is this dog a danger to society?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by l_l_a, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. l_l_a New Member

    Story in my local news regarding a "dangerous dog" incident. The quick version is here (video from local news station a couple days ago, full news reports at bottom) [media][/media]

    This bothers me because (1) it is local to me (2) the dog involved is a german shepherd dog, and I'm a GSD owner and (3) I myself have experienced much less severe incidents where other people got scared of my dog. I am always, always worried at the back of my mind that something like this can happen.

    Summary if you don't want to follow the links:
    GSD named Rolo has never had a history of aggressive incidents. One day in July 2007 he escapes the yard when gate was opened to go for a walk, owner is trying to regain control. Right at that moment, owner's neighbor - a woman with a toddler - was out in front of the house and sees the GSD running in her general direction. Woman then screams, and for whatever reason Rolo reacts to her screams by running to her and grabbed her skirt and tore it. The terrified woman stood still, with her back turned to the GSD, clutching her toddler in her arms. The woman suffered minor scratches (as described by both the animal control officer and the paramedic) and a torn skirt. Owner then regained control of the dog and apologized profusely but the victim didn't acknowledge it, and later on summoned the owner to court.

    Initially the restitution being demanded was around $1300. At the second court hearing the restitution was reduced to around $700. but then the owner was blindsided as the judge then ordered her dog to be put down. Owner was totally unaware of this possibility as it was never mentioned before and thus owner had not thought to hire a lawyer yet. (but now she has.) Also at that fateful hearing, to the owner's surprise other neighbors showed up to testify against the dog, saying that as a result of what happened to the victim they are all now terrified for their children's safety and want the dog put down. Rolo has been quarantined at a shelter for the last 4 months at the order of the court, and his quarantine is still ongoing while waiting for the next hearing to determine his fate. The owner is completely distraught and doing everything she can to save her dog's life, she has set up a website, circulated a petition (which my husband and I have signed), and as of 2 days ago has taken to camping outside the courthouse to appeal. Also every day the owner visits her dog in the shelter so she can take him out for exercise and play and to be with him, but since it's been 4 months that he's been living in the cage in the shelter he is going crazy.

    Also, before the dog was ordered quarantined, the owner put up a new sturdier fence and took him to a well respected local trainer (she was trying to be responsible in gaining more control over her dog to prevent a repeat incident). At a recent public rally in support of her, this trainer and another well respected local trainer were interviewed and said they didn't think Rolo is dangerous, just that he needs more training and socialization. But the dog's fate is still undecided.

    What do you think of this? I think the public is much less forgiving of certain breeds and quick to declare them dangerous. It's true that big dogs have the potential to cause more serious harm. But does this lead to over-reaction and hysteria when accidents happen? No one cares if a small dog snarls at you, they might even think it's cute. But if a GSD barks at someone, they report you to the police as having a dangerous dog - this actually happened to my dog's mother, all she did was bark at someone outside the yard and they reported her to the police.

    In this case, Rolo did more than bark, he grabbed the lady's skirt and tore it and inflicted minor scratches on her. legally this constitutes a bite. I can understand that the victim was terrified for her safety and her child's safety and truly sympathize. I think the victim definitely deserves compensation. I also think this is unacceptable behavior for the dog and owner, and there should be penalties for the owner and measures to ensure it doesn't happen again. But should such measures be euthanization??? Is he such a danger to society that only euthanization can protect the public from him? Could he just be made to wear a muzzle in public while undergoing behavior rehabilitation under a professional behaviorist??

