Stray Dogs and Good Samaritans

Dateline: Detroit, Michigan, October 9, 2017, 6:58 a.m.

A 53-year-old woman named Patricia Cosby is walking on the 9500 block of Goodwin Street sidewalk near Westminster, in her own neighborhood, when she is attacked by a stray dog. It knocks her down and a second dog is circling her. A man, actually a friend of hers, observes her being mauled. The man holds a Michigan concealed carry permit.

Michigan is a “shall-issue” state for residents 21 years of age and over. No licenses are issued to non-residents, but it honors licenses issued by many other states. Michigan law also states that a citizen must have knowledge and training in the safe use and handling of a pistol by successfully completing an appropriate pistol safety training course or class.

Reportedly, Patricia screams for her neighbor, one Michael Williams, 61, to help her. Michael, certainly a Good Samaritan at heart, rushes to retrieve his handgun, then runs out on the street and shoots at the dog. Unfortunately, Michael misses the dog and hits Mrs. Cosby instead. She is shot in the hip and though ambulances soon arrive, she is pronounced dead at the hospital.

“I was just trying to do what she asked me to do, to help her,” Williams said.

Supposedly, Williams is well-known in the neighborhood and spends time volunteering to do neighborhood patrols.

“I just did all I could to try to help her. She begged me to help her and I ran down trying to help her. And this dog trying to attack, attack, attack — ‘til I found my left hand and the gun went off and she said, ‘Mike you shot me.’ And I picked her up. It just hurt me so bad.”

Police responded to 911 calls and searched for the dog, but it wasn’t immediately located.

Detroit police Captain Darin Szilagy says the shooter is a resident of the area, that he was trying to be a “good Samaritan,” that he has a license to carry. Szilagy says it’s a tragic story, but notes, “We’re responsible for every round we fire.”

The last I could find online, the shooting is under investigation and prosecutors likely will review the case. The family, reportedly, does not want to press charges against Williams. Mrs. Cosby’s is just one death in a city plagued with violence, but whether or not the city presses charges against Williams, something good could come of it. Something good if you think about the situation and how you might react in similar circumstances.

The internet is full of reports of people shooting dogs. Dogs that attack them. Dogs that attack their own dogs. And this from California: “A man shot and killed his dog when it reportedly attacked him and bit him in the leg while they were out on a walk Wednesday, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.” [That man, by the way, was a 76-year-old resident of Redwood City who did not have a permit to carry.]

The questions of course are when and where or under what circumstances would you be justified in pulling your concealed weapon and shooting a dog? Albuquerque, where I live, is absolutely chock-a-block with aggressive dogs. Fortunately, practically every private yard is fenced. Nevertheless, when I walk our 12-pound Aussie, dogs along almost any route go wacko barking and growling and jumping against their fence. What if one of them jumped over, got out, attacked? What if one attacked me or my dog or my wife?

Depending on how it strikes and perhaps the size of the dog, a bullet could very easily pass through and head off in practically any direction, do a great deal of (or no) damage whatsoever. And a whirling, growling aggressive dog … well, it’s not an easy shot, even at close range. Just ask Michael Williams.

We members of the concealed carry community are problem solvers at heart, Good Samaritans in our soul, but sometimes it might be better to reach for baseball bats or garden rakes than our pistols. It’s worth thinking about, just in case.