Use of Nonlethal Force in Defense of Property

The cats decided to live inside their fenced enclosure to help protect their crop.  They enlisted the help of the Old Tom, their retired friend from the San Juans, to drag their beds and bowls and cat food inside the enclosure to make their temporary home more comfortable.  The Old Tom was to prowl around the perimeter at night to provide security.  Scarred, missing some fur and arthritic in his hindquarters, the Old Tom didn’t look like much of a security guard as he limped around the fence at night, occasionally flatulent, after enjoying the Fancy Feast cat food provided by the cats, to which he was unaccustomed.

The second night, the cats were awakened by the sound of fence boards being pried loose.  They scurried over to the Old Tom, whose sleep was   undisturbed by the noise due to his being hard of hearing.  They roused him and told him that someone was entering the enclosure with the obvious intent to steal their crop.  The Old Tom told them to stay put and that he would check it out.  The cats were eager to comply.  The Old Tom, now wide awake, followed the sounds of boards being pulled off and cast aside.  Narrowing his eyes, the Old Tom saw a person carrying a bag over his shoulder and a large dog pass through a gap in the fence where boards had been removed. I was not present to witness what happened next, but I will recite what I learned from the police report.

As the burglar approached the nearest plant and began to snip off some leaves to put in his bag, the Old Tom pounced on the dog’s neck and tore into the dog with his claws.  The dog howled in agony and fled through the opening in the fence.   Seeing his dog flee in pain, the burglar feared for his life and followed the dog to safety, carrying his empty bag and pry bar.  The cats called the police on their i-phone and reported what had occurred.  They then called me to see if the Old Tom should leave before the police arrived.  I informed them that the use of nonlethal force to defend property from a burglar is perfectly legal and the Old Tom had nothing to fear from the police. The cats were relieved as they approached the Old Tom to give him this news, but they decided not to wake him as he was snoring peacefully in his sleep.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include real property and business law, estate planning and elder law.

Allen Drescher
21 S 2nd St.
Ashland, OR 97520
(541) 482-4935


© Allen Drescher

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Drescher Elson Sperber, P.C.

Drescher Elson Sperber, PC. A law firm providing legal services in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973 in the areas of real estate, business law, estate planning, small business corporations, LLC's, partnerships, nonprofit corporations, guardianships, conservatorships, wills, trusts, probate, leases, property and business transactions and disputes, and related areas of the law.21 South Second St. Ashland, OR 97520

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