I love a good custom fixed blade-my non custom are primarily Cold Steel and Tops and Benchmade. You oughtta try some of that CCI QuickShock, I believe it’s called, the 3 segmented fragmentation .22 LR round!

      • That kind of round might slow down a cat but a bear isn’t going to notice. I can do 8 aimed rounds a minute so I might get two shots off against the angry predator.

        • Oh, trust me, I wouldn’t try a .22 on a bear unless it was full auto! I just meant that round for maximizing your lethality in that caliber. In example, I’m the only guy I know who has a case of 9mm+P+. That’s pretty much all I will load any of my 9’s with. Now for when the bears turn zombie, I have the chopped Remington 1100 12ga. full of slugs!

  9. What’s the best way to gather reliable information about one’s local laws about this? I know the issue around defending property varies by locale, and the extent to which juries handle pets as special cases of property varies within that.

    • Robert, I wish I had a clear answer for you! Usually I would say go to your main State law enforcement agency. Mine is SLED, Georgia’s is GBI, etc. Internet searches are helpful-I always check each state’s web site about gun and knife carry laws before I travel. Unfortunately, a lot of street level cops have the old laws still ingrained into their memories from their training officers-particularly in small towns. Their are still cops who’ll tell you that in South Carolina that you can carry in the glove box-but unloaded only! That phased out in the 80’s! In SC you can carry fully loaded in any vehicle console-if you can legally own-and only shotguns and rifles must be in the trunk-unless locked in a case. You could try speaking with a chief deputy and a park ranger or authority, as it pertains. The bottom line is the ridiculous “ignorance of the law is no excuse” that is the greatest folly! My belief is show all intent of self-education, make friends with the local authorities, MAKE FRIENDS WITH A GOOD ATTORNEY who is like-minded, and practice reason and sound judgment. Play scenarios in your head. Have I ever, technically broken the law-yes. On more than one occasion I’ve shown a knife or a pistol to send a potential attacker scurrying away. In the military I carried as I travelled across country so I could stay alive at rest stops, motels, etc. I never add alcohol to the mix-never carry a gun to a bar, in example. In Europe, you’re damned straight I carried a blade or two, illegally, but I stayed low key! Well, as much as I could-Cujo the dog of war was a name given to me when I worked with SpecOps! By the by, if you think state gun laws are vague-try sorting the real knife laws from the myths in my home state! I wonder if knights of old had “sword control lobbyists” in their day?!

  10. As much as I love my dog, I’m going to have to say no to another dog if we were in an urban area. Now out in the country, if any animal attacked my dog I would consider using my gun to protect it. I think the problem, as many have already stated, is that there is way too much of a risk you would hit your own dog as the animals are rolling around fighting.

  11. In a park, no. I would use my knife. I think pulling a gun to defend a dog is excessive, and the possibility of over-penetration too great.

    In a wooded area against wild animals, yes, but only after I was sure no one was downrange.

    Against a person, no. A person’s life, even a criminal’s life, is worth more than a dog’s life, even a much loved dog. If we don’t value human life then what’s the point?

  12. SO Many variables! I grew up doing martial arts, so for a person or another dog I would use a well-aimed kick or brachial strike to the side of the neck or a kidney or liver punch. I suppose I would follow the escalation of force. A baton, stick or spray would be possible-if available. I would not hesitate to go to an edged weapon if it was that violent of an attack. If it was a large predator I feel deadly force by use of firearm would probably be the only immediate means. The bottom line is that my dogs would give their lives for me and they deserve the same consideration! As for a bear, the biggest blade I normally carry is a Fred Perrin 5” bowie, so I’d rather not go “Davey Crockett” on Yogi bear and get slashed up! If a person was trying to kill my dog, I assume he has a deadly weapon, so that prescribes the sort of response as well! I am a big guy who’s been trained all my life to fight, but that doesn’t mean some one couldn’t get in a lucky cut or blow in a knife or stick fight. Good question!

