Use of Force in Defense of Pets

An Interview with Attorneys Mike and Alex Ooley

Interview by Gila Hayes

When armed citizens strive to understand circumstances under which use of deadly force against another human is appropriate, a frequent question is whether you can use your gun to defend a beloved dog, cat, or horse. Advising that “defense of life,” means defense of human life is not always welcome, but it is how our criminal justice system works.

As a topic that arises frequently, we explored the bigger question of animals and use of deadly force from several angles with Network affiliated attorneys Mike and Alex Ooley, a father-and-son team of attorneys from southern Indiana. They also teach firearms and use of force law classes at the O2 Gun Group, regularly exposing them to use of force questions. Let’s switch to interview format to preserve the tone of an interesting conversation we enjoyed last spring while visiting Indianapolis for the NRA Annual Meeting.

eJournal: Thank you for stopping by, Alex and Mike. Today, I’d like to learn about the law’s view of defending domestic animals and on the other side of the coin, defending against animals. As I was writing out my questions, I laughed when I realized that we could have the world’s shortest interview if I asked, “Is it okay to use deadly force to defend your domestic pets?” and you would say...

Alex Ooley: “No.”

Mike Ooley: Generally, no. There might be a small exception in the state of Texas from what I understand, but I’m not a Texas attorney, so you’re on your own there, but generally the answer is “No” with respect to deadly force to defend a pet. I will tell you that topic is one on which we encounter the greatest resistance in terms of self-defense notions because pets are part of most people’s families.

Alex Ooley: Especially when we’re talking about dogs. Sometimes I think people like their dogs better than their spouse or significant other.

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President’s Message

Marty Hayes

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

This is an important President’s Message, as it explains new procedures regarding the emergency telephone number that we provide to all Network members for use in the event of a self-defense incident.

After 15 years of being tethered to the emergency cell phone (meaning that I have had to stay within cell service) we have figured out a way to break those chains, or loosen them at least a little.

I enjoy seeing the fulfillment of my concept for post-self-defense assistance come to fruition when a member has a true self-defense related legal emergency. With growth of our membership numbers, though, it is becoming increasingly common to get phone calls from members who just want to chat. Sometimes the call comes from a member who wants to renew or check the status of their membership. Sometimes fumbling fingers or other inadvertent actions are to blame when a member dials the emergency number. I’ve even had calls from members’ toddlers who were too young to talk! Those examples identify only a few of the reasons members call the emergency line when they have not been involved in an act of self defense.

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Attorney Question of the Month

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In this column, we turn to our affiliated attorneys for commentary on legal concerns. Because our affiliated attorneys are located in states all across the nation, their input is valuable and always interesting because laws and practices vary from state to state. This month, our Network President Marty Hayes presented a question about pretrial immunity hearings and an immunity hearing’s effect, if any, on claiming self defense at trial, if the presiding judge at the hearing denies immunity. We asked our affiliated attorneys the following questions:

Does the legal process in your state regarding self-defense defenses allow for a pretrial hearing, such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, to argue for dismissal? If so, please explain how the hearing process works in your state.

If a judge denies the request for dismissal of the charges at a pretrial hearing, does this stop the defense from arguing self defense at trial?

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News From Our Afilliates

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Jason Falconer

by Gila Hayes

In early August, I had the privilege of visiting with Jason Falconer, our Network affiliated instructor from Waite Park, MN, who agreed to share his knowledge and experience with me and our fellow Network members. Falconer’s background includes policing, competitive shooting, several decades of experience as a firearms instructor, and he operates Tactical Advantage, a training resource, indoor shooting range and retail shop. In short, he’s a busy man who still finds time to recommend Network membership to a substantial number of folks per year, who tell us that they heard about the Network at Tactical Advantage.

I asked Falconer how he got started and it was interesting to follow his progression from his days as a beginning shooter up through a critical incident in which his decisive actions saved many from harm. We switch now to interview format, so readers can enjoy meeting Jason Falconer through our conversation. This interview is also available as streaming video. Click for video.

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Video Review

Disparity of Force

Massad Ayoob with moderator Marty Hayes

Reviewed by Gila HayesAyoob Vid

Last month Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes recorded a new member-education video that teaches about disparity of force. In this video, they analyzed incidents in which armed citizens shot ostensibly unarmed assailants. While it seems that prosecutors are quick to paint shootings like these as murder or manslaughter, testimony by the defendant and expert witnesses can show why shooting was a reasonable response to an attack by someone who did not possess a firearm. When disparity of force is skillfully explained at trial, judges and juries recognize the danger the aggressor posed and acquit the defendant, Hayes explained by way of introduction. Ayoob then discusses details drawn from trials that have been in the headlines as he explains the application of the disparity principle in justifying a self-defense shooting.

Ayoob kicks the lesson off by defining the underlying terms. He states, “We’re talking about the use of deadly physical force.”

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Editor’s Notebook

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by Gila Hayes

August was a busy month, with the nice side-benefit that the workload included tons of emails and phone visits shared with Network members. A few reminded me of reminders I need to pass along to members.

Sound the Alarm!

This summer, we had several calls in which members asked for funding to pay lawyers to resolve legal matters that had absolutely no element of, nor connection to, using force in self defense. When a call starts with the words “I have a legal problem,” we reflexively go to DEFCON 1, owing to our great concern that no Network family member should face the legal system alone after defending himself or herself.

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About this Journal


The eJournal of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is published monthly on the Network’s website at Content is copyrighted by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

Do not mistake information presented in this online publication for legal advice; it is not. The Network strives to assure that information published in this journal is both accurate and useful. Reader, it is your responsibility to consult your own attorney to receive professional assurance that this information and your interpretation or understanding of it is accurate, complete and appropriate with respect to your particular situation.

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