28 April 2022
Goatzilla (or 10 Lessons Learned from an Animal Attack!)
My wife was born and raised in the People's Republic of Kalifornia. Lusting for freedom, she contacted me via a secure internet connection in the fall of 2009 and we began planning her escape. By 20 October we were ready to execute our plan and I headed to the PRK. Two days later, under the cover of darkness, we headed towards freedom. On 24 October, we were married.
Like many people who have escaped from the belly of the beast, one of her very first ambitions was to obtain a handgun and be able to freely exercise her constitutionally protected right to provide for her own defense so, the next thing on the agenda was training. She took several of my handgun classes and became a daily carrier of a Glock 26. She will not walk out of the house without it!
So where am I going with all this? Well, stay with me...
On Valentine's Day of 2012, I got a text that said, "You need to come home, I shot Snaps". I thought, "Oh great!" I had visions of getting home and finding Snaps standing beside the fence on quivering legs with blood running out of both nostrils and a very distraught woman with a gun in her hand. I wasn't really looking forward to it. You see, Snaps was a very large billy goat that we had raised from a wee kid and he loved Amy. Everyone else not so much but he loved Amy... until Valentine's Day of 2012.
On that morning, Amy got up like every day, got dressed (which included putting on her gun) and headed out to feed the animals before coming into town to work. She helped me at our gun shop. But that day was different.
That day, her and our youngest daughter went out to feed and were greeted by a very large, very unhappy billy goat standing spraddle-legged in the middle of the trail with his head down and smoke coming from his nostrils. Amy recognized immediately that this wasn't going to go well. In the first place, he should have been in the very sturdy pen that I built for him. To this day, we have no idea how he got out of it.
Well, it all went downhill from there. Understanding that the wheels were about to fall off this situation, Amy told our daughter to go lock herself in the pen with the baby goats while she kept the goat's attention. Snaps became more aggressive and the two of them danced around a tree for a little bit before Amy was able to seize an opportunity to run towards the feed shed. He caught up with her and knocked her down from behind. She regained her feet, made it to the shed and slammed the door behind her thinking she would be safe. Wrong! Snaps began butting the door until he eventually broke it down. Just to emphasize the size and power of this goat, this door was very solid, built of 2x4's and plywood. It also opened to the outside and closed against a solid stop. When Snaps got done with it, it opened to the inside!
OK, so now Amy and Mr. Attitude are in this little 10'x12' shed together and Amy has no way to escape. Left with no other option, she quickly presents her Glock 26 and fires a single shot at his head. At the very instant that she pulled the trigger, he lowered his head to charge causing the bullet to first go through a horn then into the body. Snaps kind of sat back on his haunches, his eyes rolled back in his head and, assuming he was done for, Amy quickly sidestepped him and made her escape out the door. As she was walking away, she heard a noise and turned around to find Snaps reared up on his hind legs, head down and ready to attack. As he dropped down to all fours and prepared to charge again, she managed to get off another shot which hit him between the eyes, bringing this dramatic little event to an abrupt halt. This brings us up to the point where she made the phone call to me.
OK, so I get there and find a very dead goat and a fairly distraught and injured bride. Let me stop right here for a minute and explain something to you that will help you put the rest of this story together and help you understand why I have gone to such great lengths to include every detail of this story.
My dear wife is the epitome of Dr. Doolittle. She LOVES animals and animals love her (at least most of them). She catches flies and moths and turns them loose outside. She very much prefers that I live-trap mice and go turn them loose somewhere and going hunting with me is completely out of the question.
Alright, this is where the joking stops. All kidding aside, you have to understand just how traumatic this incident was for her. Her having to shoot that goat, that she raised from a baby, was every bit the equivalent of you having to shoot your best friend. It took me a few days to really grasp the impact that this event had on her. Now, let's finish my lengthy presentation here...
OK, we left off where I had arrived at the scene of the crime...
She almost immediately told me her first recollection of what happened. She was badly bruised but fortunately no broken bones or open wounds. My son and I gutted and skinned the animal and took him to the meat processor as we didnt have the room or time to do it ourselves. His live weight was over 200 pounds! When we cut him open, we were surprised to find that the first 9mm bullet first passed through 2" of horn before entering the body. Had it been a hunting scenario, it would have been a great shot. It was a killing shot but not a good stopping shot. Big difference. After the bullet passed through the horn, it entered the body about mid-way down from the front, between the shoulder blade and the center of the breast. It pretty much severed the aorta and went through one lobe of the liver and one lung. He was dead, but no one had bothered to inform him. The last attack was quite literally on his last breath.
