As a lifelong shooter and gun owner, as well as a former military firearms instructor, I have always preached that with firearms ownership comes a heavy responsibility. If you choose to own a firearm, you, and only you, are responsible for that gun being stored, carried, and used responsibly. And if you are not willing to accept that responsibility, you have no business having a firearm, no matter what the Second Amendment says.

Now let’s talk about responsible pet ownership. I love dogs. For most of my life before we began traveling fulltime in an RV, I owned (or was owned by) a series of German Shepherds. And most of those dogs were professionally protection trained. German Shepherds have been called aggressive breeds, but all of my dogs were well trained, well behaved, and kept under adult control any time they were out of my fenced yard.

To give you an idea of the quality of dogs I had, my last one, Magic, became a working police officer with our local department when we went on the road. As much as I love dogs, a German Shepherd would not fit in our RV lifestyle and I was glad that he was adopted by an officer friend of mine and accepted for police work.

That being said, having a dog, especially a large dog of any breed, comes with the same responsibility as a firearm. So am I the only one who thinks it’s interesting that Gabby Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who is all over the news talking about responsible gun ownership, seems to have no comment about a vicious attack by a dog owned by his daughter that killed a seal over the weekend? I must warn you that this link to a New York Daily News story about the attack has some graphic photos of the attack.

Very little has been said about this in the media, though the gruesome video of the attack can be found on You Tube. Why not? I wonder why we haven’t heard much about this in the news. If that had been your dog or mine, we’d probably be cited and the dog put down. I have not found any mention of official action following the attack, except for someone saying the animal had gotten off its leash. That’s not acceptable.

While I admire Gabby Giffords, the fact that she was a victim of a madman does not change the fact that this incident should never have happened. What if that had been a child? It would have been just as dead as if someone had gotten careless with a gun.

So Mr. Kelly, while I have no problem with background checks for gun purchases, I do have a problem with irresponsible gun and dog owners. Why haven’t you had a comment on this unfortunate incident? And what are you and your family doing to make sure it never happens again?

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32 Comments on Let’s Talk Responsibility

  1. Matt G. says:

    I don’t get it. What this got to do with gun control? am I missing something?

  2. Pam says:

    I don’t know, Nick, this seems like a bit of a stretch. I just googled this and it’s covered by 118 news sources including Washington Post, LA Times, ABC, Fox and CBS. The gun groups are all over it, too, and pushing the story, which seems like petty vindictiveness.

    The dog broke it’s leash and Kelly rushed to pull the dog off but was too late. You think that should be all over the news? Seriously? Now, if he had left a gun unattended and unlocked and a criminal got ahold of it and pointed it at him, you could call him irresponsible and I think everyone would agree. And, in light of his current efforts, he would be a hypocrite, too and the news would be right to cover it. But this? Like I said, it’s a stretch. I’m sure the gun nuts will love this post though because Kelly is public enemy number one with them right now. I think your better than that though. I sure hope so anyway.

  3. Pam says:

    Ooops, you’re not your. I hate when I do that. 😛

  4. Nick Russell says:

    My point is, Pam, if the dog were properly trained and properly leashed with a good quality leash in the hands of somebody capable of controlling the animal this would not have happened. If his daughter was physically incapable of controlling the dog, she should not have it. Just as someone who is not willing to be properly trained should not have a gun. Responsibility.

  5. Stanley Ross says:

    I agree Nick and I am NOT a gun nut, do not have a gun, never had and never will. I hate them. I has a friend who a pit that got away from his 15 year old son who was a big kid. The dog mauled a neighbor kid and my friend said it wasn’t his fault. Than whose was it? He chose to own a pit (and I have known several sweet pets) that he got at a swap meet with no idea of its breeding. He chose to let his son walk the dog and another child suffered because of those decisions.

  6. Mike Jensen says:

    Kelly is a jerk who is cashing in on his wife’s tragedy to pave his way to a political career.

  7. Mike Miller says:

    Really, Pam? You don’t see the connection between responsible gun ownership and responsible dog ownership? A Pitt Bull is a dangerous animal. I don’t care what their fans say, they have powerful jaws and can cause terrible damage. You can’t ignore the many, many news reports of their attacks. Yes shepherds, dobies, etc. can also be dangerous. Or any of them can be wonderful family pets. It all comes down to responsibility and Nicks right on this one. You said Kelly is public enemy #1 to gun nuts. Which makes him the poster boy of the antigunners. So what? He’s a public figure involved in an ugly incident and needs to at least make a public statement about this and not just ignore it.

  8. Pam says:

    Ok, I get it and I apologize. It just struck me as kind of convoluted but I definitely agree that dogs should be properly trained and restrained. I still don’t think the story deserves “breaking news” status though and I think it wouldn’t be being covered at all if Mark and Gabby weren’t speaking out on gun control.

    I don’t think you’re being vindictive, because you seem to mostly agree with him, but I was disgusted when I googled this to see how virulently hateful the gun groups were being about this incident. Some of the parents of the Sandy Hook tragedy are speaking out and getting similar treatment. I find that sickening.

