December 10, 2023

A man fatally shot a German shepherd pet at Percy Warner Park on Sept. 13 when it ran toward him off its leash, according to Nashville police.

The dog’s owner told police the 6-year-old dog was 20 feet from its owner when it saw a squirrel and took off. According to police, a 31-year-old man fired multiple rounds at the dog when it got to within a few feet of him. The dog died.

The man told officers he felt the dog was about to attack him. He fired at the dog with a .38-caliber semi-automatic pistol seized at the scene, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department.

The dog’s owner said the dog was not aggressive and had a shock collar on.

No charges have been filed against the 31-year-old man. The case remains under investigation as police continue working with the district attorney’s office to review facts of the case.

Here are the laws and rules that might apply in this case.

Walkers and joggers take a last trip up and down before a temporary closure of the historic limestone steps at Percy Warner Park, effective Monday, January 6, 2020  in Nashville, Tenn. Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.

Walkers and joggers take a last trip up and down before a temporary closure of the historic limestone steps at Percy Warner Park, effective Monday, January 6, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.

Are guns allowed at Percy Warner Park?

Some Tennesseans have been allowed to have handguns in parks since 2015, when lawmakers passed a law that allowed handgun permit holders to carry the guns in parks, except when the park is in use for school-related activities.

Then in 2021, legislators passed a law allowing residents to carry handguns in most public places without a permit.

But the 2021 law does not appear to apply to parks, according to the Tennessee State Parks website.

The Warner Parks website states that guns are not allowed in those parks.

The law also prohibits carrying explosives, explosive weapons, permanently disabled firearms, hoax devices, imitation firearms, machetes or swords within 150 feet of a park.

Unlawful killing of animal

In Tennessee, it is an offense to knowingly and unlawfully kill the animal of another without the owner’s consent.

But under the same TN Code 39-14-205, a person is justified in killing such an animal if the person acted under a reasonable belief that the animal was creating an imminent danger or serious bodily injury to that person or their animal.

A person is not justified in killing the animal of another if at the time of the killing the person is trespassing upon the property of the owner of the animal.

Animals are required to be on leashes at Percy Warner Park.

Reach reporter Craig Shoup by email at and on X @Craig_Shoup. To support his work, sign up for a digital subscription to

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: A man shot a dog at a Nashville park. Here are the laws at play.

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