All the People Who Have Been Shot by Their Dogs

Say hello to man’s best friend’s little friend
All the People Who Have Been Shot by Their Dogs

You know what they say: When a dog bites a man, that’s not news, but if the man bites a dog, it is. Well, perhaps in a bid for a little media attention, the dogs are escalating their tactics and upgrading their weapons. Since the early 2000s, an alarming number of people have been shot by dogs, and the numbers only seem to be increasing.

It was a trend first identified in 2015 by the Washington Post, which reported that six people in the U.S. had been ballistically betrayed by their canine friends in the previous four years and four more in the six years before that. (They also noted two other cases in France and New Zealand, but let’s be real, this is an American thing.) Even that stalwart of serious journalism couldn’t hide its amusement over how many of the incidents (at least four!) occurred in Florida and one involved a dog named Trigger. Yes, really.

How does this happen? Where did all these dogs learn how to shoot a gun, and why have they turned on their best friends? It’s usually pretty similar to how a child ends up firing a gun: Irresponsible owners (of both children and guns) who just leave them lying around unsecured (again, both the children and the guns). Usually, the dog steps on the gun in the exact wrong spot and their little toe beans get caught on the trigger. 

In most cases, we have no reason to think it’s anything but an accident, although one guy was himself in the process of trying to shoot a litter of puppies just because he couldn’t find them a home. It’s unclear how one of his intended victims got the drop on him, but that was obviously self-defense.

Whatever the case, it keeps happening. In 2016, a German hunter’s license was revoked after his dog shot him in the arm, which at first seems pretty unfair, but you can’t take away a dog’s license. In 2018, a prominent college football player’s career was derailed when he was shot in the leg by his dog, and a 74-year-old New Mexico man was shot in the back, both during hunting trips. In 2019, a Russian hunter was killed by his gun-wielding dog, and an Oklahoma woman was shot in the leg in her car when her dog got scared by a passing train because she had a loaded handgun just chilling in the center console

She has presumably learned her lesson, but if we’re still having problems persuading gun owners to lock up their firearms around kids, it’s gonna be an uphill battle convincing them their dogs can kill them (as happened to a man in 2023). 

Incidentally, cats almost never shoot people. Almost. Don’t get too comfy, cat people.

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