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Behavior

Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs: Sometimes It's the Best Choice
August 12, 2013 (published) | July 18, 2016 (revised)

Dodger airing smallest DeGioia

Photo by Phyllis DeGioia
Dodger
When my dog lunged at my face, I fell down the stairs.

I saw him watch me come up the stairs at 12:30 a.m. He seemed fine, but a moment later he went for my face. I pulled back and fell down half a flight of steep stairs. My head ended up in the bottom level of an open-sided end table. Had I hit my head on the top I could have broken my neck and become a quadriplegic like my mother had been.

Or died.

The vet who euthanized him said I looked like I'd been in a bar fight. I cried on her shoulder.

"If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning," she said, and I knew she was right. I have no doubt that ending his life was the right thing to do. This choice - and it didn't feel like a choice, but something I had to do - is not one everyone would make, I know. However, we would all be safer if more people euthanized dogs whose behavior cannot be improved after professional assistance.

I had been working with Dodger for months on his aggression. Three months before that fateful night, my 42-pound, 9-year-old English setter had bitten me three times in two seconds; he left six wounds on my forearm under a sweatshirt after I petted him on his back. I was stunned, but I knew what to do.

He had a thorough medical work up, and went on the anti-anxiety medication clomipramine after no physical cause for his behavior change was found. I called in a certified trainer, a woman highly experienced in dog aggression. When she arrived, she said, "I cannot guarantee he won't bite again."

Dodger seemed to be getting better and although he'd snapped at me a few times he hadn't broken skin. I thought his bite inhibition was back, and that as long as I didn't startle him, it would be okay.

I was utterly wrong.

Being attacked by someone you love is a visceral slam to your gut. For a short while, rational thought is gone. It happens so quickly. Your body shakes, and your heart pounds as the instinctive fight-or-flight response is set off. I cried that night as I iced my face, wishing I could ice half of my body. Being bitten by my own dog was a traumatizing event, a betrayal of trust by a beloved canine who’d always slept on my bed.

Dodger had been anxious enough when he arrived five years ago to wear down a path in the back yard within three days. He'd always been snappy when startled. Exercise was never lacking, as we frequently went to fenced, off-leash dog parks. However, last winter I noticed he was much more anxious than he used to be.

When I started talking to people about him, I realized that many friends have euthanized aggressive dogs, including one who owns a dog training school – and so did one of the training school’s co-owners. Veterinarians too: Years ago, Dr. Teri Oursler brought home a 3-year-old rescued beagle. Every time he had gotten in his former owner's way, she kicked him, and then she kicked him when she shoved him into the kennel. Dr. Oursler consulted with veterinary behaviorists who told her she could not cure Sherman, and that all she could do was improve his behavior and try not to put him in any situation where he could cause harm. Three months later, Sherman attacked her 8-year-old son's foot, leaving eight puncture wounds. It was his fourth bite and by far the most aggressive and unprovoked. Sherman was euthanized.

Eight years later, Dr. Oursler still struggles with the guilt of putting Sherman's needs above the safety of her children.

"I will never forget the sounds of his attack and my child screaming," she said. "He taught me that some animals are wired wrong and cannot be fixed, just like some people. Think of Ted Bundy. Sherman taught me that euthanasia of a severely anxious animal is relief of suffering as much as euthanasia for a physical problem is relief of suffering. He taught me that euthanasia for a behavior problem relieves human suffering as much as animal suffering."

Some aggressive dogs can be helped by a good trainer or veterinary behaviorist, and that is where people should start to work with the dog; getting professional help can make the needed difference. But I now believe strongly that some dogs - like Dodger - aren't wired correctly, and no amount of training or medication can fix broken wiring.

From where I'm sitting, too many people make excuses for repeat offenders, no matter if the cause is medical or otherwise, rather than actually addressing the problem even if it’s escalating. They wait until a disaster transpires. Sometimes they don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing.

What I realized later, through my grief, was that I'd been walking on egg shells around him and that relief was a big part of my emotional response. Mostly it was sadness. In the first few days anger was a large part of it: That he suffered from anxiety, because I could have broken my neck, because I will never again see his stunningly graceful run.

I struggle with his unhappiness despite all my efforts, and I wonder when or if that will ever end. A rip in my soul feels like it might never heal.

In my sadness I turned to Dr. Michele Gaspar, both a veterinarian and human therapist.

"There are some dogs who are mentally ill, either due to genetics, trauma or their development," she said. "I appreciate the effort that people put into understanding them, but some of these dogs just never are normal. I don't think meds would have helped Dodger. Escalating behavior is not good in any species. Dogs should be mentally strong enough not to startle in a home environment."

Dr. Gaspar said she is increasingly intolerant of dogs and cats with behavioral issues, but it seems to her that as a society we try to overcome these issues in pets more than we do with people.

At least I have the comfort that he will never get worse. He won't ever bite anyone else, simply because he can’t. Children can be allowed in my house again, and I won't ever be sued because Dodger hurt someone. Nor will he get turned away by my veterinary clinic because he bites the staff. These are the things I tell myself when I’m trying to feel better. They are not small comforts.

