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Ep. 25 Should I Shoot? Take a Deep Breath

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Editor’s Note: The following is post is from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

I had some down time the other day before a meeting so I took a look at the comment section from a few of the earlier “Should I Shoot?” columns. I’ve been writing long enough to know not everyone is of the same opinions, and we all look at things from our own experiences and perspectives. I had a CO in the USMC who liked to say reality is in the eye of the beholder.

I spend a lot of time teaching various shooting packages and combatives. In almost every class, I come away with some new skill or learning a new perspective that came from a student. I also spend quite a bit of time as a student in various classes. Some of the techniques that are taught don’t work for me, but I put them in my toolbox because I might come across someone who they will work for. I’m not sure who I stole the following quote from, but I use it quite a bit: “The mind is like a parachute — it only works if it’s open.” I’m often guilty of being stubborn (just ask my wife), but it’s only to my detriment most of the time.

The column about handguns for bears and types of defensive tools for dogs really got some folks fired up (no pun intended). The intent of the column was to give folks some options when faced with an aggressive dog. I’m a dog guy, well a critter guy, you could say. I don’t have cats because the wife is allergic, but everywhere I go, they love me, same with dogs. The two lying on the floor of my office as I type this are what some readers call family or the furry kids.

shouldishoot25Pets are a huge part of our lives. I understand the protective nature we have for them. The intent, as I said, was to deal with an aggressive dog that you believe is going to hurt or is, in fact, attacking you — not the little ankle biter who ripped my uniform pants or your Collie. The comments took a turn for the worse when the thought of someone shooting their dog would cause them to shoot the person who did it and the challenges of gunfights. Let me try to get this topic back on the rails so none of you end up in prison for murder.

Let’s all take a deep breath and try to take the emotion out of the question, which was originally, “What gun should I get to defend myself against an attacking dog?” I won’t repeat the column, but I gave a few options for less-lethal tools and covered using a firearm. If your dog isn’t aggressive and attacking people who are walking or running down your street, then you have nothing to worry about. If your dog is, maybe it’s time to build a fence. The age-old statement of “Can’t we all just get along?” will never happen, but please don’t give up your freedom by making a life-altering decision while full of emotion.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Terry Grossmann November 14, 2016, 9:03 pm

    I have always believed in and strictly followed the rule that if you love your pet then you keep them locked up in the yard or house. In fact I know my town and county have those rules. Now I also realize a pet sometimes jolts out the door or may break free. Generally don’t let the pet run free and most of the problems wouldn’t occur. Also having pets spay and neutered will often times mellow them out. That is of course if the weren’t trained for aggression or mistreated.

  • Ron Stidham October 22, 2016, 7:09 am

    While I am not a dog trainer or any thing else related to the subject, I believe most dogs are good. Now having said that, dogs are like people. Some have aggressive tendencies, some are very gentle and get along with every one. Put two males together and things can change quickly-just like people. Common sense can go a long way, don’t get bit, or respond in a hostel way. Dogs are really pretty smart, just like people-some are smarter than others. Carry yourself in a manner that convinces the animal in question that you are not a threat, and usually things will be good. Just don’t get fooled, animals are like people. Be on guard, that is your best defense with man/beast interactions.

  • Francis J. Kieras October 21, 2016, 11:10 am

    And that is the dogone truth.

  • Will Drider October 17, 2016, 3:30 pm

    Everyone should be familiar with the “21 Foot Rule”. A unrestrained/uncontained threatening animal should be responded to the same waybut understand many animals can cross that distance faster tgen a man. Animals have trained or instinctive triggers. All might be good until a command, smell or sound trigger a predatory response. I was walking my male Lab and encountered another loose one. Tails were wagging (good sign) they sniffed noses (unusual). Other dog lunged, bit, shook and tore my labs ear and I got bit seperating them. Instinct other then draw and shoot. Kick to dogs ribs broke the attack and he ran right to his owners house. Got my dogs ear sewn back together. Bad dogs owner very apologetic, paid vet bills (three visits) and got his dog a license and rabies vaccine. Our town had signs “Uncontrolled animals roaming within City limits may be destroyed on sight!”. State was also open carry.
    Owners with leashed dogs will say their friendly, but thats not always true. Theres a vid of a reporter interviewing a K-9 Officer and when she puts her face near the dogs he bites her face. The K-9 surely had a lot of training but responded per its perception.

    Loose dogs should register in your situational awareness as a potential problem. My best recommendation is to treat them like perceived thuggies: avoid, create space, use barriers; reevaluate and respond appropriately. Two or more aggressive dogs compound the danger and mentally feed off the actions of each other. For me, thats a automatic gun in hand situation. If you encounter a loose aggressive dog REPORT IT. A small person or child may not fair so well in the same situation and the dog and reckess owner may have a bad track record or need one started.

    • David October 21, 2016, 7:51 am

      Good advice. Dogs communicate their mental states. They can be read, but best with training. A frightened defensive dog will bite, but not chase. An aggressive hostile dog will chase and bite. Both are making some noise, and have their mouths open. But the two dogs have very different behaviors and appearances. Lots of good literature, with pictures, about this. If you like dogs, read ’em.

  • SuperG October 17, 2016, 12:23 pm

    “But my dog would never do that”. Denial and ignorance will be the cause of injury or death to us all. Then you have the people who actually train their dogs to attack.

    I use just one simple rule, for dog or human, and that is if I feel my safety is in jeopardy, I will defend myself.

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