ABA Journal


Animal Law

Can dogs be a dangerous weapon? Many judges say yes

Oct 8, 2013, 10:45 am CDT


People swinging dogs around as weapons could be as dangerous as "Sharknado." I blame the Swiss for getting this started, as it seems to me just an adaptation of smacking people with an 18-foot pike. The dogs, of course, are warm-blooded and not all wet and clammy like the pikes, so at least the subject of the attack may stay drier (even if the dog is a drooler). However, I urge colleagues not to engage in this behavior, as it is not only unseemly, but cannot be comfortable for the dogs that are used in this fashion. Also, even if you have well-developed arms, you aren't going to be able to swing a large dog around for very long without having to put it down. There is the additional peril that your opponent may be able to distract the dog by use of decoys, or perhaps by swinging a dead cat, leaving you (in either such situation) exposed to counter attack once your weapon has been nullified.

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 08, 3:40 pm CDT

There's a serious gray area- an owner can order a dog to attack and the dog might ignore him- what then? Or what if the dog, who has never been violent, sees his owner in distress and decides to attack? The police will obviously say that the owner ordered the dog to attack.

Unless the dog is highly trained (meaning much more than puppy kindergarten), it's pretty hard to argue that the human actor actually controlled the dog. When the cops show up guns drawn and yelling at the top of their lungs, the dog is naturally going to be extremely agitated.

The more important issue is that of cops killing dogs in the first place. Too many times police put down a dog for no good reason.

By DCW on 2013 10 08, 5:21 pm CDT

How to defend yourself when you are attacked by a man with a dog: Release the 10 ton weight!

By W.R.T. on 2013 10 08, 7:02 pm CDT

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