The frightening statistics for dog bites account for a lot of fear and hateful feelings about dogs. Bitten children, the most common victims, often grow up to be afraid of dogs. Bites affect people who work with dogs: boarding kennel operators and pet-sitters, trainers, rescue group volunteers, and veterinary staff. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians receive many of those bites, affecting how they feel about their profession and future clients.

Dr. Beth Ruby discussed her reaction to an aggressive patient on a message board of the Veterinary Information Network:

“In all the years I have worked in a veterinary clinic I have never been bitten in the face (before today). It created a fear I don't think I have ever dealt with. The complete lack of warning from the dog has left me very insecure. I have been bitten and scratched a lot in the last 25 years, but never have I felt so small and vulnerable as I did today. Seeing those teeth coming at your face and having absolutely no control creates an emotional experience that you can't imagine or describe.”

You can’t imagine or describe it, but if you’d lived it, her words ring true.

That day nearly three years ago changed the way Dr. Ruby practices. She has become more cautious during exams. She keeps her head and face at a safer distance, only approaches a dog from the side where she has plenty of opportunity to back off quickly, and uses muzzles more often.

"I am definitely jumpier than I used to be, which can be embarrassing," she said.

What I have never understood, even before Dodger came into my life, was how people could keep dogs who bit people or other animals repeatedly and just live with it. That’s an unacceptable risk. While owners may accept it for themselves, it is immoral for them to accept it for anyone else. I also believe it is wrong to turn the dog over to a shelter or rescue, and even worse not to disclose the truth about aggressive behavior. There’s enough bad stuff in the world that people cannot control; sending along a dog who will hurt someone is a moral failing.

Imagine what you would feel after your aggressive dog mauled a toddler’s face. Imagine what you would feel if a stranger’s dog attacked you or your child. Wouldn’t you wonder, forever, why the dog’s owner didn’t do something about the dog’s escalating behavior when they could have?

I don’t have to wonder about that any more. As I continue to sort through and address my feelings about Dodger, what I could have done and what I finally did, I am secure in knowing that ending his life was the right thing to do.

“Death is the ultimate loss but not the ultimate harm," said Dr. Gaspar. I agree.

UPDATE

It's been exactly one year since I euthanized Dodger, which was one of the worst episodes of my life. I'm thankful to everyone who has written. The comments from readers have been enormously helpful and are full of solace. (We didn't publish the handful that essentially said, "How dare you murder that dog, you piece of &%#!," as they violated our language policy, although they never bothered me.) I've had lengthy back channel conversations with several commenters. All too often, though, I don't answer individual comments because they slice into my sorrow and keep it fresh; I can't answer for the sake of my own mental health. My pain has eased greatly, but it is still nearby, as though all that's needed to unleash it is to open a cabinet.

This subject is filled with angst and guilt, not to mention shame at a perceived inability to "train" the aggression out of a beloved dog. Some of our solutions involved ending the life of someone we love with all our heart in order to protect others and ourselves. I cringe every time I read about another mauling by a dog, and I wonder if the owners of those maulers experience the massive guilt and regret that I would. I could not live with myself if my dog hurt someone that way.

Thankfully, I never felt guilty about euthanzing my boy, and did not regret my choice; this is not the case for everyone. Then and now, I didn't feel as though it was a choice; it felt like something I had to do. Because of his protectiveness of that stairwell landing, he would have lunged at me again, and the kind of luck I had walking away from that fall is not going to happen twice. I still don't understand how I walked away the first time, landing crumpled up and passed out inside an end table with a painful and swollen body.

The physical scars are fading, and some of the emotional ones are too, but it takes longer than we think it will. Whenever I see someone with an English setter, I stop and ask if I can pet it. Sometimes I cry. It's embarrassing, but so what? We must keep our hearts and souls intact.

I still cry remembering Dodger's head resting on my knee and looking deeply into my eyes: connecting, bonding, trusting. It's the behavior of his I miss the most, although I deeply loved his silly sense of humor. Needless to say, I never miss being afraid of him, and I recall well why I chose to euthanize him. But that doesn't mean I can't take pleasure in remembering the aspects that made me happy: the way he'd greet visitors with a toy; the gentle way he took treats; the games he loved to initiate; his incredibly graceful and swift running; his look of joy and anticipation on his way to the dog park. Enough grains have shifted in my sand clock that these memories are the ones surfacing more often, rather than the other ones. Time is a good healer, and I am thankful beyond measure for that.

SECOND UPDATE

Two years after I euthanized Dodger, his behavior still affects my household. The cat he chased continues to live a life of stress-induced veterinary care. The stress didn't cause his physical issues, but it exacerbates them. His temperament is permanently altered, and not for the better.

Dickens was here first, and he gave "mellow and friendly" new meaning. The day they were allowed out loose together, Dodger bolted to him while barking in a frenzy. Dickens was screaming, I was screaming. Thankfully my long-haired cat walked out unharmed albeit wet all over from Dodger's saliva. The rescue person offered to take Dodger back, but I said no - a decision I have regretted more than once.

It's surprising to other people, but I still don't have a successor dog. I'm the type who usually finds a new companion within a month or so of losing one; I typically have a strong ability to move on. My friends and family expected me to have a new dog in no time. No one asks anymore if or when I'm going to get another one. If they did, the answer would be that I don't know: maybe tomorrow, maybe never again. Zita is happy. Dickens's whole world would disintegrate from stress.