    I am very concerned by what I see as a public over-reaction. In the past, before my dog had as much training and socialization under his belt, I had also accidentally lost control of him in public and he charged at people and scared them with his barking. Now he doesn't do that anymore due to training and socialization and behavior modification. Now he has 2 CGC certificates (meaning he passed the test twice under different evaluators and testing conditions showing it wasn't a fluke the first time!!) Vets and groomers say he is so friendly for a GSD. He goes to public places everyday and is well behaved and under control. And I myself been chased by aggressive-displaying dogs before when I was out jogging or on my bike so I know the feeling of being scared for your safety when an aggressive dog charges you but doesn't hurt you. Few dogs are truly aggressive enough to attack unprovoked, in most cases their intent is just to drive you away and if barking does the trick they stop at that. Is Rolos' case that different? He did make physical contact with the victim (or rather her skirt), and probably that's what caused this huge reaction against him because he officially bit her. The owner claims the dog was just acting out of confusing in reaction to the woman's screaming and that his intent was not to harm (if a GSD's intent IS to harm, he certainly would/could have done more!).

    The full news reports (original and follow up):

  2. CollieMan Experienced Member

    Do we know whether the dog had seen a professional trainer before the event took place?

    It's very easy and understandable, on a dog-lover's forum, to jump to the defence of the dog, no matter what. However, go and post the same information on a Mothering based forum and you'll often see the opposite and equally understandable reaction. I know we can't base such things on what-ifs, but what if it had been the child on the floor and it had screamed and caught the dog's attention?

    I find cases like this impossible to answer because you can never know the entire context. For example, how many times before had the dog escaped. What was the state of the gate, and was it in obvious need of replacement? Had the dog received any proper training? Was the owner as committed to her dog before it was taken away from her? Did she walk it regularly, or has she become the perfect dog owner only after the event?

    Apologies if these questions are answered in the video; it doesn't play for me.

    There are always questions that need answers in order to be able to judge such things.
  3. Jean Cote Administrator

    That sucks for the dog, four months locked up?? They should either decide that he can return to his owner or be put down. But to leave him in there is cruel to me.
  4. l_l_a New Member

    I totally agree, Collie Man, in fact those exact thoughts and concerns entered my mind when I first read about this story.

    So today I went to the courthouse where the owner is camping outside lobbying, and I talked to her at length about her dog's history and how the case unfolded. And as a result I'm now more convinced than before that the victim blew everything out of proportion. It's understandable that the victim was terrified and perceives the dog as being a monster, but perception is not always the same thing as reality.

    That is not to say I think the dog and owner should get off scot-free, that is not what anyone is saying. Certainly penalties are called for, and measures must be taken to prevent future incidents. But I just feel that euthanizing the dog is too extreme. The dog doesn't have an aggressive history, he doesn't have a history of running loose either, the owner showed me pictures of him going camping with people and other dogs and children climbing all over him, and from what she described about their lives together he seems a normal dog who could use more obedience training and more vigilant management. The owner has certainly stepped up her efforts to be more responsible as a result of this, like installing a second fence and taking the dog to obedience classes, I dont' think that's a bad thing. It was an unfortunate accident, I think, and the victim rightly is afraid and has a right to demand that measures be taken against the dog. I just think that euthanizing the dog is way extreme and would set a dangerous legal precedent for other local dog owners.

