Euthanizing aggressive dogs

A Jack Russell terrier type dog (not pictured) was killed in a local pound last week because of his extremely aggressive behavior, according to 4 Luv of Dog, a Fargo dog rescue. Because of the dog’s aggression, he was considered by the pound to be “unadoptable.”

My immediate reaction was shock. Was there really no one in the area capable of helping this dog? How can a group call themselves a rescue if they aren’t willing to rescue every dog? Why didn’t I help him? (In this case the pound would not release the dog to rescues due to its aggression, according to 4 Luv of Dog.)

My more logical self reminded me that I hadn’t volunteered to foster this dog even before I knew he was aggressive. I also realize dogs are euthanized every day, including healthy dogs, young dogs and friendly dogs. This dog was not friendly and probably not healthy either.

When is it acceptable to kill a dog due to aggression issues? Is it ever OK?

Ace the mutt - Euthanizing aggressive dogs

Obviously there is no correct answer. But sooner or later, anyone involved in dog rescue and even some who aren’t will play a part in making this choice.

My simplified answer: There are circumstances when the best choice is to kill the dog.

That being said, I also believe every dog can be rehabilitated to the point of living an almost normal and safe life. It’s just that resources are usually unavailable, the risk of a person getting injured is too great and more laws are out there banning dangerous dogs.

I admire the web master of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue for honestly posting info about the impounded terrier on its home page and admitting he would not be rescued. I’m sure the organization will get at least some negative feedback for its decision to post this info, even if the pound would not release the dog.

No other shelter or rescue group in the area was able to help the terrier either. Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo Moorhead did not. The F-M Humane Society did not. 4 Luv of Dog Rescue was the only group I am aware of that at least acknowledged the dog.

No one helped this dog, and everyone who is a true dog lover should feel at fault for the result.

Euthanizing an aggressive dog

My own parents – two of the world’s greatest dog lovers – had their aggressive spaniel “dealt with” when I was about 3 years old.

I’m not sure if Abby ever got a new home, but her chances were not good. Dog aggression is a serious issue, even more serious when a 3-year-old and a baby are at risk.

In his book “A Good Dog,” Jon Katz wrote about the intense bond he shared with one of his rescued border collies, Orson. Anyone who criticized Jon’s decision to euthanize Orson after the dog attacked multiple people is missing something. People are quick to criticize others.

Confinement, medical treatment and endless rehabilitation are always choices, but not necessarily options in the best interest of the dog or the people who love him. No dog is worth the life of a human.

As for the terrier supposedly euthanized in Fargo last week, he is one example of why more work needs to be done – more communication, more education, better information on training, on socialization, on exercise and adoption.

It’s not just the big dogs, the shepherd mixes and the pitbulls that end up as victims. It is every dog.

Do you believe it is right to euthanize an aggressive dog?

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  1. Rachel on December 2, 2013

    Thanks Lindsay. Sorry to hear you were attacked. I have experienced that too and it’s scary! Isn’t it crazy that despite having tons of positive experiences with dogs, one bad experience can have such an effect?

  2. Penny on October 9, 2014

    I’m not sure anyone is still active on this thread but I (we) could really use some support with the decision we are have made.
    I found this website/thread last year after we rescued at pit mix. We had every intention of re-homing her in fact she has gone to 4 separate places but has always been returned. We were adamant that they notify us before making any decision to surrender her to the pound because we knew what the outcome would be.
    We’ve had 2 separate trainers out to our house for training, we’ve done everything to work with her and get her more socialized. The first incident she went after a neighbors dog when we opened our gate (we didn’t see the neighbor walking her dog but she did) and ended up giving the dog a puncture wound. Paid that vet bill and tried to make amends with our new neighbor but from that point on anytime she walked by our property with her dog Lit’l Bit would go crazy and race back & forth along the fence to the point of getting our other two dogs in a frenzy as well. Neither one of our other two dogs ever acted this way when people walked in front of our property until Lit’l Bit arrived.
    The 2nd incident was when we were introducing her to a couple that was very excited about adopting her and fell in love with her (she is a very pretty brindle & has a very sweet disposition) but as we were making the handoff another little dog showed up and in some freak accident kind of way she struggled in a way that released the latch on her leash. She went after the dog (who was previously traumatized) and we ended up with a $2000 vet bill. Needless to say after seeing that the couple decided against taking her.
    After that we worked diligently to keep her contained in our 1.5 acres but she continued to find ways out and we’d get calls from our neighbors that she was out running around. Thank goodness she never did anything while she was loose. The funny thing is she is normally ready to go after any other dog she sees but for some reason she got along with the dog behind us, in fact when she would get out that is usually where we would find her.
    Two nights ago on our walk we encountered a family with their dog so we went up a drive way to avoid them but as they pasted and we started walking Lit’l Bit tripped me and as I went down I lost control of the leash. She took off after that dog like a rocket and by the time I got there she had a hold of the other dogs ear and was clamped down, it took everything in me to pry her jaw open to release the other dogs ear. Luckily for us the people were very understanding and nothing serious happened to their dog, two of them had some serious road rash from going down on the asphalt.
    After that I came back to this thread and read & re-read posts and realize putting her down is something we need to do. As others have stated we need to do something before its too late and she does some serious damage to another dog or person that may be trying to break up the scuffle. But as others have stated this is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make because 95% of the time she is such a sweet, loving beautiful dog it is breaking my (our) heart.