Most importantly, I don't trust my ability to make a good choice because I made such a mistake last time. In the middle of the night, when fear rises like tendrils of smoke, I'm afraid I will choose another aggressive dog.

As for how I feel about Dodger, time makes it easier. When I see a photo of him, my heart still clenches - not as tightly as it did last year and far less than the year before. The unresolved grief is familar. My mother died the week I turned 15, and decades later I often miss noticing her birthday or the date of her death, even though it's so closely linked to my birthday. While I still miss her, I think of good times with her, and someday I will only think of Dodger's sense of humor.

I love my boy. I hope he rests in peace.

THIRD AND LAST UPDATE

It's been a long time since I felt the stabbing, aching grief that accompanied my choice to euthanize my aggressive dog. Time heals most wounds, and in this case it has. My heart swells with more joy than I thought would be possible when I see a photo of him. I am now able to think about him without falling apart, without tears, without regrets, although I never forget that I have experienced this misery; it was one of the worst episodes of my life. I don't cry any more when I see other English setters, although I ask if I can pet them.

I still dream of his graceful running through acres of lush, green land, as though he was in low gear but contemplating a switch to high gear: his loping merely hinted at the speed he could pull out at any moment. He was bred to run races, and he loved running more than anything in the world, even me. I think of the day he took a dip in a silt pond and came out looking like a happy Creature of the Black Lagoon, or his good times with mud.

Those are the memories I enjoy now. When I think about the moment he bit my forearm three times in three seconds, and the six small puncture wounds he left, my stomach doesn't clench. I don't even have much of an emotional reaction to the thought of being lunged at prior to falling down half of a steep stairwell, which could have killed me. It's more along the lines of "Yeah, that was so horrible, one of the worst days of my life. Is there any more coffee?"

These days it's a tale of long ago, an anecdote of my past.

No successor has followed him, and another dog isn't even in the picture. My dog Zita remains happy as a pig in mud. My cat Dickens still suffers from stress-induced bouts of colitis (translation: diarrhea everywhere), the latest just two weeks ago when I had the audacity to come home reeking of a litter of kittens; Mr. Sensitive acted out, and about 24 hours later he had a raging fit of colitis. He likely has irritable bowel syndrome, caused by stress rather than inflammation, and I still think it's all related to how afraid Dickens was of Dodger, a beast four times his size with a penchant for bowling over cats. There will be no new pets for me while Dickens is alive. Plus, he runs up some interesting vet bills.

If it were not for Mr. Sensitive, I would be emotionally ready for another dog. It's just not meant to be at this time.

I'm good with that.

The best part is that I no longer feel like I can't trust myself to select another dog. When Dickens is no longer here, I will get another dog. Maybe it will be my usual rescue, maybe it will be a puppy for the first time.

That's the personal side. How I feel about the public side - this article - is different. I don't really know how to explain it. Even though writing about an experience is inevitably how I deal with life, the explosion of comments that still arrive weekly three years later is breathtaking and yet formidable. For a while the level of fresh grief it brought was difficult, a bit like salt on an open wound. But that's not the case now.

Today, it's the sameness of what commenters say that disconcerts me, and sometimes numbs me: "I didn't think he was actually aggressive until he ...;" "I was sure we could keep him confined when other people came over;" "I love this dog so much;" "I thought it was always a reaction to something I'd done;" and the worst: "He's bitten nine people, and twice someone had to go to the hospital, but I don't think he's that bad. He's really good most of the time." In a way, for those of us who love dogs that become aggressive, it seems to boil down to a deep love of a dog who behaves wonderfully the vast majority of the time, but sometimes has this problem and it seems to be getting worse.

The hardest part is when people couch the question if I think they should euthanize their dog. Here's my blanket response: each family is solely responsible for that decision. Listen to the advice of someone who has actually seen the dog: your veterinarian or your veterinary behaviorist (while there are no veterinary behaviorists in some geographic areas, in this scenario they are preferable).

As with a lot of things in veterinary medicine, what can be done, what should be done, and what is reasonable to do are moving targets and dependent on such factors as local resources, owner finances, family size/dynamic, size of dog, and frequency/degree of aggression.

For instance, compare the following:

  1. Young-adult, mid-size dog with sudden onset of one or two mild to moderately aggressive moves (growls, snaps, bit when food bowl was moved). Affluent, healthy, dog-experienced owners. No kids. Not much traffic in and out of the house.
  2. Adult giant breed dog (Akita, Cane Corso, etc.) with chronic, escalating aggression. Children and grandmother in the house. Owners have limited finances.

steep stairwell DeGioia

Photo by Phyllis DeGioia
The 1948 staircase is steep: the steps are 7-inches high and 7.5-inches deep. I went up the stairs where he watched me from the landing. I was about half way up when he lunged at the left side of my face so I reflexively turned to the right and fell backwards, then twisted and hit the right side of my face on the opposite wall. I woke up about 15 minutes later with my head on the bottom shelf of the end table.

In scenario A, an extensive medical workup, medication trial, behavioral consults would all be reasonable and probably should happen. In scenario B, even if the owners scraped together the money, someone could get mauled or killed before any of those steps could kick in.