    well that's my take! :)
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Okay, let's put this into people-perspective. A child has a tiff with another child and they scuffle. Somebody gets scratched or bruised, and tears are shed of course. Do you put the child who started the scuffle immediately in juvenile detention, or do you scold both children and call the parents?
    Now, let's take two teenagers, or adults. One says or does something offensive and they get into a fist-fight. They are old enough to know better, and will get punished much more severely than a child because of a scuffle.
    If Rolo is a timid dog that is not well-socialized to loud noises, it is quite likely that he felt threatened by the loud screaming of the woman. He reacted by protecting himself and his owner. No one was harmed. My neighbors have a sheperd mix that is so seriously aggressive that he has attacked and nearly killed several dogs, and attempted to attack me on several occasions. I don't walk out the door without something to defend myself if I see him outside--they do not keep him fenced. I don't want to hurt the dog, but I am not going to let this mutt gnaw on my leg and do nothing about it. He is extremely aggressive to the point that he is a serious danger. We have not yet called the police, but other dog owners have---owners of dogs he has attacked. The police would not do anything because:
    1) We live in the country, outside of city limits.
    2)He has not attacked a human.
    So basically our policemen in my area would rather wait for bad injuries due to this dog. I could say a lot about this particular situation, but on to Rolo….
    Everyone deserves a second chance, dogs included. The fact that no one was really harmed is enough to prove that he indeed deserves a second chance. This is not a vicious dog, as far as I can tell. If he wanted to attack someone, he would have attacked. Not tore her skirt and scratched her a little. He could have done much more damage.
    There are so many owners of dogs in this kind of situation who say, “He’s just never done this before. I can’t imagine why he would do such a thing…” Most of these that I have encountered simply do not know how to read their dog’s body language and when he acts aggressive or on edge, they don’t understand it. Because they do not see that the dog is acting aggressively, they do not know that they need to learn how to prevent it. Because it is not prevented, it escalades. This may not be the case with Rolo’s owner; I’m simply saying that a lot of people say this…
    I think Rolo deserves to get help, not get put down. He obviously did not want to severely injure this woman or her child. He did not have intent to kill. He is not a bloodthirsty Cujo-clone. He and his owner should be given the chance to improve his behavior and prove that he is not a threat to his neighborhood.
  6. mopar53190 Well-Known Member

    cowgirl, you have some very valid points. About your neighbors dog... I do not know the Texas law but they seem very strict with more severe punishment than WI. If it is out of city limits the county sheriff should be involved since this should be their jurisdiction. Have you or anyone else talked to this dogs owners? This seems like a case of neglect by the owner especialy if these attacks have occured on more than one occasion and still do not keep the dog on its own property.
  7. CollieMan Experienced Member

    Firstly, well done you, l_l_a for going that step further to get the facts behind the case, or at least more than will likely be reported in the public press.

    I think, in this case, and given the extra knowledge, I'd be tempted to lay on a fine, insist on professional obedience training for at least six months, and a muzzle on the dog when being walked in a residential area. Not ideal for the owner I dare wager, but better than the alternative.

    Though I'd like to make clear that in the case of dog attacks, I side with the human party, not the dog, usually. Love of the canine species is great, but it should never create blindness towards the human species. In this country, we seem to be having such a wave of dog attacks, and it's getting harder and harder for responsible people to own dogs as a result of it.
  8. bipa New Member

    There are so many things that have gone wrong in this case, that I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps the number one thing for us to learn is that one should never appear in front of a judge without legal representation or advice. It doesn't always have to be an expensive lawyer, but even an experienced para-legal could have helped a lot. There's an old saying that is very true: A person who decides to defend themselves has a fool for a lawyer and an idiot for a client.

    As for the dog bite, that's a tough one. Non-dog owners tend to see dogs either as perfect well behaved "Lassie" or frothing at the mouth "Cujo". There's little grey area in their perspective. I've had a woman try to kick Bonnie when she was just a totally harmless 12 week-old puppy on a leash beside me. I've also had toddlers run up to Joey (also on leash), squealing and yelling to other kids about the cute doggie which could have resulted in a bite if I hadn't stopped the kids.

    A study I recently read (sorry, not in English) stated that at least 80% of dog bites can be attributed to provocation. The writer was very specific in his definition of provocation from a behavioural perspective, which included not only teasing and being cruel to a dog but also unintended provocation which includes screaming, waving hands in a panic, running around, looking a dog right in the eye as you bend down to pat him, patting on the top of the head which most dogs hate, and other things. What is extremely unfortunate is that the typical reaction of an uneducated person or child is going to almost always fit the broader, non-legal definition of provocation.

    Here is a perfect example of what I mean. A US TV reporter is interviewing a police dog handler, and the dog is sitting calmly beside him. The interviewer obviously knows nothing about dogs, but is confident that the highly trained dog is fully under control: (sorry, I can't find the longer, better version)


    There was lots of provocation there, but I doubt the reporter even realized what he was doing. The handler was also too slow to react.

