We Cannot Save Them All-Nor Should We Try

I started writing again a couple of weeks ago for the first time in two years.  Began a new blog and have published a couple of articles.  Those were both lead-ins to this story I knew I needed to write, but which I have been avoiding.

Some of you may have noticed when my blog went silent and I no longer posted articles and opinion pieces on social media. I didn’t stop writing gradually.  I stopped suddenly and completely on December 4, 2017. That was the day that Bosco attacked me and changed my world forever. Until now I have never written about (or even really spoken about) that night.   It was too life-changing, too violent, too painful and too traumatizing to even begin to wrap my head around, let alone make sense of it all for the outside world.

In part there was some undeserved shame involved.  Kevin and I were extremely vocal pit bull advocates, and now I had been injured by a pit bull terrier type dog.  The anti-pit crowd had a field day with the event. In their minds it validated everything they were saying about pit bull type dogs.  In truth, it validated what we had been saying all along; that each dog is an individual. A product of breeding, training, socialization and experiences.  And in Bosco’s case, in all probability, physical health and well-being.  Bosco didn’t attack me because of his breed, he attacked me because something went haywire in his brain.

When we look back at videos of Bosco it is extremely apparent that he was in a steep downward spiral behavior-wise.  Day by day, week by week, his behavior deteriorated.  This was not an emotionally/mentally healthy dog and strange things tended to set him off unexpectedly.  But his biggest bugaboo was “stranger danger” and we could not safely have any other person in our home with him there.  The day that we were expecting a visit from the internet service tech, Kevin and I took turns driving him around for hours.  And when he got home and realized someone had been in the house, he was frantic and reactive.

Although Bosco always had questionable people skills, he had amazing dog skills. And that’s when we really noticed we had an issue… when his dog skills started deteriorating rapidly.

One evening he and Turtle got into a scrap and it quickly escalated to something that could have ended badly for Turtle, as she has no teeth to protect herself, but the tenacity of her former fighting life to keep her from backing down.  Kevin got his hand in the middle and took a bite and was out of commission.  I grabbed the citronella spray and sprayed it into the snarling knot of dogs which successfully drove them apart.  But without even taking a beat, Bosco launched himself at my arm, biting me badly through a sweatshirt and was ready to come back for more if I hadn’t sprayed him directly in the face.  He scared me to death that night because there was no one home in his eyes when he went for me.

The next day I was seeking advice from my manager and some of the behavior specialists at work.  I really was looking for someone to validate what I was thinking; that this dog was not safe and needed to be euthanized.  Against my better judgement I allowed people to convince me that I needed to try to work with this dog.  I was directed to try nutritional supplements, increased exercise via a treadmill instead of walks as they were too triggering, and finally drug therapy to try and keep him on the right track.

Then the night of December 4th came. It was quiet time for the dogs so that our birds could come out of their cages and socialize.  That meant that the dogs retired to separate rooms or crates and got a kong or a marrow bone to keep them occupied.   We generally kept the door of the crate in the living room closed because Bosco would try to kill any other dog who went in there in front of him. I was just leading him into his room when Turtle nudged the crate door open and went into it in anticipation of receiving her bone.  Bosco lunged past me and went for Turtle.  I raced to try and hold the door of the crate closed with my leg and he decided that if he couldn’t get to Turtle, I would do just fine.  He took me down before I could even realize what was happening, severing a finger on my left hand and totally shattering all the bones in my right arm from wrist to forearm.  If Kevin hadn’t grabbed a can of bear spray that was a gift from Vicktory Dog Lance’s people, I would have died right here on the floor. 

Bosco had to be killed that night while I was being ambulanced to a hospital an hour and a half away.  He didn’t get the dignity of a calm and supported, peaceful euthanasia.  Instead he endured the trauma of his own emotions and behaviors and died in a state of reactivity and violence. He deserved better.

That night changed my view of the words No-Kill. 

I am eternally thankful that Bosco attacked me, and not someone else.  I could not have lived with myself if he had gotten loose and attacked a child or even an adult.  I found out very graphically how quickly a human can be incapacitated by an attacking dog.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, ever.

Bosco should have been humanely euthanized the first time he bit me.  There should have been no question. If he could react that way to someone he lived with and cared for, he was not a safe dog to have in a home.  I should not have allowed myself to be talked out of taking the steps I knew to be necessary.  But here’s the deal….the culture of No-Kill has made it almost immoral to euthanize any dog, even one who needs it.  Bosco was suffering just as much as if he’d had a medical issue.  His emotional and mental health made for a poor quality of life, and it should have been ok to help end his pain before something bad happened.

Yes, we want to save dogs who are healthy and adoptable.  No dog should ever be killed who could thrive in a home.  But in some ways, I believe it is immoral to try and save dogs who cannot have a decent quality of life, regardless if it’s because of a debilitating physical issue or a mental one.

A dog who is not safe around humans should never be adopted into a home.  And we need to stop stigmatizing people who make the call to euthanize their dogs for an issue that they recognize.  If Bosco had been suffering from cancer no one would have said “boo” about ending his suffering.  But it was made very clear to me that it would not be acceptable to cross him due to what was viewed as a behavioral issue.  

There are many, many happy healthy dogs we should concentrate on saving.  But we need to be realistic about dogs who may not be safe to save.  There are finite resources out there, let’s utilize them on saving the dogs we can.  We cannot, nor should we, try and save them all.  

63 thoughts on “We Cannot Save Them All-Nor Should We Try

  1. I am so sorry you had to go through this but I agree with every word you say. You are not only a fantastic advocate for pit bull type dogs, you are a fantastic advocate for dogs.

    Hugs to you and your family.

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    1. I totally agree with you. Bosco had bit before. You took him when he was in a place to be euthanized. If a dog cannot trust he can’t be trusted. He wasn’t happy. He was afraid. You did everything possible to help him. You are wonderful advocates. Not every dog can be saved.

