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.4 VkxBXzY4MDkuanBn
  • 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.


Fur DriveWhy 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.

How horrific!

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!

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  1. Mandy says:

    Interesting article. Dogs are funny creatures, they have many labels, so many in fact I can’t keep up. Aggressive, reactive is there is there a difference. There is so much written about these types of dogs and as an owner of one I find it nothing but confusing, what is he? Is he aggressive, is he reactive, is he protecting me, does he see things I don’t? Well who knows! I feel sorry for these dogs because behind it all there is a reason but sometimes we never know why, especially if the dog has no known history. Who knows whist the dog saw when he attempted to bite you? Was he jealous, did you trigger some kind of memory, were you a threat, was he protecting his master? Dogs can’t talk, I know but owning a dog like the one in this story, I go out of my way to make sure nothing like that ever happens to him.


    Minette Reply:

    I would suggest you see a veterinary behaviorist. They can better help you understand. Not all reactive dogs are aggressive and not all aggressive dogs are reactive. Reactive usually means acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.

    Aggression hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront. and the action of attacking without provocation, especially in beginning a quarrel or war.

    A behaviorist can witness the behavior and tell you which applies to your specific dog.

    It is fine to own a dog like this, if you are committed to working on and controlling the behavior. It is not okay to rehome a dog like this.

    As far as the dog that bit me, he is not reactive, he was not threatened, he was not protecting his owner. And, honestly ultimately it doesn’t matter, biting is not acceptable, it results in euthanasia. Now he is in bite quarantine because the next person he bit he broke skin and inflicted a wound, on his face. There was no reason for that to happen after the owner saw the behavior previously.

    I do agree that that owner should be able to keep the dog, provided that it doesn’t happen again and he can control the dog. But this dog doesn’t need to be placed with an unknowing person that he could wound or kill a child.


  2. The first thing I tell people who are planning on adopting a dog is “Not all Rescues are created equal”! Some rescues are in complete denial and it is unfortunate and can be very dangerous if the dog has not been probably vetted and a comprehensive assessment has not been completed! The fact is some dogs are not suitable for adoption especially in a family environment with young children. Please do your research before working with a Rescue!


  3. Helen says:

    My 6 month old Lab is not agressive as you describe but overly friendly and nips too hard. Nothing we have tried works to stop her. Our hands and arms are all bit up. My husband says she is just a puppy and will stop. The behavior is not subsiding. Help.


  4. Cat says:

    Personally, I would not allow that behavior at all. Especially at her age! It is not going to get better on its own. It will only get worse if not stopped ASAP. I have lived with 2 labs that bit people, repeatedly. I did not know they were that way until after I had adopted them and was attached to them several months later. The first died years ago, but not before he had bitten several people. The second one is still alive and I am needing to decide about re-homing him with my daughter or if euthanasia is the right thing.
    Don’t put yourself in this predicament.
    The older they get, and the more established they become in this behavioral response, the harder it is to change them. This is the unfortunate reality.


  5. Denise Nelson says:

    I have a 6 month old female black lab. She is currently exhibiting highly aggressive biting behavior especially around food. I keep my dishes in the same cabinet that her food treats are in. If I put dishes away I can count on her lunging at me and biting my hand and wrist and twisting them, breaking skin with deep bites. We have taken to crating her so I can cook, do dishes, eat, and feed our cats. She has become highly aggressive towards the two elderly cats who she previously played happily with. When I take her to the vet my vet says you can’t let her do that. Really! I don’t like being scarred from head to toe. We have always shown loving behavior to this dog and have had her since 5 weeks old. When her adult teeth came in a month ago she started this behavior. We have spent literally hundreds of dollars on chew toys, treats, and ultra high quality dog food. This dog is not abused in any way, shape, or form except for the occasional yell by me when I am bit. I have read so many articles, talked with so many people including dog trainers, and none of their suggestions has worked. She is exercised every hour for 20 minutes. She runs on a long leash and plays with her toys, chews up roots and rocks (she has her own rock garden from everything she has dug up), and tears down tree and shrub branches along with eating flowers which has given her diarrhea on a regular basis. I cannot rehome a dog like this and I will not give her to a shelter. I have never had this kind of trouble with a puppy and I have had several over the years.


    Minette Reply:

    find a boarded veterinary behaviorist


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