I'll Shoot Your Dog!

I love dogs. But ... I'll shoot yours, and I'll shoot mine, if I must.

What's that about? Last Sunday on Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio I got a call from "Dustin," in Huntsville, Alabama. He described how two pit bulls attacked his three-year old daughter and nearly killed her. Dustin usually carries but he wasn't carrying that day. The story he told was frightening, and it was horrific, but it wasn't nearly as stunning as were the photos he sent us after the show. That little girl had much of her scalp ripped off and had several other serious injuries. Those dogs were going to kill her, and they would have if Dustin and a relative had not jumped into the fur ball of fury.

In the U.S., dog bites send roughly 1,000 people to the hospitals every day.

Is a handgun a good tool for defense against a dog attack? Not really. But it's a tool, and it might be a lot better than jumping into the melee with nothing but your hands. A dog that's barking, growling, and advancing would be a bit easier to shoot, but recognize that do so is going to put you into a world of legal mess. I'm okay with that, and I'll deal with "Problem Number Two" after I deal with "Problem Number One."

Here's the challenge, and I encourage you to give this some thought. Dogs are fast -- really fast. You angry dogprobably aren't going to shoot one that's running full speed. If the dog gets to you, there may not be an opportunity to get to your gun. If, however, you have been able to get your gun out, you'll be looking at a contact shot. The same goes for a situation where one or more dogs has someone on the ground. That's a terrible situation that is rife with danger.

Contact shot. That's simply a case where you press the muzzle against the thing you are shooting. Then you fire. Sounds simple, but there's a bit to it. First, a semi-automatic may go out of battery (the slide is pushed back slightly) when you press the muzzle against something. Now it won't fire. If you have both hands available, you can wrap your non-firing hand over the top of the slide and push it forward as you fire. This will probably cause a failure to feed, but you then just rack the slide with the support hand which is already positioned over the slide. If you don't have use of the support hand (you may be fighting off the attack with that hand), you can push forward on the rear of the slide with the thumb of your firing hand. No, the recoil won't tear up your thumb. But ... PLEASE NOTE!!! ... this is an advanced skill and you absolutely need to get training on this with a good firearms instructor who has done it and knows how to teach it.

The big danger if you are going to shoot a dog that is attacking someone is accidentally shooting the victim. This is why I would not stand off at a distance. I'd move right in and go with a contact shot on the dog. WARNING!!!  This will be a whirling mess. Expect your bullet to pass through through the dog. Aim so that the bullet will not hit the victim or anyone else. If that means you shoot the dog in the hip, or back, then that's your shot. 

After seeing the photos of Dustin's little girl in the hospital, I have recommitted to watching for dogs that might attack. Remember that you can't assume that any particular size, breed, or makeup of any dog is bad or good. You just work on behavior, and you stay alert and aware. 

Yes, yes, I know.  "It's not the dog's fault.  It's the owner."  But, if the dog is tearing someone to pieces, I'm not going to go talk to the owner about his problem dog. 

Be prepared. Get real training. Carry always. Have a plan. Have a backup plan. And each day when you put on your handgun, say aloud, "This is the day I will have to use this gun." 

Here's hoping you never have to. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.

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