Guns don’t kill people; dogs with guns kill people—or so it would seem from the recent rash of gun owners who have been accidentally shot by their dogs.
This trend isn’t part of a canine uprising; it’s mostly due to gun-toting Americans who have neglected the simple rules of weapon safety. Usually these stories end up in the “Weird” or “Funny” sections of news sites with headlines like “Doggone,” “Bad Dog,” etc. After all, it’s “funny” when a dog accidently shoots its owner. (Less funny if it accidently shoots a child.) Usually, some “humorous” photo accompanies the story, such as this:
The canine shootings in these cases are ruled accidental, with no responsibility placed on the owner. These stories are simply funny asides, the equivalent of closing the newscast with the waterskiing squirrel, except the story involves people being shot and often permanently maimed due to irreponsible behavior and neglecting gun safety. This begs the question: is it natural selection when a dog accidently shoots an owner who leaves a weapon lying around with the safety off?
Here are six recent examples of dog-on-human shootings.
1. Dog Steps on Rifle and Shoots Wyoming Man
Earlier this month, Richard Fipps of Wyoming was accidently shot by his dog when his lovable pooch stepped on his .300 Winchester Magnum. According to the local sheriff, Fipps and two other men were in a remote area trying to move his truck, which was stuck. Fipps was standing beside his vehicle when he told his dog to move from the front to the back seat. The dog jumped onto Fipp’s rifle, which was sitting in the backseat with the safety off. The round struck Fipps in the left arm, traveled past his back and clipped his right sleeve. Fipps was treated in a hospital in Billings, Montana and may lose his arm.
Doggone! [Insert laughter here.]
2. Dog Accidentally Shoots Owner With a 9mm Pistol
In February 2013, a Florida man was shot when his dog kicked a gun that was lying on the floor of his truck. The weapon went off and a bullet entered the man’s leg.
The victim, 35-year-old Gregory Dale Lanier, thought the gun in his pickup truck was not loaded. According to investigators, Lanier was driving on State Road 17 North when his dog kicked his pistol, causing it to fire. The man heard a boom, saw smoke, "and felt a burning in his leg."
In the police report, Lanier claims he was surprised the gun was loaded. He was also surprised to learn that the gun he had purchased was a 9mm semi-automatic weapon. (Yes, the man shot by his own dog didn’t even know what type of weapon he bought.)
According to law, Lanier’s gun should have been stowed in the glove compartment or a holster, instead of on the floor of his truck. But the local police ruled it an accidental shooting and took Lanier’s word he didn’t know the gun was loaded. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. In Florida, people always seem to get off for shooting incidents, no matter the cause.<
The dog was not charged with any crime. [Insert laughter here.]
3. Dog Shoots Owner With His Shotgun After Jumping and Landing on the Trigger
Also in 2013, a Minnesota man was accidently shot by his dog while on a duck-hunting trip. Police say the dog jumped in the boat and landed on the hunter's loaded shotgun, causing it to fire and hit the hunter in the leg. The hunter was taken to Cass Lake Indian Health Services, where he was treated for a gunshot wound and released. The incident was investigated by the sheriff’s office but no criminal charges were filed.
Looks like someone’s in the doghouse! [Insert laughter here.]
4. French Hunter Loses Hand After Being Shot by His Dog
Americans can take some small comfort in the fact that these kinds of incidents also happen overseas. In 2012, a 55-year-old Frenchman was hunting deer when one of his dogs “jumped on him to give him a cuddle,” at which point the dog accidently depressed the trigger with his paw and shot the man. The hunter was flown to hospital in Bordeaux by air ambulance. The bullet shattered part of the man's right hand and his hand was later amputated. He insisted it wasn’t the dog’s fault but his own, adding that he still thought his dog was “adorable.”
It just goes to show, don’t bite the hand that feeds you—especially if it's been blown off by a shotgun! [Insert laughter here.]
5. Dog Shoots Owner in the Buttocks
In the fall of 2011, two men were duck hunting on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. One of the hunters laid his 12-gauge shotgun across the bow of the boat and climbed out to retrieve decoys. While the man was in the water, his dog stepped on his shotgun, firing 27 pellets into the man’s buttocks from roughly 10 feet away. Authorities said the man suffered only minor injuries partly because he was wearing waders.
The deputy on the scene was quoted as saying, “The dog did something to make the gun discharge. I don't know if the safety device was on.” The deputy concluded this about paw functionality: “It's not impossible the dog could have taken it off safety."
A dog’s bark may be worse than his bite, but his ability to shoot a gun trumps both of them. [Insert laughter here.]
6. Bulldog Shoots Elderly Man
A Florida man was shot by his bulldog while on a deer-hunting trip in 2011. The shooting occurred while Billy E. Brown, 78, was driving down a bumpy road with his dog, Eli, and a hunting buddy. The gun, a high-powered Browning .308-caliber rifle, was between the two men. Eli was moving back and forth between the front and back seats of the extended cab and knocked the rifle toward Brown's right leg. According to the police report, the mutt switched off the safety with his paw and pulled the trigger. (And that’s the story they’re sticking to.)
Brown was shot in the thigh, where the bullet struck the bone and also damaged the femoral artery, a major source of blood flow. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa in critical condition.
Perhaps the shooting was in retaliation for some bad dog food. [Insert laughter here.]
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.