    • Good question, Chaz! I have used CS (tear gas based) pepper spray on dogs and had them look at me as if I sprayed them with water! My recommendation is to carry Cold Steel’s Inferno spray. It uses red and black pepper and HURTS! If you order it from “the knife center”, you can get it cheaper than from cold steel directly. I carry a large fogger in my truck, have one near my front door, and teach people how to use all the other sizes. It is the only brand, to my knowledge, that uses propellants like asthma inhalers, giving consistent spray. Look it up at Cold Steel’s website, you’ll be impressed! Little known fact: if you carry pepper spray and a taser or stungun-make sure your pepper spray is not alcohol based! Otherwise you may well set your assailant ON FIRE!

        • Bet it stopped the bad guy cold! They had a training session at a police department once, where the trainees were allowed to play around with the real tasers in class. One went off, and an officer got one of the barbs in his eye!

      • make sure your pepper spray is not alcohol based! Otherwise you may well set your assailant ON FIRE!

        This a bad thing?

        • It would certainly make a lasting impression if he had any buddies! “Crouching Tiger, Flaming Dragon”!

      • Combo sprays work really well too. Any defense store or surplus store worth anything should carry sprays that are a combination of chemical spray (mace) and pepper spray. From second hand knowledge I have heard mace is the only thing short of lead that will stop a dog. Dog’s don’t react to pepper spray because of a difference in anatomy. Also, the combo spray is great at stopping 1-percenters, that 1% of the population that isn’t stopped by pepper spray is not the same as the 1% that isn’t stopped by mace and vice versa. My sister has this great spray that is not only combo, but it has UV ink in it that will make the dog glow, allowing easier identification for aggressive strays. Don’t have a UV light? Most police cruiser lights emit UV lights, so criminals and dogs glow if they ever mess with my sister.

  13. I wonder if this article is a “trick” question referring to the government agent that drew in a “no-leash” park. The main problem that started it was the agent was ignorant and kept his dog on a leash in the no-leash park. You’re not supposed to keep your dog on a leash in those for a reason.

  14. A federal police officer shot a dog in a dog park last summer in MD. There was -justifiably- a significant public outcry. I’m not sure what consequences there were. If any.

    • That’s a hard one to judge. I love dogs and the first time I ever had to kill one was a rabid, feral dog trying to attack two of mine. I was 15, had to put EIGHT rounds of buckshot in it, and cried afterwords. Unfortunately, I dragged it to my fence and tossed it over until my parents came home. I was afraid my dogs would get to it. When my folks came home, we found nothing but a leg bone left. I spent the whole summer tracking feral,rabid dogs-we lived on 20 acres in the BOONIES. I love dogs, but like some people, some have to be put down sometimes. I knew a detective who was cornered by 2 pitbulls and had to shoot them. He was fired by the same sheriff who failed to have a policy on such a situation. Then again, I have a buddy who was SWAT and had to ” tase” a billygoat!

        • He was answering a call, circling around the back of a house. He said the stupid goat kept headbutting him; he got fed up with it. Finally, enough was enough, and “billy” got energized! He said he stiffened and fell over sideways like one of those “fainting” goats! Another buddy was answering a call and trying to catch a loose emu…he accidentally broke its neck!

  15. I don’t have a dog at the moment, but I used to train them and can tell you that there are better ways of breaking up a furball than blazing away. When dogs fight, they are unbelieveably fast and never stop moving. Any shot is just as likely to take out Fido as it is to stop the bad doggy, or even kill both. Bear spray works better. It also works better on bears, so unless you’re carrying a powerful rifle or one of JOE’s .500 bad girls, shooting the bear might get it really pissed off.

    Here’s my take on the bad guy beating the shit out of my dog scenario, which is extremely complicated. A few jurisdictions would grant me the right to use deadly force to prevent any felony, including animal cruelty. Even in more restrictive jurisdictions, I would still be entitled to use reasonable (non-deadly) force to prevent a crime. If my reasonable force is met with his possibly deadly force, I’d shoot the bastard and believe it would be deemed justified. Do I know for sure? No. But in most shootings, nobody knows for sure whether there will be a prosecution. We just operate in good faith and do what we think we need to do.

