Here’s a recent incident from Tennessee:
Cliff Notes: Elderly woman lets her dog out of the house one day, and her cul-de-sac neighbor shoots it through the eye when it comes onto his property unleashed.
Killing dogs–there’s another subject that’s almost as polarizing as religion, as reading through the comment thread of that news article will show you. One one side, you have the dog lovers, who suggest that the shooter is mentally unhinged, and that nothing ever justifies killing someone’s beloved pet. On the other side, you have the curmudgeons who say that any free-roaming animal on their property is either dinner or trash can liner, depending on species.
Now, we own dogs here at Castle Frostbite, and sometimes they will escape the property and go roaming about. If they ever chased someone, and got themselves kicked or shot for their aggression, the fault would lie with me for not containing my animals.
That said, I sometimes go walking on the same road, and I’ve had several dogs accost me–one day, I had to interrupt my run three times because I had three separate large dogs running after me, dashing off their owners’ properties and into the public road. I had a gun with me, as I usually do when I leave the house, but I didn’t consider shooting those dogs despite their initial aggressive stance. Maybe it’s because I’m a dog owner and know a little bit about dog psychology, and maybe it’s because I understand the amount of grief I’d cause a dog’s owner by killing his pet, but I wouldn’t actually pull the trigger on a dog unless it’s already chomping down on my leg, or attacking my kids. Conversely, I have had strange dogs walking onto my property, and I didn’t instantly haul out the .303 and bust a cap in Rover’s ass because ZOMG ITZ MAI PROPRTEE!!!
This is another one of those subjects where one has to carefully weigh property rights, circumstances, and the overall situation before making an irreversible decision. Was it his property? Yes. Did the six-pound Chihuahua present a threat to him or anyone else at the time, therefore necessitating instant destruction? No. Was there a safer and less confrontational way to handle the situation? Most likely. She should have had the common courtesy to leash her dog and not let it crap on someone else’s lawn, and he should have had the courtesy and common sense to call his neighbor to task before going all Terminator on Rosie the Chihuahua.
Also bear in mind that this was a residential cul-de-sac, not a huge country property. It’s much easier for an overexcited canine to cross the boundaries of the average suburban front yard than to cross from one thousand-acre farm over into Farmer Jim’s neighboring thousand-acre farm. Property rights are the same in both examples, but I’d say the proximity and ease of accidental boundary violation should have a bearing on how fast the owner of that property is getting that rifle out of the closet. (Also: shooting rat-sized dogs in a residential cul-de-sac with a firearm? Not too awfully bright.)
What’s your take on the issue? Who has the moral culpability for the demise of the canine in question? Under what circumstances would you shoot a dog on your property?