All of us here are taking the road less traveled by being so open; in some cases, the only ones we're not honest with are ourselves. Traditionally, euthanizing aggressive dogs has been a topic avoided in public, as though you are so ashamed of your "inability to turn that dog around." As if. And yet if you talk to employees of a veterinary clinic, the folks who have to deal with aggressive dogs every day and have the scars that go with the danger of their job, they will often tell you that there are plenty of nice dogs out there who need a home, and why would you go through all that effort to keep an aggressive dog and walk on eggshells all the time?

When the veterinary technician said that to me, I caught my breath and thought what a terrible thing that was to say. Eventually I saw that she was right.

What's right for me may not be right for anyone else. The reasons to euthanize or not are a moving target, and little about this topic is clear cut. It's a topic constituting a hundred shades of grey and not much black and white. I believe that if your dog has inflicted enough physical damage to send someone to the ER, or has mauled or killed another dog, it's time to act definitively. But that's me. I'm more than lucky I didn't break my neck on that fall down the stairs after he lunged at my face, and it is sheer grace that I got up and walked away with only bruises and a limp to show for it.

My wish for every one of us is the love of a non-aggressive dog without any need for us to walk on eggshells. May that love be with us all, and if not with this dog, then another one.

709 Comments

Shannon
July 12, 2016

Two days ago my family suffered from the hardest decision we have ever had to make, putting our 7 year old lapsoapso Maltese down. We rescued him when he was a year old and gave him the best life we possibly could. He spent nights cuddled up in our beds and days playing in the yard or in the water at a nearby beach. After countless years of nipping and biting when reprimanded, he full out attacked me this passed week leaving three bite marks on my hand, leg and chest. There had been years worth of excuses but this time it was too much. But to put down a healthy, loving dog who was the first one to cuddle up in your lap while you were on the couch is a decision that is eating me and my mom alive. Was it the right choice? Had we exhausted all our options? We had tried trainers and medication and nothing could over come the alpha male in him. We miss him dearly and he has left our house quite and our other dog quite lonely. We are in search of another dog but the overwhelming guilt that I feel we are replacing him is hurting my heart. I believe time will heal our hearts but we will certainly never forget our Bailey boy. Thank you to all of those who shared their stories. Reading this blog has given both me and my mom a great sense of comfort in knowing we are not alone. My condolences to all those that are suffering from the same kind of broken heart that we are.


Amanda
July 12, 2016

Dear Tanya, you really can't understand a situation or judge someone's choices unless its happening to you. Sometimes it's the best choice to euthanizing a dog. With my dog I tried training, did my research on his aggression, gave him lots of love and care. Nothing worked. I am sure if your dog latched on your leg (biting) attacking you, you would understand where I am coming from. I paid over $2,000 on training and it did not work. Training an aggressive dog is never a guarantee that it will work. Everyone comes here to share there stories and get comfort. Not to be judged. It's been one week since my best friend got his wings. I will forever miss my sweet pup.


Jane
July 12, 2016

First, all of the commenters are such good people...coming off of weeks of senseless killings in Orlando, Dallas etc. I am struck by the love here.  The rest of this is part our story...part a tribute to Rusty.  We adopted Rusty at 4 months from the local shelter.  He was cute as could be...big ears and adorable little face...  We thought by adopting a puppy we would be doing two good things - adopting a dog who needs a home and not bringing a dog into our home who would have issues from possible previous abuse...so simple right?  But our little guy was fearful from the start (now we look back and see that was a problem...shaking terribly the day they brought him to our home) but how we loved him so.  He adored his Kong toys and loved going for a walk in our peaceful neighborhood.  He also loved other dogs...  The problem started with a bite to a young girl...we thought she startled him.  But then, well he bit all of us...culminating in my last trip to the ER with a face bite that will likely require some minor plastic surgery and a nasty scar for at least the next year.  In spite of all of this, we love our little buddy, and he was with us for four years. 99.95% of the time he was a great little dog.  He loved going for walks, sitting in his designated chair, rolling around on the rug, barking at the deer from the deck, making these adorable sneezing sounds when he was happy and greeting us with the best kisses and dog hugs in the world.  We will love him forever...  But Rusty also suffered from an anxiety that even the most loving home could not overcome...we blamed the shelter for waiting too long to adopt him out...and we think he also had some genetic issues.  He was mentally ill...and while we could chase his demons away for awhile...they came back and the issue worsened over the last six weeks.  Before that, he would shake with fear at thunderstorms and no one was really allowed in our house (we long ago stopped letting him out when guest would be over).  We hired a trainer.  We controlled his environment. We walked or ran with him every day for more than two miles for adequate exercise...We talked to the vet and two weeks ago (before the bite) we took him to the vet for a full review to rule out health causes.  Our little guy was fragile...and we wish more than anything else in the world that we could have helped him...but no.  Like a cancer, his mental illness and anxiety became too much...I am glad he bit me in the face and not my daughters or a neighbor/friend.  This past week, we had to make the traumatizing decision to put him to sleep...he was with loved ones and we know he did not suffer...but all of this does not erase the pain or our wish that he could be with us.  We love you Rusty...you are forever in our hearts and as much a part of our family today as the first day you joined us.  We will see on the Rainbow Bridge...enjoy being fear free and without anxiety...we can't wait to see you again...your loving family...RIP


