“Quawan Branch, 9, described the attack by Memphis Police on his 1-year-old Labrador, named Pepper,” wmctv.com reports. “‘The police officer, he just came up and started shooting at my dog,’ he said. Several children said they were running on a sidewalk, along with the dog, when out of nowhere the officer showed up and told the dog to stop. The children said the dog obeyed the officer’s order; however the officer still pulled out his gun and shot the dog. At that point, the dog supposedly took off and ran around the corner to the other side of a church . . .

Witnesses say the officer started chasing the dog and fired a second shot.

He should’ve asked, ‘What’s going on.  Is this dog trying to attack?’  Ask questions before you just act out,” said [owner] Michelle Hunter.

The dog has been taken to an animal hospital where she will have to undergo surgery. Neither the child nor the officer were injured.

Feel free to unleash howls of righteous indignation. Meanwhile, what’s your plan for a genuine dog attack? ‘Cause if you think you’re going to shoot a dangerous dog . . .

You better be a cop. Or a woman with kids. And that dog better belong to a breed with a rep for tearing people’s faces off (e.g., a pit bull). Preferably rabid. In the act of attacking. And you better hope you’re somewhere without dwellings within a mile of your 10-40.

Otherwise, you could be charged with all manner of firearms-related crimes, any one of which could terminate your gun rights for time immemorial. But wait! There’s more!

In a dog-on-human attack that doesn’t involve you directly, you’re likely to be behind the curve. In other words, the dog will be in close proximity to its victim before you realize it’s time to do something. Even without considering legal blowback, shooting a dog connected to a human is an inherently risky business.

And what about dog vs. dog attacks?  If you shoot a dog that’s trying to kill your dog you’re not going to get much sympathy from the police or their friend the prosecutor. And yet you don’t want to see your best friend get torn to pieces by a not-man’s-best-friend dog.

Above and beyond all that, do you really want to shoot a dog? I mean, if you don’t have to?

In most (but by no means all) dog-on-human or dog-on-dog situations pepper spray is the way. A big old spritz from a Kimber Pepper Blaster II or similar, unleashing a not-so-healthy-for-its-target hit of oleoresin capsaicinoid, will ensure that not every dog has its day. Yes, your dog will be just as miserable as her attacker, but she’ll live.

I carry pepper spray every time I take the Schnauzers for a perambulation  And whenever I’m going on a walk, generally. It’s a bit of PITA, what with schlepping a gun, spare mag, backup gun, wallet, phone, keys, knife, flashlight and packet of Magnum condoms (JK). But I live in a dog-intensive neighborhood; I feel better having an anti-bowser plan A.

While we’re at it, I’m not so sure about carrying pepper spray for two-legged threats. I consider an aimed (but not fired) gun a perfectly adequate less-than-lethal response to an imminent, credible threat of death or bodily harm.

But when it comes to defending myself against a dog that’s threatening to take someone to pieces, or defending my bitches against bigger, badder dogs, it’s pepper spray all day. I wonder if the Memphis cop had any on his utility belt . . .

28 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Carry Pepper Spray So You Don’t Have to Shoot A Dog

  1. when i was a ups guy, a bunch of my coworkers would carry a little squirt gun with diluted ammonia in it. one squirt would make even the most vicious dog run out of sight.

      • Ammonia can do do permanent damage. OC can’t.
        Ammonia is a good way to get yourself and your employer sued. When I certified as an OC instructor, our teacher said he’d seen all kinds of dogs hit with 9mm,38spl,.45ACP,.357,&12 ga. He said OC was more effective.At his last drug raid, an officer shot a charging pit bull with 12ga buck. It kept coming until hit with OC, then ran under a bed and stayed until the vet came.

  2. First of all. A lab. Seriously, a lab running with a kid. That’s what labs do. I’ve never seen a lab hurt anybody intentianally. When my youngest was still in diapers my lab held a doberman off him until I could wade into it and throw a beating on the dobie. My lab ate steak that night. Who shoots a lab? fvcktard.

    • While I agree that Labrador Retrievers are generally great family dogs, they can and do attack and bite. My next door neighbor’s previous Lab tried to bite me and the one he has now growls at my wife and daughters. Keep in mind when the previous lab tried to bite me, it was a relaxed situation and there was no reason whatsoever for the Lab to try and bite me.

      That said, I am highly critical of the actions of the officer in the article. I cannot justify shooting a dog unless it is actually tearing someone up.

    • labs are like the number one non-dangerous dog for number of bites. Of course popularity may play a role in that ymmv.

  3. Wait, a cop started shooting at a moving target while there were children in the immediate vicinity, also moving? And not only did the children not get shot, but the intended target actually did? Clearly not a real cop.

    On the other hand, he did shoot the dog….SWAT officer?

