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What are the consequences of using force upon an animal that you believe is about to do harm to yourself and/or family? I live in a residential neighborhood in the county and very often hear coyotes at night and even early in the morning. We live very close to the woods and the yelping sounds extremely close at times. I've also seen pitbulls running through the neighborhood at night. Once when I was walking at night, unarmed, thankfully the dog didn't see me and went another direction. The second time, I was in a vehicle and drove past 2 pitbulls, no collars, just roaming. I'm leary of any large dog that I don't know and it doesn't know me, not just pitbulls. I leave the house every morning during the week at 6am with my 8 month old son. What kind of legal issues am I looking at if I had to use a firearm against a coyote or dog on my property? What if I wasn't on my property, just out walking with my family after dinner one night?

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Assuming no ifs, ands or buts about the situation, you should be ok to use deadly force to protect yourself and your son from harm in the situations you described (no owners visible, no collars, etc). No one will question it in the case of a coyote; and in the case of a pitbull the only reprecussions could come from an owner--but again, if there's no collar, and no owner in sight, it'd be entirely your call at that point I'd think.

IIRC, there's a recent (last few years) story of a man shooting a dog he claimed to be protecting himself from, but the problem was he first spent a few minutes yelling at the owner, who had the dog on a leash or at least in her control. The man pulled a gun on the pair, at which time the woman let go of her dog, and the man then shot it. Also IIRC, I don't think this was a large dog either, so IMO, use of deadly force was questionable even if the dog wasn't under control at all. The man is now serving time in prison.
 

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martin_j001 said:
IIRC, there's a recent (last few years) story of a man shooting a dog he claimed to be protecting himself from, but the problem was he first spent a few minutes yelling at the owner, who had the dog on a leash or at least in her control. The man pulled a gun on the pair, at which time the woman let go of her dog, and the man then shot it. Also IIRC, I don't think this was a large dog either, so IMO, use of deadly force was questionable even if the dog wasn't under control at all. The man is now serving time in prison.
viewtopic.php?f=29&t=50922
 

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^^Yep, thanks for the link Malum.

The "take-away" post from that thread (at least IMO) is quoted below. This is where I say be sure there's no ifs, ands or buts about it...in this situation, there were a combination of ifs, ands and buts that basically proved that this guy wasn't protecting himself....

gunsmoker said:
Okay, now I have spoken to the District Attorney about the case, and about how the general principles of self defense apply to dogs that are attacking (or appear to be attacking) people.

The D.A. recognizes the right of citizens to have guns, and carry them with a GFL / GWL.
She understands that dogs sometimes attack and bite people, unprovoked, and under some circumstances you can use a gun if you reasonably believe the dog is serious about biting you (like a few dogs are) and not just barking at you as a stranger for walking / cycling / jogging past the dog's home (which many dogs do, even "friendly" ones).

This case had yet another fact very much against the defendant's self-defense claim: The dog had been following the man for some time, barking at him (and maybe snarling, showing teeth, etc.), but never attacking.
The dog kept his distance from the man and just basically harassed him, and the man and the dog walked up the street for a pretty good distance before they both arrived at the home of the dog's owner.

THEN the dog's owner came out to get her dog back.
THEN the guy was screaming, swearing, and raising a big stink about how he "could have" or "should have" shot the dog dead.
THEN he pulled out the gun, which he had with him all along (he had a GFL), as if to emphasize to the woman that he had the means to kill that dog. The woman thought he was going to shoot the dog right there at her feet, even while she had him back on the leash.
So she let go of the dog and backed off, and the guy was once again facing a barking, yapping, excited dog (just like he had been as he walked up the road with the dog just a minute or two before).
THEN he shot the dog. 3 times. Once or twice AFTER it was down, bleeding, not moving.

It sounds to me that the dude made up his mind to shoot the dog, as he considered it a nuisance animal.

OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

1-- If you as a defendant choose to exercise your right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself, you don't have to testify in your own case, but then the jury only hears ONE side of the case (unless the defense attorney gets really lucky and a State witness says something pro-defense on cross-exam, which is very rare).

2-- If neither you nor any of your close friends or family members testify that it's your routine and habit to normally carry a gun everywhere, you might face the possibilty that jurors will suspect that you took your gun with you on this one particular date and time because you expected trouble, and were looking for trouble.

3-- People who go looking for trouble will have a hard time invoking a self-defense claim, especially when they brandish a gun during a verbal argument with somebody else. Although Georgia doesn't have law against "brandishing" that uses that exact word, it's not a smart thing to do. It doesn't make you look like a reasonable law-abiding citizen to prosecutors, witnesses, or jurors.

4-- In this case the guy MIGHT (I say "might") have been legally in the right to shoot the dog IF he had drawn and fired when it first came after him. But by waiting and observing that the dog was NOT pressing the attack, and merely barking his fool head off from a few feet away, never coming closer, the "green light" to shoot turned red.
The passage of time changed the circumstances so that it was no longer reasonble for this guy to be in fear, and the jury didn't believe he was in fear. They thought he shot the dog out of anger, not fear.

5- It would help you in a self-defense-against-dog case IF you tried to use some other means to stop the attack. Going straight to the gun and shooting to kill (shooting center of mass) can be too much. It might benefit you to escalate the force. Start with shouting, kicking or hitting the animal, using pepper spray, etc. before bringing out the deadly weapon.
Obviously sometimes you won't have time to do all of that. But if you did have the time and only shot the dog after trying some other alternative that didn't work, THEN it would be unlikely you'd face any charges, and your defense would be much stronger if you ended up in court later.

That's what I learned today. So between talking with the defense attorney yesterday and the prosecutor today, I'd say I learned a lot.
 

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If you're truly defending yourself, no problem. If you're taking it upon yourself to punish a dog, dog owner, assert your opinion about a dog breed, or otherwise compensate for lack of character, your screwed.
 

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"Fox" asking about shooting animals. Irony. Lol
 

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Coyotes, yes shoot the mangy animals and do everyone a favor. If you shoot a dog anywhere in Georgia, you had better make sure it is a threat to you or your family. Just shooting a stray dog because he's large and stray will get you a felony conviction. I don't think it's right but it's the idiotic society we live it today.
 
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