Man Bites Weiner (or Vice Versa)

Very Often, Readers Submit Stories that are most definitely, without a doubt, weird. But sometimes I still can’t use them because despite being weird (one definition: unusual), they’re …well… not unusual.

This week, the most-suggested story was that a dog in Indiana stepped on a gun and (quite literally) triggered it to go off, shooting its owner.

I almost went for the story for one little detail: the dog’s name is Trigger. Heh. But that detail wasn’t enough to make the tipping point for me, because dogs shoot their owners too often to really be weird (in the True sense).

I’m not the only one to notice: the Washington Post chronicled ten cases that have made the news since fall 2004, noting that five were hunting accidents, four occurred in a car, three in a boat, and (naturally) four were in Florida.

Just the Start

“Remember, this number is a floor, not a ceiling,” the reporter notes. “If someone gets shot by their dog and doesn’t seek medical care, or it otherwise doesn’t make the local news, nobody’s going to know about it.” Not the general public, anyway.

“When a dog bites a man, that is not news,” the old journalism adage goes. “But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” (Attributed to American author Jesse Lynch Williams (1871-1929), British newspaper magnate Alfred Harmsworth (1865-1922), New York Sun editor John B. Bogart (1848-1921), and New York Tribune journalist Charles Anderson Dana (1819-1897), among others.) Or, to bring it into the 21st century: “Man shoots dog, not news. Dog shoots man, news.” (I tend to be a bit more terse.)

In addition to those ten cases in the U.S., the Post found others that happened overseas, including one in France, and another in New Zealand.

The cases are rarely fatal. Apparently, dogs aren’t very good shots.

For those of you looking for “best pet” data, the Post reporter looked and only found one case of a cat shooting its owner, “way back in 2005.” No details were offered.

But keep those story suggestions coming (submission details here): you never know. When a Weiner dog named Killer shoots former weener-wagging politician Anthony Weiner, I might be interested in covering it.


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7 Comments on “Man Bites Weiner (or Vice Versa)

  1. If a dog can shoot a gun, what does that say about the safety of the gun itself? For example, how sensitive must the trigger be? Like would bumping the gun be enough to fire it?

    I’m not an expert on the topic, but guns “shouldn’t” be able to be discharged just by jostling them, or by dropping them. In almost all of these cases, they’re the result of the gun being put down with any safety flipped off, and the animal happening to step on the trigger. And, probably, the hammer cocked (and if it’s cocked, it should be “locked” — safety on.) And the gun happening to be pointed at someone. Seems pretty far-fetched, yet (as noted) it happens about once a year that we know about. -rc

  2. I’ve been a firearms instructor since 1968. I will address shotguns specifically because dogs most often accompany bird hunters.

    The safety on many shotguns is a button at the rear of the trigger guard. It slides through the trigger guard from side-to-side, protruding to the left (FIRE) or the right (SAFE). A right-handed shooter pushes the button to the FIRE position with the trigger finger and then fires the shotgun. Others may have a thumb-operated switch on the tang, an exposed hammer with a half-cock safety position, or other methods.

    If a shotgun with a slide-button safety is lying on its left side and a dog steps on it, the button could easily be pushed into the FIRE position and a paw or toenail could easily engage the trigger. If the safety was not engaged, it would be even easier for a dog to discharge the firearm.

    Firearm safety is a conscious act, not a mechanical device.


    1. Firearms are always handled as if they are loaded.
    2. Firearms must be pointed in safe direction at all times.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are going to fire.
    4. Know your target and what is beyond your target.
    5. Maintain control of your firearm(s) at all times.

    There is no such thing as a “gun accident”.

    They are all negligence.


  3. I completely agree with Craig, but when I teach people to shoot I condense those rules a bit:

    1. There’s no such thing as an unloaded gun.
    2. When in doubt, refer to rule 1.
    3. NEVER point a gun at anything you’re not prepared to destroy.

  4. I would like to know if the dog shooting owner incidents have any repeatability — like, say, shortly after Halloween or Christmas with all the cute costumes they get forced to wear….

    Interesting theory. Maybe you can get a government grant to study it…. -rc

  5. With only 10 cases in 11 years that sounds pretty unusual to me. How many “Zero tolerance cases” occurred in the same time span? They still manage to make it into a good percentage of stories.

    As to Craig saying there are no gun accidents that may be true but the tone of is letter implies an Zero tolerance policy as well. Yes there is always somebody at fault if you want to find them but I suspect that can be said for any “Accident”. Once people get comfortable with a weapon, or a car, or an industrial process etc, things will happen. This can be compensated for to some extent by training, safety devices, laws and so on but never 100%. This I think is where some reason, compassion, personal responsibility and common sense should be used in judgement.

    Even though you didn’t post the story your mention of it and you blog did make me think!

    There’s a huge difference between “dog steps on shotgun, shoots owner, for the tenth time” and “Yet another school comes up with yet another way to screw over a student who didn’t do anything.” There’s interest in that Yet Another Way that there isn’t in “steps on trigger again.” -rc

  6. Call me picky, but I proofread everything. “Weiner” is not spelled correctly. Remember that the name is German for Vienna, and you’ll get the “ie” right.

    I enjoy your posts very much. Please keep them coming.

    Weiner is a surname, and it’s a not-too-subtle dig at the politician mentioned, Anthony, who is infamous for exposing his…. -rc

  7. I see I’m not the only person who thinks that a gun owner should take responsible for preventing misuse of his weapon. I long for a world where these stories are rare enough to be unusual.


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