Protecting our pets

Here’s a question for the legal heads…let’s say i’m at the dog park with my dogs enjoying the day, suddenly one of my dogs gets attacked by a larger dog, after several failed attempts to break dog free. it will still not release my dog…Question: can i legally let off a warning shot into the ground? or if all else fails, legally shoot the dog that is attacking mine?

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Warning shots are generally a bad idea.


Second what @OldGnome said, warning shots bad bad bad idea.

If you do a search for dogs, or protecting dogs, you can find quite a few threads that broach this or similar subjects. What I gather, it really depends on your State, and even City.


That raises a whole new question in itself…Are warning shots EVER justified?..we know it’s “generally a bad idea”, but can they ever be justified?

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The short answer. No.

If you are not in sufficient fear of your life to shoot the bad guy then you are not in sufficient fear of your life to discharge the firearm. On the practical side you may have just spent the round that you need to save your life. Then there is the whole “Where did my bullet go?” question.

For domestic animals my go to “Stop it right now” cure is a “Field Goal Attempt” for wild critters, no warning shots will be fired in the death of the animal.

FWIW the only “people” that get away with warning shots are the Navy and the Coast Guard.




Well, they get a bow to shoot over and a large body of water to swallow the round.


And wifes… especially ex-wifes.


Go to an online pet store (, for example) and search for “Dog Repellent.”

This is a non-lethal way to get a dog’s attention and make it think twice before coming back for your dog’s neck, or your bicycle pants, etc. Much of what I saw comes premixed and in a spray bottle that should hook onto your belt loop.

A while back I wanted to use a cheap solution, a squirt gun full of an ammonia and water mix, but they leak!

Not me. Not saying I’m right, but the way I was trained, by weapon doesn’t come out of concealment to threaten by brandishing or firing warning shots. It comes out when my life is in danger and I need to put rounds on target.

That being said, I usually try to keep “other options” on my person, such as pepper spray, tactical pen, knife, etc. I would probably try one of those first, or my size 12 shoe squarely where a dog doesn’t want to be kicked.


I agree with others on “don’t fire a warning shot”.

Depending on your state & local laws, you might be OK shooting a dog (or other animal) if it was attacking your pet, but that is a big can of worms I’m not sure you’d want to open.

First, hitting a small target that is moving around (in the case of dogs fighting, or a larger dog mauling a smaller one) is very difficult and there is a high likelihood of missing. That ricochet will go “somewhere” and we own every bullet. You may have to get close enough for a contact shot.

If you are in a residential area, there are likely laws pertaining to discharge near homes (likely negligent discharge or similar). Ditto if there are other people nearby when you shoot.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be quickly confronted by an angry/grieving dog owner.

We’ve always had larger dogs, so in the past I wasn’t overly concerned about other dogs attacking. We now have a 12lb dog and because of her size I worry about her being a snack for another dog, fox/coyote, hawk, etc. So now I always carry pepper spray when walking the dogs, which would be my first choice if harsh language doesn’t work.

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In FL, it is illegal to shoot a dog or other animal that is attacking your pet. However, what if the vicious dog was about to maul you, who is to say otherwise? In practice, in my county, judges will ask only one question in such cases - Was the dog on a leash? If not -the case is dismissed. So, owners please keep your dogs leashed if you don’t want other people to decide if they should live.

You’re right, it’s usually illegal to shoot an animal attacking your pet. If your pet is right next to you and being attacked, there is a legitimate fear that the attack may spread to you, then you have a better chance of using lethal force.

I like the idea of a different repellant - firearms are reserved for imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm.

Warning shots are a hard no.

Semi-relevant video just posted by Active Self Protection. Dog attacks child in a parking lot, it took several people and a knife to get the dog off.

WARNING: While there is no blood/gore, the child is very clearly grabbed by the dog so if you are sensitive to such things please do not watch.


Excellent material, thank you @Harvey. It shows how quickly a dog running toward you can turn aggressive… or friendly (happened to me recently). Be prepared, but hold your action until it is clear what is going on. I totally disagree that a firearm was an option, in a melee like that, with his family in front or at arms length; a knife was the best option. And look out for the dog’s owner, who can also be aggressive.

Defensive gun use against coyote by jogger. This happened in metropolitan area, by no measure a backwoods.

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