      RIH Bosco. May God hold you close in his love. Rest easy and run free. You are happy. 😢😢💔

      God’s blessings to you.🙏🏻🙏🏻

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    2. I agree. I had a precious little guy named Max, a four year old rescue we got as a puppy. He was fine with just us, but started dominating the other animals, even blocking the doggy door, not letting them in. He would growl at family members, especially if they stepped over him. He attacked the other animals. Then when Violette, our newborn grand daughter, and her mom came home, he be came very aggressive and would pace the floor. His aggression escalated with her mobility. I had to keep him separated from her and the other animals. She got big enough to go to where he was, putting her fingers through enclosures. I tried rehoming him for months. I contacted a no kill rescue and she told me to remove my 12 month old grand daughter from the home and keep the dog. 😱I even contacted the shelter I rescued him from. They said they couldn’t take him back because of his aggression and advised me to have him euthanized. I took him to the local pound and they totally blamed me and thought with training, he could be a good dog. I specified that he needed to be in a single pet home with no children. I watched their page for two months, and my Max still lingered at the pound, with no adoption restrictions. My fear was he would be adopted by a family, hurt someone and then be abused. My heart broke and I went back and got him, thinking maybe he wasn’t as bad as I thought. Within moments of returning home, he attacked my other dog and would sit and stare at the baby. I once again used barricades, lots of love and tried training again. His aggression never subsided.I took him to my vet and explained the whole story. She had a two year old child and said she would not have this dog in her home. I made the difficult decision to have her euthanize him, humainly, with me present, holding him. I totally agree we should be responsible pet owners and sometimes that includes making difficult decisions for the safety of the family and the pet. Not all dogs make good pets. Some are dangerous and for their own protection, need to be put down.

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  2. There it is; almost exactly how I imagined it to have happened but never would have asked and certainly would not have guessed about. Having had the honor of meeting you (and Ray) and knowing how tirelessly you’ve worked to advocate for the blockheads and how much of a target this would put on you, I thank you for penning (typing?) these words. As the adoption coordinator for a small, local, breed specific rescue I can’t agree enough with your words. I can’t, in any good conscience knowingly place a dog who I feel could be a danger and while we can’t predict the future, I’m not willing to risk a child’s face to give a mentally tortured dog a third or fourth chance.

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  3. You are so very brave. I hope telling this story will bring you some healing. Those that follow you knew something went horribly wrong. Thank you for sharing. I too had a dog that we ended up euthanizing because he had gotten out and bitten a neighbor. I sought out help for us and the dog but finally came to the conclusion that something was broken inside Brutus that we could not fix. We weren’t about to surrender him only to be euthanized by a local shelter, so we took him to our vet and did it ourselves. Sometimes I still think “Maybe if…” but most of the time I think “He had four good years with us which was four more years than he would have had otherwise.” Peace and hugs to you.

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  4. So sad to read the whole story. You always write with so much reason & common sense. While I haven’t always agreed with decisions at the shelter I volunteered at, I reluctantly understood the policy that we adopt out no dog who could not safely live in society. You can’t count on adopters following suggestions on to handle their marginal dog. A couple adopted an awesome dog. It was suggested because of size & exuberance he not be with young children (they didn’t tell the counselor they had 5 kids, 3 under 8). They were told he needed to be an only dog. They got another dog & the 2 did not get along. They were told not to get a cat. They did & the kitten was killed. At this point he came back to us — and was euthanized as a dangerous dog. (There were other incidents). By then he also didn’t like most men. We were all heart broken. I also had a foster who had passed his eval, was adoptable. Then he had dental surgery & had to wear a cone. His availability was delayed. From that point he started downhill. He totally hated the cone. Always fine as an office dog, but not in his kennel. He came home with me to see how he would be in a home. With people he was awesome; however, his dog reactivity & aggression was getting worse. I had 2 incidents with him in my fenced-in backyard & out on the street walking where he went bananas seeing a dog 2 blocks away. Back in the shelter he was evaluated again, failed miserably with dog reaction & was put down. Both deserved a chance but neither could be trusted. I had 3 reactive pits as fosters. I would not have hesitated adopting 2, but I would not have considered the last. He was an accident waiting to happen even tho he liked people. We can cry over the ones that can’t make it; but realistically some just can’t. Sorry for the length. But I do believe everyone can’t be saved — we just need to try the best we can. Glad you are writing agian.

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    1. I have an approximately 10 year old 12 pound Jrt and chi mix. I adopted her from our city shelter 2-1/2 years ago. She’s a great dog with me and other people, but she’s extremely dog reactive. Like you described, she goes crazy at the site of another dog.. she barks and snarls and the hair on her back goes up…. whether in the car or our yard or on walks. In the summer two years ago, we were on the porch and a dog on leash walked by across the street. She went nuts and broke her leash and chased the dog. I ran after her and when I got there, she was attached to the other dog, by the neck, while the owner s kicking her. I don’t blame the other owner at all. Unfortunately I had fallen and dislocated my shoulder and was doing the best I could to get her off. Luckily some neighbors intervened and got me and her home. The lady never came back and I never saw her again to apologize. Now that I think of it, she also attacked my neighbors dog when I first got her. We made the mistake of putting them in the yard together in an attempt to socialize them. She was an unclaimed stray so I have no history on her. Right now, I’m attempting to get her into a local reactive rover class. I just put a call into the instructor to see what her opinion is. I’m always very careful with her and never put her in situations with other dogs. Reading this article has me very worrried now. I want very much to be a responsible owner and I would feel incredible guilty if she hurt another animal. I do not believe she’d hurt a person. She only reacts to dogs, cats and squirrels. I am not any kind of advocate for no-kill, but I just don’t think I could or should put my dog down. If the class doesn’t work, should I consider medication? I’ve done some research online, but I’m not familiar with it in real life. And do I want a medicated dog? How else will she change? Do I just be very careful as I have been and keep her as an indoor dog?? Any advice or opinions would be appreciated… tyvm!

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      1. The responsible thing would be to put her down. Unless you plan on guaranteeing it never leaves the house. No vet, no groomer, no bathroom outside. No yard time. No chances. Otherwise anything that happens is absolutely your fault. It is not her right to live over any other animal just because she is “a great dog”. That is the opposite of a great dog. Great dogs are great, period. Not with contingencies. Too many feel guilty and think their animal can somehow be fixed and end up sorry. You don’t sound like a person without conscience. I would hate to see something happen to you or someone else that you have everything in your power to prevent.