  9. Pam says:

    Mike it was a bulldog, not a pit bull. But, yes, any dog can be dangerous, particularly to wildlife.

    Nick stated that he had not heard of any official action being taken but there is, in fact, an ongoing investigation. They’re performing a necropsy on the sea lion and the California authorities checked with Texas authorities to see if the dog had any history of previous attacks and it did not. Also, Mark Kelly was not even present when the attack first occured but ran to the beach to try to help when his younger daughter alerted him to what was happening.

  10. Fred Hammer says:

    So, Mark Kelly “was not even present when the attack first occurred…” Is he not also responsible for his daughter? He failed in this regard also. Of three things for which Mark Kelly might be responsible: a gun, a dog, a daughter, only one of those things can cause no harm on its own.

  11. Wayne from PA says:

    Just one additional fact…According to news reports, Kelly’s daughter was 18 and it was her dog. So, when do we stop holding the parents responsible for their children’s actions? In all the states that I know, it is age 18. The arguments about controlling the dog have merit, but the focus on Kelly and Gifford appear to be based more on their anti-gun support than their lack of responsibility.

  12. Dave K says:

    Hooray, Bad Nick stired the pot again…. You got to admit it sold alot of newspapers. And that is the name of the game in todays times !!
    Off to the desert to shoot today….

  13. John Huggins says:

    That’s a good point Wayne. What about parents who won’t or can’t discipline their kids and then turn them loose on society? Shouldn’t we hold them responsible for the havoc their kids cause? There’s a whole new Bad Nick post for you Nick.

  14. Jim says:


    I agree only one of the three things (the gun) can do no harm by itself. That is a very strong argument for doing a background check on the person who want to purchase one.

  15. Lloyd says:

    Take the leash off your gun and it will just lay there.Take the leash off your dog and it will crap by my rv.

  16. Ed Avance says:

    RIGHT ON. BEING RESPONSIBLE IS always BEING RESPONSIBLE. NOT JUST WHEN IT FITS POLITICAL IDEALS! A big dog loose is no different than a gun laying loose. Having a lease on a dog doesn’t mean the owner has complete control of the dog. It isn’t just an accident. No, it is premeditated carelessness! Also referred to as an accident waiting to happen.

  17. Greg says:

    I have been reading your blogs for many years and while I don’t always agree with you I have always appreciated that you approach the issues with a clear and logical arguments. I agree with all of your statements on responsible dog and gun ownership. I just don’t see the logic of tying the two together using Mark Kelly’s daughter’s lack of control of a dangerous bulldog. I would have used one of the many cases where dogs have attacked a small child as an example for a discussion of the issues of responsible dog ownership. I suppose you can discuss dog and gun ownership together but why tie them together using Mark Kelly and his daughter. I know why some segments of the media will do it but I did not expect you to do it.

    I suppose you could discuss the problem of responsible gun ownership using the example of a full-time RV’er who did not properly secure his handgun in his motorhome and returned to encounter someone who had broken into his motorhome and was pointing his own handgun at him…

    We all make mistakes and need to take responsibility for them. I believe that Mark Kellys’ daughter was not being a responsible dog owner and she should be held accountable and treated just like any other person in this situation without being tied into the current gun debate.

  18. DanBat says:

    Let us look another comparison. Seeing how we can read into this comment or take away anything that might fit our agenda.
    Responsibly confronts each of us everyday in one form are another.
    One that is most visible might be when we get behind the wheel of a car. Gladly we except the responsibility to get to the market.We will do this safely because we all should value life.
    Just to some this up Responsibility….Value life.

  19. George Stoltz says:

    If this incident had occurred to an ordinary John Doe, the police reaction would have been entirely different.

  20. Croft says:

    I wish I had more control over some of the things my son did after he became an adult, but I did not. At some point we have to cut them loose and hope that we gave them the roots of responsiblity they will need throughout their life. An 18 year old has to be responsible for their own actions. We cannot blame previous generations. This incident seems to fit the pattern of an “accident”. And as someone mentioned, it could have been a child that was killed.

    My three year old granddaughter was attacked by a Rottweiler and suffered serious facial injuries. The dog was owned by a friend of my son’s and they were looking after it for him. My granddaughter startled the animal by jumping on it while it was asleep. Lots of blame to go around here but the owner destroyed the dog and has assured my granddaughter that he will pay for any plastic surgery she decides she wants any time in the future.

  21. Stan W. says:

    So she was 18. Does she live at home? A lot of 18 years old so. Did her parents teach her any responsibility?

  22. Lon Williams says:

    I never know how to take you Nick. You claim to be a gun owner but you support background checks which are gun control. Your like a chameleon. Yesterday you were a liberal touting gay marriage and today you are on the other side of the fence. Pick a side and stick to it.

  23. Nick Russell says:

    Lon, as I wrote in a blog a few days ago, there is a middle ground where common sense lives. That’s usually where you’ll find me. Not right, not left, not liberal or conservative.