Liz
July 11, 2016

Thank you for writing this. I am in the process of scheduling a euthanization for my dog & it is by far the hardest decision I've had to make. We adopted Bella about 3 yrs ago. She is aprox 4 yrs old, dingo/lab mix. She had 2 previous owners due to her high anxiety. Being that I work from home & love on 10 acres for her to run, I have provided her with an ideal living situation. I've worked with trainers on how to get her anxiety down. Although I still take precaution with her bc she still shows aggressive & dominant tendencies, she has certainly improved. However this Saturday, in a completely unprovoked situation at our home (outside to be exact) she attacked our friend. She came out of nowhere, jumped up & bit his upper arm (bicep) leaving some serious wounds. Had this been a child, or on someone's face, I do not think the victim would be so understanding & cooperative right now. After many years & replaying the incident in my head, I feel like I have no choice but to put my girl down. This breaks my heart as well as my husband & kids'. This is sadness for our entire family. I feel that I've failed as a dog owner, wondering what if something was different that day that could've been avoided so this wouldn't have happened. Unlike a situation where someone startles a dog or interferes in a dog fight or maybe gets too close when they're eating, this was a completely unprovoked situation that left us in shock & disbelief that it had happened. I thank you for sharing your story bc it helps me realize that there are others who have had to make the same decision with a pet they love.


Kelly
July 11, 2016

After 6 1/2 years, we made the devastating decision to put our 100 pound Boxer/Bulldog mix Rasta down yesterday. I am already wracked with grief and guilt. 80% of the time, he was a sweet, loving boy who just wanted cuddles and chest scratches. The other 20%, he was unpredictable. Through it all, we made excuses for him--yes, he lunged and snapped at me, but he didn't break the skin. Yes, he bit the maintenance man, but he was just protecting his house. Yes, he attacked the dog trainer--we know better than to bring people into the house. Finally, after training failed to produce results (and the aforementioned attacking of the trainer), we put him on Prozac and isolated him (and ourselves) from the rest of the world. This went on for 3 years...it worked for the most part. He bit my husband a couple of times and snapped at me countless times, and we never left the house...our social lives were put on hold indefinitely. But we did it because we loved him so much. This weekend, however, he nearly killed one of our chihuahuas, for the crime of walking by his food. I'm pregnant with our first child, and this was our last straw. I'm so consumed with grief at the moment that I can't seem to remember what a long time coming this has been. I'm so grateful to have found this article and this thread of comments with people who are going through the same thing.


Amy
July 9, 2016

As I sit here writing this my newly adopted flat-coated retriever mix is lying down sleeping peacefully. We've only had him for 6 weeks. It's 1am and I'm searching the internet for alternatives (or confirmation) for euthanizing this lovely dog that I adopted to complete our family. I had a flat-coated retriever mix for 17 yrs. She was my soulmate and died 3 yrs ago. Never an aggressive tendency. I have missed her terribly and have been looking for a new dog for a couple of years now. I found Gordon nearby and thought he looked like the perfect dog for me. My husband agreed and off I went to meet him. When I got there, he walked over and tucked his head beneath my arm to allow me to pet him. He leaned into me. Peaceful. I was hooked. He stayed there for  a long time and I was so happy. He seemed wonderful and I was still missing Traveler. We had him for 2 weeks and he slipped out of out gate and bit a runner. We treated him for an ear infection and swollen lymph nodes in his neck (painful) and met with a trainer to see what we could do. He began responding well to training and we had an animal behaviorist appt scheduled. Before the appt could come  up he heard our mail carrier putting mail in our box by our front door and ran from our house (must have hit the lever latched door enough to open it) and bit her. We were stunned and since we have kids. I began reaching out to numerous shelters and rescues and sanctuaries to try to place him elsewhere, but as I learned, none of them would take him with a bite history like his. The funny thing is 95% of the time he's so great. Great on a leash, great with other people and other dogs when walking him (even if they are barking at him) but his territorial protective tendencies are scary.  Almost everyone says that rehoming him should be completely off the table. I have to admit, after learning about this, I agree. It would be irresponsible and unsafe to pass this problem on even to someone who is well informed. So, I am left with more training or euthanasia. We live in a small city and have frequent visitors to our door and just outside our fence (front and back). Our neighbors are 10 ft away on either side. We are in close quarters. Our vet says she would put him down. I'm struggling mightily with this because of how sweet he is with our family. He has no warning signs. He just goes and bites-- no growling or anything. I am terrified for our neighbors and neighborhood kids. I feel that we just don't have the time to try behavior adjustments safely. This is such a shame. I think he deserves better than that but I cannot risk it. I will be putting him down (if or when) I can convince my husband). His 10 day quarantine is up on Friday and my vet said she can do it on Saturday. I really hate this. I will not be getting another dog. I no longer feel I can pick a dog that wouldn't be aggressive and I don't want to go through this again. I'm so sad. Grateful to read this story and the other comments. Hearing similar stories is comforting. I don't feel so alone in this.


