What do you have to do when you’re confronted by an attacking dog and whether you have to let the dog bite you before you can use deadly force?
The answer simply is of course not; you don’t have to let a dog bite you. When can you shoot if you’re confronted by an attacking dog? You can shoot when the danger of being bitten by the dog is imminent. You have to have an imminent danger and the danger has to be one of great bodily injury or death to yourself or to another.
Now, what crimes can you be charged with if you were to shoot a dog? You can be charged with the crime of discharging a firearm in the city limits, discharging a firearm in public, or shooting in public. You can be charged with reckless handling of a firearm. All of these are misdemeanors. You could also be charged with cruelty to animals, which is a felony. Speaking of which, how will you defend yourself if you’re charged with cruelty to animals? The law of necessity in the State of Oklahoma will come to your aid.
The law of necessity can be found in the case of State versus Grizzle in which Mr. Grizzle found himself at a party, shooting firearms, and having fun. When he was attacked by a dog, he shot the dog, killed the dog, and then he was charged with animal cruelty. Using the law of necessity, he was able to successfully defend the case on the grounds that even though he was breaking the law by handling firearms and that the firearm shooting of the animal was also a crime—cruelty to animals—he was justified in using deadly force because the harm of breaking the law in those instances was averted by him, the greater harm which would be death or grievous bodily injury to himself, by killing the dog. That was his argument. Yes, I did create a harm, but a greater harm was my death or my severe personal injury was averted by killing the dog.
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