There is an interesting case out of Opelousas, Louisiana, where Madeline Bourgeois, 67, is charged with shooting her pet llama, Earl. She has claimed self-defense but prosecutors insist that the passage of time between the attack and the shooting negated the defense.
Bourgeois says that she was working in her pasture when Earl attacked her. She said that she hit the animal and then ran from the pasture. She returned with a gun and repeatedly shot Earl.
Earl survived and was treated for a broken rib and gun shot wounds.
Now we get to the position of Sheriff Bobby Guidroz who says Bourgeois had a right to defend herself and could have killed Earl during the attack. However, she lost that privilege when she returned to the pasture.
It is the application of a common law rule that applies to the privilege of self-defense but this is the first time that I recall seeing it applied to a human/animal case. Under the common law, there is a privilege in the use of reasonable self-defense or even “reasonable mistaken self-defense.” In the case of Courvoisier v. Raymond, 23 Colo. 113 (1896), a man chased a group out of his home only to fire when a man approached him outside his home from the stone-throwing mob. It turned out to be a deputy sheriff but the court found that Courvoisier could rely on reasonable mistaken self-defense. The common law has long offered ample protections even for reasonable mistakes. You can use commensurate force, even lethal force, if defending against a lethal threat. However, that privilege is lost through retaliation. While you do not have a duty to retreat under the common law (and thus may “stand your ground”), you cannot return and retaliate. Once the danger has passed, you are no longer privileged to use violence against the perpetrator. So if you see the attacker the next day after he pulled a knife on you, you cannot kill him absent a new threat to your life.
In this case, Sutherland retreated from the danger and then returned to confront Earl. That would constitute retreat and then retaliation under the common law.
She is now charged with animal cruelty.