In the accompanying video, U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane discusses the law when it comes to aggressive dogs and firearms. Click the video window directly below to see and hear his presentation, or skip below the video to read a transcript:
One of the more-frequent questions that we get at U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania is: What’s the law when it comes to aggressive dogs and firearms? Well, I’m here to tell you a little bit about that. But first what I want to do is I want to share with you where my heart is.
You see, this might look like a dog to you, and it is. But it’s not just any dog. It’s the Wonder Pup. It’s our family’s beloved dog, and we love her. She’s awesome. I’m sure that I’m like many of you, that I would much rather shoot a human being than any dog; but there are some bad dogs out there and some dangerous ones as well. And the law recognizes that and makes it so where you can protect yourself, your family or your dog from an aggressive dog.
So, this is what the law says in Pennsylvania. Deadly force is legal and authorized. You do not have to run away or retreat. You can stand your ground. And you don’t have to wait until that aggressive dog bites you and actually, you know, makes contact with your skin or your kid’s skin or your dog’s skin in order to use lethal deadly force, provided that it is in pursuit of you, like it’s tracking you like some dogs do.
They just get on that beeline, and they come straight in for you, your kid, your family member or other domestic animals, such as a dog or a cat even. Then you’re authorized to use lethal deadly force in Pennsylvania.
And if you do so, you don’t have to worry too much about a lawsuit because what the law says is that there’s civil immunity, meaning that the owners have no capacity to sue you, if — as long as it is adjudged to be an aggressive dog that’s in pursuit or is actively engaging or about to engage a human being, or else your domesticated dog or cat or animal or something like that, As long as those things are there.
Now, how does that work out? There are going to be two things that are going to help determine under the law whether or not it’s criminal, meaning cruelty to animals, or else if it is justified, and that’s going to be witnesses, which you can’t really control, or, number two, your own statements.
That’s why we always say in these types of situations, our mantra at our seminars is to lawyer up and shut up, we say so politely. And what we mean by that is just when you get asked by the police, you just simply say, hey, I’ve got a lawyer, and you give U.S. Law Shield a call and we’ve got your back.
There is a huge exception to all of this, and that has to do police dogs. A K-9, authorized K-9 dogs that are sworn police dogs, you cannot shoot them and use deadly force if they are in pursuit of you or another human being or even another dog. There are very, very significant penalties for doing so. So, that is a major exception we have to tell you about.
Can you use deadly force against other wild animals? The answer to that is yes, under limited — very limited circumstances, as long as it is clearly evident that force is immediately necessary in order to make sure that it doesn’t hurt other people or domesticated animals. And that’s to prevent people from seeing that huge trophy buck, you know, the one that you’ve been looking for all these seasons and you can’t get? And then say, “Oh, he was coming at me.” That would be a bad way of doing things.
It has to be clearly evident that the force is immediately necessary in order to preserve you. And that if you do harvest that animal because it’s being aggressive, more likely like a bear or something like that, you have to report it to the relevant game warden within 24 hours. You have to secure the area of the killing as best you can and be available for questioning by the police, and that’s what the statute says.
So, just saying, “Oh, that trophy buck was coming for me,” that’s not going to fly. And, again, if you’re in that type of situation, the smartest thing to do is lawyer up, shut up, and call U.S. Law Shield.
So, there’s a lot of nuances that have to do with animals, with pets, with deadly use of force and wild animals. We’re just scratching the surface of it.
If you really want to know a lot about it, get a copy of this book, the Pennsylvania Gun Law book that Mike and I wrote, and you can see in here that we have an entire chapter that’s dedicated, Chapter 6, begins on page 115 and goes over to 121, that talks about these things in common sense terms and gives you little tips about how to stay legal so you don’t become an accidental criminal.
Why don’t you pick up a copy of this so you know all these facts and circumstances?