I received a wake-up call last Thursday morning about 3am. The ring-tone in question was in the form of frenzied dog barking. I was confused for a bit… it was coming from my backyard! It did NOT sound like the miniature daschund next door (it’s an indoor dog and doesn’t bark much). No, this was some big, angry dog.
So, I grab my Sig Sauer (AC officers of last resort) and proceed to the sliding doors off the kitchen. Flip on the floodlight, and there is that big, brown brindle PIT BULL (“Woggie”) I have seen at large quite often… he definitely has an affinity for my back yard. How about helping out with the rent, pal? He’s standing about 25 feet from the house barking his proverbial ass off at me. After a few seconds in the spotlight, he tears off into the woods. Poor Woggie was probably heartbroken I didn’t toss my cat out the door to him. How can he go on?
Cue the pit nuts that are going to claim that Woggie was doing me a favor by guarding my house for me. Sure, I am genuinely thankful Woggie got my ass out of bed at 3am to notify me that there was a squirrel in “our” backyard. How could I have gone on without that?
The anti-pitbull folks are probably wondering why my two AC agents didn’t dispatch Woggie to that great Pit Bull resting place in the sky, where toy poodles and 2 year old girls abound? Of course, Mr. Sig and Mr. Sauer act strictly at my discretion. They were kept in check.
Indeed, it has been burned into my conscious brain that Woggie and his slacker owner have full legal protections and I do not. Did I bother calling county AC the next day? Nope. They never did anything tangible about any of the neighborhood pet problems before, so why should they start now? How about the Police? What is the point in calling police if they aren’t going to do anything, either? Sure, it LOOKED like a dog I’d seen at large a bunch of times, but who knows. How do you tell one brown brindle pit bull from another?
Anyone considering using force in a situation similar to mine should consider the following circumstance: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/07/st_bernard_parish_man_kills_do.html
Russell Banks, Jr., fed up with a Pit Bull that had repeatedly trespassed and behaved threateningly in his girlfriend’s property, fetched a 12 gauge shotgun and shot the dog dead. This was during another “canine trespass” incident where the dog was allegedly “growling” at Mr. Banks. Mr. Banks was arrested for animal cruelty and inappropriate discharge of a firearm and is being held on $26,000.00 bond.
One salient detail that stands out, relevant to any self-defense scenario: Mr. Banks was in his GF’s backyard when he noted the Pit Bull trespassing and growling at him. After observing the dog trespassing and behaving threateningly, he then proceeded back inside to fetch the shotgun, returned outside and shot the Pit Bull.
The articles are light on details. A few things I would like to know:
- Was the dog behaving dangerously when Mr. Banks returned outside with the weapon?
- Were any complaints regarding the dog filed with AC or Police prior to this incident?
- Were these complaints acted upon in a fast, efficient manner?
- Does the neighborhood in question have recurring issues with dogs at large, off leash dogs, and other pet related offenses?
- Had Mr. Banks or his lady friend contacted the dog owner prior to the incident?
- Had anyone else complained directly to the dog owner about his pet?
- Has the owner of the dog in question been cited for dog at large?
- Does Mr. Banks have legal representation? If so, have they made any statements?
- Have any neighbors made statements regarding Mr. Banks, the dog owner or the dog itself?
- Where is Al Sharpton when you need him?
Debate rages on whether this fits a “stand your ground” self defense scenario. Mr. Banks was without his gun when the dog threatened him the first time (first time THAT day, it had allegedly trespassed and behaved threateningly in the past). He went back into his house, then returned back outside with the shotgun and shot the dog.
One could argue that, Mr. Banks was safe in his home after the first confrontation (that day). Did he need to return back outside and shoot the canine trespasser? Why didn’t he just stay indoors and call police or AC? Hmmmm…. Why indeed? This is where we need more information. I would say if local AC had completely failed (as it does in most places) and repeated complaints about the dog had been ignored, Mr. Banks was justified. IN MY OPINION.
People say “Use the system!”. Sure, and what do we do when the “system” completely fails? What do we do when the “system” is systemically corrupt and completely owned by those who are bent on taking all of our rights? Do we cower and live in fear forever? Do we just wait until the miscreant comes for us for the last time?
Consider that, unless one lives in a bunker or the International Space Station, no one is “safe in their home” from a Pit Bull. The “home invasion” attack is a Pit Bull exclusive. Mr. Banks had no confidence that the Pit Bull would not return to invade the home and attack either he or his lady friend. Furthermore, Mr. Banks may indeed be lucky he saw the Pit Bull before it saw him. The next “confrontation” may result in Mr. Banks in the hospital with an arm missing, and the dog destroyed. Would that have been a good outcome? Additionally, Mr. Banks may have saved a neighborhood child from being mauled.
It is also my opinion that “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand your ground” type laws do not necessarily apply when someone uses force against an animal. The two laws indicated are relevant when a human being uses force against another human being in a potential self-defense scenario. That’s not to say you can’t use force when an animal threatens your safety: I’m contemplating that the same standard does not apply. In my opinion the threshold for using force against an animal is lower than that for a human being. I am not saying we should just all go out and shoot dogs for the fun of it, but that full burden of proof is not required when using force against a dog or any other animal.
Lastly, the dog owner bears a burden of responsibility. If he had not been using his dog to terrorize the neighborhood, as many Pit Bull owners do, his dog would not have been shot dead. Q.E.D.