Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Big Decisions...

Here lately, it seems like all big and tough decisions fall on me and it's aggravating me to death.

Most recently it is in regards to a dog in my care... he is not my dog and he is not a dog that belongs to my rescue. He was a dog that belongs to my family member- He's smart, beautiful, obedient, affectionate etc... the problem you ask? He bites. He's an aggressive dog. He's bitten several people and has tried to bite me and my husband. I am trying to get a rescue to take him... someone who deals with aggressive dogs and knows how to deal with their issues. So far, I've been shot down. No rescue wants the responsibility of a biting dog. I have one line still out there and I'm really hoping that it will pull through. I'm just really stressed out because he cannot stay here... don't get me wrong, I love dogs. I rescue dogs. I do my level best to save every dog that crosses my path... but I just don't know what to do with him. How long before he bites someone who sues me? Or really hurts someone? Bites a child? He's good most of the time, but the moments that he isn't are what is worrying me.

I spend my time rescuing dogs... how can I make the decision to condemn one to death? Right now, he is walking around my house and laying at my feet without any idea that he is on the brink of death. How can I possibly agree with the masses that this dog deserves death when he is healthy and obedient most of the time? Granted, most of the time is not enough... it only takes a minute for a dog his size to do A LOT of damage to a person, especially a child. I don't have children, but my neighbors children come over frequently... so far, he hasn't aggressed at a young child (but he has bitten the 13 year old that he grew up with) but what if he did? What would I tell their parents? "Oh sorry, I put the life of this dog above the safety of your child... ". But then again, what would I say to Jack? "Sorry Jack, I know that for the most part you try to be a loving and obedient companion, because you bit people you deserve to die...". I just don't know what else to try. Aside from paying nearly $1,000.00 for a trainer to MAYBE help him, what else can I do? He's been to the vet. He's been in three total households and has been aggressive at all of them. I have him on puppy prozac and it isn't helping. What else can I do? I cannot bring myself to give the order, but I also cannot risk him staying here and seriously hurting someone.

I had always said that I would not tolerate an aggressive dog... that if they cannot be trusted, then they needed to be humanely euthanized to eliminate the danger they pose to themselves and others. Then I got into rescue. As a rescue, I will not save a dog that bites... it's a matter of liability. What if I adopt them out and they attack someone? Also, as a rescue I have to protect the breed... which means humanely euthanizing dogs that would 'damage the breeds reputation'. Another rescuer explained it to me about a year ago... she rescues Akitas, who are known for aggression. She said "One aggressive akita can ruin the lives of a hundred other akitas... simply with the publicity of the attack. People will abandon their akitas that they have had for years out of fear that they will 'snap'. Dog fighters will start using akitas in dog fights because they are 'mean'. Akitas will be euthanized in shelters quicker because 'no one wants an aggressive breed' and so on... so it is better to humanely euthanize one to save 1,000 more.". I mean, I guess that makes sense, but at the same time... the dogs don't understand. They don't understand WHY, they just die. I don't even know if they understand that YOU are KILLING them...

The only time I have put down a dog was when we rescued a Golden Retriever, had him for a few months and then found out that he was dying with severe cancer... and I had to make that decision too and I held him when he took his last breath... his last move was to crawl in my lap and smile up at me. I carry that guilt with me every day. Poor CJ... I hope that he understood but I can't be sure that he did. He was so sick...

Why do decisions like this seem to follow me? Why can't someone else be faced with these things? Don't people understand how much the guilt wears on me?

If you pray, pray. If you do rain dances, dance. If you chant, chant. If you meditate, meditate. Regardless of what you do to whatever God or cosmos you do it to, do it and hope that this one rescue lady, the last rescue lady, will take him.

I'm at the end of my rope and poor Jack is hanging by a thread...



  1. This is a tough and sad situation. :( I'm sorry you are having to go through it. If you cannot do training (and I understand why not, it's not guaranteed to work) then I think you know what needs to be done. :( Have you figured the cause of the aggression (fear? food? territory?)? Maybe figuring out what sets him off can help you figure out how to work on it.

  2. This came to a head last night. Jack lost his ever loving mind and attacked me. There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to do some serious harm to me, if not kill me. The only thing that saved me was luck and quick reflexes that were honed over years of owning a horse that used to think I tasted like carrots. I have never been so panicked in my entire life and trust me, I am not the panicky type. Ever. I managed to kick the crate door closed and hold it there with my foot and get it locked with him actively salivating and trying to rip my hands off. It was an intense situation that I do not even think I can recount here... it's still too fresh and borderline surreal. Long story short, with the help of my neighbor who works with Animal Control, I called Animal control to come get him. He even tried to attack the Animal Control Officer! I hated sending him away to be put down, but I couldn't even let him out of the crate to attempt to transport him myself without endangering myself again. It was just really really bad. I made the best decision that I could in a terrible situation. Needless to say, I will never take in another 'aggressive' dog, I don't care which family member begs and pleads. Absolutely not.


  3. All I can say is I know you did the right thing. You might feel beat up about it but you know we can't save them all as hard as we try.

  4. I know. :( It's just something that I never thought that I would have to do.