        A dog ate my friend’s 18 day old infant. Her own great dog. My neighbor’s great dog ate two of my cats. My friend’s great dog attacked my dog and ripped her own lip open on another occasion. She had her friend stitch it up, so it did not have to be reported. Only the infant’s mom put the dog down. I guess that’s what it takes. I support shelters daily. I do not support adopting or rehoming dangerous animals. The risk is never worth it. Animals are not greater than humans. Actually good animals never deserve to be attacked by something that should have never made it out of the shelter in the first place. Is it sad? Sure, but for the victims and potential victims. That is who should matter. I wish you luck and pray for strength for you. I can’t imagine loving something that kills and knowing what has to be done. That would be like having a child for a murderer.

        I apologize if I come off harsh, but this really is a critical situation for you and, you are right, drugging up your dog for the rest of it’s life really isn’t going to be a good quality of life for your dog. At this point, it is only for you and avoidance of your loss of her. Imagine the loss to someone else if she accidentally gets loose and violently kills someone else’s pet or permanently disfigures someone. It is not a matter of if, but when.

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      2. Any dog not safe with other dogs, cats and squirrels and has already had aggressive interactions is not safe – what if the dog it attacked was being led by a child and people were not around. Read what you wrote out loud and then be a responsible owner and put the dog down. That is just a ticking time bomb – so many other nice dogs are waiting to be adopted that will be a better choice. There is no such thing as an indoor dog that will be safe, doors can be left open, emergencies where others will have to access your home etc. Not worth the life of a child, adult or someone else’s responsibly kept pet. Thankful not to be your neighbor as I would be in constant fear.

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      3. I sympathize with what Corinne has experienced, but no one should tell you what to do with your dog-reactive dog. There’s a big difference between human aggression and dog aggression, and the fact that you’ve kept your (12-lb!) dog from harming other animals for the past two years says a lot about your ability to manage her. Plus, she’s 10-1/2; she’s going to start mellowing out. (And it’s bullshit that medication makes dogs into zombies — not that she necessarily needs medication.) Geez … you clearly love your dog. If she has a good quality of life and you can continue to manage her, then enjoy her!

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      4. There is definitely a big difference between human and dog aggression. I don’t think there is anything wrong with dog aggression. Many breeds are bred for this and that is okay. You actually see it in some degree in. almost every terrier breed. Prey drive is normal. Even stranger aggression is fine. It’s when the dog can not control himself in a normal home environment that things get sticky. Lashing out against their owner or handler is not normal. Unpredictable aggression is not normal. Your dog likely just needs correct training and behavior modification.

        I don’t want to go into training styles too deeply as it’s highly individual. I’m personally an R+ trainer and I find that it works well to help modify behaviors like this. For your dog, I’d first muzzle train in a quality basket muzzle. This will keep her, you, and other dogs safe. Most decent R+ trainers muzzle train their dogs to accept a muzzle just as we crate train our dogs. As a side note, positive based training is not permissive training and all quadrants are always being used, the idea is the focus. All four of my dogs happily wear a muzzle and zero have aggression problems. A lot of people just use them so people stop bothering them on walks and training. 😛 In your case, it’ll give you piece of mind. Then you can safely start working on behavior modification. Amy Cook’s The Play Way is an AMAZING resource. A class actually just opened on Fenzi that you might enjoy and will fit you perfectly. https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/index.php/courses/84

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      5. ‘Only reacting to dogs’ is also very dangerous to humans. Our dog was attacked by a loose Akita while being walked by our dog walker. We still have our dog thanks to the walker who tried to break up the attack, but the walker has multiple wounds and could have gotten killed herself. It was only because of her screams that a nearby construction worker came over and got the dog of with a large branch.

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      6. What a difficult situation to be in and to talk about. The first thing I would do is muzzle train your dog. Get a good basket muzzle that is comfortable. I also recommend finding a vet behaviourist to discuss medications and a dog trainer certified by CCPDT https://www.ccpdt.org/dog-owners/certified-dog-trainer-directory/

        Be very careful about any trainers that encourage you to use punishment in training. Treating aggression with aggression is like putting gas on a fire. I would also not take any classes with other dogs present.

        For safety, I would make sure that there are at least two barriers to prevent your dog from getting loose outdoors. Anytime the dog is on leash I would have two connection points in case of a malfunction (ie. leash attached to a collar and leash attached to a harness – this can be two leashes or one double ended leash). And of course a muzzle should always be worn when away from home.

        I would 100% be considering euthanasia. This is a discussion to have with a vet behaviourist. It’s important to discuss quality of life for the dog and for you. This is a very big burden for you to carry as well.

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      7. Your dog is small enough to manage without putting it down. I highly recommend a trainer who uses counter-conditioning. Your dog is not nearly at the bite level or aggression level that the author’s dog is.

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  5. I have questioned the no-kill movement since before we met in 2017, essentially for the safety reasons you mention. For many years I gave a large animal sanctuary my financial, volunteer, and in-kind donations. I have been leery of their new(ish) mission to save every one of the canines under their care, but I didn’t realize just how far they would stretch to get those dogs adopted. What happened to you, Bosco, and your family that night is a tragedy. The advice (and the resulting guilt) that was given you & Kevin by professionals is an outgrowth of this whole save every animal regardless of temperament. And it’s downright scary.

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  6. I commend you for being honest and open about your experiences.
    I agree with you 100%. No Kill is completely unreasonable and unrealistic. I adore most dogs, but am very aware that it is better for humans and most definitely the dogs whose quality of life is being ignored. A dog with little control over his aggressive behavior is no different than one that is terminally ill. If their pain, no matter from whence it comes, outweighs it’s contentment, euthanasia is a far better and safer outcome; for everyone. I’m so very sorry for your pain and your loss.

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  7. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I went through the same thing with my rescue. He was on medication and was being seen by a behavior therapist but he was still unpredictable. After 8 bites later (between myself and my daughter) I made the difficult decision to put him to sleep. 😥

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    1. And yet medication and behavior modification is still suggested when it’s most generally futile. Hopefully people read all experiences and not just the ones that make it easier on their own heart and conscience.

