NY Dog Shooting JUSTIFIED; Similar Laws in Most States

By Dean Weingarten

NY Dog Shooting JUSTIFIED; Similar Laws in Most States
NY Dog Shooting JUSTIFIED; Similar Laws in Most States
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- As a general rule, people have the right to protect themselves from animals that attack them.

As might be expected, they have more leeway to use deadly force against animals than against other humans.

Most states also allow property owners to protect their property from marauding animals, whether the animals are wild or property of another person. Damage caused by domesticated animals can be grounds for a civil suit.

This situation occurred in New York.

From thedailynewsonline.com:

ALEXANDER — The man who shot and killed his next-door-neighbor’s dog as it attacked him last week will not face any charges, according to a Genesee County Sheriff’s Office investigation of the incident.

The sheriff’s department probe determined that the neighbor did not violate any law when he shot the animal, a bullmastiff named Pepper. The neighbor had the right to shoot the canine with his .357 magnum pistol because he was on his own property when the dog attacked him, the report concluded.

“He was within his rights. The law is very clear,” said Gordon Dibble, chief deputy of the sheriff’s office.

Comment from the site:

I'm glad the other half of the story has now come out. It is clear the neighbor was fully justified in shooting the dog. Surveillance tape and another neighbor as witness confimirming the story makes this case clear and simple. To all the people commenting on this case in previous articles saying the neighbor should “go to jail” for shooting the dog and this “justice for pepper” stuff should be ashamed of themselves. Why does today's society place guilt on someone before ALL the facts are heard?? This is the equivalent of a Michael Brown case, except with a dog. I guess people in this area are not much different than those from Ferguson, MO. I expected more from WNY'ers..

Property owners are not under any obligation to care for a dog that has intruded onto their property.   In many states feral animals can be legally shot without a hunting license; they are not game animals.   Rural landowners in prime locations quickly become hardened with having to deal with unwanted pets that people from more urban areas drop off, deluding themself that the dog or cat is more likely to “find a home” than at the local shelter.

Here is another case, from the other side of the country, where a man was found to be justified when he shot a neighbor's dog:  WA: Dog Shot while Killing Chickens.

Here is one from the middle of the country, where the dog was killing rabbits: Neighbor who shot dogs was Justified.

In the first article the dog shot was a bullmastiff, a large, powerful dog which is known to take special care to prevent aggression against other people.

Bullmastiffs and Cane Corsos are breeds that make Pit Bulls look tame by comparison.  They are giant breeds, normally over a hundred pounds in adult specimens.  The neighbor who shot the dog twice with a .357 at a reported range of three feet, was recorded both on surveillance video and by an impartial witness, and was cleared as noted in the article.  In a surprising display, before any facts were known beyond that the dog's owner had not kept proper control of it, a family member associated with the dog had put up a “Justice for Pepper” facebook page, as if the owner had no responsibility for the dogs actions.

Justice for Pepper Facebook Bullmastiff
Justice for Pepper” facebook page, as if the owner had no responsibility for the dogs actions.

It is a common theme that I see repeatedly.   Pet owners see their animal through the lens of familial emotion.   They are blinded to the fact that dogs can and do act significantly differently to people they are not bonded to.  This natural tendency in dogs is apparently amplified by this particular breed.

From wikipedia.com:

Bullmastiffs are strong, powerful but sensitive dogs. For a bullmastiff to become a well-behaved family member, consistency is needed. Training and socialization is of high importance as the breed can be independent.[2] Dogs of this breed are natural guardians of their home and owners. No special guard training is needed for a bullmastiff to react appropriately if his family is endangered.

All dogs tend to be territorial, and need to be trained about territorial boundaries.   Fences can be a natural boundary.   I have owned dogs.  I grew up with dogs; I see myself as a dog person.   But dogs have their limitations.  They depend on people to keep them in proper bounds.   In most cases where dogs are shot, it is because their owners did not take proper precautions in their training and care.

New York law about dogs is reasonably similar to the laws of other states that I have read:

Ag & Markets Law Section 123-a states that someone on his own property who is attacked by a dog is exempt from civil liability if the animal, “without justification, attack a person, or behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believes poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury to a person, when such person is peaceably conducting himself in a place where he may lawfully be.”

Section 123-a continues that such a person, or any other individual witnessing the attack or threatened attack “may destroy such dog while so attacking, and no liability in damages or otherwise shall be incurred on account of such destruction.”

Note that the ability to defend against animal attack is extended beyond one's property to  “a place where he may lawfully be.”   That section is not as common, but will likely become more so.  A Washington court has ruled that the right to self defense intrinsic in the second amendment applies to defense from animals as well as defense from humans.  

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 2 thoughts on “NY Dog Shooting JUSTIFIED; Similar Laws in Most States

    1. Your comment that “Bullmastiffs and Cane Corsos are breeds that make Pit Bulls look tame by comparison” shows that you know nothing about these breeds. All three can be wonderful, loving, pets – it depends on the OWNER not the dog.

    2. Judging by various news stories I’m reading far too often, it seems many LEO’s enjoy shooting peoples dogs whether their acting aggressive or not these days.

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