    Considering the damage that Rolo, a full-grown German Shepherd could have inflicted, I must agree with the EMT person who had difficulty in describing the incident as an actual bite. Unfortunately, the legal definition of things is often very different than our common daily use of words. That's why having appropriate legal advice is critical, and where this case started to go wrong. The dog behaved like a normal dog, and the woman with the toddler behaved like a typical scared Mother. The owner was obviously at fault for allowing Rolo to get out, but in this case the punishment of death doesn't seem to fit the crime of a torn skirt and some scratches. Yet the defendent had no lawyer, no expert witnesses, and had gotten no neighbours to testify on Rollo's behalf. No wonder the judge ruled that Rolo was a "clear and present danger to the neighbourhood." The judge had no other evidence to give him a contrary perspective.

    The worst thing about this whole situation is that after half a year or longer of being stuck in a small 3x6 foot cage and not being allowed out for any walks or exercise, Rolo may yet end up a hyper-reactive aggressive dog. Wouldn't it be horrible if after finally winning the appeal and getting Rolo back, the dog had become a genuinely dangerous dog and had to be put down?!

    If Rolo does get freed, he will need lots of special rehabilitation to get over the sad treatment he's received at the shelter.
  9. Jean Cote Administrator

    Nice video Bipa.

    This is exactly what I meant in my, the dog was giving signals that he wasn't comfortable (notice the ears back, the licking of the lips/nose, avoiding eye contact). But the interview kept coming in and he hit a threshold. Look at how he tenses up and stares down the interviewer before he lunges at him.

    Another dog would have understood those signals and would have backed down, kept his distance and waited until the dog was more comfortable with his presence.

    Thanks for sharing!
  10. bipa New Member

    The transcripts of the trial proceedings are available online. I would urge folks to at least skim through them.

    After the first trial, you think it actually isn't all that bad, more a question of money than anything else. The issue of how much restitution should be given to the woman who was bitten is held back for another session on another day. I can see how the dog owner would have been lulled into a false sense of complacency, thinking that the major decisions in the case dealing with the dog's future had already been settled. Instead, the whole case gets blown wide open again, and is pretty much redone from scratch. Now all of a sudden we get testimony from neighbours saying how scarey and aggressive Rolo really is. Where were these people at the first hearing?

    So my conclusions haven't changed at all. If a dog owner has any sort of incident that could end up in court, have a lawyer ready. Heck, go out there right now and find a lawyer in your area who specializes in dog related problems. That way you'll already have a name and address ready to call if/when something happens. Write it into your phonebook, or tape it up to the wall along with your other important phone numbers. If/when the time comes, you'll be glad that you don't need to be searching around in a panic, all emotional and upset.
  11. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    It's hard to describe, and call me a typical, but I've seen many dogs that get a "look in their eye." I've seen even the most experienced dog handlers/trainers neglect to acknowledge this. A few dogs that I have seen attack people don't really show any other signs of aggression, other than a certain look. Sadly, the neglect to both know to look for this and know how to react to it has been the cause of the euthanasia of many dogs.
    I do agree that staring an unfamiliar dog(especially a police dog) in the eye can easily be taken as a challenge. I can definitely see how the police dog would feel threatened by the interviewer. He was very close to him, kneeling over him, and as he moved he came closer and almost appeared to be moving in on him, above him. My computer ran this kind of slow, but if he was moving relatively quickly the dog most likely perceived this to be a threat, like another dog lunging over him.
    Mopar, in general Texas is much stricter....however, in my town the police do pretty much nothing but write enough tickets to reach quota. Many people in our neighborhood have talked to the owners. They simply do not care. They have two dogs(that I have seen) that have mange. Many of their dogs are severely underweight, and no one will do anything about it. None of their dogs are spayed or neutered. Since the law and local shelters will do nothing about it, I have taken things into my own hands many times. I have found new owners for a few of these dogs in the past, and the most recent was when I took a mother dog and six puppies to a local no-kill shelter. They were all underweight and the mother was too thin to produce milk for the pups. They were all infested with fleas and ticks and I know. Since the mother was not nursing the pups, I wormed her and fed all of them for a few weeks before taking them to the shelter. I looked for homes before I took them, which is why I postponed for a few weeks. I made sure they were fed and did everything I could for them until I took them. A few of the neighbors spoke to me about the puppies when they saw me feeding them once and said that they too fed many of their dogs. I don't blame the first few shelters I called that turned them down...shelters here and everywhere else in the world are extremely overcrowded....the no-kill ones anyway. The owners are not simply ignorant. They just don't care. In their eyes, it's just a dog. Who cares. Lost dogs that wander up to their house end up staying there, because they put them in their yard and then never call the number on the tags. I experienced this with Rusty when he got out a few years ago. When I asked if they had seen him, they said, "Yeah, we saw him earlier..." I ended up going in their backyard fence and getting him myself. Yes, they do have a fence. They let the dogs inside and night and let them out FRONT(not fenced) in the morning. So the back fence is pointless. Rusty's not the only case...they have had others with tags that were not theirs. I or other people on our street called the tags. Sorry, I kind of strayed from the point of this and went into a rant about my neighbors... :dogblush: Anyway, yes, Mopar, we and many others have talked to the owners. It makes no difference. Ultimately it will either end with the confiscation of the dogs(by me or a member of the law enforcement that actually cares) or sadly the death of many of them. I do what I can for them, despite the fact that most of you will say that I am enabling the owners. True, but these dogs are a bad case of neglect...and I simply can't find it in me to turn the worst ones away when I can't find a shelter to take them to and I can't find anyone to come take them.
  12. bigboytex New Member