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      1. Medication and BMod can help. Medication makes my dog one that can be lived with safely. Too often though, people treat it as a last resort, when it really should be an early tool in a dog that isn’t wired right. I could tell Cliff wasn’t wired right from the first day I met him- and if we’d started medication sooner we’d both have been spared a lot of struggle.

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  8. I agree totally. I learned this lesson from being on the board of an open shelter. I learned that a dog who is not safe around humans or other animals if kept alive, is destined to a lonely miserable life in a kennel with no physical contact. Our Executive Director understands this and helped us to understand that this life is worse than euthanasia. I have a “special needs” rescue hound that has not bitten anyone but he is fearful and territorial, so I am very careful about monitoring his behavior. He has had a lot of training and I am able to walk him safely, but he takes a tremendous amount of time. It is so hard; I am so sorry you and Bosco had to experience this.

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  9. I remembered the day we found out you were attacked by Bosco. I was not only shocked but how violent it was. Reading your article was so riveting and so true. I wish we can save all animals but know that we can’t for some. Even though it is a difficult decision to put down an animal for behavior issues thinking we can change them, it is not always the case. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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  10. I couldn’t agree more. The focus needs to be on saving those that can safely be part of a home. Keeping an animal alive for “numbers” is self serving and hurts the animal. As human beings we have to decide that medical AND mental health need to be part of that decision.

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  11. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. The “No-Kill” narrative is hurting people and dogs, but the animal welfare community is still waking up to the reality that some animals need to be euthanized. I wish you well and hope writing this piece will bring some closure around Bosco’s death.

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  12. Sometimes we need to save them from themselves. I refer to the Dunbar bite scale which says a level 4 bite indicates a dog with insufficient bite inhibition and is too dangerous to keep. Once a dog bites like this, something is not right in his head and he is not a happy animal. We have to take responsibility for putting them out of mental suffering just as we would physical suffering that cannot be relieved. That is how I interpret “save them all”.
    I applaud your courage and I regret that there are people who will try and shame you for your decision.

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  13. I am so sorry you had to go through this, but your writing says it all. We had a similar experience. We took in a puppy that had been abandoned at our front door at Mother’s Day. He was about 16 weeks old and the Vet said he thought he was a Star Pei/Rhodesian Ridgeback cross, maybe 16 weeks old. We did everything we could. We took him to training, and loved on him. In November, there was a growth that appeared on his side, so we had it removed. After that, things began to change. He growled at every person he saw as we took a walk, so we stopped walking. He growled at my partner’s nephew who lived with us, and almost attacked him. He bit my partner twice, and almost bit me. In March, he had an eye injury, so we took him to the Vet. We had to walk him around outside until they had a room for us, and then come in through the back door. He tried to attack all the Vet Techs, so they took him to the back, put him in a crate and sedated him. When they brought him back to the room, the Vet told us we couldn’t give this dog away, and we couldn’t keep this dog. We had only one choice. He was not even a year old, but he was a danger to everyone around him. I will always regret having to put Buster down, but as our Vet said, we had no choice. I understand and agree with everything you wrote above, having experienced something of the same.
    Since that time, we have adopted two Lab mixes, who were the sweetest dogs ever. We took in my mother’s Beagle after my mother passed away. And we now have a Cocker/Shih Zhu mix and recently adopted a “Schnoodle” – all of them from our local Animal Control. We also volunteer with our local Humane Society. But I have never come across another dog like Buster.

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    1. Penny, I applaud your vet for his honesty. Many vets would have suggested training, behavior mod, drugs, etc., and would never even have listed euthanasia as an option.

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    2. Buster was probably a Thai Ridgeback – they look just like what one would expect a Sharpei Rhodesian Ridgeback cross to look like.

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  14. Thank you for your bravery and compassion with your story. I’ve always been a believer that we cannot nor should we save them all. Some dogs are not genetically sound. And my belief is I’d rather seen them humanly euthanized to a much better life over the rainbow bridge. It’s never right to put a mentally unstable dog before a human. I hope you have healed physically. Psychology, it may never be the same.

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  15. I had a similar experience – 12 bites – finally after thousands of dollars of behavior specialist training and medications (and reading an article like yours) I had my beloved Louie euthanized at the age of 3. I felt guilt and shame over not being enough for him. He was a frenchie-pug who was the product of in-breeding by a back yard breeder. Didn’t know any better at the time. Now I have “normal” dogs, I see the huge difference in temperament and behavior. Thank you for this article. It will help someone make the tough decision before it is made for them.

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  16. Wonderfully written. For several years I worked with a boxer rescue as I am passionate about the breed and really all things animal. I was asked to drive several hours to go pick up a rescue that had been in a behavior training bootcamp for biting. He had bit several times prior to training and also during his stay there. When I went to pick him up the handler advised me to tie him in the back seat as far away from me as possible and to muzzle him. Her very cautious behavior told me everything. As I was getting all the warnings about transporting this dog I reached for the paperwork to sign for him. In an instant a scream came out of me as I realized the dog was hanging from my arm. The handler pulled him off and started crying. She said straight out he needed to be euthanized and that he had bit her the day before. I called the rescue and told them I was leaving without the dog and that he was dangerous and the consensus from myself and the facility was that he should be put down that day. I was his 3rd bite in as many days. What they did was blame me for moving my hand too fast near his head. The director picked him up the next day and took him home to “reform” him. After a couple months they felt they fixed him and with the help of a psychic animal reader decided to send him back to his original foster home–with children– because the psychic informed them the dog wanted his little girl so that he could behave and be happy. I don’t know what ever happened to him but the approach to saving this dog sickened me. Thank you for writing this!

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    1. That is the most terrifying and irresponsible thing I have ever read. These types of rescues are actually becoming a menace. Something definitely needs to be done.

