Can I shoot a Dog Attacking my Dog?
The Expert Firearm Attorneys at The Firearm Firm speak at gun law seminars throughout the State of Florida. Pet owning attendees frequently ask, “Can I shoot a dog that is attacking my dog?” In a previous blog post, we discussed your rights if you are being attacked by a dog or other animal. (click here to read that post: Can you shoot an attacking dog or other animal?). In today’s post, we discuss your rights to protect your dogs or other animals.
Florida has no law regarding protecting a human from animal attack. Therefore, in order to use deadly force against an animal attacking a human, it must be “necessary.” What about when dogs attack a person’s livestock or domestic animals? Surprisingly, Florida Statute §767.03 deals with this issue. Florida Statute §767.03, provides a defense in both criminal prosecutions and civil suits for damages against any person for killing or injuring a dog. The Statute specifically says that it is a good defense to the killing or injuring of a dog, if the dog “had been” or “was” killing any domestic animal or livestock.
Florida Statute §767.03 does not let you kill or injure any attacking dog. In order for Florida Statute §767.03 to apply, the attacking dog must be in the process of “killing” your dog. The law does not specify how much damage is required. However, if a jury determines that the attacking dog was not “killing” your dog, Florida Statute §767.03 will not apply to you.
A Good Defense
Unfortunately, it is illegal to injure or kill a dog, even when it is attacking and killing your pet or livestock. Florida Statute §767.03 does not change this. Florida Statute §767.03 provides you with a “good defense” to the charges or civil suit. In other words, Florida Statute §767.03 will not keep you from getting arrested. Nor will Florida Statute §767.03 keep you from getting sued.
The Burden to Show “Satisfactory Proof” is on the Defendant
Florida Statute §767.03 requires the Defendant to show “satisfactory proof.” What is “satisfactory proof?” “Satisfactory proof” is not defined in Florida Statutes or by case law. As a result, it is up to the trier of fact (the jury) to determine what this means. Further, a jury will decide whether you have met this common-sense burden of proof.
How are “domestic animal” and “livestock” defined under Florida law?
Section 585.01 of the Florida Statutes, defines “domestic animal” as any equine or bovine animal, goat, sheep, swine, domestic cat, dog, poultry, ostrich, emu, rhea, or other domesticated beast or bird. The same statute defines “livestock” as grazing animals, such as cattle, horses, sheep, swine, goats, other hoofed animals, ostriches, emus, and rheas which are raised for private use or commercial purposes.
Does this apply to any animal that attacks my animals?
Probably not. The statutory allowance is for dogs only. Florida has many predatory animals such as bears, bobcats and coyote. Should you find yourself defending against some other animal, you will need to rely on the necessity defense. Visit this page to learn more about the necessity defense . Visit the following page to watch our video on dogs attacking your pet.
About the Firearm Firm
The Firearm Firm is a statewide Second Amendment and Self-Defense law firm. We proudly serve the people of the State of Florida. We strongly believe that all gun owners need to be armed and educated. Come see us speak at Active Shooter and Gun Law Seminars. For a complete schedule visit www.gunlawseminar.com. Further, if you have any questions about Florida Gun Law, or any other firearm related questions, visit our website, search our knowledge base, or leave a question for us to answer.