Pennsylvania Law Regarding the Killing of a Dog that is Attacking You or Your Pet

On occasion, clients will inquire whether Pennsylvania has any laws regarding the killing of a dog that is attacking him/her or his/her pet. To the surprise of most, Pennsylvania law does have a provision relating to this issue.

Under 3 P.S. 459-501, Killing dogs, dogs as nuisances, Pennsylvania law authorizes any individual to kill a dog which that individual sees in the act of “pursuing or wounding or killing any domestic animal, wounding or killing other dogs, cats or household pets, or pursuing, wounding, or attacking human beings, whether or not such a dog bears the license tag required by the provisions of this act.” Furthermore, the statute grants immunity from liability to any person that acts within this scope.

However, there is an exception to the law. Specifically, “Licensed dogs, when accompanied by their owner or handler, shall not be included under the provisions of this section unless caught in the act of pursuing, wounding or killing any domestic animal, wounding or killing any dogs, cats or household pets, or pursuing, wounding or attacking human beings.” 3 P.S. 459-501(c).

Needless to say, before acting, one should always consider the love and affection that the owner of the dog has for it. It is likely no different than the love and affection that you share with your pet. Always consider less-than-lethal alternatives, whenever possible, if you find yourself or your pet in this situation.

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