    A question to all those who would call us “gun loons:” if we truly were loons, would we agonize about stuff like this?

    • Now that’s a good question. I wondered if the fact that there are so many comments on this thread and that you are agonizing over this issue were further proof of “gun loonery.” I mean, who else would even bother?

      Another way to look at it is what you said made perfect sense, about fighting dogs being too close and quick for there to be even the possibility of shooting the bad dog. Yet, above this comment, how many, Joe for example, seemed to overlook that obvious fact and seriously answer the question.

      Those who call you “gun loons,” an expression that I don’t use myself, by the way, might take that as further evidence. Am I wrong?

  16. Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, shot a coyote last year before the election that was attacking his dog while they were out jogging in Austin, Texas. His polling numbers went up six points the next day. True story!

    • Yes, it is a true story — and Ruger, the gun manufacturer of the .380 he used, made a commemorative model of the pistol.

  17. I would have no problem shooting a dog attacking my pet. Whether that is legal is another matter. Do you really think most prosecutors would bother charging anyone who did this? Or any police would even care?

  18. It depends, if I have my dog on a leash and the other dog wasn’t I would make an attempt to kick the other dog and draw attention to myself. If the dog then attempted to attacked me, I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot the aggressive dog if I knew three things: 1) Myself, and bystanders would not get harmed if I were to discharge my firearm 2) Bystanders were aware that my dog was not the aggressive initiator 3) It would not inflame the situation with the aggressive initative dog owner.

  19. Inspiration comes from the smallest things…just walking through my kitchen, as I saw the childproof locks on my fridge and the cabinet to my trashcan-my wolf/st. bernard knows how to open things-when the ultimate thought hit me. I now see how to endlessly annoy those who piss me off. Now I can include PETA… I will teach my smart half-breed to be the ultimate guard dog. I will teach him to shoot and pack heat! Of course, it will be a leather carry rig, perhaps fur-lined. It will have to be a pistol with more than 10 round capacity, with non-shed horn grips. Maybe a self-designed pistol with a catchy name like “The Baby Seal 2000.” The bullets will have to be lead-based and have enough cellulose mix with the powder to require the dropping of an occasional tree. Then I finally can address an all new subject, dog-on-dog crime! …doggy drive-by’s…

  20. Absolutly right to kill that dog if its agressing toward you or you property or anyone else. Never hesitate to shoot a dog, you cant reason with them, they are not your friend nor are they harmless and cuddly. it only takes a second for a dog to cover the distance between you and them no time to try and understand their intentions. shoot that dog and get the hell outta there ASAP! Its just a dog human life is worth far more.

  21. I had a very dominant small terrier that was attacked several times by much larger dogs. After he’d been bitten a couple of times I started carrying pepper spray and he was never bit again. I must have pepper sprayed half a dozen dogs.
    Pepper spray is almost 100% effective on aggressive dogs, is not dangerous to your own dog or to other people, and doesn’t require nearly the paperwork a gun does (buying or using). It is a humane and effective solution for dog aggression.
    By all means have a gun too, you may need it when the aggressor dog’s owner takes exception to your spraying his dog.

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  23. Would the consequences be the same if you were being attacked by a bear or a wolf? Some dogs out there are killers and can kill people. But if you were to replace the word “dog” with the words “bear” or “wolf” or where I’m from, “moose”, would the same outcome of consequences be the same as if it was a “dog”?

  24. Would the consequences be the same if you were being attacked by a bear or a wolf? Some dogs out there are killers and can kill people. But if you were to replace the word “dog” with the words “bear” or “wolf” or where I’m from, “moose”, would the same outcome of consequences be the same as if it was a “dog”? Hmmmmmmmm…

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