    I know how you feel and after seeing some of there dogs I agree with u totally on the point that they need to be taken somewhere safe. But unfortunately around here the law enforcement and other people responsible for doing this is just to dang lazy to do it. Its pretty sad really.

    And u do tend to rant about them lol
  13. rheabalki New Member

    I am new here and usually a reader not a writer. The world has become very black and white with its judjement on animal and people behavior. I remember when I was a kid and we played games like "house" (kids experimenting) or jumped fences and stole fruit from the neighbors tree. When I was 11 a friend of mine tried smoking and accidently set a garage on fire (just a small fire). But that was the 50's nothing happened to us more than a grounding or two. Nowadays, the same behaviors would result in police action of some sort and most likely some form of litigation. The same is true in the animal my life I have been bitten by dogs, kicked by horses and still carry a scar from a neighbors cat bite. Truth be told most of these occured through my own in-experience. No litigation or police action necessary.
    Fast foward....I live in a condo which recently outlawed "pit bulls" or "pit bull mixes"...I am not sure they would even recognize the breed...they are just the big scary ones i guess?
    Somehow, this made them feel safer...One rule fits all

    Dangerous dogs and dangerous people need to be ..controlled, handled, taught, accountable.....but as each situation warrents...
  14. l_l_a New Member

    That was an interesting video Bipa! I'll bet that police dog didn't get euthanized for doing that! (But why didn't the police handler notice his own dog's warning signals sooner??). I agree with you and Jean that so many people don't understand canine body language and when a dog reacts they think it is unfounded.

    Tx_cowgirl: it is so admirable what you have done for those poor dogs. I don't see it as enabling the owners (bad thing), instead I see it as helping the defenseless (the dogs). the dogs should be confiscated from those owners, some people have no business owning dogs!!

    Bipa you are so right that Rolo's owner made a mistake in not showing up with a lawyer the first time round, I probably would have made the same mistake too if I were in that situation. she thought the hearing was just to set the restitution she had to pay to the victim and that would be the end of it. well, now on her website she is advising all dog owners to never appear in court without a lawyer, which is good advice.