    How did some of you deal with others that knew what you have done and the judgement(s) you got from them?

    My head knows this is the right decision but my heart is breaking. Thanks for letting me share.

    p.s. I’ve had others tell me to try and find her a place where she can be a guard/attack dog but the thought of her being in that kind of environment and not a loving home seems worse to me.

    • El on October 9, 2014

      Hi Penny,
      Everyone’s situation is different but I really feel for you right now. We had to have our little dog PTS and although it was heartbreaking and I regret HAVING to to it, I don’t regret doing it. It was absolutely the right decision in our case. She would have seriously hurt someone. Anyhow, unfortunately people do judge, and although the majority of people understand and were supportive, a few were not. I can understand why people jump to conclusions, as before we had to do this, I would have probably had the same opinion. In fact I did. I recall a couple I know had to have their dog PTS and I was a critic at the time. Of course when you are put in this awful position yourself, you see things differently. Don’t worry about other people and what they think, do what is best for your dog and for your family. You don’t have to explain your actions to anyone.
      If you know that what you are doing is the best and kindest thing, then it really isn’t any one else’s concern. Sending positive support at this very difficult time x

    • Lisa West on October 9, 2014

      When we were struggling with this a friend said “to give him another chance is to give him another victim!” That really helped us make the decision. My vet really questioned us to be certain we had exhausted all other options and then she agreed with our decision. Up until then I would never have imagined that I would put down a healthy dog.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 9, 2014

      Hi Penny. Gosh, I’m so sorry. I wish there was something I could say to make it better. I wish you did not have to make such a hard choice, and I know you will ultimately do what is best for your dog. It’s obvious you love her very much. Other people will judge, but that is because they can’t possibly understand.

      Take care.

  3. Penny on October 13, 2014

    Thank you so much El, Lisa & Lindsay for your comments/posts, it really means a lot to have others understand and be supportive of the heartbreaking decision we had to make.
    We lovingly helped usher Lit’l Bit into doggie heaven. Even though I felt judged by a few of the front desk girls I truly appreciated the care and understanding we got from the vet. She said the same thing you did Lisa but in different way.
    As others posted previously we were not aware of how much stress we were under by always being on alert and our walks are like night & day now, I forgot how nice walks can be. We miss her dearly even feel a little guilty because we are enjoying how peaceful our house is especially with our other two dogs.
    Thanks again for your support and care it means more than you know.

    • Katrina Kepf on April 24, 2016

      I am faced with this decision and will be making the drive with Maia in the morning. It is killing me. I feel like I failed her. I rescued her, she was abused and starved. For 2 years she has been in our home. I have everything invested into her. But she is unpredictable and attacks the rest of my pack. I have grandchildren, a 4 yr old and a new born, and my home is like a prison. We live in a world of gates, restrictions, and rules to keep everyone safe. after 3 more attacks this week, I have to say enough is enough. If she ever got ahold of my little ones, she would kill them. I can not do this anymore. The Vet said that she believes that she is simply not wired right. She has been with Maia for the 2 years that we have had her. If she were a monster all of the time it would be easier, but she can be so loving and then turn in a split second. I have never had to do this before. My heart is breaking.