  24. Arley Running says:

    Just a few days ago I read that there is an investigation going on at a wind farm. It seems a Golden Eagle may have been killed by flying into a turbine, the wind farm company turned the dead bird into the Us Fish and Wildlife Service. They are facing up to a $200,000.00 fine.

  25. Bill Daines says:

    If you have a guest visiting your home with a dog, child or adult you do have a responsibility to see that the dog is under control at all times. The dog owner is civilly and criminally responsible if something does happen. But insurance wise the home owner is gonna be taking the heat too. Common sense if we do have any, if you have a large dog and cannot control it, then you shouldn’t have that large of a dog. I lost a Dobie to cancer a few weeks back and she was as gentle as could be. However I still took proper measures when unfamilar people came up on her unexpectedly. I just rescued Dobie who is three years old. He’s going to take some training but is as smart as can be. I’d be a foolish not be resonsible with him, and will train him to no ends.
    Thus if and when I carry my gun I am responsible (retired LEO).
    So regardless dog or gun it does boil down to being a responsible individual.
    So a law preventing gun ownership or a law preventing dog ownership, will never happen. We have laws on the books now not being enforced.
    Now with a firearm (gun) if you are a respossible gun owner you take all necessary precautions to prevent it from being taken or used by a untrained individual, unfamiliar on proper gun handling.
    Officials didn’t jump on this attack because of Gabby or Marks support of their fight or belief. They did it because dog attacks are up there with the gun violence, and there are too many.
    But in either case both are extremely controvercial and make head lines in the news. And the press on occasion can really twist the facts when needed, Another great one Nick. Bill :)

  26. Paul Stough says:

    Would people be so upset about this incident had the dog killed a rabbit or a squirrel? You had a dog going after a wild animal, that is what dogs do, but in this “gotcha” world we live in, this incident must make Mark Kelly a hypocrite.


  27. Ed Sherman says:

    I have not seen an American couple, put on a pedestal as high as Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly since the days of John F. Kennedy and Jackie. While what happened to her is terrible and underscores the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and lunatics she is not the hero everybody thinks of her as. She was a victim. Before this happened she wasn’t particularly liked by a lot of us who lived in her Congressional district. Now she’s a hero because she got shot while doing her job. That happens to soldiers and police officers every day, along with store clerks and cab drivers. Yes, her recovery has been amazing and her will to continue with her life is admirable. As for Mark Kelly, let’s remember that he left his injured wife’s side to go flay in space. Yes, that’s an incredible feat, and even heroic some might say based upon the disasters that have happened in the Space Shuttle program. But if my wife was laying in a hospital bed with a gunshot through her head you could not have drug me away with a bulldozer. Mr. Kelly has an agenda, no doubt about that. However, getting back to the original point of this blog, if it had been Joe Schmoo off the street he (or more properly his daughter) would have been cited at the very least. And one must remember that once you put yourself in the public eye as Giffords and Kelly are, every aspect of your life is under constant scrutiny. If Charlie Sheen’s dog had done this it would be all we hear on the news. I saw one short 30 second mention on the news. At the very least Mr. Kelly should hold a news conference and apologize for what happened, whether it was his dog or his daughter’s.

  28. Stan W. says:

    Yes Paul I’d be just as upset because a dog that will attack a squirrel or rabbit or a seal will also attack a child.

  29. Bev Deem says:

    Yes…we said the same thing when we heard the story. If one cannot be responsible for their dog, they are not responsible to have a gun. Mark Kelly actually dived in to pull the dog away from the seal. The bigger story here is Mark Kelly trying to purchase a gun with the intention of handing it over and not being truthful on the background check. The gun store owner claims they learned of the intent after hearing Mark speak on his intent during one of his “news conferences.”

  30. Paul Stough says:

    Stan- I would like to see more information on that. This whole situation reminds me of what first year law students are taught. That is, when you are in court and the law is one your side, you pound on the law. When the facts are on your side you pound on the facts, but when neither are on your side you pound on the table. This is all about pounding on the table.


  31. Barb Scrafield says:

    I agree with you completely on this one Nick. We also believe dog owners have just as much responsibility owning a large dog as a gun owner would in owning a fire arm.
    Also I would be just as upset if a dog killed a rabbit or any other critter.
    As gun owners and NRA members, we have no problem with back ground checks. We are like you, middle of the road thinkers, neither right nor left. We used to be conservative Republicans but somewhere in the past, the party left us, so we left them..


  32. Mitch Zeeb says:

    Hey Nick, I thought I would follow you and listen to some of your interesting stories.
    Thanks for sharing. My wife and I ( and our pop) are planning on full timing it come
    This September. We haven’t found our RV yet, but have purchased our toad. If you can shed
    Any light on what to look out for when buying a used RV, please share. We have never
    Owned an RV and this will be our new life! The way we look at it is get busy living
    Or get busy dying, so we want to enjoy life and help others along the way!

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