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Don't Discharge Your Gun at the Ground

from Riverheart


If you discharge your gun at the ground, the bullet can ricochet and have an effect that may not be intended.

Bremerton Sun printed the following article in its Code 911 section on January 22, 2001:

"Dogs die of gunshots in separate incidents

"Two dogs were killed after men shot at them in unrelated incidents in South and Central Kitsap this weekend. A third may also have been shot. 

"A brown dog and a Rottweiler were caught at the chicken coop of a Nebraska Avenue man near Manchester on Friday morning, the man told police, with the brown dog in the act of killing his chickens. He killed that dog with several shots and shot at the Rottweiler when it growled at him. It flinched and ran. 

"A sheriff's deputy said he found the body of the dead dog among those of about 10 chickens that had been torn apart. The fate of the Rottweiler was uncertain. 

"On Latigo Lane north of Silverdale, a man took a handgun along when he called on his neighbors Saturday afternoon. 

"His 11-year-old son had been menaced by the other family's dogs when he went over earlier to complain about the dogs' defecating in their yard, the man told a sheriff's deputy. No one had been home at the neighbors', nor had anyone come home when the father went over. 

"Two dogs menaced him at the neighbors' house, too, he said, and one bit his boot. He fired the gun at the ground and the dogs ran, he said. 

"He called 911 and the deputy responded. The officer went next door and found one of the dogs dead, though without an apparent bullet wound. Its electronic bark collar had been smashed, and pieces of the collar were lying near the empty shell casing from the gun. 

"The deputy took the man's handgun while the case is being investigated. 

"Neither man was arrested."

--Travis Baker

My favorite dog breeder and good friend Debbie Ulsh admonishes the young people she takes out hunting to never point a shotgun at the ground when there are dogs around; it simply isn't safe. It's far better to point it into the air, first making sure that there is nobody behind you. Given that she breeds, shows, trains, owns, and hunts with Flat-Coated Retrievers (a wonderful breed, by the way), there will always be dogs around when she is hunting. 

The dog in the last segment of the story I cited had its bark collar smashed. I'm going to take a risk and assume that it was the smashed bark collar which killed the dog. Electronic collars are very sturdy devices, meant to stand up to scratching, banging, and the other tricks dogs try to remove the collars from their necks; it would take a fairly significant impact to smash one to bits. My guess is that the bullet ricocheted, impacting the bark collar and smashing it into sharp pieces, one of which killed the dog.

I enjoy hunting and shooting, and I dearly love my dogs. Please remember this dead dog when you're carrying a loaded or possibly-loaded gun of any kind around a dog, or around a small child, and don't discharge it at the ground. Note: Riverheart's sentiment is right on the money. One thing: we recommend not shooting in the air if there is even a remote possibility someone could be where that bullet might land. If you're going to waste lead with a shot that has no intended target (hey, sometimes it's fun to blast one off, just because), we'd rather you point it outward a ways, far enough away where you don't endanger yourself, other people, or your doggy, but still at the ground, not in the air -- if anyone can possibly be standing where the bullet might fall.