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Help Moral Dilemma

To kill or not to kill!

1 - 6 of 6 posts


wild child2 wild child2 QLD Posts: 2638
1 9 Feb 2012
Ok, well I volunteer for a rescue group in my local region. We rescue dogs & cats from our local pounds aswell as taking surrender animals from the general public & stray/abandoned animals etc. We foster them in our homes until a forever home is found and we desex, microchip, vaccinate etc etc all that jazz...

We had a call yesterday from a family wanting to rehome their 18month old purebred german shepherd because he has bitten their daughter quite badly which has resulted in her needing stitches.

Now in my time involved with rescue & dogs, I have had alot of hands on experience with dogs behaviour aswell as lots of contact with dog behaviour industry professionals.

The parents heard their daughter scream (she should have been supervised at all times yes but people are often lazy with this) and they came out to find their dog with all his 'hackles' up (hair standing up along his back) and blood pouring down her face... Off to hospital she went to get the side of her face stitched up.

I do believe it would have been ALOT worse had the parents not arrived promptly on the scene. I believe he would have done alot more damage and he was quite worked up when the approached him after the incident.

Now we were going to rehome this dog to a child free home until I had a long talk to my friend who is a dog behaviourist...

We are both the last people to ever jump to the conclusion that a dog should be put down for mis behaviour and big believers in the owners are to blame & most issues can be resolved through training etc etc, but she suggested that we recommend they get him PTS and I can agree.

Apparently the daughter was staring him down and he snapped. Now I agree, a child should never stare a dog down and should be educated on how to appropriately interact with a dog but who can tell what the trigger will be next time.

Even if we rehome to a family without kids, everyone ALWAYS has some contact with kids, whether it be your niece or cousin, neighbours child, children at the park etc and how could anyone live with themselves if he did it again and possibly killed a child.

I personally do not think many dog owners, regardless of how responsible they are in 'general' have much clue about training & appropriately managing a possibly person aggressive dog. Obedience classes etc doesn't cut it when it comes to aggression issues. You really need to enlist the assistance of a reputable behaviourist and make training an every day part of life which most people are not willing or capable of doing.

The owners suggested he could go in to a life of a security or work as a service dog but that is NOT a desirable life for any dog. Being hauled around on choke & prong collars etc...

There are LOTS of healthy & sociable dogs being euthanised in our local pounds every day that we can't save for one reason or another and it's a hard part of rescue but we DO have to pick & choose who lives & dies as we can't save them all...

I personally couldn't live with the guilt if he hurt another child, I don't think the family could either, it could ruin our rescue groups reputation & as a result limit our ability to save other animals in the future. From experience no matter how much you warn people about a particular behaviour issue with a dog, they always place blame back on you when they are at their witts end.

I feel conflicted to deny a life because of the possible taking of life!!

What to do in this case?
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carinaforkeeps carinaforkeeps NSW Posts: 484
2 9 Feb 2012
I think you know the right thing to do...
As sad as it is for this one dog, to be sustainable, you have to be responsible.
Could you look into German Shepherd rescue instead?
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Ronnie Ronnie QLD Posts: 205
3 9 Feb 2012
I really feel for you with this.  I would hate to be in your situation.  Fortunately & in this case unfortunately I do believe animals are very similar to humans in their brain wave patterns & their behaviour.  Some humans are sociopaths & psychopaths that leads them to do terrible things such as torture, assault, murder..... And I believe animals are similar to this - there are some animals that are just wired "wrong" e.g. animal sociopaths or animal psyphopaths.

I unfortunately agree that this dog may not be able to be retrained or rehomed due to his behaviour issue (mauling the girl).  I thoroughly agree in training an animal properly - I'm in the process of trying to untrain my Min Pin (looks more like an Italian Greyhound if you ask me) from being so nervous, barky, skittish..... nutty.  It's taking time but it's working - fortunately I work from home so I can put the time into training him; unfortunately not a lot of people are able to do this so the poor animal suffers.

However, I did see a dog psychologist a few years ago after I was having aggression issues with my 1st dog after he suffered a dog attack at the hands of a Bull Mastiff (an immature & stupid 15yr old boy was walking him & letting him off lead to approach & attack other dogs - I hate that kid!!!!) - he passed away later after this attack.  And the dog psychologist suggested training (clicker training is what I use as it works well for food-minded animals), if training didn't work he suggested drugs, if that didn't work he didn't suggest PTS but he did admit some dogs just don't get along.  Be it with their kind or the human kind.

I think you may be in this boat.  PTS seems like the absolute worst thing to do as an animal lover, but I too know that I in this situation I couldn't live with myself if another child or adult was attacked by this particular dog.  

Is it an option to try him on drugs & training?  

If not, then to save another child & to save the dog from his own behaviour I think I personally would make the terrible decision of having him PTS.  I hate to say this, as I'm an absolute dog lover; however, I've also had my 1st dog taken away from me by the dog attack mentioned before & being on the receiving end of a dog attack is awful & I do wish that dog had been found & PTS.  I don't forgive him & I don't forgive the owner.  

Hence, if this German Shephard attacked again, your resuce centre wouldn't be forgiven, nor the dog, nor the owner.  And you probably wouldn't be able to forgive yourself.
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Beemo Beemo United States Posts: 1259
4 9 Feb 2012
If you don't think the dogs problems can be resolved through training or medication, then sadly putting him to sleep may be the only safe option.
I was bitten by two different dogs when I was a young child, both of which were from homes that didn't have children. Both times were under parental supervision and both attacks were to my face. Luckily no major damage, but it could have been worse.

German Shepherds, although usually quite good natured, have the ability to do a lot of harm.
Having had a lot of experience in this industry, if you think that the dog should be PTS then you're probably right. It sounds cruel to say, but as you said there are lots of dogs in the pounds on death row which would be more suitable to be re-homed.
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Deespark Deespark QLD Posts: 328
5 9 Feb 2012
The dog could be trained. But to be honest, it would take a lot of time, a good, experienced owner matched with a good trainer, and the dog would need lots of management to prevent the dog even having a chance of encountering children. And it is unlikely that you would be able to find someone with the time and willingness to do that.
And on the other hand, it may be a mental issue within the dog that can't be trained.

Unless you do know anyone who could handle the dog, it is probably best to put it down. Doing that is potentially saving other lives, and also putting the dog out of its stress, as it sounds like he is a stressed dog. Most aggressive dogs are stressed and fearful etc. And its not fun for them.

If i had the time, my own place and no other pets, I would probably take the dog. But not many people would like an aggressive dog (and I wouldn't blame you guys if the dog attacked someone, whereas a lot of people would). Its really unfortunate. But if you don't put the dog down it may attack and even kill somebody, a kid. And that would result in the dog getting pts anyway, and most likely the dog would get the snot beat out of it from the kids parents.
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Vegan-Lisa Vegan-Lisa SA Posts: 164
6 9 Feb 2012
....a very tough case u poor luv... I only question if anyone actually knows exactly what happened because without supervision nobody really knows.. And kids lie all the time, not just troublesome ones either. I was lucky but when I was younger I put a skipping rope around our rotties neck and pulled a bit testing her , she didn't bite me but her snap and bark was enough to scare the absolute [email protected]&$ outta me and I never tried anything silly again. Luckily she didn't attack me but not all other dogs would have held back and plain and simple I deserved whatever I got .. I loved her but I was just very young and silly ..  I'm certainly not saying it were the Childs fault but when there's no supervision who really knows what happens???  Good luck Hun, all the best, I guess you just do what you feel is right?? Xo
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