Christine Morton
July 9, 2016

Yesterday, my beautiful 18 month old cockapoo, Alfie, was put to sleep. From a young pup he exhibited severe resource and territorial guarding.  I was bitten many times, and each time without warning.  In the end there was nowhere in my home that I, or my boys, felt safe.  It could be that I went to pick up a book, straighten a cushion, or inadvertently walked past some random object (one time a tomato stalk) which he had found.  I would suddenly find him launching himself at me and then left reeling when his teeth yet again made contact with my skin.  The final incident, a month ago, was when I went to sit down in the garden.  He came across to me and went for my foot.  As I tried to get away from him, he bit my forearm and leg. Each time, I tried to analyse what had happened.  On that last occasion, I concluded that Alfie had been keeping his eye on a small pile of weeds which were lying on the grass a yard away from my chair, and that that was the trigger for the attack. People told me that I was at fault.  I had not been dominant enough, I was not "alpha" enough. I should have smacked him when he first showed signs of aggression, etc... He was rehomed with a family friend 4 weeks ago.  This lady was unafraid of him.  She had kept 3 German shepherds in the past and worked in animal rescue.  I fervently hoped that it was me, and that somehow, with her, Alfie would have a new start and somehow be rewired. Sadly that wasn't to be, and on Wednesday he bit her arm, with no warning, and she fell back against a glass cabinet.  Her injuries could have been so much worse. With a heavy heart I accompanied Hilary to the vet yesterday.  Our beautiful Alfie was put to sleep.  The vet assured us that there was really no other responsible choice. It was so traumatic.  I didn't know I could shed so many tears, and the speed of his passing, when the injection was administered, was a huge shock to me. But throughout the procedure Alfie was held and loved and he showed no anxiety as he relaxed against me and drifted away. My head says that we did the right thing, but my heart is aching.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
July 12, 2016

Dear Tanya, Thank you for sharing your concerns.  The comments have grown so much by now that it is difficult to get an accurate assessment of the myriad situations for these owners and dogs from reading 20 or so comments.  I've every one of the comments posted on this piece, and I can assure you many of these owners have tried all of the remedies you mention.  We were discussing this very topic among our editorial staff the other day, and the conclusion we reached was that every situation has its own "tipping point."  For a family with small children and a large, aggressive dog, for instance, that tipping point is likely to occur much earlier in the process than for a single adult or adult couple with a smaller dog and limited contact with outsiders.  Financial resources are likely to play a part as well.  I think the consistent theme I have seen throughout these comments is one of grief and guilt, and for that, everyone posting here has my compassion.


Tanya
July 8 2016

I find it sad that after reading through 20 or so comments all I see are people saying "my dog bit" followed by "so I euthanized him/her".  No mention of seeking advice from a trainer or behaviorist, no attempts to *properly* manage their dog, no attempts whatsoever to try to learn so they have a better understanding of why their dog may be behaving that way and what they can do to help the situation.  Just "he bit, so I killed him".  The lack of willingness to try to help the dog is upsetting.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
July 8, 2016

Three years ago, our friend and colleague Phyllis DeGioia wrote a story that left no eye dry among those of us on the VetzInsight editorial team.  As we read her tale and Dodger's, not one of us was unmoved -- and as a group mostly composed of experienced veterinary practitioners, we've largely seen it all.  What none of us expected was this -- a community formed over three years and 700 posts.  We knew Phyllis was telling an important story, but we had no idea how many of you would find this place to share your stories.  As the comments moderator for VetzInsight, I have posted almost all of these by hand, and I want you to know -- your stories are being read, you are being heard. It is both heart-wrenching to read the pain and guilt and uplifting to see so many loving pet owners take solace in each other's stories.  And, all too rarely in this internet world, there have been very few mean-spirited remarks.  I have flagged less than a handful of comments submitted to this article for violations.  Less than a handful -- out of 700.  That is its own blessing.  So, thank you all. Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing.  Thank you for your courage, generosity, and empathy.  And thank you so much to Phyllis for sharing her story and Dodger's.


Kim
July 6, 2016

Found this article immensely helpful. My parents have a nervous dog who is very scared of pretty much everything. She has always exhibited signs of fear aggression with any outsider, which we managed but she's always been so loving to the family members. Recently she needed to be spayed due to an infection, and has since turned on my mum on two separate occasions and now my dad twice too, in the past two days, and bitten them both. The decision has been made to take her to the vet in the morning to be euthanized. We are all completely devastated and are left wandering if we are doing the right thing, could more be done to bring back the dog she used to be, but the dog she used to be would never ever have attacked my mum. Reading this has helped me realize that we must do what needs to be done for her sake as well as ours. Doesn't make what we have to do in the morning any easier but gives me peace of mind that its not the wrong choice. Thank you.


