Is It Illegal To Shoot Your Own Dog

Dogs are men’s best friend, they are loyal, loving and a good companion but, when a dog becomes sick or dangerous you might start to ask, “is it illegal to shoot your own dog.” Below we discuss if this is legal.

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Is it illegal to shoot your own dog?

While this question might sound inhuman, most of the states in U.S clearly state that it is not illegal for you to shoot your own dog especially when it’s done humanely. These states consider dogs to be legal property which belongs to the owner. Therefore, the owner of the dog has the final say in regards to how he or she treats the dog. However, before shooting your dog you need to check the laws in your state to see whether or not dogs are allowed to be killed. This is because the protective rights of dogs have increased over the past few years so you need to research whether or not your state allows you to shoot your own dog.

Is it illegal kill a dog that you do not own?

Killing a dog that you do not own is very illegal. This is because dogs are viewed as property in the U.S so by killing someone’s dog you would have committed a serious crime. In most cases you will be required to pay restitution to the owner of that dog. However, there are scenarios when killing a dog that does not belong to you is acceptable, for example if a dog attacks you whilst you are walking, you are allowed to kill it. This is treated as a case of self-defence. There are also laws that protect rural farmers who kill dogs that harm their animals or plants. It is worth noting that it is illegal to kill a dog for trespassing especially if the dog has not caused any harm to your property. Therefore, in such scenarios you need to call animal control so that they can take care of the situation.

Can a person go to jail for killing a dog?

This answer to this depends on the circumstances you were faced with when you killed the dog. For starters, if you killed the dog because it was sick and you were trying to relieve it from pain then you might not be charged. You will also not go to jail if you kill a dog that attacked you. The circumstances that could lead you to jail are when you kill a dog because it has trespassed into your yard and not caused any harm. It is important to be cognisant of the fact that the punishment of animal cruelty is becoming progressively harsher so try to treat every dog with dignity.

Punishment for killing a dog

The punishment for killing a dog varies depending on the state in which you are, so you need to do a little bit of research before shooting your own dog. However, the general punishment for shooting or killing a dog can be imprisonment and a fine of up to $20 000. Remember that you will only face a punishment if you killed the dog in an inhuman way.

What to do if your dog attacks you

If your dog is proving to be dangerous around you or other people then you need to consider taking it for obedience lessons. This is the best and most decent way of dealing with a dangerous dog that does not listen to instructions. However, if the problem persists then you can take extreme measures of putting it down yourself. You can also visit your nearest vet and they will help you with the procedure.

Legalities of shooting a dog by state


If you are in Florida then you cannot shoot your dog regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, you need to ensure that you protect your dog if you are in Florida or else you risk facing jail time.


In California, it is legal to shoot your own dog only if you provide a reasonable explanation. For example, if you state that the dog was sick, the judge might try to understand your case. However, in California you are not allowed to kill anyone’s dog.


If you are in Virginia then it is not illegal to shoot your dog if it is attacking someone or another animal that is within your property. The animal control in Virginia is actually allowed to shoot any animal that poses a threat to other people or animals.


In Ohio it is not illegal to kill your dog especially if your intention was to put the dog out of its misery. You are also allowed to kill someone’s dog if it attacks you.


It is not illegal to shoot a dog if it is attacking you or someone else. In Tennessee they also allow you to shoot your own dog if it is suffering from an incurable disease. However, if you shoot someone else’s dog in Tennessee it is considered theft and you will be sent to court for that.


If you are in Michigan then you are allowed to shoot your dog or anyone else’s dog when you feel threatened by it. However, you need to prove that the dog was a threat to you in the court of law. In Michigan they are a bit strict when it comes to animal rights.


In Texas you are only allowed to shoot a dog if it is attacking your property. Shooting a dog for any other reason is regarded as am felony and you can actually go to jail. If your dog is sick, you are supposed to take it to a licensed veterinarian who will euthanize it, you are not allowed to shoot it by yourself.


Shooting your own dog is hard decision that should not be taken lightly. If your dog is proving to be a danger to you and others around you then try taking it for obedience classes. If that fails you should research to see which options are available to you in your state.