Protecting Your Pets

I was working as a security guard back in the late 1980’s.

elderly security guard

The must-have high-tech gadget at the time, which every motorist lusted after, was the radar detector.

radar detector circa 1985

The various models retailed for a couple of hundred dollars in 1980’s money, the manufacturers kept trying to slim them down and make them ever smaller.  Handy enough to slip into a jacket pocket, it took but two or three seconds to smash a window and rip the device from atop the dashboard.  Many a driver had a sorrowful tale of woe to relate after they left their car ” … for just a few minutes …” as an errand was attended to.

smashed car window

I was working for a rather large regional bank at the time, and the powers-that-be had decreed that the guards were to be armed.  This wasn’t an issue for me, except for the fact that armed security guards were entitled to a bonus.  Hey, more money for the same work!

Except for one month, when we started to experience a rash of smash-and-grabs out in the remote sections of the parking lots.  The loot of choice was, you guessed it, radar detectors.

There was some discussion as to what to do if a guard should suddenly come across one of the brazen thieves.  I pointed out that the on-site manual clearly stated that the thief should be observed as long as they were on the property, while we used our walkie-talkies to summon the police.  And that was as far as our responsibility for our minimum wage plus a buck jobs were concerned.

But there was one hothead in the group, as there usually is.

“I’m gonna shoot him!  I’m not even gonna bother to chase him!  I’m just gonna shoot him!”

I asked if he was actually going to end the life of some person just for a $200 radar detector, and our erstwhile Rhodes scholar loudly declared that the thief would have it coming if they tried to run away, thus forcing Deadeye Dick to pick up the pace and break into anything faster that a slow walk.

fat security guard

“I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s murder.” I said.

All the other guards swiveled their heads to gaze upon Deadeye, but he didn’t have any further nuggets of wisdom to impart.  He just kept repeating that he was going to shoot if he got a radar detector thief in his sights.  Lucky thing that the thieves were a crafty bunch, and managed to conduct their foul work without encountering a guard.  We never did find out what the courts would do if some rent-a-cop killed a teenager over a dashboard toy.

Okay, so you can’t use lethal force to protect property.  But what about our beloved pets?

chris takes his ease

Long time readers know that I have a very profound emotional bond with my pets, and that I am willing to go to great lengths to protect them.  In fact, I bear some small yet permanent scars for trying to do that very thing.

james with a chewed up arm

Even so, I realize that animals are considered to be property under the law, and that lethal force is a no-no when it comes to protecting stuff as opposed to people.

There appears to be an exception, however.  It seems that my new home state of Texas has a provision where one can employ lethal force under very narrow conditions.  The primary condition seems to be that the theft has to take place during the nighttime hours, which is certainly food for thought.

Like I said, I am no lawyer.  I’m going to have to consult with a professional if I ever want the lowdown on things legal, which is exactly what anyone who is also untainted by a law degree should do when faced with such questions.

But I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the default assumption should be that you don’t shoot if there is only stuff on the line.



6 thoughts on “Protecting Your Pets

  1. “But I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the default assumption should be that you don’t shoot if there is only stuff on the line.”

    Yep, pretty solid ground.

  2. If you go by statute law, then yes – it’s illegal to use deadly force to protect property in most cases in most states.

    However some states (Colorado, Montana, Mississippi for example) have in their constitutions a mention of protecting property as a justification for owning or carrying weapons. I’d argue that any statute in those respective states that makes it illegal to use force to protect property is in conflict with their own constitutions. Of course, lawyers, being lawyers, will hem and haw, but it’s hard to argue that you can “bear arms” in “defense of…property” as long as you don’t actually, well, ya know, use them.

    If I ever get around to acquiring another pet I’d probably have a sign made to put out front, reading, “My dog ain’t worth my life, but he’s damn sure worth yourn”. Hopefully that’d be effective at keeping discussions like this academic.

  3. In Texas it is legal to use deadly force to protect property.

    What you must ascertain is if the property you are trying to protect worth spending a minimum of $15 – $20K in legal fees and your time to be cleared in the shooting.

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