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on April 25, 2016

        I’m so sorry.

      • Michelle Cory on October 25, 2016

        katrina ,I absolutely know how you feel, I was in the same situation.I know what you mean about them being loving most of the time, it is so heartbreaking. my guilt goes on, because i wasn’t bitten as badly as everyone else. It’s been 2 years and my heart is still breaking. Thank God i adopted another dog. who is the most gentle dog in the world, because i thought it was me. i am a nervous sort and I keep reading about a dog feeding off your energy.

  4. Jen Gabbard on January 6, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this – it’s a sensitive subject for sure, but you make some great points. Unfortunately we don’t have endless resources to help all dogs become stable/even tempered enough to be adopted by the average family. Looking at the numbers alone of homeless pets vs. how many no kill rescues there are illustrates it pretty well. I don’t run a rescue or shelter yet I’m always outraged when I see people online causing an uproar when an animal is euthanized due to aggression. It’s never the most desirable choice but it happens, and as you say it happens all the time to young, healthy dogs as well. Since the young, happy dog’s don’t have a ‘compelling’ story like the ones who’ve bitten someone no one ever hears about them. It’s a sad situation all around, and I wish the people who are so eager to call out rescues/shelters when they euthanize knew what it was like to actually work with it. It’s heartbreaking – calling people out but failing to act themselves is pretty distasteful.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 6, 2015

      Yeah, such a sad and difficult situation all around. One of my foster dogs was quite aggressive, and part of me still wonders if I made a mistake by not encouraging the rescue to have him put down. He got adopted to a wonderful, single woman with no kids and she seems to be able to manage him well, but he’s not a stable dog and it’s hard to now what’s best sometimes. 🙁

      • Bruce Johnson on January 6, 2015

        My wife and I adopted a 2 year old Boxer 2.5 years ago. He is extremely dog aggressive and very people friendly including small children. His dog aggression has cost us a court appearance even though he did not injure the dog he attack. He is not adoptable due to his reputation and he has a record with the county animal control unit. He has been to the University Behaviorist, several dog trainers have given up on him. Like Lindsay Stordahl’s story above I believe I can manage him and keep him from trouble and harming dogs but last week my wife was walking him and while she was cleaning up his droppings another dog walker approached and my wife was not ready for the encounter. The neighbor dog walker knows about Rocky’s situation and insisted on approaching him rather than moving around him. He grabbed her dog and started to shake it before my wife could intervene. They called the County Animal Control and they visited us again. Our only savior was the neighbor was using a retractable least that exceeded 6′ which is Georgia requirement. I love this dog and he is now seeing a trainer who is a student of the Norwegian trainer Turid Rugass. I wil continue to try and manage Rocky and keep him from trouble.

  5. Rachel on January 6, 2015

    Bruce, so sorry to hear about your dog’s aggression. It’s frustrating when even the experts can’t fix it. I admire your dedication to your dog and wish you all the best in managing him safely. So sorry, I can relate to how stressful it is to keep your dogs behavior safely under control at all times.

    • Bruce Johnson on January 7, 2015

      Thanks for you reply Rachel. Maybe some of you can help me with this question. I believe my dog is depressed because he wants to go outdoors. His trainer insist that he must not be walked because she believes his anxiety escalates when he is outside. The trainer believes that his brain has to cool and he looks to me too often for guidance. She says he is not making decisions because of my control of him.

      My question is: Do dogs experience depression? Do owners sometimes intervene too often and prevent their dog from thinking?

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on January 8, 2015

        Hi Bruce. I would say yes to both of your questions. Yes, dogs can get depressed and at the same time I do think owners sometimes intervene too often in their dogs’ decisions.

        That being said, I don’t know what is best for your dog. Might be worth getting an opinion from a second trainer and a vet’s opinion.

        • Miel D'Rodilique on November 4, 2015

          I’d like to pass along my experience with antidepressants and their administration to my sweet, much-loved 2.5 yr-old German Shepherd, Migo.

          Migo had an unfortunate encounter with a porcupine in the yard that left him scared and anxious. If it had happened anywhere else, he might have been better able to get past it, but he was affected to the point that I called his vet. She put him on a well-known SSRI and seventeen days later, Migo turned on his docile, old housemate — his BFF — and bit him badly, without provocation or any actionable warning.

