Lethal Force Against Non-Humans


You’re walking alone in your neighborhood and a mean looking 100lb+lb dog charges you. Do you fire? If so, when? I know we all have our own thoughts/rules about when we’ll take that leap to lethal force. I’m just curious to hear everyone else’s. I know @KevinM did a bit on this too.


For me, I’d draw WAY early, if I could and he’d have to latch on first. I want to be nice and bloody when the cops show up.

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First thing I’d try to do is back up and get on top of or behind something.


A huge dog came running and barking directly towards my wife and me almost 30 years ago. Startled I wished I had a gun but knew I had to do something to attract him towards me rather than my wife. I started acting like he was my best buddy hoping he’d have a better response by the time he reached us. We were so relieved when it worked. I pet him and called him a good boy several times acting like we were long lost buddies. Glad I didn’t have a gun back then.

But now we live near s natural wildlife refuge. Protected animals. I took a picture of a coyote running down our street the size of a great dame. In a nearby city coyotes are attacking people, not just pets.

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To use lethal force in ANY circumstance you must be able to reasonably articulate that you faced an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm. A dog bite from a Yorkie is likely not enough of a reason. A dog bite from a dog weighing in excess of 50 pounds is much easier to justify. But remember this: Americans love dogs. If you shoot a dog you will be vilified. Get ready for that. Also, I would advise against actually letting the dog bite you. I don’t know if you’ve every been attacked by a dog, but the wounds are nasty and very painful. The teeth are not “razor sharp”. It’s having a spiked clamp slam down on you and begin violent shaking. You might drop your gun. Typically a good bash with a blunt object will stop a dog, but if you don’t have access to a blunt object, be ready for lots of explaining. Know your local laws.


In over 20 years of carrying a gun I’ve only drawn it once. A pit bull was running at me and a coworker. Fortunately it detoured at 20 feet from us. As a dog owner and lover, I am glad I didn’t have to retire it.


I’m glad you didn’t have to shoot the pitbull, @Phil-G45! My pitbull will run up and jump on you so she can attempt to lick you to death. We’re working on that. :dog:

We have a coyote in my neighborhood as well. The city has warned us to not let our dogs out unsupervised at night at this point. I don’t live in a rural area so this is a bit surprising to me. I did see it last summer standing down a side road (I was in my car). It was bigger than either of the dogs I have now.

The imminent, unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm does go for non-humans as well.

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Great. Now i’ll have to add dog treats to my EDC. :rofl:


I worked in Mequon (wealthy town with a decent amount of wooded areas, and a lot of deer for those not in SE WI) when I did tree work. One of our client’s friends in that area was walking her dog and a coyote started lunging at the dog, so she shot it. Mequon PD and the DNR cleared them apperantly.

I’m more afraid of coyotes than wolves, bears, or mountain lions. I’ve came across wolves and bears by my cabin, they always ran, and I heard a mountain lion in heat screaming when I was camping in Texas. Suburban song dogs lose fear of people. Fast.

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Any discharge in public property in my openion is illegal, unless you truly believe your life is in danger and that would be the only way to save yourself, (Meaning you are cornered).

I walk at night a lot and usually change my route when I see unsecured dogs.

Saving life is strenght not weakness.

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This happened in Pontiac Michigan. The deep inner city has a reputation for dog fighting and often dogs are released, or escape. This dog showed all the indications of aggression that prompted my response.

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I live in town, so I better be dang sure before I shoot a dog. Discharging a firearm in the city limits is a huge deal. In Illinois m there has to be at least proof of the dog biting before lethal force can be used. Now, outside of city limits, you need proof of a dog harassing your livestock, then you legally can shoot it on your property. I would rather not shoot a dog. I have punched one in the head before. I guess that was enough to change its mind, because it tucked tail and ran. It was some mutt.

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I never realized how true this was until I became a dog owner as an adult! Having dogs is as bad/good as having kids! :slight_smile:


@Dawn. I love my dogs, but my children are so much higher on the love scale.


