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Question on shooting stray dogs - TX

This is a discussion on Question on shooting stray dogs - TX within the LEO Talk forums, part of the Protect & Serve category; I don't know if this is off-topic, but we are having a problem on our family ranch in rural Fayette County, Texas and was wondering ...

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Old 11-15-2004, 12:36 PM   #1
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Question on shooting stray dogs - TX

I don't know if this is off-topic, but we are having a problem on our family ranch in rural Fayette County, Texas and was wondering what the legal ramifications are of actions we want to take.

Our 90 acre ranch is located outside city limits and is surrounded by other large acreage farms and livestock ranches.

Lately, we have noticed a neighbor across the dirt county road and down about 1/2 mile, has started acquiring dogs at an alarming rate. He probably has 8-12 dogs of various breeds and mixes and some of the dogs appear to be offspring of his first few dogs.

First, he had one or two dogs, that would chase our trucks down the road 100 yards or so...nothing overly annoying. Lately, we see these dogs on literally every corner of our land. They have gotten into the garbage once or twice and like to come near the ranch house and harass our own two dogs (that never leave the property).

We also beleive that since these dogs have been running all over our land, our once thriving deer population has moved on (!!!). I was sitting in one of our deer stands last weekend, and here came about 4-5 of the bastards...barking and runinng through our land.

We began a strict game management plan about 5 years ago, not shooting any deer and setting out various feeds for the deer and observing our little free-ranging herd. This ranch does not have a high fence, only a 6-wire 4-foot babrwire cattle fence. Its easy for these dogs to come and go as they please.

My question is...since we are way outside city limits...and...this is OUR private land...is it legal for us to shoot/kill these dogs, if they wander onto our property?

I have no qualms against shooting them and don't plan on saying a thing to our neighbors and since they really don't care about their dogs and won't see us do it, I am ready to get rid of these pests. (shoot...shovel...and shut up will be our policy!)

Can we legally shoot these animals on our own land? I'd rather shoot them than try to put out some sort of poison, because we cannot control what eats the poison - our dogs could get into the stuff.

Thanks for the info ahead of time...I will NOT shoot the dogs if I hear it is illegal, but we have to do something. We paid good money for this land years ago to escape leasing hunting land from greedy landowners and hate to see our hunting ruined by irresponsible neighbors.

- Bimmercat
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Old 11-15-2004, 12:47 PM   #2
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Have you thought about talking to the local sheriff to find out what the law is in that county?
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Old 11-15-2004, 12:52 PM   #3
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Place a call to the county sheriff and ask.

A friend of mine had a deer lease down near San Angelo. A neighboring ranch began raising goats. The goats kept coming over and messing up the deer feeds, keeping the deer away, and being a general nuisance. The owner received two warnings to keep his goats off this guys property but he refused to mend fences, etc. Nothing was done that deer season, but the following year, with the problem persisting, the deer hunters were told by the owner to shoot the goats on sight. Hehe! My buddy got 3 goats and one buck that year.
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Old 11-15-2004, 12:59 PM   #4
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Livestock, like those goats, may be a different issue.

I knw some Texas counties, especially way out west, have "open range laws" and livestock can legally feed on other's land and you CAN get into trouble for shooting cows on your own land.

Thses are not livestock...just mixed breed country dogs that somebody collects. None are vaccinated...none are fixed...just running around getting into things and chasing away our deer herd.

I thought about making a call to the sheriffs office, but with called ID and all, I did not want to draw any attention to us. (you know...in case somebody calls in to them, saying their dogs were shot...we're suspect No1)

- Bimmercat
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Old 11-15-2004, 01:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmercat
I thought about making a call to the sheriffs office, but with called ID and all, I did not want to draw any attention to us. (yonu know...in case somebody calls in to htem, saying their dogs were shot...we're suspect No1)
Pay phone?
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:14 PM   #6
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Just go the the right coffee shop and find a deputy to strike a conversation with. BTW, I figured livestock would be different. My thought was, if he could do this with goats, "wild" dogs would be fair game.
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:32 PM   #7
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Again...it varies from county to county, but I have a friend that used to own land out in far west Texas and he shot a couple of stray sheep that wandered on his land, not knowing the law. A week later, he got a visit from the sheriff, asking about the sheep. He admitted he shot the animals and the sheriff explained to him that this particular county had an "open range" law, that dated back to the 1800s and that he was required by law, to allow animals to graze on his land and he could not stop them(!?).

Long story short, my friend was charged with a misdemeanor criminal mischief (since he let the animals to rot) and had to pay restitution to the owner of the sheep. Ignorance of this 100+ year old law was no excuse...he was busted.

This is the ONLY thing keeping me from shooting these dogs right now. I want to find out the REAL deal on the law, concearning stray dogs in this county, before laying them to rest.

- Bimmercat
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Old 11-15-2004, 02:40 PM   #8
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If you are intent on being legal (which is a good thing), then why hesitate calling the Sheriff's office? If it is, then fire away.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:15 PM   #9
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Researched this a bit because I've always been curious myself. Looks like you are not really allowed to shoot the dogs unless they pose an immediate threat to you or they have just killed or injured one of your domestic animals (such as your dog).

Here is a good explanation and discussion of animal cruelty laws in Texas. The relevant Texas statute is Section 42.09 of the Penal Code.

Here is an excerpt from the defenses to prosecution discussion regarding animal cruelty in Texas, and why I think it might be a bad idea for you to shoot these dogs:
Quote:
"The Texas criminal cruelty statute outlines permissible defenses that a person could argue if he were charged with animal cruelty. While a defendant’s actions may technically fall within the cruelty definition, the law does recognize a limited number of circumstances in which injuring or killing an animal is allowable. First, Section 42.09 states clearly that one engaging in bona fide experimentation or scientific research has a viable defense to prosecution under the statute. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.09(b).

Second, a person may kill an animal if he is in fear of bodily injury to himself or another person. Id. § 42.09(g). Similarly, in a situation where a person kills or seriously injures someone else’s animal without his consent, the law will not hold the person responsible if the animal was discovered on another’s property immediately after or in the act of killing or injuring livestock or another domestic animal. Id. § 42.09(e). Courts construe these defenses very strictly however. In a case involving a defendant who shot two domestic dogs that were chasing a deer and a fawn, the court refused to extend the defense to him. Bueckner v. Hamel, 886 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1994). The court reasoned that deer are not considered “domestic,” and because the dogs were not chasing a “domestic animal,” the defense did not apply. The defense also tried to argue, albeit unsuccessfully, that the dogs at issue were known to have attacked cattle on previous occasions. The court emphasized that an attack on a protected animal must be in progress, imminent, or recent. Attacks on cattle during prior months were not “recent.”

In another case involving the killing of a dog in defense of a person and property, the court stressed that the danger must be imminent, and a real or apparent necessity must exist to justify killing the animal. City of Garland v. White, 368 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. Civ. App. 1963). In this case, police officers shot and killed a dog that was reported as vicious. However, the dog was killed much later in the day compared to when the reports were originally made, and while the dog was in its owner’s garage and retreating into the house. The court held that the danger posed by the dog must be imminent, and that killing the dog later in the day did not meet this requirement. The court also called attention to the fact the officers did not try to shut door or contain the dog, but rather shot it right away."
So you can see, even police get charged for shooting a dog if the danger isn't imminent. Looking over some of this stuff, perhaps you may be able to get your neighbor charged with animal cruelty for his neglect to keep his animals secured in his own property. As others have suggested, you might want to see what the Sheriff has to say on the matter.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:52 PM   #10
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get a coyote hunting license, and then poor vision, and go hunting for those wild beasts.
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