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  17. I know exactly where you are coming from. I have loved Doberman’s since the first time I saw them. I got my first one at 18 and have had 2 or 3 ever since. I love obedience work, and at one time I worked 2 of my dogs with a local police department. Having experienced all negative nonsense about Dobermans, I never bought into all the negativity surrounding pitbills. When my sons and his wife adopted Blue, a 2 year old pitbull, I was happy to be around him. My son was good working with him and he soon mastered sit, stay, come etc. When they announced that they were expecting their first child, I started to become concerned because he was still very dog aggressive and he had an extremely high prey drive. I asked the kids to let me take him for awhile and work with him. 6 months later I am thinking of sending him home. He’s done great, no more flinching at noises, chasing birds, cats, other dogs etc. he was doing great at the dog park. Anyway I am walking him and my 2 Doberman’s, both Dobermans are rescues, one an old man, the other an extremely shy 3 year old guy that was never socialized. As we are walking my neighbor, is in an electric wheelchair, speeding down the street towards us, his old labrador is running beside the wheelchair. I saw the pitbull lock on and I knew he was going to go after them, I grabbed his collar pulling him towards me, I got in front of him as the wheelchair went passed, he was so locked on I became his target. He got me in the thigh first, then the arm, I screamed and the Dobermans went after him. I the time I had trained dogs for years, I know better than to get between dogs that are fighting, Conan my old man died on the street, Apollo needed $2,000 worth of care. We had dropped Apollo at the emergency clinic, right down the street. The hardest part was taking Blue to the vets, my veterinarian was out of town for the weekend and had an vet in her place. Even though I was bleeding from my leg and had a bloody towel around my arm, he refused to put blue down. I explained to him my training experience and my qualifications to make this decision, the staff knew me and let him know that I was an excellent instructor. I told him that Blue had just killed one of his pack mates, He still refused to put Blue down, because he was “a beautiful dog, he told me that sometimes dogs fight!” That day changed my world. I lost Conan, Apollo went back into his shell, I had to keep Blue in the house until my Vet got back into town, I had a total of 80 stitches between my arm and leg. The worst part was that I didn’t trust myself to evaluate dogs anymore. I have done so much research since that time, and learned it’s a complicated issue. It’s breeding, background, socialization and training. No two dogs are exactly alike, just got my first Doberman, in 6 years, a puppy “Thor”. I am still in love with my breed, and I am still an animal advocate, but now I am much more careful because it could have been so much worse.

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  18. I am going to tell a similar story with a VERY different beginning but the Same Sad Horrible ending!
    I got a puppy ( specifically NOT going to mention breed as I want the dog seen as a DOG not a Breed ) at 9 weeks old. I raised this puppy, gave him the Best life, lots of love & training, training, training.
    Meaning this dog was eventually my Service Dog! He went with me EVERYWHERE! He amazed people with his abilities ( not tricks ) to work when needed & just “be” when not immediately needed. He was LOVED by all! He was just as much a part of the “work family” as I was. Co-Workers verbally said Hello to the Dog before me! Which I appreciated & allowed. My SD & I weren’t outcasts.
    He started acting “funny” at home. Yes, there were also important “issues” happening in the home at the time. I attributed his “change” to the issues in the home. He was a PERFECT dog!
    1st incident ( 2nd red flag ) – He bit my S.O. on the ankle & finger while trying to separate 2 fussing ( not fighting ) dogs. I attributed it to trying to be “in charge” of the situation. No other issues.
    2nd incident ( 3rd red flag ) – He bit my S.O. on the calf while usual play chaos was going on in the yard. No other issues but Bad wound! I attributed to the S.O. needing to re-establish dominance. Done.
    3rd incident ( 4th red flag ) – excited barking going on in the home & dog pushes open a closed door & jumps at my S.O. catching the stomach in a Hard bite!
    At this point, there are 4 red flags but ONLY at home & ONLY with my S.O., yet is still the “perfect” dog at ALL other times. I attribute it to the dog seeing the S.O. as a “threat” ( issues in the home ).
    I did the UNTHINKABLE!!!
    I IGNORED ALL THE RED FLAGS!
    Approx 2 weeks after the last “bite” on my S.O., I became his ENRAGED target!
    FedEx delivery & dogs are alert barking as usual.
    I shut the solid front door ( normal activity ) to stop the barking. The next thing I know I am falling to the ground! The attack happened as follows & lasted less than 5 mins!! I am LUCKY to be alive!
    He grabbed my left hip & bit! He then, Jumped up & grabbed my left shoulder blade & brought me down to the ground. This put me on my back & left shoulder jammed up against the couch. He then BIT, A FULL MOUTH ATTACK, into my left shoulder ( heading for my neck that is less than 6 inches from my shoulder! )!
    Survival instinct kicked in, I turned my head left ( chin to shoulder ) to protect my main artery!
    And was NOSE TO NOSE with my OWN SERVICE DOG!
    His eyes were glazed, there was NO personal recognition, there was NO care, it was a FULL attack to severly maim or kill!
    I immediately grab his muzzle, giving his name & commands to STOP! NOTHING!
    He started to “shake” his head with mouth full of my shoulder.
    At this point, I KNOW there is not stopping him. My ONLY & BEST hope is to keep him from coming further up & getting my neck!
    My ONLY thought is,. “I can’t survive if he rips open my neck artery, I WILL bleed to death on my living room floor!”. I hook my left thumb into his collar giving it all I have & it’s just enough to not allow him to get any closer. I stick my left arm straight out to the side desperately hoping he will go down my arm & away from my face & neck. LUCKILY that’s just what he did!
    After this entire attack scenario ends ( approx 5 mins total ) he is his “normal, well behaved” self.
    He then had full emotion back into his eyes. I was able to keep him standing in one place with very little pressure of my knee to keep him against the couch.
    I am able to get to my phone & call for help. Yes, I was home Alone!
    I am in SHOCK! This is MY service dog! I’ve been the Only one to raise him! He was NEVER treated roughly, hit, abused, NOTHING! He was very well loved & very well behaved! At this point I am asking him “Why!??”… crying beyond belief…he is Actually hanging his head & knowing he did wrong!
    That was April 1st, 2017 ( April Fool’s Day ).
    Kissing his head, crying tears all over his body & placing a muzzle on him was one of the HARDEST things I have EVER had to do in my life!!
    I KNEW at that point, there was NO other choice. I KNEW he wouldn’t be there when I got back home from the ER!
    I HAVE to put down my Best Friend, my Life Line, my ability to get around, my Baby & most of all my Soul Dog!
    My heart was Broken, truly Broken!
    I received a 4″ X 4″ section of gaashing on my left hip, a 3″ X 3″ gash section on my left shoulder blade, a Quarter size HOLE on my left front shoulder & many ( approx 20ish various bites down my left upper arm ( shoulder to elbow ).
    Luckily ( and I Don’t know how! ) the dog missed ALL the ligaments & tendons in my shoulder!
    It’s now almost 3 yrs later… I miss that dog EVERY DAY! My heart Aches for him!
    And EVERY DAY….I live with the fact that I let HIM down!
    I IGNORED the red flags, I didn’t pay attention to ALL the signs!
    I DIDN’T do what was RIGHT for my dog!
    But again…”why would I euthanize such a great dog!” stigma! And I’m sure any vet would have looked at me like I was Crazy if I took him in for euthanasia prior!
    No matter that I SAW & KNEW he was a different dog! I don’t think I could have found a vet that WOULD have put him down!
    I have to agree there ARE times that if an owner is Responsible & Knows their dog, there should be NO stigma, NO judgement, NO chastising, NOTHING!
    There should be Empathy, Compassion, Encouragement & Reassurance that the owner IS doing right by the DOG & all involved!
    But in my situation just as the blogger’s situation, my dog had to go with pain, fear, aggression & a myriad of other emotions that AREN’T fair to the dog or the person!
    I do believe this IS a stigma that should be, if not erased, at least changed to a more accepted option.
    Lesson taught….pay attention to the Red Flags & FIGHT for what you KNOW is right for the animal!
    Quantity is Not always better than Quality! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. Our lhasa/poodle mix bit my husband causing 11 stitches in his nose. We managed his behavior for 10 years, keeping him away from kids and strangers. He did ok, but we had no life. Everything was done around him. As much as we loved him, there was something wrong in his brain. He wound up biting my husband again, causing 8 stitches on the other side of his nose. He was quarantined for a 10 days and at the 10 day check, was sent over the bridge. Thankfully he never bit a child. It was awful and I still feel guilty 6+ years later. Some dogs should not be saved and our lhasapoo was one. He did help me learn a lot about dog behavior though, so he definitely had a purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m an animal control officer and have endured some pretty vicious comments and threats from people who objected to my euthanizing dogs I did not feel were safe to place. I hope you will continue to spread the word that we aren’t making these decisions lightly and that as much as we love dogs we love people more.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for sharing.. I feel the same way .. I volunteer with a rescue that is primarily pits .. most are amazing sweet dogs. I was bit last year by a dog at the rescue who had a bite history , was sent to intensive training , adopted out , bit and returned prior to biting me. I regularly walked this dog , he knew me.. he snapped with out provocation or warning .. thank god someone was able to pull him off me.. I had nerve to question whether or not the dog should ever be adopted .. I was ostracized for my questions .. and treated like I was enemy .. thank you .. this article validates what I feel

