First of all I appreciate any feedback you can provide. I feel honored that I can ask a professional on an issue such an important question to myself. I am sure most on GT feel the same as myself!
My question revolves around the defense of the not so official family members and the distance I should go in protecting them. I have attempted to find anything regarding the public opinion/law on what is legal as well as not insane but have not been able to find much or any information on the subject. I understand many on GT view them as either an unfortunate target in a self defense situation or a tool to be used in order to protect the other larger members of the family but there are a small few who feel a bit more attached to their furry companions and view them as close to children as (probably) possible.
The situation I find myself in is I have a very small dog, a miniature chihuahua, but due to his small size yet tremendous personality I have unfortunately found myself in multiple situations where I have either had to defend him from being taken/stolen or keep an individual from harming him. I certainly do not want to shoot at every individual that gives him a 'look' but I would certainly love to know what my limits are in defending him as well as myself. I would have to imagine that brandishing is the most I would ever do to protect him, but I feel that it is probably illegal to point a gun at a person if they have kicked him when he was minding his own business (it has happened). I have to imagine that he is probably considered 'property' by my state (Tennessee) so I believe I would have a right to brandish to keep him from being stolen, however I cannot find anything that says 'yes this is legal, or considered legal by leo'. Thankfully Tennessee has recently relaxed their regulation on carrying in state parks (which is where about half of the incidents have occured) so I can view this logic applying to multiple situations. I also have pepper spray on me at all times, however I have no idea what the effect would be on the dog itself if he were close enough to be in contact (which he most likely would be) due to his very small size.
Once again, any information is greatly appreciated as I just cannot find anything on this circumstance, but it is the biggest issue I currently have.. I worry I cannot even take him outside to use the bathroom anymore.