          The emergency vet who treated my injured dog was thoroughly unsurprised. She told me that she doesn’t prescribe this particular medication for dogs because she’s seen this outcome too often.

          Please understand that there’s certainly a place for these meds but my research shows that in a positively chilling number of cases in which they’re prescribed for human use, the results are horrifyingly similar. The FDA requires a black-box warning for use in adolescents but absent that, the meds seem to be too often prescribed by practitioners who are uninformed as to the potentially disastrous consequences.

          Your dog may benefit from an SSRI but I really think you should be made aware of the possibly catastrophic consequences. As for me, I now believe that psychotropic drugs should only be prescribed by neurologists, psychiatrists and veterinary behaviorists.

          I wish you all the best. Please keep us posted as to your decision and the results.

      • Rachel on January 20, 2015

        Bruce, does the trainer suggest an alternative outlet for Rocky’s energy, if not walks? I don’t suppose you are lucky enough to have a fenced yard where you can play fetch without putting other dogs at risk? If you google indoor activities for dogs, there are quite a few creative ways to exercise your dog without the walks, though that doesn’t mean he won’t miss them. Veterinary behaviorists have even been known to prescribe antidepressants for dogs in some cases.

        Yes, I do think that we can intervene too often with our dogs. But to be fair to ourselves, managing a dog with aggression is really stressful and a huge responsibility. It is hard not to become anxious yourself and micromanage. I believe that with my previous dog, who had aggression issues, we developed a sort of co-dependency, and I think that I was always scrutinizing him for signs of trouble, which probably sometimes made him nervous, which I could see in him, which would in turn make ME nervous, and so the cycle goes. So while it is ideal that he look to you for guidance when it’s appropriate, you want him to be able to relax too without constantly checking in with you. It can be hard to break this cycle in yourself since there are valid reasons why it developed, but perhaps the trainer can continue to guide you in that. Best of luck to you and Rocky!

        (I should add that this is merely my amateur take on this.)

        • Bruce Johnson on January 21, 2015

          Hi Lindsay, Rocky has been seen by the University of Ga behaviorist, and 3 different veterinarians, and 6 trainers. 1 vet said euthanize him, University of Ga behaviorist said euthanize, 3 trainers said euthanize him, but he does have a record of attacking 2 dogs in his county and the animal control has not declared him a vicious animal. He is such a wonderful dog with people when the county officers visit they cannot believe he is anything but wonderful. I do not have a fenced yard and cannot build one due to being in an HOA community. His current trainer say exercise him with nose work. We do this but I don’t think it is all he needs. His current trainer is following the CAT and BAT and Turid Rugass, Norweigan based trainer.
          Mine is also amateur but amateur dog owners also offer me some very good advice. Thank you
          Thanks for all you feed back.

        • Bruce Johnson on January 21, 2015

          I do not have a fenced yard and cannot build one due to being in an HOA community. His current trainer say exercise him with nose work. We do this but I don’t think it is all he needs. His current trainer is following the CAT and BAT and Turid Rugass, Norweigan based trainer.
          Mine is also amateur but amateur dog owners also offer me some very good advice. Thank you
          Thanks for all you feed back.

  6. Sadness on January 14, 2015

    I’m the process of making a tough decision for a little friend. When i say friend i truly mean that with all my heart i am his and he is mine. I rescued him as a foster parent and knew he had issues when i picked him up from the shelter though i had no idea to what extent until i got to got him out to the street and had all the strong tell tale signs of fear / reactive aggression toward other dogs. His guarding issues were fairly easy to change and after a few weeks of “therapy” have never returned. He’s an eager learner and food. I’ve read and digested every book on re-activity and aggression i can find from BAT training to studying DVD’s from the late Dr. Yin. Living in an urban environment has proved difficult for him and from me. He’s come along way from his day’s that a dog 100 feet way would send him into a Tasmanian like stupor and now his threshold is more like 20ft though there are dogs in the neighborhood that we’ve gone on multiple pack walks with that he will except into his life. I always thought that as long as he needed one he’s have a home here with me where he’d be loved until the right family or situation came along but after a year i am exhausted and depleted. I’ve given up vacation for a year because i can’t leave him with anyone and we’ve posted for a home for him up to 6 hours away in which i would happily drive him for the right home. No one wants a dog with known aggression issues even if he is the sweetest albeit crazy little man when it comes to humans. from the time i took him into my home a year ago it took him 6 months to stop sleeping under the bed or running for the hills when i opened the fridge. He’s a happy little guy when there are no dogs around… I’m moving and can’t take him with me… We’ve asked for new fosters in the country with no avail. I’m in rescue… I’ve given my heart and soul away hoping i could help him and even now after he’s grown and conquered so much it’s still not enough and I’m close to making the decision to let him go. Not because he’s bad, or that i think that with more training he’ll be ok (another year or two) but because i’m emotionally and physically exhausted. I wish to leave his legacy alive and tell you all how brave he is and what a fan i am of him. How sad it is that he would not have come to me had he been socialized as a pup and trained appropriately. Instead he’s been through the shelter system 2x both times saved at the last minute by his charm and charisma. I truly don’t know how to to this…

