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Euthanizing aggressive dogs

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?

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.

Ace the mutt - Euthanizing aggressive dogs

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?

Michelle Cory

Monday 24th of October 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.

Murphys Dogs

Saturday 22nd of October 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

Michelle Cory

Saturday 22nd of October 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

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

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

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 22nd of October 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


Wednesday 17th of August 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

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

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

Melina Koufalis

Friday 10th of June 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.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 22nd of October 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.

Michelle Cory

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

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