Scared Straight?


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Beren
February 16, 2003, 01:40 AM
Well, tonight I had a pair of experiences that have taught me that I still have a long, long ways to go before I can consider myself "reasonably and responsibly prepared."

I was driving my girlfriend home tonight and assumed it would be a quick drive. We were both exhausted, and I failed to strap on the handgun or even a knife before heading out the door. She lives in a college town and it's generally pretty safe there.

So there we are at close to one in the morning, walking down her driveway. It's perhaps thirty feet long, if that. Houses are closely packed alongside it on each side. The landlord has yet to fix the outdoor lights, which renders the area of her driveway a dark twilight. Enough to make out shapes and such, especially with all the snow on the ground providing reflection and contrast.

The neighbor, a female in her twenties, was evidently taking her dogs out to the bathroom. Two dogs, two leashes, one girl in sneakers. The larger of the two dogs, a breed resembling a pit bull and extremely muscular, saw us and lunged aggressively. The female attempted to hold the dog back, and slipped.

She landed in the snow on her tush, but retained control of the leash. I froze in position, facing the dogs, and told the girlfriend to get inside her house. I also asked the other female if she was okay. All this time, the larger dog is either biting the smaller dog, being hit and yelled at by the female, or attempting to lunge at me. I would estimate about 10-15 feet between me and the dog.

I wanted to retreat further, but doing so would mean a clear path to my girlfriend should the dog have gotten loose. So, I stayed still where I was, and calmly repeated my request to the girlfriend for her to get inside. Once she had the door open, I followed her, keeping myself between her and the dogs.

I was unarmed. There was no doubt in my mind that I would attempt to intercept it, try to collapse it under my 280 lbs, 6'7" frame, and do my best to choke the life out of it had it gotten loose and charged within grappling range.

There is also no doubt in my mind that I could have drawn and shot the damn thing, even had it been running, without risking injury to others around me. I may not have hit it in the head until it stopped moving (about the time, one presumes, that it's sinking its teeth in my groin), but I know I could have hit it somewhere...HAD I BEEN ARMED AT THE TIME!!!

And that, friends, is the moral of my story.

Fortunately for all involved, the other female was able to retain her grip on the leash. There's always the possibility that it simply would have mock charged and not attacked, but given its treatment of the other dog - and the owner's treatment of the larger dog - I'm not convinced.

I will never again be unarmed unless I am in court for some reason, in which case the weapons will be secured in a locker provided for such use (PA state courts) or in the car (federal court?)

I don't remember being scared at the time, but I do remember thinking: "If that beast gets loose and charges, I'm going to tear it apart."

Or, maybe the dumb dog smelled dead deer on me and thought I was a treat. :P We had to stop along the way - someone had hit a deer and left it on the highway. Rather than let someone hit it and be at risk for an accident or bug the state cops, I asked her to stay in the car (parked along the side of the road, high-beams on illuminating the area, blinkers on) while I pulled on some disposable plastic gloves and cleared the obstacle.

What broke my heart? The other four deer watched all of this transpire from the nearby woods. They were just a few steps out into the clearing, and we had seen them run across the road - it's what slowed us down enough that we saw the dead deer in the first place.

They were just standing there, watching me pull the dead deer off the road. It was sad, somehow.

So, fellow Highroaders, based on my account - did I overreact in considering the dog a threat?

Would you shoot at a charging dog, if it looked muscular, mean, and was openly showing aggression to those around it?

The experience did cause me to lose faith in my Keltec P-32. Nothing smaller than 9mm or .38 Special for me from now on..though it's usually a 357SIG anyway. Other things to do:

Get the 4 D-cell Maglite back in the car. Get a first aid kit in the car.
Get a shotgun or cheap C&R rifle to keep in the trunk.

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Marshall
February 16, 2003, 02:36 AM
Being able to get out of a situation is always best! You did have other options too, like retreating with your GF into the house.

There is only one thing that has ever concerned me about Concealed Carry, that people may use the deadly force of a weapon when one isn't needed.

In my humble opinion, based soley on how you wrote this, you should practice thinking on how to get out of situations before you carry much anymore. I don't mean that to sound harsh but, it's so very important! ;)

Jim March
February 16, 2003, 02:41 AM
I'm running about one "man, am I glad I was armed" scene every 5 years or so, roughly. That's an average over the last 18 years.

