More Equal Than Others: Self-Defense Against Dogs and Other Critters
Self-defense against people is all well and good, but what about self-defense against dogs and other animals? Not all threats to man are from animals that go on two legs. Occasionally the four-legged variety pose grave dangers.
A good number of people carry pepper spray or a large magnum handgun as a backup while hiking or hunting for this exact purpose.
Self-Defense Against Animals Could Be Necessary
Dog attacks and so on are usually not what most people are concerned about when it comes to anything related to self-defense. What a person is concerned with is other people, and other people certainly can be dangerous, but they aren’t the only animals that can pose a serious threat.
Fatal dog attacks are rare, but they do occur. Bites are far more common (there are several million dog bites per year) but the number of fatal dog attacks are much smaller as only a few dozen occur annually.
Besides dog attacks, a number of other animals species are capable of inflicting fatal injury. Moose are easily capable of trampling a person to death or goring a person with antlers, as are elk. Livestock can also be dangerous, as cows or swine of sufficient size inured with hatred of mankind could certainly do fatal damage if set on doing so.
Predatory animals such as bears, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes have all attacked people, even fatally.
In recent years, feral hogs have become a problem across much of the United States, and people have been charged by them during encounters.
In short, four-legged animals can pose a danger as much as the two-legged kind can.
Self-Defense Law Treats Animals The Same
Should a person wonder about any possible legal ramifications, self-defense law works much the same when it comes to defending one’s self against an animal. Bear in mind that this isn’t legal advice and shouldn’t be taken as such; consult a qualified legal professional for legal advice regarding the laws of your state of residence.
Few laws regarding shooting an animal in self-defense are on the books. Almost all deal with the more dangerous wildlife, such as grizzly bears – which are protected in the lower 48 states. The federal statute declaring grizzly bears a protected specie allows for shooting one to save your own life or that of another, as does the Endangered Species Act.
Therefore, just as would be the case with having to defend yourself against a person, you are legally able to defend yourself against an animal attack if you have a reasonable belief that loss of your life or serious injury – or the death or mauling of another person – would result from not taking action.
Ways To Prevent Shooting An Animal If You Can Help It
There are some ways to avoid shooting an animal if you can help it, as well as ethical reasons not to do so if you can help it.
Regarding wildlife, what a person should try to remember is that we are taking away their habitat at an increasing rate. Pains should be taken to capture and relocate a problem animal before killing it. That job is best left to wildlife management personnel, such as a wildlife biologist for your state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Furthermore, wildlife are often skittish by nature – even predators. Noise makers, such as a can with dry beans, is often recommended for hikers in bear country. Furthermore, bear spray has as good a track record (or better) than firearms for close encounters with bruins.
Cities usually have an office of animal control, so problem dogs can be dealt with without the need to shoot one. Many cities also have nuisance or aggressive dog statutes, as well as a protocol to deal with them, which could lead to a solution being arrived at BEFORE a dire situation emerges.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.