    • SadToo on January 14, 2015

      Sadness, my heartbroke and I’m crying at work reading your post. I wish I could help you. Do what your heart tells you. Remember we can’t save them all and sometimes saving them, means letting them go so the demons are no longer chasing them.

    • Bruce Johnson on January 14, 2015

      I also adopted, Rocky, Boxer who is a special needs dog 2.5 years ago. He has been evaluated by Behaviorist at the University of Georgia, he as worked with 5 different trainers in Georgia. When he was very new to us the people at UGA recommended returning him. I was already in love with him but returned to the shelter where I adopted him and ask questions about returning him. They agreed to taking him back and I then ask “You are a no kill shelter, right?”. They replied yes, but he will not be adopted now because of his dog aggression. Rocky and I returned to my home. We, my wife, myself and Rocky have stayed at home more. Recently my wife, Susan, was walking and training Rocky when she was approached by a neighbor walking two small dogs on a retractable leash. Rocky slipped out of Susan’s hold on the leash and attack the dogs. Susan ran to get Rocky but they were tangled in the rope like material used in retractable leashes. Animal control was called and an officer came to our home. Rocky being he wonderful self around all humans including children proceeded to obeying commands, never jumping, sitting and staying and going to his place when directed. We described the incident best we could to animal control. I told the officer that my wife had to separate the dogs from the rope material of the retractable leash. The officer expressed a dislike for the retractable leash but never wrote a citation, thank us and left.

      We in an HOA and they are now fining us $100.00 and stating the next incident will be $500.00 and double $500.00 if Rocky is without a muzzle.

      I had no idea that the HOA can fine me for an incident on public streets. Rocky is 5 years old now and his training continues. I am confused by his aggression toward some dogs that bark at him and his complacency with other dogs.

      As Sadtoo stated I am also saddened.

    • Rachel on January 20, 2015

      How heartbreaking. It’s such a hard situation to be in. It sounds like you are knowledgeable about how to handle him and have given it your all and his aggression is just so deeply rooted. It’s such a paradox for a committed animal lover to have to make this decision for a dog they love, and yet that’s the way it is sometimes. For me, it was probably the most painful decision of my life, and yet I didn’t see any responsible, compassionate way around it. Thank you for fostering. I wish you and your dog peace. Take care, and know that you have done all you can.