    The past couple days I've gone to the courthouse again to help the owner picket, along with her other supporters. She is a very dedicated and strong individual, in between when supporters randomly show up to help her, it is just her standing all alone outside the courthouse day and night all this week, in the cold and wind, holding up her signs and telling her story over and over again to everyone who stops by and asks. How many of us here go to such great lengths to save our dogs from injustice - taking time off work to protest outside the courthouse day and night, patiently talking to hundreds of people every day, answering hundreds of e-mails everyday, talking to TV news crews and radio shows just to try and save her dog's life. As a result of the local news stations running her story all week, there is so much public support for her now! Cars stopping by honking and waving every minute, people stopping by to talk to her and show their support. so far her online petition has over 1000 signatures. The publicity is to put pressure on the courts to speed up the proceedings so Rolo can be free from quarantine sometime in the near future. it's been 4 months that he's been living in a 3-by-6 foot pen at the shelter, and the owner even had to fight to be allowed to take him out for exercise, otherwise he would have gone without any exercise at all this entire time. She has two other dogs too, they were there picketing with her earlier this week too (they miss their brother!), they are both so sweet and well mannered. I can see that Rolo's owner is a responsible owner.

    We are not perfect, our dogs are not perfect and sometimes even if just once in your life, stuff happens. That's what happened in Rolo's case, it is very different from situaions like what Tx_cowgirl describes of dogs having a repeated history of terrorizing people and owners repeatedly not taking responsibility. Already for me "stuff" has happened more than just once on accident without serious consequences other than misunderstandings. And I've certainly been on the receiving end too with other people's dogs behaving in ways that made me feel threatened. But so what, the penalty should fit the crime. The more active you are with your dogs, the more risk you run of 'stuff happening' that involves other people interacting with your dogs. when I see Rolo's situation, which I truly feel is simply a normal dog (though of stigmatized breed) caught in a stressful situation with an over-reactive "victim", I think to myself over and over again that this could be me. This could be any one of us. If a stranger started screaming bloody murder at my GSD, he would probably react in a way that scared them too. Ever since he was little I have been taking my dog regularly to the playground park to get used to children screaming and running chaotically around him, so that doesn't bother him. But how many of us would have thought to socialize our dogs to adult people screaming at them!! I never would have thought that!

    the latest news from today is that the judge has ordered a retrial. This is good because it means he is willing to give the owner a chance to defend her case, previously he had simply ordered the dog put down without question. The bad news is that we dont' know long this will be and how much longer poor Rolo will have to keep on being quarantined at the shelter.
  15. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yes, they indeed should be confiscated. And since no one else will do it, I am...slowly. Since they are so undersocialized, it's difficult to first gain their trust enough to not really have to "catch" them, but rather have them walk right up to me, let me pick them up and take them. Of course being one of their only sources of food helps too.
    Well, it's good that the judge is reconsidering his initial decision. I wish Rolo and his owner the very best of luck, and I hope that they get the help they need. :dogsmile:
  16. CollieMan Experienced Member

    On a side-note, I do think, very strongly, that if any authority places a dog in its custody, then it, like we, should have the absolute right to sufficient daily exercise. That, to me at least, seems like a most basic duty of care obligation.

    As has already been hinted at, should the owner win her case, then she is going to have to spend untold time and money reversing the possible behavioural issues brought about by the isolation. That certainly isn't fair, in the least.
  17. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yes, she will....but this is something we must accept the responsibility of as dog owners. Obviously she's willing to spend the money to save the dog's life--she's paying a lawyer, taking time off from her job, and I'm sure still paying her bills and feeding her other dogs. If she's willing to spend the money to keep him from being put down, then I'm sure she's willing to get help with any issues Rolo may have when all is said and done, assuming she wins the case.
  18. starbuck New Member

    I wrote an article on this several months ago. I'll post a bit of it here since i think it relates to the topic pretty well.

