This past Sunday afternoon my wife and I were recovering from hosting Thanksgiving dinner by lounging around the house and watching a movie. It was about 3 PM and a nice, sunny, brisk day. We rent the first floor of a house on a private court in a quiet neighborhood on Long Island, NY. Our upstairs neighboors rent the second floor. Their family consists of a husband and wife and two boys (ages 4 and 6). They were outside playing in the back yard when I heard Mr. Neighbor yell for help followed by a childs scream. I ran to the window and saw the family grouped together, frozen and terrified, the children crying, pinned against the bushes by a large Pitbull.
I ran to the closet, grabbed my shotgun and as I made my way to the door loaded one shell and yelled to my wife to call the police. When I rounded the corner of the house I saw the dog pacing aggressively in the front of the family, moving in and then backing away, growling more as the children became more frightened and began to cry. It was large for a Pitbull, about 90 pounds, all black, very stocky with a huge head and mouth and had clipped ears (which my wife informed me is usually done to fighting dogs). It had scars on its neck, no collar and it was drooling what looked like white, foamy spit, this indicated a potentially rabid animal (but I later found out it was not rabid). When it saw me it turned and charged. I took an aggressive step forward, raised the gun and with my left hand pointed at the dog and yelled, "Stop!" To my surprise it did stop about ten feet away, I assume this was some kind of bluff charge. I then motioned for the family to move away, but at that point the dog went back towards them. I moved forward and yelled at it again, it looked at me and turned away from the family allowing them to make their way back into the house. As I backed away, gun still ready, it ran towards us again, right up the front steps, to the door. Luckily we were all inside and able to close the door in time. The dog then crossed the court and proceeded to jump and scratch at the front door of the house across from us, we assumed it was trying to get the little dog on the other side of that door.
When I got back inside and calmed down a bit, my heart was racing pretty fast, and went to put the gun away I realized that I had never clicked the safety off. Had I needed to actually pull the trigger I might have missed my chance. Fortunately everything worked out for us and there was no need to shoot. I am familiar with and use the gun on a regular basis at the range, but I've never had to respond quickly with it in an emergency, nor am I professionally trained in doing so. Not taking it off safe may seem like a stupid mistake, and I suppose it is, but I'm glad it happened because now I won't forget should I need it in a more serious situation. The family was grateful and thanked me, although Mrs. Neighbor seemed a bit put off by the shotgun, which seems kind of silly given what just happened, but this NY after all. It turns out that Mr. Neighbor has an intense phobia of dogs, so I can imagine this was his worst nightmare come true. He did, however, act to protect his family, as he put himself in front of them and kept the dog at bay.
The police ended up capturing the dog about an hour later, but not before it attacked a pet Bulldog down the road. Perhaps a stray dog in the backyard doesn't seem like a big deal. But here on Long Island, about a fifteen minute drive from the NYC border, there are unsavory people who train Pitbulls to fight, and these fighting dogs are extremely strong, vicious and aggressive and have killed and injured people. They are just as dangerous, if not more so, than small a black bear. We assume this one was intentionally let go or escaped. It's an unfortunate situation for the dog because he will most likely be put down.
Lesson # 1: Become more familiar and practice emergency response with my firearms, next time I may not be so lucky.
Lesson # 2: No need for a disaster to happen for an emergency, even on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the suburbs one can run across a potentially life threatening situation, don't think it can't happen to you.
Lesson # 3: No matter how prepared you may think you are, planning for an event and experiencing an event are very different. Until you actually experience a true emeregency situation you never know exactly how you will respond.
Overall I'm happy with my reaction to the situation, and glad that everything turned out ok. I think, and my wife agrees, that I made the correct decision in going out with the gun, because had we simply waited in the house for the police while a family was trapped in the yard by a big, snarling Pitbull, someone could have been seriously injured or killed in the twelve to fifteen minutes it took them to respond. I'm grateful for this test, because now I know I have it in me to respond quickly and properly in an emergency.
Good job. It's necessary to be able to get your weapon ready quickly in the event of an emergency. (Lol at forgetting to turn the safety off!) I have a semi-automatic combat shotgun for exactly such emergencies, with buck shot nearby as the primary ammo and slugs strapped to the stock as secondary. (Good for shooting through drywall.) See this for more ideas: What Is The Best 12 Gauge Shotgun Load for Home Defense?
If you had to shoot the dog because it was tearing up one of your neighbors, I think your neighbor's attitude about guns would have changed. Maybe he'll start thinking about some real home protection after this. He should realize at this point that he had no means and no plan to stop the dog, and that merely hoping that it wouldn't attack isn't good enough. His wife, if not the cause of the lack of weaponry, should feel angry at her husband for his inability to defend his family properly. They could be down one child right now because of it.
He should know by now that reasoning with the dog is just as useless as reasoning with a group of armed men that are breaking into his house with the intent to rob, rape, and kill everyone inside. Like that never happened before. The bottom line is that the man of the house has no excuse for failing to protect his family in the event of an emergency. You have the means and the plan to make sure that doesn't happen. Keep up the good work.
Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:30 am
Joined: 22 Feb 2006 Posts: 8599 Location: Fingerlakes - NY usa
Was prepared for a tragic story when I started reading. Glad to hear everyone came out fine!