    • Not a moving target. Witness said when the cop ordered the kids and the dog to stop, it did just that. Which makes what he did almost as bad.

  4. This story sounds less like self-defense and more like a “Fido” assassination attempt… A one year old Labrador and this guy’s chasing the poor thing around shooting at it.

  5. I don’t carry pepper spray as I have family members allergic to it.
    But I agree with GABBA, a water pistol with a spritz of ammonia
    works wonders (even on those with two legs).

    Who wants to take bets that this numbskull gets anything more
    than a slap on the wrist?

  6. If you read the article, it says that the officer was flagged down by someone who said a loose dog was attacking a child. It does not, of course, say how fearful or angry or otherwise emotionally distraught the person was when they passed this information on.

    Just remember that on the job, you can be flagged down and given information by-

    Off-duty officers.
    Prior or current service members of the military.
    Well-intentioned and intelligent citizens.
    People who read this website and have a perhaps better understanding of force.
    Petty criminals who hope you don’t find their warrant.
    Idiots.

    It’s not always easy to distinguish between these and other categories I may have overlooked in a second or two, and if the information is “a child is being attacked by a loose dog,” you might not want to take long enough for a full interview and assessment of their mental capacity. They may be full of crap, which you can discover later to varying degrees of embarrassment depending on what you did with their information.

    However, if it’s a dog playing as opposed to a dog attacking, you may have time to see that as you acquire your sight picture. Unless the dog plays rough, like one of mine likes to do. Or maybe the whole “flagged down” thing was made up for this story, which I don’t know since I don’t even work in the same state.

    And again, I have never shot a dog.

  7. I’m an LEO, and I’ve pepper – sprayed a few dogs. It has worked very well, and I have never had to shoot a dog. I have come very close to shooting a few pot bulls, but thankfully have never had to do so. I own a lab / beagle mix and a Weimaraner, and find it very suspicious that a lab would need to be shot. I have seen labs act in a threatening manner, but that is pretty damn rare.

    • If a weed dealer owns a pit bull, does exposure to the product turn them into pot bulls? Because that sounds scary and funny all at once.

    • I have come very close to shooting a few pot bulls

      I’ve heard that pot bulls are too laid back to be vicious, but those meth mastiffs are very scary.

  8. While CDC studies say that Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and wolf hybrids are overrepresented in serious injuries or deaths of humans, dogs are individuals, and they don’t read the newspaper to find out whether they are supposed to be dangerous or not. The worst dog bite I’ve ever had was from a Black Lab that thought it was protecting the family kids from a stranger. Possibly the most dangerous dog I ever knew was an uncharacteristically aggressive Great Dane.

    I had a lot of dog incidents when I was visiting a dozen farms a day as an AI technician. I’ve also had some interesting encounters doing door to door visits on political campaigns and a run-in with a trained German Shepherd guard dog when I got lost and went to a farm to ask directions. I have never had an injury that required any treatment. 80% of the adults who end up in the hospital due to a dog bites are either the dog’s owners or the neighbors, and the bites occur on the owner’s property. (A dog is more likely to hurt it’s owner than to protect him. Ironic, isn’t it?) Most of the remaining 20% of injuries are work related, like shelter employees, various types of delivery people, contractors, etc.

    I feel sorry for mail delivery people that walk their routes. Every day they walk up to the house, the dog barks, and they walk away. The dogs think they are scaring away the threat and if they ever get loose while the mailman is in the yard, they are likely to play tag. After enough bad experiences I can understand why mailmen get jumpy. Ammonia water would probably solve the problem without creating a huge incident with the dog owner.

    Law enforcement types need some kind of training on handling dogs. There is probably nothing they can do to inspire more hatred and contempt than shooting dogs, which they don’t seem to be able to do very well.

    • I can see the wolf-hybrid being considered dangerous. It’s proven fact that with both the wild and the tame in them, they can get confused on which to act on, usually jumping into wild for some not-so-good results for the humans near them.

      Pits…. well, they USED to also be known as nanny-dogs… They’d protect your kids.
      Dobermans, Rotties, German Sheppards, and Pits in general usually are only vicious if their owners encourage it. Before the argument of how many bitten owners comes up, I’d wager the vast majority of those bitten owners DID NOT KNOW that their dogs were communicating that something was wrong with them (the dog) OR that their owners were too much in their personal space and should back off.

      As stated before, every dog can be different, depending on health, personality, owner, and environment.

  9. You can use pepper spray, bear spray, dilute ammonia in a water bottle (the choice of cyclists) or water gun, or a baton. A hard shot to the bridge of an attacking dog’s nose works wonders to change his attitude without causing permanent damage; that was one of the many methods that we sometimes had to use to retrain overaggressive dogs who were headed off to the black box unless they could be retrained.