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  22. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s comforting to know that others have had to make the same heartbreaking decision to euthanize otherwise healthy dogs. I purchased a Staffordshire Terrier from a family who had a litter of puppies to sell. I should have paid attention to the way they had cropped the ears of the breeding pair (way too short – a sign of dog fighting), but I was naïve. Buster (a popular name) was a great puppy and I made sure he got proper obedience training. I made sure I never played “tug-of-war” with him and that he learned the phrase “leave it” when play time got too rough. He never bit me, however he would clamp onto my forearm during these sessions and it was difficult to get him to release. I worked with him constantly (3 obedience classes) took him for long walks and gave him all the love I could. It wasn’t until he turned two years old that something clicked in his brain and he changed. First instance was he went after our neighbor’s little poodle mix – the neighbors would let their dog out and it would come over to our fence and bark at Buster and drive him crazy. Well, he got out one time and went for the little yappy dog and was shaking him like a toy by the time I got to him. Thank goodness the dog wasn’t killed or even wounded. Then he developed separation anxiety when I would go to work and would try to escape from our yard by jumping our 6′ fence. I tried tying him up on our patio, but he ended up tearing off all the siding on the house he could reach. I found a dog behavioral specialist in the area that tried to help, but after a few interactions with Buster, she stopped taking my calls (that should have told me something!). He just became too unpredictable and I had to make that fateful decision to put him down. I loved Buster so much and I believe he loved me too, but that doesn’t solve the problem of a ticking time bomb when the puppy has been bred from fighting stock. No amount of love can overcome that wiring. Thank you for allowing people like me a forum to share their love (and experienced pain) while coping with the final outcome of their decision.

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  23. From the depths of my heart, thank you for writing this- it had to be hard for you. It was done lovingly and from the position of painful experience that never wanted to see another person or pet suffer in the same manner again. It is the truth; thank you for saying it.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. That was soooooo beautifully written. I am so very sorry you had to experience this. You tried everything above and beyond for Bosco. Thank you so very much for sharing this, I’m sure it had to be very painful and always will be – but it will definitely help others in the same situation to see what could happen. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Unfortunately this happens all too often. I had been a dachshund show breeder for many years when a friend sent me a 2 year old mini smooth Male for my breeding program. He was very sweet, good with my other dogs, and EXTREMELY bonded to me. My son used to help me with the dogs, and got frequently “nipped” when doing something with this dog. Eventually the bites got worse, and I made the decision to put him down. Fortunately my vet knew me very well and trusted my judgment. Another time I placed one of my champion dogs with a couple who babied him to the point that he became unmanageable. He was returned to me the day before I left for vacation. My adult children were left in charge of the dogs. That evening my 8 year old grandson made a sudden move and the dog bit him. Later that night, he bit him again. I was heartbroken. I had raised him, trained him, and he was aware of the fact that I was alpha, but I knew I would not be there to reestablish control, and I couldn’t trust him. So the next morning my daughter took him in and had him put to sleep. It’s not always bad breeding that turns a good dog bad. You just have to be vigilant. And in my experience, it often happens at age 2, when their brains start to engage. 😭

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  26. Thank you for writing this. It must have been very difficult for you. You did leave one point out, not only pits or pit mixes should not be adopted if unable to interact safely with people but ANY BREED OR MIX should be pts.