CZ-75
February 16, 2003, 03:02 AM
Dogs have relatively thin skulls. .22 seems to be favored for taking out dogs, tactically speaking, probably b/c it's easily silenced, though.

How that translates into stopping a charging dog, I don't know.

I'd rather have a mousegun that is with me, than something more forceful that I leave behind.

Since you didn't shoot and find .32 lacking in results, what is your basis in assuming the P32 won't be enough? .32ACP loads have been said to be as effective as .38 spl. Maybe it's time to move up to .500 S&W, just to be safe.

Kahr carrier
February 16, 2003, 05:29 AM
No I dont think you over reacted some dogs are capable of doing serious damage to people. Its always good to be cautious ,but you did ok be retreating and getting away from a treat. Having a gun for defense is fine ,but sometimes your best weapon is your mouth-Talking yourself out of a potentially bad situation or retreating to safety but that only works on humans. As for dog defense they actually have Dog Mace you can buy .Postal employees carry it . Glad your situation worked out.:)

Beren
February 16, 2003, 11:47 AM
Being able to get out of a situation is always best! You did have other options too, like retreating with your GF into the house.

Marshall, you're absolutely right, retreat and avoidance of conflict is usually the best solution.

In this particular situation, I was slow to retreat for two reasons:

1. Not to further antagonize or provoke the dog by moving quickly.

2. To stay between my girlfriend and the dog while she unlocked her front door and got inside. Once she was in, I followed her immediately.

Had it just been me present, I don't think I would've considered shooting. I would still have stayed still or moved back slowly until I was sure the owner had retrained control of the dog, but I could've jumped onto someone's car if I had to do so.

I'd rather have a mousegun that is with me, than something more forceful that I leave behind.

CZ,

Good point. Now that I've had time to reflect, I agree with you.

Kahr:

Would pepper spray be as effective? I guess perhaps I simply lack confidence in chemical weapons. OTOH, I'm too chicken to spray myself and see. :)

Blackhawk
February 16, 2003, 12:16 PM
I think you did the best that could be done under the circumstances.

Slow movements and calm voice are the best thing to use on a "ready" dog.

If you'd had your gun, you might have been inclined to draw it, and things would have likely gone downhill from there. The girl would have screamed, the dog would have lunged breaking free, and we'd be reading about you instead of from you. :D

mack
February 16, 2003, 12:29 PM
"If you'd had your gun, you might have been inclined to draw it..."

I've heard that line from alot of gun control advocates. I prefer, better to have a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it. Only Beren would know for sure, but I doubt given his description he would have drawn and fired his gun unless he was actually attacked.

OF
February 16, 2003, 12:30 PM
There is only one thing that has ever concerned me about Concealed Carry, that people may use the deadly force of a weapon when one isn't needed. Just because you have a gun, doesn't mean you have to use it. Free will, and all that.

It sure is nice to keep your options open. This situation ended up with an all clear, but if it had gone south and the dog had attacked...

When you're lugging it around, no gun is too small. When you need it, no gun is too big. Carry big guns! :)

- Gabe

BamBam
February 16, 2003, 12:57 PM
Beren,
Seems like things worked out perfectly, really. Nobody got killed or hurt (even the dog). Had you shot the dog your girlfriend would have a pissed neighbor and you'd have been up 'till the wee hours talking to the LEOs.

This was a good "training" exercise. You can reflect on your actions and evaluate. I wouldn't have done anything different. Probably a good thing that you were unarmed.

Beren
February 16, 2003, 01:30 PM
Thanks for the feedback, folks, I appreciate it.

To further clarify:

I don't /think/ I would have drawn a handgun unless the dog had already broken free and charged me.

Things did work out for the best. The neighbor kept control of the dog and nobody was hurt - including the dog, as one mentioned. I played with it (nicely! no puppyhood trauma flashback here on the dog's part towards me!) some when it was a puppy and I don't take pleasure in hurting anything.

Would it make sense to ask the neighbor to walk only one dog at a time in the future, as it is evident she has difficulty controlling one, let alone both?

Am I underestimating the power of a dog when I think that I could handle an aggressive, muscular pitbull long enough to draw and shoot it? I've grown up with dogs all my life and been attacked by a few, so I do know it happens /very/ fast and really, really hurts.

Don Gwinn
February 16, 2003, 02:59 PM
No, but it would have been foolhardy to expect that you could collapse a dog that size with your weight. Keeping your weight on him would have been the challenge. Choking a dog is also not as easy as it sounds.

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