A dog rescue group in San Diego is being sued after a Labrador named Charlie bit a man in the nose shortly after his adoption took place, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. This occurred less than two months after the dog nearly bit off a woman’s finger prior to adoption.
So we’re not talking nips.
We’re talking serious bites.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Ryan Hawblitzel nearly lost his nose and has significant scars from the Jan. 24 bite, according to his attorney, Rocky Copley. He said the attack wouldn’t have happened if Labradors and Friends Dog Rescue had told Ryan’s family that Charlie had bitten another person the month prior, and if the county had followed proper protocols after that earlier incident.
“If Labradors and Friends had informed (Hawblitzel’s parents) about the prior attack, they would not have brought the dog into their home,” the lawsuit says.
Hawblitzel is suing the county, Labradors and Friends dog rescue as well as two volunteers from the group for an unspecified amount of damages. Copley said Hawblitzel might need more surgeries to recover from his injuries.
Full Union-Trib article here.
(Charlie is not pictured.)
I wanted to bring up the story here because it’s a good reminder how rescue groups, shelters, foster homes and other volunteers need to disclose everything about dog bites and aggression to potential adopters. No exceptions.
I don’t know how this particular case will turn out legally, but I do know common sense says rescue groups should disclose all known bite incidents to adopters.
I help with dog adoptions myself, and I know it’s easy to downplay or even ignore certain “nips” or bites and say it was the person’s fault or the nips happened because of special circumstances.
A bite is a bite.
You can’t predict everything but in this specific San Diego case the dog had a record of biting and this was never explained to the adoptive family, at least according to this article.
This is frustrating on so many levels.
A man was severely injured, the dog was (understandably) killed after the incident and rescue groups in general look irresponsible because of this rescue group’s failure.
I volunteer with Labradors, Retrievers & More, a different Lab rescue in San Diego that is often confused with Labradors And Friends.
So there are two things we can take away from this:
1. As rescue volunteers, we need to make sure we’re being responsible.
This story made me examine my own history as a foster volunteer and I have to admit I have not always been as clear with adoptive families as I should have been.
Today I realize all rescue volunteers have the responsibility to be honest. If you are a volunteer, report all bites or behavioral issues to a board member. If the rescue you are working with isn’t honest with adopters, then find another rescue to support.
2. Adopters need to know what kinds of questions to ask.
Adopting a dog is a wonderful way to get a pet. One of the best ways to get a well-behaved, well-socialized dog is to find an adult, fostered dog from a rescue group because usually the foster owner knows a lot of information about the dog.
Still, when adopting any dog it’s important to ask questions such as:
- Has this dog ever bitten anyone?
- Has this dog ever nipped anyone? Even on accident? (Like while playing tug)
- Have you ever seen the dog growl at a person? How about at another dog?
- Does he guard his food from people or dogs?
- How long have you known this dog?
- Can you confirm he’s never had any issues with aggression?
- How does he react when he meets excited dogs on a leash?
- How does he act around your kids?
Rescues need to be honest.
Adopters need to ask questions.
It’s important to get dogs adopted, but a dog adoption should never take priority over a person’s safety.
I’d love to get your thoughts on this topic.
Have you ever been in a situation where you think a rescue group should have disclosed additional information?
Let me know in the comments!
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