Can deadly force be used to protect yourself against an animal attack? The law of self-defense and the defense of others applies when you are faced with an animal attack. Virginia is a Stand Your Ground state. This means that if you did not start the fight or provoke the incident in any way, then you can stand your ground and defend yourself against your attacker without having to retreat. If you are without fault in provoking or bringing on the attack and you reasonably fear that you are in imminent danger of being killed or in imminent danger of great bodily harm and you use no more force than is reasonably necessary to protect yourself from the perceived harm or the attack under the circumstances as they appear to you, then your use of deadly force and self-defense is legally justified.
If you are involved in an event that requires you to defend yourself against an animal attack, which means you discharged your firearm, the odds are very high that it will be investigated by the authorities, and if it is investigated and they determine that it’s not self-defense, that you did not have a right to protect yourself, then you very well may be charged with something like cruelty to animals or the reckless handling of a firearm.