Jennifer McMahon
July 6, 2016

We are having our 6 year old Anatonlian shepherd euthanized this afternoon and I've been crying for 2 days.  I've been bitten 3 times, my husband once, there has been lots of snarling and aggressive behavior and snapping as well as nipping 3 people in the backsides.  Living with Major has been like living in an abusive relationship..most of the time it's been great but every now and then you get growled and snapped at and then you get bitten and you wonder how it was your fault. I always excused his behavior as something I had done to provoke it and I tried to adjust my behavior to avoid conflict but invariably it would happen again, sometimes just for rubbing his belly...I'm so sad and cannot stop crying and this day is only going to get more difficult. I realized loving the big dog, who intimidates people has to be less important than the safety of myself, my family and my friends. Anyone who knows us, knows we love animals, we've always had dogs, multiple cats, chickens and horses and the price for loving them is usually grief but I need to remember my hiking buddy and all the good times we had.


Amanda
July 5, 2016

Today was the day I put my beautiful boy buddy to sleep. After he attacked our neighbor (who he knew)I then realized that his aggression and anxiety was not getting any better. especially because this was his 13th time biting someone including me. I always made excuses for him on why he would bite. The truth is I was too selfish to realize that its not healthy for your dog to randomly attack people including myself even if he was a sweetheart 90% of the time.I cant stop crying looking at his dog bed, holding his favorite toys. I miss him so much. He was my best friend. I cant sleep, I am going crazy just thinking about everything over and over again. yesterday I took him on a nice long last walk by the lake, and fed him a big steak. he loved it. He was 5 years old. I rescued him when he was 6 months old. I wish this was all a dream. He was still so young and full of life. I feel really guilty because he was healthy and young. But I have to keep telling myself that he was mentally not heathy. I am so thankful for this blog and all the comments. I have spent so many hours on this blog in the past 4 days, and will continue to visit this blog to read everyone story's and thoughts. It really helps thank you everyone.


Amanda
July 4, 2016

Tomorrow is the day my best friend is going to be euthanized. I am so upset to think that things had to come to this. Saturday he bit the neighbor, who he knows really well. This was his 13 time biting someone. He's a sweetheart one second then aggressive the next. He has bitten me before. Last year he latched on to my leg while growling and moving his head back and fourth. It was such a heartbreaking 4 seconds of my life. To think my best friend who I loved for and cared for since I rescued him at 6 month's old would hurt me. Sometimes loving a dog is not enough to fix there issues or aggression. With training and lots of love..I thought he would get better. He's 5 years old now. With each year that passes he is getting more aggressive more often. My other dog bear who loves everything and everyone is constantly walking on egg shells because buddy is so aggressive at times he will attack bear for no reason at all. Most of the time they get along and play but sometimes randomly buddy will snap. He's unpredictable which is the scary part. I cant stop crying. I am so upset. I feel like time is just a ticking time bomb. just waiting for tomorrow knowing my best friend will no longer be by my side. Today I will take him for his last adventure exploring through the woods. Then I will feed him this big steak I cooked for him. Thank you for writing this sharing your story and experience. Also thank you to everyone who wrote comments. Reading everything really helped me and made me realize I am not alone in this situation.


Jennifer Allen
July 3, 2016

My 70#, 7 month old mastiff mix is currently in quarantine for biting my face due to food aggression.  I have made them decision to euthanize him and have him cremated. I have been judged for not giving him a second chance. I wish people understood the fear and guilt I have. I would never give up on a dog or any animal but I cannot bear the thought of him attacking someone else, being rehomed, and possibly abused, trained to fight, or be abandoned. Your story has given me some solace in knowing I'm not the only one.


KIm
July 1, 2016

Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your experience. My husband and I made the painful decision to euthanize our young dog Jake yesterday. He was an adolescent shepherd and sweet as anything. He was goofy and silly and everything a dog should be. Until he attacked our other dog a month ago he had never so much as growled at anyone or anything. But then two weeks ago my cousin stopped by and I had to body block Jake to stop him from attacking. We worked with him and spoke with our vet, we are experienced owners. But over the last two days it is like someone flipped a switch and our sweet lovey boy became incredibly unpredictable and dangerous. He charged total strangers and friends alike. We have a young son and just simply can't take the chance that he could hurt him or anyone else. We agonized for hours about perhaps surrendering him to a behaviorist rescue and giving him a chance but in the end we knew that it would only make it their problem and prolong his suffering. If he can't tolerate anyone but me and my husband around him how could we ever imagine he would be ok with a new person or trainer? I can't stop the tears and we are as a family devastated. Reading your account though makes me realize how often this sort of thing occurs and that I am not alone in this. Thank you for sharing.


