Recently a 65-year old man was mauled by a pack of dogs and severely injured in Oklahoma. In another case an Oklahoma woman was similarly attacked by dogs and required hospitalization. Last year in Texas a woman was attacked, killed and eaten by feral pigs. All of these happened in rural areas, of course. But you live in a city, so it’s not a problem right?
Sure. Last year a man was attacked by a dog and seriously injured in a Miami coffee shop. Two days ago a woman was attacked in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood. A few years ago my son was attacked and bitten by a dog in our driveway. It happens in cities and suburbs too.
A lot of us carry bear-spray and a powerful handgun when going into the deep woods as protection against bears and other predators. But the fact of the matter is you are probably more likely to be attacked, usually by a dog or dogs, in an urban or suburban setting.
Check with your local laws, and if it’s legal where you live carry bear spray when prudent and possible when you are out and about on foot. Trust me, dogs have sensitive noses. They seriously don’t like pepper sprays. If more discretion is required civilian self-defense pepper-sprays can work, but are shorter-range, lower capacity and less effective overall.
There are conditions where aerosols are not the best choice; high winds, heavy rain and other circumstances might dictate it can not or should not be used. In those cases a defensive handgun may be a better choice. The handgun you normally carry ought to suffice.
Dogs can often be sent packing with a warning shot, but this can be a dangerous practice in urban or suburban areas. If you fire a warning shot make very sure it goes someplace where it will not ricochet or hit an innocent bystander, or for that matter do significant property damage. You are responsible for that bullet and it’s effects. Again, check your local laws; it is possible that warning shots might not be legally advisable where you live.
If you have to shoot…
Try to make damn sure that the bullet will not over-penetrate or strike something important if you miss. I know, I know, you don’t get to choose the ground in a case like this but be mindful and do your best.
OK, this next bit might sound silly, but you’d be surprised how often it happens and who it happens to. If you have shot and incapacitated a dog it does not magically become your friend.
Humans don’t just own dogs, North American, European and many other cultures have evolved with them as a partner-species. Most people have been ingrained with a natural sympathy and regard for dogs. If you react without thinking to your injured canine attacker that reaction might be, ‘Oh! Poor doggy!’ and you instinct could be to render aid and comfort. Don’t. It’s the same dog that made you genuinely fear you were at risk of death or grave bodily harm, and odds are good that it still wants to hurt you. Wait for the police and Animal Control, or if it is reasonable and prudent put it down yourself with another shot from a safe distance.
We naturally feel empathy with dogs and if you aren’t prepared mentally you can fall afoul of this. As I said, you’d be surprised at the sort of people this happens to; often people that you would never expect it of. If this impulse occurs to you, well frankly that speaks well of you. Just be ready to override that impulse.
Most likely you will go your entire life without ever being attacked by a dog or dogs. But if you are it behooves you to be prepared both mentally and in terms of equipment.
Stay safe and take care;
Michael Tinker Pearce, 9 May 2022