Very true, @mdstanzel! My kids are grown and out of the house, so my pets are my furbabies now. There are definitely similarities between having kids and pets. But my kids and my granddaughter definitely rank higher than the pets. :slight_smile:

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To be quite honesty in a dog loving country I would not advise to anyone to fire upon animals unless there is a complete imminent threat faced forcing you to defend yourself. Its important to realize and know you state/local laws. Unfortunately; a dog running towards you doesn’t justify pulling and fire upon unleashed dog. If so happen in one of the state I live in during the summers; its an city ordinance to have all dogs must be leashed at all times and dog owner(s) caught with unleashed dogs could face up to $500 fine and even face being suited if the dog attack someone or some people even harassed. If dog ends up biting whoever 9/10 out of 10 the court system will force the owner to put the dog to sleep due to the owner being negligent and irresponsible as a dog owner. Only place a dog can be unleashed in city/county organized assigned dog parks. I have had a personal experience that could’ve went bad but as a trained Dog Handler; an event took place where a dog got off leash started charging at some kids. Of course i noticed the irresponsible dog owner on his phone instead of paying attention or remain disciple in case the dog takes off or the leash fails. This was my first thought due to the size of the dog and knowing the breed. Of course the unexpected happened which caused a lot of scared people and force people to call the police.
During the event; Dog started running at kids playing the park like kids too. Dog got off leash; Immediately; I notice and began Yelling commands at the dog with an authoritative voice to show strength in character. Somebody had to do something with a lot of people around. Things could have gone very wrong, witnesses called the Police unfortunately I had to tell the truth to the Law Enforcement shared my true statement after the incident was control and public environment was secure and safe for people to carry on. Nobody got hurt thank God but scared pissed a lot of people off. Truth to the story the dog owner cared more about being on his cell phone and not paying attention to his hyper dog. At the time I was armed 2nd Amendment “Open Carry” Speaking to Law Enforcement armed and holstered Civil Servant ask if I was law enforcement by the holster. He had ask if i had to discharge my weapon for safety reasons since my entire family was around. I told him no with various witnesses could have back that up also. Officer did say in this state you could have as long as you didn’t point it in a firing direction (Aiming The Fire Arm in a fire position in the direction to be Fired). Keep in mind people in every direction if a shot was fired and missed where would that bullet land or end up. Even if we miss the bullet doesn’t stop could very easily bounced off an objected into someone’s house or someone near by at the park. Be very aware and be very careful and understand the surroundings in case you have to fire. If some hit by your bullet; that’s murder!
Apparently dog’s leash failed and the dog took off. As i stated before the dog owner was negligent obviously didn’t take responsible for his action caused him nice fine and process to the local jail. Animal Control had to transport his dog to the facilities. To claim you dog back City Government will make an example and charge you every cent and dollar they can and make it twice as hard for your to claim your dog back.
Just remember if one decide to take matters into your own hand(s) by discharge/firing in open public best believe the DA, Police and the courts will ask you what course actions were taken in ay attempt to free, take cover and/or escape solution… They will analysts every second so keep in mind every breath taken during the course of firing in open public will have to be justified. If you’re willing to do then be ready to receive a lot of backlash and you will be considered the threat until the verdict is decided… and innocent is awarded…


I have been attacked by dogs twice, both without provocation and both times when I was unarmed. The first time was a neighbors dog that had jumped its yard fence and leaped at a full run at my head. Self defense training and survival instincts took over and I snapped the dogs neck as it went to the ground.

The second time I have a 2 to 3 inch scar on my upper arm (I gave it instead of my throat). That time the owner was right there and got the dog under control before anything else happened.

Had I been armed either of those times I do not see it going much if any differently. There just wasn’t any time to draw let alone fire safely. I was a young man in the Army for both those situations. I do not think the outcome would be so good for me if either of them happened today.

Being in the neighborhood just makes it much less likely for me to try and fire safely, drawing a knife on the other hand is a much more likely scenario for me.

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I’m so sorry to hear about the attacks, @DBrogue! I have two dogs who can get overexcited, but they’ll sooner lick you to death. My pitbull gets a lot of attitude because she’s a pit - she’s a HUGE teddybear and won’t hurt someone.

But I do see dogs who are too aggressive and the “dog parents” don’t do anything about it. We’ve put our dogs through some extensive training over the last few weeks with a trainer and I was able to take them on a walk together without any pulling this morning. That’s a first. I don’t know what I would do with a seriously aggressive dog. Training would have to happen - and a lot of it.


Can’t tell you how many times I’ve her “my dog is a sweety she won’t bite” … 4 hours later in the ER (insert thoughts here)


Oh, don’t get me wrong, you try and hurt me and my dogs will bite. However, they are not generally aggressive the way some dogs are. I’d be more afraid of my dogs knocking someone down.

I’ve taken bones and pig ears out of the dog’s mouth and they don’t even get angry then. They’re very good dogs, but I’m also a very nice person - until I’m not.