      • Pit mom on May 15, 2015

        I had to make a horrible decision this past week. I had to euthanize my beloved dog. She started getting aggressive and showed displaced aggression. I did try to save her, she went through training and only started getting worse. I was then afraid of when and who she would attack again. Would it be my male dog, me or the boarder?? Would I be able to board her ever again?This is how it started….
        A couple years ago she was outside, as was my other 2 dogs. I was fussing one of them(a female dog)for not listening and had her by the collar headed towards the back door. My other female dog attacked her and I fell trying to stop the attack. I was bit but she released my leg when I screamed. I had to have stitches in several areas of my leg. She then proceeded to attack my other female and killed her. I called the local pound who put my dog in quarantine for 10 days. I talked to many trainers and was told she might have been protecting me so say. So I took her back and she was fine with my male dog. 5 months ago she attacked him and caused damaged to his neck. Treats were knocked over onto the floor and she was fighting over them. I was able to stop the attack but was afraid she would turn on me after. She didn’t. My male was stitched up and recovered but was in fear somewhat of her. Things went on as though nothing happened. Until a couple weeks ago. Something fell in the kitchen and the female dog ran to see what it was, she then returned and attacked my male. There was no reason for this attack as were the others. I was again able to stop the attack, this time with no injuries. This is when I became to fear her as did my male dog even more. I knew in my heart that it was time to do something. Because the next time I may not be able to stop the attack on my male dog or myself. I have never felt this fear before so I know it was getting bad. I loved her for the few years I had her and she lived the life of a queen, as all dogs should. I feel I have failed her because I could no longer help her. Sure I could have confined her which I did the last couple weeks. But is that fair to her? Would it make her more aggressive?? I could not just throw her in a pen outside to live out her life and be miserable either. I still had to let her out and feed her, so she could still attack me if she wanted. Would she?? I don’t know but wasn’t willing to find out. I still saw some aggression in her through these weeks and being separated from my male. If she could have got to him there would have been 2 more attacks. But a fence separated them this time. This was the most painful decision I had to make. But I could not see me giving her to the pound to kill. I know she would not ever be adoptable there. And there she would be killed and die alone. So I made the decision to be a responsible owner and euthanize her. Although it was the responsible thing to do it does not make it any easier or heartbreaking. She was my heart and soul. My heart is breaking for having to do this to her and knowing she will no longer be by my side.

  7. Dawn on May 21, 2015

    I too can relate to so many of your stories. I adopted a rescue dog who showed intermittent aggression towards other dogs. I have had my dog for 3 years, and love this dog with all my heart. I have not given up on my dog, because, what I’ve come to learn, that the majority of the aggression is out of fear. He genuinely wants to socialize with other dogs, but if the other dogs shows any signs of aggression, he will react. I unfortunately had two incidents, which resulted in him biting another dog, but luckily I was able to get it under control before any serious injury was done. His size is very intimidating and causes other dogs to react, and he in turn reacts. I have not given up on him, because with consistency, supervision, and patience, he has shown me he is capable of socializing with other dogs. So I continue to work with him and shower him with all the physical affection and verbal praise I can muster up, when he demonstrates positive behavior. When we would walk, he would lunge at other dogs and bark, but now, he is learning that he does not have to be afraid. I took great pride when he stopped lunging at a women’s dog I would see typically during my morning walks. The look on her face was priceless. He is a work in progress, and I know that I have to be a responsible dog owner at all times, to prevent incidents at all costs. I truely understand that in some situations, one has to make the right decision, for their dog and the safety of others, so I am in no way, judging anyone. I truely respect when a person takes responsibility and makes those tough decisions. Please be at peace with yourself, because you did what was right.

  8. Barbara McClatchey on July 31, 2015

    I wrote this a few years back, after having to put to sleep one of our Pomeranian rescues who was biting:

    A Rescuer Speaks

    You break my heart, Dog of my Dreams. I want you to be what God intended you to be, what you should be. But somewhere between heredity and environment, between bad breeding and lack of care, something went wrong for you. Perhaps your body is never going to be without pain. Perhaps it’s your soul that has been warped beyond the hope of mending, so that you cannot respond to the love and care that I want so much to give you. Or perhaps it would just cost so much in time and money to fix your broken body and spirit that other, healthier, dogs would lose out and never have a chance.

    So I will do what I can for you, Dog of my Dreams. I will hold you and love you and let you go to the Rainbow Bridge. There, I promise you, you will find the Person of your Dreams, someone who also has been hurt, troubled, and unloved. And then together the two of you will find healing and the love and joy that have been denied you here.

    Good-bye, Dog of my Dreams.

    c. 2001 by Barbara McClatchey

  9. Tonya on December 2, 2015

    My condolences. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  10. Neil on December 20, 2015