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  27. I have a pit that belongs to my granddaughter who is at college. I also have 2 small dogs that I have had for years. Granddaughter moved out, I have to keep the dog. For months everyone got along well and then one day the pit attacks one of the small dogs. when i tried to separate them, the pit didn’t let go and my small dog has 4 deep bites on her neck. Now i have to keep them separated all the time……..when I go to bed, the pit is in the kennel. when we get up in the morning, the small dogs go outside first and when they come back in I have to shut them in the bedroom so I can take the pit out of the kennel and take her outside. it isn’t fair to any of them. my question is, should I be concerned that the pit is bad or that it is just a fluke thing?

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  28. Thank you for writing this. I have been right where you were and as you show, it takes a long time to process. March 2, 2012 I was met face to face with my own dog who wanted to kill me. I had ignored his aggressions toward my other dog and myself and he finally went for it. 65 stitches, 14 staples and 3 reconstructive surgeries to my face and nose later, I am luckily still here to tell about it. I later went on to manage a municipal animal shelter for the past 6 years, up until June 2019. Much of what I endured gave me a healthy view on how to handle these types of dogs. Unfortunately, there is not a place for people like me anymore in Animal Control. Everybody wants the fluff and stuff of No Kill and unfortunately, the powers that be are caving in because they dont want the bad press; including the municipality I live in. No kill is a sad and dangerous way of “saving” animals but very few people……no scratch that. Everybody sees it but they dont want to admit to it and fight the good fight. The problem in animal control is that those of us who fight the good fight are seen as the enemy. Its a terrible world to be in. I miss the work I did but they wanted me gone as No Kill is starting to prevail. And thats fine. I always said my morals would never waiver; even if it meant me losing my job. So here we are. As for the dog, he was humanely euthanized 10 days later. I will love him til the day I die but I know I made the right decision. I lost friends and supporters over it but so be it. Those who claimed he could be rehabbed (and those on your post here claiming the same about meds) can eat glass and digest it. Dont ever falter in your beliefs. The right thing is what you believe…..you did the right thing.

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  29. This is very well written – thank you for writing it.
    I was in a similar position several years ago, luckily in my case I already had the dog in a muzzle (we had been out and about) or I would have faced similar. I drove him straight to the vet, still shaking and in tears without passing go – by the time we got there he’d turned back into the sweetest dog again.
    I’m now far more wary of ‘rescues’. I’ve had great rescues in the past – I’d not have another with known behaviour problems or without a full history. Even then I’d still be dubious. We just can’t save everyone.

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  30. I lost a Pit this exact way, trying to keep her apart from other dogs. All it takes is one minor mistake doing things out of your normal routine & it becomes a tragic & deadly situation for your other dogs…when the “bomb” goes off. The dog I lost was the aggressor; she hated other dogs. 💔 I will never put myself in that situation again.
    She deserved the dignity of a humane, calm euthanasia but instead, tragically shot to stop her mauling before she killed another dog twice her size.
    Trying to “give her a chance,” she was on bite hold/quarantine when I adopted her for attacking two other dogs in the home on 2 different occasions. I met the previous owners (also volunteers at the shelter) that gave me details & said each fight was unprovoked & complete bloodbaths before they could be separated. 💔
    I am now like this blogger, some are in a place mentally that no amount of training can help them & they are suffering as well.
    Please, be very careful in your situation. Your daughter really needs to make other arrangements to a foster home without other pets. 😘

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  31. I have similar concerns about ‘saving them all’ and if the current rescue culture is to change, this sort of bad outcome needs to be as widely publicized as the feel-good outcomes. I see a lot of bubbly rescue comments online touting how rewarding it is when a rescue project has a tiny step forward but very few admissions that the bad outcomes can – given the nature of the new, widespread practice of ‘saving’ even dangerous and marginal dogs – be life-changing and deadly. Keeping these outcomes the dirty little secret of rescue groups, who typically discuss the bad cases in closed FB groups and forums, is misleading the public and getting people hurt.

    So I hope you submit this blog entry to the BarkPost, and contact the Toledo Blade and other media that covered the Bosco ‘rescue’ 2 years ago. That would be a good first step toward realistically and humanely helping all dogs, even those which pose a deadly threat to others (and here, I mean a threat to other dogs too – I don’t understand how dog rescue has gotten so off-course that we’re now routinely rehoming dogs that will attack and kill other dogs) so that everyone is protected, from the Yorkie that doesn’t die because the marginal dog got loose, to the adopter who’s not mauled to the dangerous dog that’s not shot to death by police after attacking a pedestrian. At this point, I feel like ‘saving them all’ is bad for dogs and adopters, and good only for the egos of rescue groups – and the bank accounts of the vets, trainers and behaviorists who are being asked to help keep the marginal/dangerous dogs alive and in some degree of comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Wow.

    So im a pet transporter. One of my clients lied. Lied about his 100 lb rottweiler.

    So i show up at about 4 am at his home to pick up a 100 lb sweet, well trained rotty girl that came with a crate and all! I get there and he goes ” i dont have no crate, she doesnt need a leash,”

    My thought was its ok shes a sweety i can handle her lets get this girl to her new home….instead of listening to my instinct. As i began to drive off i notice he took off a shock collar. My initial thought was to ditch her and cancel the trip. I ignored it. My ego thought that maybe id be saving her or whatever happens when your ego gets involved over your general sense.

    That poor choice of mine landed me on the side of the road, saveing her from charging into oncoming traffic at the expense of possibly getting mauled myself. I can go into detail another time…but as animal control hauled her off i found myself on the guy’s facebook page where she had Bit a vet nurse about 2 months prior.

    My instinct told me to leave it alone…but i wanted to save this girl from her life with this idiot. I regret it to this day.

