Why We Must STOP Re-Homing Aggressive Dogs
I often write my articles from my heart.
They are about what is going on in my life.
What is going on in my clients lives.
And, what I see in the media.
And, many are a combination of a few of those topics.
I think writing from your heart and about what is currently happening; makes for better writing and reading!
I recently wrote about adopting my new cat and how to help dog owners find and integrate a new cat into their home in Meet Finnegan, the 3 legged cat. Where the people in the neighborhood who had been feeding in and bringing him in sometimes read my blog and were so touched by the love I had for him already, the allowed me to keep and spoil him.
I have also written numerous articles on my naughty dog’s antics and their proud moments in From 1 inch to 20 feet a story of the ultimate underdog!
But this article will take more of a serious vein.
I Was Bitten in the Face Last Week
Ironically I, me the great master trainer, was bit in the face the other day.
I was talking to the owner of a dog, who was rubbing on my leg and seeking affection and I was lightly petting him while talking to his owner.
I like the breed (which I won’t mention here because it doesn’t matter) and had averted my eyes to discuss some problems the dog was having with his owner. Honestly I like to give people eye contact when I talk to them… I feel it is rude to look at other things. But I may change my stance on that.
I wasn’t bent over, I wasn’t in his space. I was standing straight up, I stopped petting to better discuss and he leaped up and bit me in the face.
Thankfully he didn’t bite hard enough to break skin. Although my lip was bruised and swollen for about a week; I didn’t sustain any real damage.
I was lucky. He could have ripped part of my lip off.
There was no growl, no snarl, no stiffening really no warning. Now if I had kept an eye on him and not his owner, I probably would have seen a brief sign before it happened but there were no outward cues.
This just reminds the pessimist in me that I should be really selective about petting dogs. Facial reconstruction is nothing to laugh at.
Interesting to note, the dog bit someone else in the face later in the week and is in quarantine, meaning this time he undoubtedly broke skin.
And, the owner already thought he was too much dog.
I am afraid for this owner, I am afraid for this dog, but I am terrified for the general public if this dog is rehomed. This person, if he decides to make some major changes may make this dog controllable, although still a huge liability the dog could wear a muzzle safely in public and still be a fine dog at home, as he has never shown this behavior to him.
Still terrifying but a personal choice by the owner that should come with some severe liability now that he has bitten more than once.
I think rehoming an aggressive dog should be illegal and carry stiff, stiff fines and jail time.
Why Would Anyone Rehome an Aggressive Dog?
- Most of the time people are in denial.
- They don’t think the dog is actually aggressive.
- They think THEY can’t handle the dog.
- They think it is something they did or that they didn’t do.
And what is worse (and should also be a crime) is dog trainers who aren’t successful with working with a dog like this, then blaming it on the owner. Because, again this makes the owner feel destitute and inept so they think someone else can handle a dog like this.
This is usually not the case. Usually owners don’t cause aggression, especially these owners that care. Sure there is mistreatment in this world when it comes to animals, but those people typically don’t seek help. Often they chain or kill the dog.
I don’t believe the old myth “It’s how you raise them” because I have had difficult dogs, and I have seen families ravaged by difficult dogs that they did everything to help. It is easier to blame the person, but I believe in most cases it is a copout.
The options should be keep the dog and ensure control and diligence with perhaps medication to help with behavior modification, euthanasia, or make someone sign saying they accept and know the dog is dangerous and accept all liability (not many people jumping on that bandwagon).
And, if these dogs are taken to shelters (which I think is so much worse for them) the staff should be told and they too should have to sign something saying the dog is dangerous and will not be rehomed.
I Know it is Difficult
It is horrifyingly sad, it makes people distraught to think their dog needs euthanasia.
But you know what is worse?
The fact that a child could be mauled because the owner didn’t share the information, or perhaps the owner just abandoned the dog hoping animal control would “find” and adopt it. It should be criminal negligence and considered a crime.
Why would I be so harsh on an owner and dog?
I’m supposed to be a dog trainer?
Aren’t we suppose to defend the dog?
Yes, yes and most of the time, I do.
But sometimes the horrors of negligence hit the news.
The little boy in Detroit who was walking to school with his mother when he was snatched by 4 dogs and dragged under a fence and killed; thankfully that owner is facing murder charges. Clearly this was not the first time these dogs had escaped or showed signs of aggression.
What if they had been relinquished to a shelter? Would the outcome have been much different? I don’t believe it would have been as severe as in death, probably, because it probably would have been one dog adopted but I do believe it would have still been horrific.
And, in My County
And, in my county just recently, meaning this week, a 5 year old child was mauled by a recently adopted shelter dog.
The parents left the dog and child alone in a room (the same day the dog was adopted) yes, this is crazy, but many people don’t realize how dangerous dogs can be!
Soon after they heard an odd noise from the dog, proceeded to the room and found the dog biting the child’s head and face.
The parents are traumatized, the child is traumatized for life, the dog will be horribly treated and euthanized; and chances are this dog has at some point shown aggression.
I believe in these instances neighbors, friends, dog trainers, and family of the dog’s previous history should be interviewed and charges brought.
If the penalties for dropping dogs like this at shelters or rehoming them were stiff, this wouldn’t have to happen.
Were the parents crazy for leaving their child with a new dog? Absolutely! Even known dogs and children shouldn’t be left alone. But the child did not deserve this. Nor did the child in Detroit deserve to die.
I think shelters and animal control should temperament test.
I believe that should be mandatory. Many dogs with aggression will be caught but a few will still slip through.
I believe that the aggressive dogs should be euthanized humanely and kindly by someone who cares, so these incidents stop happening.
By there owners, or by kind shelter staff.
And, I believe that there should be stiff consequences when the owners are culpable because they didn’t want to deal with a liability.
Things must change so that dogs don’t suffer horribly and children and others are not mauled.
Dogs and dog ownership is dangerous.
Be careful with your own dog.
Know that any dog will bite in the right circumstances.
Don’t encourage children to pet dogs that you don’t know.
Don’t pet dogs yourself, that you don’t know and can’t keep an eye on.
And, always trust your gut instinct.
If a dog doesn’t have “squishy face” and is not soliciting affection, don’t pet it!
It is just, simply not worth it!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.