Review of Self Defense Deadly Force Rules & Dogs

Review of Self Defense Deadly Force Rules & Dogs

Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners
Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners

-( Q: What are the deadly force rules for defending myself against a dog?

A: Since a dog is not a human being, the rules of “deadly force” as such do not apply. However, there is a Michigan statute on point, MCL 287.279 (The Dog Law of 1919, as amended), which states:

“Any person including a law enforcement officer may kill any dog which he sees in the act of pursuing, worrying, or wounding any livestock or poultry or attacking persons, and there shall be no liability on such person in damages or otherwise, for such killing. Any dog that enters any field or enclosure which is owned by or leased by a person producing livestock or poultry, outside of a city, unaccompanied by his owner or his owner’s agent, shall constitute a trespass, and the owner shall be liable in damages. Except as provided in this section, it shall be unlawful for any person, other than a law enforcement officer, to kill or injure or attempt to kill or injure any dog which bears a license tag for the current year.”

So, any citizen is privileged to kill any dog that is in the act of attacking people, or other animals.

However, a properly-licensed dog may not be harmed unless it is in the act of attacking. Of course, all the rules of common sense and gun safety still apply and, if you find youself in a position where it is required to use a gun to defend a person or another animal from a vicious dog, you should be aware of the placement of your shots as you still may have liability for bullets that strike other animals, people, or property.

If your use of your gun is found to be unreasonable, in that the dog you shot, or shot at, was not in the act of attacking, you will probably face criminal charges and potential civil suits.

So, even though dogs are not people, your gun is still considered deadly force and should only be used judiciously and in case of emergencies.

This information is provided by Steve Dulan. Steve is an attorney in private practice in East Lansing and serves as an adjunct professor teaching firearms law at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, as well as an instructor of the legal portion of CPL classes around the state. He is a current member of the Board of Directors of MCRGO and a member of the Board of Trustees of the MCRGO Foundation and the MCRGO Foundation Firearms Civil Defense Fund.

The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Formed from just eight people in 1996, we now have thousands of members and numerous affiliated clubs across the state. We’re growing larger and more effective every day.

Our mission statement is: “Promoting safe use and ownership of firearms through education, litigation, and legislation”