    Im safe and i saved her life, but it was a choice that could have been better made had i left my ego out of it…..and ego ….feeling the need to be a hero when the signs point elsewhere can play a big part

    Liked by 1 person

  33. “Bosco was suffering just as much as if he’d had a medical issue. His emotional and mental health made for a poor quality of life, and it should have been ok to help end his pain before something bad happened.” I think you suffered a lot more than he did and it’s OK to put that out there. You deserve safety and good health. So do friends and neighbors, and other pets. No need to sound so apologetic – you matter too!

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  34. Thank you for sharing your emotionally and physically painful story. I do believe some dogs cannot be saved. A rescue Rottweiler caused the breakup of my long time relationship. The dog had bitten both myself and my 20 yr old daughter on separate occasions, both requiring stitches. That should have been enough but it wasn’t. I didn’t want to be the cause of this dog’s death. But the last straw was when my daughter moved back home with her toddler son and the dog and the toddler could not be in the same room, as the dog most certainly would have killed him. I picked up my daughter and grandson and moved out of the house. The dog remained for many years until his health failed and he was put down.
    We were told by the trainer that the dog and the baby should not be in the same house because the dog sees the baby as prey.
    I could not live with that risk.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. There are humans with mental disorders which we can not change. Training or counseling is futile no matter what we try. We wouldn’t leave them trusted with a weapon. Why do we think animals are any different? Don’t let your emotions cloud your good judgement.

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  36. Thank you for sharing this experience with the world. I can imagine your pain and conflict over this situation. I have volunteered in the world of municipal shelters and pit bull rescue for years. When I was 11, my mother was attacked and mauled by our family dog (a chow), and I was the only person home with her. It was such a brutal, unexpected (given our limited understanding of dog behavior at the time) event in my life that I have spent decades processing it. It has made me dedicated to helping safe, mentally stable dogs find loving homes, because like you I have seen firsthand how dangerous an unstable dog can be.

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  37. A lot of a dog’s personality stems from breeding and prey drive. I’ve seen dogs abused badly, but still are sweet and loving dogs, and yet, I’ve seen dogs have loving, caring homes, and turn out to be aggressive towards their owners and other people and animals. I’ve worked for vet clinics for over thirty years, showed Akitas for thirty years, and especially raising Akitas, I found that the higher the prey drive the more aggressive the dog is going to be. How the dog is raised is only about 10% of their behavior. I socialized my Akitas a great deal. And out of the thirty years I had akitas, only 2 had zero prey drive. Meaning, they would get alone with my cats and other dogs and people. Right now I am dealing with a Spitz type dog that has a huge behavior problem. He has bitten me, my sister, and just the other day he bit her pretty hard. I want to put him down, but she don’t want me too. Her heart is bigger then mine, but I wouldn’t have any problem having him put down. He is fine, unless you go to correct him, then he will go for you. Thankfully, he is small enough, I can handle him, but frankly, I am sick and tired of having to deal with his issues.

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  38. I agree with you wholeheartedly but honestly, it should have ended even before that. Walk into any shelter. Any one, anywhere in the country, you will find pit bulls no one wants because of stories of aggression toward people or animals. Thousands of those dogs die every single year with no end in sight. I hate that these dogs are so maligned. I hate the tremendous stress and heartache that those who work in those shelters feel trying to care for those dogs and seeing them passed over for no reason other than the fact that they are bully breeds. Anyone who rescues knows that space is a finite resource. We have to hold these dogs to a higher standard. Is it fair? No, but it is the reality. You had a dog aggressive dog in your home with multiple dogs. No matter how carefully you manage that, you were playing with fire. Rescues and shelters play with fire every time they send a “dog selective” bully breed dog out to the public. Sorry, I don’t want to be walking down the street with my dog when your dog “selects” him. There are thousands of perfect bullies out there who wouldn’t harm a fly. People justify animal aggression by saying “but he loves people.” Well, guess what? People get hurt when they try to stop dog fights. Animal advocates have to do better by carefully considering which dogs get released from shelters and rescues. The animals you send out should be only the most stable and balanced examples of this breed. Like it or not, the reactivity that these dogs have is why they were chosen as fighting dogs. It is unfortunate and it isn’t the dogs’ fault. But to truly “save” bully breed dogs you have to be willing to sacrifice the ones that give these dogs a bad name and who pose a risk to people AND other animals.

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    1. Actually he was not dog aggressive in any way. He was human iffy but never had a problem with other dogs until the end. Which is why we are suspecting a brain tumor.

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  39. I think our culture of spay and neuter shaming and back yard breeder shaming is also an issue. Responsible people spay and neuter pets. No one breeds their beloved pet anymore because they get shamed for it. What’s left breeding are half feral puppies, caged puppy mill dogs and fighting type dogs. We need to make spay and neuter free (via a tax on pet supplies or foods maybe?) and shame people who have mixed breed accidental litters. People who breed with any intent, especially breeding beloved pets are infinitely more responsible than feral dogs breeding or a chained bitch and whatever wandered by or made it into the yard.

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  40. This is why I do not support adoption any more?(I worked in the field for 24 yrs) I am so saddened by the fact that these people have no empathy for the sound,healthy adoptable dogs they let be euthanized so they can save dogs like him. I am now convinced that their fear of death and their inability to deal with it is the only thing they worry about.. They show their true colors over and over again by takeing in animals from other countries again letting our dogs be euthanized so they can pat themselves on the back for how great they are. Many dogs through no fault of their own are not suitable for rehomeing. god cannot save all the people so why?do these people think they are greater then him? It used to be the animals were evaluated, and yes there were many difficult desions made by very loving people. BUT now there is never a reason to kill an animal?? But if you dare suggeste it people will not donate to your cause and you suddenly become enemy number one!!! I have watched many good rescuers cave under the pressure to save animals they never would have in the past. animals that are just warehoused for years with mimmel interaction,filled with best intention Do you really believe they are happier?? in nature these guys would not exist because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few. So plese you people give more thought to what you are doing in the long run, give so thought to what you arte putting these people through, thank goodness this dog was euthanized before these never a reason to put a dog to sleep got a hold on him or he would have been doomed to a life of mesery., so these rescures would not have to feel bad. WHERE ARE THE CHAMPIONS FOR THE SAVEABLE DOGS???????????????.

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