    I had to face this situation over the past couple of days. We had Stuey for over five years. We rescued him from the pound as a puppy. He was lovable, very trainable, and got along with our other dogs and our cat very well. He stayed loveable and trainable for us if other dogs weren’t around. But, over the years, he became more aggressive towards other dogs and the cat. Over the last few months, he was either crated or kept separate from the others. We would gate off his path to the backyard and he would go out separately and alone. We knew this was not healthy for him, but he demonstrated aggression when we tried to reintroduce other dogs to his environment. We tried our best to find a new home for him, but no one could accept his aggressive tendencies no matter how loveable he was otherwise. A couple of nights ago, our daughter didn’t close the gate all the way, one of our pomeranians walked in as Stuey was being let out. I heard some growling and my daughter screaming for help. He had grabbed the pom. Initially, the pom seemed to be recovering after the little bit of bleeding stopped, but we did not realize the extent of his apparent injuries until he died in our daughter’s lap. We knew Stuey would not improve or be rehomed. At the euthanasia appointment, the vet examined both Stuey and the pomeranian’s remains. She professionally agreed we were doing the right thing. I stayed through the process, as I have always done with dogs who were euthanized due to disease. I believe if I make the decision to end their lives, they deserve to be loved to the end. Despite the circumstances, Stuey was given that dignity also. When the vet tech brought the carrier we transported the pomeranian’s remains in back to us, he was in tears. It truly has been a tragedy for my family due to conflicting emotions. Two very loveable and loved dogs’ lives were lost because one was aggressive.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on December 20, 2015

      Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear you have lost two of your dogs. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been. Thinking of you.

  11. Melina Koufalis on June 10, 2016

    I think it is not right to kill anything . I feel another alternative has to be found.

    I am sorry. It may be difficult to do the euthanasia but it should be avoided. I don’t believe anyone has the right to kill anything.

    I don’t believe a dog is less important than a human. That is how the problem arises. A dog that is aggressive should be exercised more and given ways to release their anger.

    • Michelle Cory on October 22, 2016

      do you kill bugs and fleas. your a closed minded mean person without compassion for people who are living with nightmares

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 22, 2016

      If only it were that easy. I am so sorry for anyone facing such a difficult decision. It is never easy and not black and white.

  12. JaneO on August 17, 2016

    This is just such an emotional dilemma, but I know exactly what I would do. It’s just not fair on the dog (or potential victim) to keep him (or her) if by keeping the dog there is a risk that a dog, any other animal, person or child could be injured or much worse. I don’t understand why everyone gets so upset for the dog at putting him to sleep. As long as it’s done humanely and definitely with the person the dog loves present. After having a dog that died in agonising circumstances (because I hoped he would recover from his illnes) I would never, ever keep a dog or any animal alive just because I couldn’t bear a life without them. That is more than cruel. And I’ve seen this many times with friends’ dogs. And it’s for the same reason that people won’t put a potentially harmful dog to sleep – because they are thinking of themselves, not of the dog. We are all going to die eventually (none of us know how) so what is wrong with putting a dog to sleep, rather than not allowing him a proper life, keeping an eye on the dog constantly or handing him on to someone else, who will eventually have to make the decision you should have made in the first place. In other words, make a selfless decison. It’s certainly not easy – totally heartbreaking – but without doubt in my mind, the right decision to make. For everyone’s sake.

    • Michelle Cory on October 22, 2016

      please read my story after yours. i am so troubled.

  13. Michelle Cory on October 22, 2016

    I euthanized my dog2 years ago and i am still tormented. I’ve witten before. I rescued a lasho knowing she was biting even as i was leaving the shelter, but i thought i could save her. A while before that my maltese, Chelsea was rapidly biting me every night ,and all the docs failed me.. they said it was because I spoiled her. She was 12 and had never bitten me. Anyway i found out she had dementia, with sundowning. So adopting another dog who bit was a big project, and i am a nervous person. At first she was wonderful and sweet. i kept her away from children and men, She was terrified of them About once a week ,she would bite my hand with a clamp in our last episode she lunged up and bit me in rapid succession. The damage wasnt a lot. but i was traumatized. Animal control came, and I sent them away and said i would bring her to my own vet. I couldln’t look at her. i walked out side and said “Cozette it’s Mommy” and she growled so i knew she dint want me near her. i feel she was protecting me. I did drive her to the vet. in her stroller and never looked at her. i was still crying hysterically. People keep saying i did the right thing because she could have hurt a baby, but that wouldnt have happened because i wouldnt rehome her, and i kept her away from children. I was not bringing her back to the shelter, and puting her in solitary confinement. I keep wishing there had been some other way. my mind does not stop obsessing, and doing compulsions. i feel that my mind is broken. please some one help me