    I worked at the PetSmart PetHotel over the summer for 3 months or so. We had two dogs boarding there named Tyson and Duke- Both GSDs. They were sweet dogs but Tyson didn't have terribly good manners, and when he got excited he would jump up and nip at you. I was in the playroom with them, giving them some TLC, and this part of the article gives a run down of what happened:

    Tyson is a very playful dog, and keep in mind, had been locked in a kennel pretty much all day. Him and Duke were all over me for attention, which is perfectly okay. I was acting excited and trying to get them to play, after all, we're supposed to interact with the animals, and I was hoping Tyson would come out of his shell a little because it would make his stay less stressful. Duke was happy to be near me, and Tyson soon warmed up and was happy to jump all over me. Tyson started to nip at my clothing and jump up on me, and soon I was backed against the wall, with a 50+ pound GSD jumping on me and nipping at my legs, chest, and clothing. He was being playful, but also being bossy. When I tried to correct him, or push him off me, he would bark and continue the unwanted behavior. (Of course, any attention is good attention- that was my fault, I should have put an end to it right away and put him on a lead.)

    He nipped at my shirt and caught my stomach with his teeth on his way back down. When I assessed the damage later I found that I had two small, barely bleeding gashes on my stomach. He broke the skin. I wouldn't even consider it "bleeding", more like "seeping." However, I knew that since he had broken the skin I had to file a report.

    Now during this whole experience it got me thinking. If I had never been around dogs before, or even been around them half as much as I have been- I probably would have been scared out of my mind, with no idea what to do. If I were not familiar with dog behavior, I could easily think that Tyson had intent to hurt me. I wouldn't know that that's how dogs play with each other and show dominance, and would have therefore not understood that he was just simply being a dog. It's possibly that I would hit the dog, or scream or do something to cause one of two things...

    1. Make the dog more playful, or
    2. Aggravate the dog to the point where it really would bite me.

    So it just made me curious as to how many dog attacks out there are truly "attacks". We had lots of people at the animal shelter come to us and say "This puppy bit me, we don't like it," and we would get aggravated that they didn't understand the puppy was playing- or teething. One dog was returned because he growled at a family friend that came over to the house. Now, this may be an unwanted behavior, but it's typical for a dog, especially a shelter dog- in his mind his was protecting his territory and his family from an intruder. But the owners returned him with the reason of "Not friendly". He was put down a few days later, even though he passed his temperament test with flying colors.

    I wonder how many dog bites, or even true attacks we could prevent simply by educating the public about animal behavior. Even people WITH dogs sometimes don't understand why they do the things they do.

    Now I do understand some people really do get bit and attacked seriously, it's inevitable, but I want to know the percentage that could have been prevented with knowledge of canine behavior, even if it's something simple.

    Though I guess after this incident Tyson and I came to an understanding about it, since I never had a huge problem with him after that (I guess since I knew how he was going to act,) and he became one of my favorite boarders. :doghappy:
  19. bipa New Member

    I don't think any bite statistics can be honestly gathered and analysed, because nobody can agree on the definition of "bite" in terms of "dog bite". It really is very difficult to get people to agree. Some say the dog's teeth must touch the skin, other's say the teeth must penetrate the skin, and there are other variations, too.

    In some legal jurisdictions there is an actual legal definition that has been provided for the purposes of the law. Other places, however, have no special legal definition and go by the dictionary definition.

    Few people realise that the dictionary usually includes as the main definition of bite: To cut, grip, or tear with the teeth.

    I can't find the actual legal case at the moment, but I remember reading how in one such US jurisdiction that relied on the dictionary definition of "bite", there was an interesting case. A dog briefly grabbed a man's leg as he was climbing down a ladder after working on the roof of a house. The teeth did not touch the skin since they never penetrated the man's work pants. There was no bruising, either. But in court the judge decided that according to the dictionary it was a bite nevertheless and the dog's owner had to pay restitution, because the dog "gripped".

    I don't have "grip" in my personal definition of "bite", but obviously many other people do.
  20. daniii New Member

    All I can say about this is: what if Rolo had been a yorkie or another small breed?

    Things would have been different.

    Also, I don't think it is fair to punish a dog for ACTING like a dog

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