When we went to bed that night, we learned that she had holstered her gun after the attack with a Type II malfunction, caused by sand and debris entering the action of the gun when she was knocked tonthe ground. By the Grace of God, the gun fired the last crucial shot before becoming inoperable.
The next morning was not business as usual. The musky scent of the goat was still in the air, the hide was laying off to the side of the trail and there were still tell-tale signs of blood on the ground. Amy now had PTSD so I walked out with her to feed. While walking out to the feed shed with it's newly repaired door, she stops in her tracks, put her fingertip to her lips as if lost in thought and said, "Wait a minute, that's not what happened at all." She then proceeded to tell me a similar version of the story but with dramatically different details. OK. The rest of the day was fairly normal and aside from Amy being pretty restless, the night went well as well. The next morning, same thing. I mean EXACTLY the same thing complete with a brand-new version of the story which she maintains is still accurate today.
Now then, it's class time. What did you learn from this story? In case it's not really coming around for you, let's review what happened and see how it applies to a more common shooting scenario...
Have a gun.
Ladies and gentlemen, carrying a deadly weapon on your person is possibly the single most intense responsibility you will ever undertake in your life. If you're going to carry a gun, carry it ALL the time. Not sometimes. Not when you feel you might need it. Not when you're going to "that" side of town... ALL the time. It means don't leave home without it. Period. Ever.
If my sweet wife would have done what most people would have done and said, "I'm going to go out do chores then I'll come back and finish getting ready to go to town", she may have been very seriously injured or killed. Make no mistake, this was a lethal force scenario.
Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. ALWAYS! Amy has always done remarkably well at this.
Do everything you can to protect the innocents that you are responsible for.
Amy demonstrated this by directing Kelly to go and lock herself in the other pen. In your home, it could have been shoving your kids or spouse in a closet or bathroom.
Do your best to exercise all avenues of retreat before engaging the threat. No, in many states you are not required to but in every state, it is still generally a good idea, although there are cases where it may not be possible.
Amy demonstrated this by locking herself in the feed shed. When her attacker forcefully entered, she was left with no choice but to engage.
Amy's first fail.
Never assume that one shot will be enough to permanently end your issue. Its not like the movies. Shoot them to the ground. Shoot them until they are incapable of continuing to do harm.
After the shooting, even if you feel safe, perform an after-action assessment to ensure that your attacker is incapable of continuing to harm you, that there are no additional hostiles, that you or your companions are not injured and lastly, that your weapon has not been damaged and is topped off with ammunition.
This was Amy's second fail. In spite of going through several classes where that was taught, it slipped her mind under the very real stress of this situation. She walked away from the initial shooting location thinking she had incapacitated her attacker and she was rewarded with a follow-up attack.
In spite of the after-action fail, she performed admirably by going straight to the cranial-ocular cavity after the center-mass shot failed.
Another after-action fail. Even after your attacker has been put down hard, perform after-action the same way. In Amy's case, she didn't check her weapon or reload. Either one would have resulted in discovering the Type II malfunction.
Immediately call 911 when you are sure you are safe. In this case, 911 was me but the principle is the same.
KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!
Note that Amy told me three different stories, each of which she believed to be true. In a shooting where the law is involved, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! You have one chance to get it right. No matter how innocent and right you think you are, let your attorney do the talking!
When I say Amy failed a couple of points, let me explain something. Amy won. She was not a failure. However, this clearly demonstrates that no matter how much training youve had, you can still fail under that much stress. What she DIDN'T fail at was accuracy and determination. One she has practiced extensively, the other is an inherent trait. I know MANY men that would not have done as well in the same situation. All-in-all, Amy did quite well under the circumstances and she learned a lot. After all this, I think I would just as soon have my wife backing me up in a hostile environment as a great many men that I know.
Using this real-life scenario is a great training aid and I use it in all of my defensive weapon classes. Several of my students have asked me to put it into text form so they can study it. So... here it is!
(Edit: After Amy read this, she corrected me on some of the details of the shooting. I have made the necessary corrections to the story.)