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 22, 2016

      Michelle, I am so sorry you’ve had to go through all this. I can tell you have such a big heart and love all animals so much. You did everything you could for your dogs. I hope you can find a counselor or someone to talk to about your troubles. It is no easy thing to go through and I can only imagine the type of grief you must be feeling. Take care. -Lindsay

      • Michelle Cory on October 24, 2016

        Lnidsey ,thank-you for your support. I have been to all kinds of therapists and pet loss support groups, sometimes it’s o.k. and other times it hits my gut that there had to be another way and i am a murderer. I have obsessive compulsive disorder, . it makes bad thought about myself as a bad person,, and then I have to repeat the rationalize and review over and over.

        • Michelle Cory on October 24, 2016

          Lindsey what does redirected agression mean?

          • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 24, 2016

            I don’t know the scientific definition but the way I describe it is a dog being frustrated/aggressive about something and if he can’t bite at the source of the frustration, he goes for the nearest bystander. Could be a person or another dog or simply biting the leash or fence. It is quite common for dogs.

            For example, if I’m walking two dogs and one wants to go attack another dog 20 feet away, he can’t get to that dog so he turns on his buddy or on me. It’s not personal, but obviously not a behavior we want to encourage!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 22, 2016

      I saw this article today. I don’t know if it will help in some small way:

      • Michelle Cory on October 24, 2016

        sorry to be writing so much, but woud it be something like the groomer saidshe was wonderful,and she the groomer could do anything she wanted to her, when she came home she would bite me, i cant figure out when she was in the stolller why she lunged up in a rage. i was looking at her trying to find a way to get the leash off foot. and she gave me
        warning bite. Iknow you dont have answers. She was stiff & mabe hurting from the groomer and her rabies shot.

  14. Murphys Dogs on October 22, 2016

    I run rescue up in a mountain community in eastern KY – we take the behavioral issue dogs that other rescues are getting ready to dump back into the shelter system or worse. A year ago I had to make a very difficult choice – whether to euthanize a human aggressive pit bull.

    The dog hadn’t even gotten to me before I was forced to make the decision. I knew he had some aggression issues when I offered to pull him from a shelter in TN. The first night he was in temp foster he bit the fosters husband – the bite was not that bad and we went with the premise that it was a” he is aggressive toward males” thing. I had him transported to KY with a pit stop at our vets on the western side of the state for a few weeks due to being +HW. The entire time he was there they did not have a problem with him. He did tho attempt to go after one of the vet tech’s boyfriends – again male human aggression.

    When he was on transport once again is when we ran into trouble and he ended up biting the transporter not once but twice. He did it tho on redirect – the trigger we are assuming was make construction workers on the road. I faulted the transport who had been told he was to be crated, she ignored my rule and tethered him. I asked that he be returned to our vets and I started making phone calls. One phone call was made to Jim who in my opinion is the best dog behaviorist in the country.

    Jim and I talked for 90 minutes and in the end it was decided that the best option for this dog was to be set free of his demons. And here is why. Straight out human aggression is one thing and if he had not bit on redirect but had just outwardly bit that would have been an entirely different case but dogs that redirect when they bite are an entirely different kettle of fish. Had we not put him down and brought him to the rescue he would have lived her for life as the liability of ever adopting him out was too high. That would have been ok as we have dogs that will live their lives out here and I have no problem with that. Because he redirected tho before biting he would have had to live in a reinforced outside kennel with no other dog to ever play with and I would have been his only human contact. That right there cinched it for me. I believe in quality of life over quantity each and every time no matter what. The decision I made was one of the hardest I ever had to make and I think of Dokken every day but in the end yes I do believe I made the best decision for him,, the humans and the dogs he would have been in contact with

  15. Michelle Cory on October 24, 2016

    Murphy your article has helped me, but i don’t understand what you mean about being redirect .Could you please explain that to me.? I had the same feeling, that i could not leave her in solitary confinement. It is such a miserable life, there isn’t any quality, sometimes i feel she just didn’t bite me enough to cause damage and didn’t deserve to die. I know she was begging me for help, but i don’t think that was to kill her. I often relate it to parents and their children There are people that have autistic violent children and they can’t kill them , because it’s against the law. i wish she had bitten me worse so o that i would feel justified.