    I hate the idea of shooting a dog for being a dog, even a dangerous one, when there are so many non-lethal options available.

  10. I’ve used ammonia in the past on aggressive canines.
    It’s a wonder how fast a pavlovian response can develop.
    But what is this “dilute” y’all keep talking about ?

    Shock batons work quite well too.
    Dogs hate the sound.

  11. One dog never worries me too much. I know I can always take one dog, without a gun, I might get a little bit in the process but not much. 2 dogs is dicey and is going to hurt. 3 or more and you have no chance.

  12. Worst dog situation i was in involved 3 pitbulls. Owner was protecting and straddling 1 pitbull and the other 2 were in process of killing it under him. He was pretty much in their way and getting all bite up to shit. His arms, back, shoulders, ass, hands were all tore to shit. We get called and nobody would enter the fenced in area. Owner’s friends and neighbors all watching over the fence as he is getting all bit up. Of course they all had opinions but no action. I entered first and the white pit started to come at me. Had my Glock out and was about to shoot it as it came within 5 feet of me yapping and growling. I squared up and it went back over to the owner. the 2 “demon” pits were too close to the owner and taking bites that shots were to risky to the owner. I transitioned to my taser (carry on left side and shoot taser with left hand) and took out OC with my right hand. My partner came next to me then finally. 2nd time the white pit came i tased as it actually ran at me . one prong hit it’s side. dog yelped and ran and hid under a deck. the 2nd demon pit came up next, not as aggressive. drenched him in oc. he ran away into a fence and almost knocked his dog house over and stayed there till ordinance could drag him out. 3rd pit once owner came off him was then tased by my partner as she too became aggressive. If people are involved, small target, always moving, hard vital shots, too much risk of rhiccohet i have a great example of why taser and OC work wonders on aggressive dogs. less risk and probably just as effective.

  13. I take issue with this statement:

    “While we’re at it, I’m not so sure about carrying pepper spray for two-legged threats. I consider an aimed (but not fired) gun a perfectly adequate less-than-lethal response to an imminent, credible threat of death or bodily harm.”

    If you’re in imminent threat of death or bodily harm, then why would you aim but not fire? If they are enough of a threat to un-holster and aim a gun at them, but they’re not enough of a threat to shoot, then you’ve made a mistake on one side of your equation or the other. You’ve either drawn on someone that’s not a threat, or you’ve given an attacker an advantage (or you’re filming a movie).

    There’s no middle ground here. Someone either isn’t a threat to you or they are. You shouldn’t play around and see if pointing a gun and harsh language will stop them from killing you.

  14. While we’re at it, I’m not so sure about carrying pepper spray for two-legged threats. I consider an aimed (but not fired) gun a perfectly adequate less-than-lethal response to an imminent, credible threat of death or bodily harm.

    This shows you don’t understand what pepper spray is about. Pepper spray fits as a response to the area between “not a threat” and “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm”. Take the following scenario: you’re out and about and a guy walks up to you and asks you for money. You politely refuse and keep moving. He starts following you and keeps asking for money. You keep politely, but firming refusing, all while keeping a close eye on him. You come to a crosswalk and you make sure you keep a good distance and watch him. He’s frustrated at this point and rushes you, giving you a hard shove. You take a couple steps back, but keep your feet.

    What do you do? All he’s done so far is a fairly low level assault and battery, which hasn’t even bruised you. If you draw your gun at this point, you’re countering with a threat of deadly force. It might make him run off, but what if he’s unimpressed and calls your bluff? Do you shoot him? When the police show up, you’re going to have to justify shooting him when all he did was shove you. How many people die or are seriously injured each year from shoves? How reasonable was your belief that he was about to kill or seriously injure your on the basis of that shove?

    Now back up to the point just after the shove and let’s say you hit him in the face with a stream of pepper spray. You don’t have to stop and threaten him with it, you don’t have to turn the initiative over to him and wait for him to respond. You can just spray him, and he’ll either react how you want or not. If he continues his attack, then you were probably going to have that fight no matter what, but now you get to have a fight with a guy who’s just been pepper sprayed. If he breaks off, then you have a chance to get away, call 911, and get your story in the record first. In any case, it’s much easier to explain why you pepper sprayed a guy who shoved you than to explain why you shot a guy over a shove.

  15. Tasers? Ammonia (though that sounds like a great idea because it can inflict serious damage)? Pepper spray???

    I would have no problem shooting an aggressive dog with a gun.

    I don’t care if he is backing off. Shoot him in the hindquarters as he is running or walking away, and then a second time in the head after he went down.

    He got aggressive once, he will do it again.

    Shoot them.

    If the stupid dog owner starts whining, hit him over the head with the butt of the gun.

    Period.

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