Brooke
July 30, 2016

Thank you so much for this article and all the stories, it has helped my husband and I tremendously in coming to the ultimate decision that we know we need to make.  We have a young family, two girls, 3 and 5 and one furry daughter - Nala - a husky hound with beautiful blue eyes, who we adopted from a shelter about 2 and a half years ago.  She came to us very ill and scared to death of anything and everything - we thought this was normal considering her situation and worked with her through her illnesses and believed that some of the behavior issues she was having were related.  She growled at people who came to the house or even walked by the house and she nipped at peoples shoes sometimes and also lunged at children on a few occasions, but did not make contact until last Halloween when she lunged at a little girls face who was over for a party at our house, totally unprovoked (she was just sitting on the couch), and she made a small mark on her cheek - it was the first time she had left a mark and we were scared, the little girl was frightened and we felt horrible!  We contacted a behavior specialist and learned many techniques to work with Nala - things to look for that might suggest she is uncomfortable and things to do when people came over - like telling people not to look at her or try to pet her, but it was something we had to police 24/7 and it felt like we were really doing things to avoid the issue, not actually solving her problems, and with little kids and kids around often its been tough.  Its gotten to the point where people pretty much just stay away.  And this is not what we want for the rest of our daughters youth - we want them to be able to play here with their friends, without fear of what the dog could do.  We adopted a dog to be social with us, not to keep her away from our family.  Well last Sunday everything changed, she was separated from the kids and the cousins that were over just to be on the safe side (which is what we do at this point) but she got out.  Nala laid on the floor and I saw her and thought - hmm she got out but she seems fine, she's on the floor chewing her bone happy as can be, then a minute later I heard a scream from my nephew and I came in and there was blood everywhere, coming from his face!  Luckily it was mostly from a nose bleed but there were small bite marks on each end of his nose, and we realized that even if she doesn't mean to harm, she can and its not getting better.  It was the most traumatizing thing I have seen and made us realize that we have a ticking time bomb on our hands.  Yes, we love her, she loves our family, but we live in fear of what she can do to others - especially children.  The shelters we have called don't want her and we fear even rehoming her would be irresponsible (in the unlikely chance it could even happen)  This decision is the worst ever, I am not sure how we are going to get past this, but reading about everyone else that has gone through similar things it has helped more than you can know.  We believe this is the right decision for us and for Nala, as much as it breaks my heart.


Amy
June 30, 2016

I had to put my Australian Cattle dog mix to sleep on June 27, 2016 after she bit my dad. He required 12 stitches, glue, sutures and his hand was very swollen. She developed aggression around age 3 and she was 6.5 years old when she was put down. She had also bitten me and couple of others in the last few years although to a lesser degree. Like many of the comments I have read on hear I have literally tried everything to make it work. I am so sad and broken-hearted and feel tremendous guilt. It was very helpful to read the stories and comments last night to know I am not alone.


Phyllis DeGioia
June 30, 2016

Dear Fran, We're all so sorry for your loss and grief. Let me assure you that Maddie's biting is not your fault. Your reaction time has nothing to do with her behavior; had you been fast enough that she didn't bite the maintenance man, it would not have changed her intent to do so. Her behavior has changed in the past few weeks, and your veterinarian found no physical cause.  Remember what Dr. Gaspar says: ""There are some dogs who are mentally ill, either due to genetics, trauma or their development...I appreciate the effort that people put into understanding them, but some of these dogs just never are normal. Escalating behavior is not good in any species." From where I stand, rather than letting down your dog you went above and beyond in taking care of Maddie in all respects and I think you are an excellent pet owner. Please don't decide about changing your status as a potential foster parent right now in the middle of this extremely emotional time. Your ability to work through very difficult situations will be your legacy.  Once you work through this grief, life will be different. Never quite the same, but better. Today you are giving your beloved dog peace and a release from anxiety. That is a gift, a kindness. I wish you peace.


Bernie
June 30, 2016

I recently have been in your shoes. Mine was a pup from a litter I had. She first showed a very sharp nasty temperment at 8 weeks. She attacked my other dogs who were all related to her. Snapped and nipped me a few times. Unlike you, my vet refused to euthanize her even though she snapped at him. After much searching I finally found one to euthanize her. I guess I was lucky since I knew she would go for my throat if given a chance. My household is much more relaxed, my other dogs aren't afraid anymore and I'm not walking on eggshells. You did the right thing as did I.


Jennifer
June 30, 2016

Thank you for writing this article.  I am waiting for the vet's office to open this morning so I can make an appointment to put Pablo down.  He is a three year old chihuahua rescue we adopted 18 months ago.  He was picked up as a stray when he was less than a year old and brought north by a rescue league.  Someone adopted him and returned him after 5 months (even with training) because he was "too nippy".  That was a complete lie and we are the family that now has to make the difficult decision to euthanize our dog.  Pablo suffers terribly from anxiety and we thought he just needed love and a new home.  He has bitten every family member at some point.  The worse bight was last November he bit my 16 year old daughter's face for no reason.  She had a deep laceration above her lip that required immediate attention in the ER.  She has a scar hopefully it will fade.  We were advised to euthanize Pablo by our vet or try an animal behaviorist an hour away (very expensive).  Our hearts took over and we asked the vet to try Prozac.  The medication helped some what he wasn't nearly as anxious but still barked incessantly at visitors and strangers and of course other dogs.  We were in the process of looking for a trainer when lo and behold he did again.  Completely unprovoked the same daughter was petting our cat.  Pablo came into the room and when she offered to pet him he went for her face.  She didn't require medical attention but she was once again traumatized.  That was it for me another 10 day quarantine and report to animal control.  I was absolutely going to euthanize him.  That 10 day waiting period is the worse part because our hearts once again took over.  We decided to pursue a trainer that specializes in aggression.  Many trainers wouldn't even attempt a consultation.  I had a lengthy conversation two days ago with one that recommended saying goodbye.  He described Pablo's suffering and we weren't helping him by keeping him alive.  Very disconcerting to hear.  A second trainer came to our home yesterday and agreed with the first trainer.  He pointed out that Pablo is like a mentally ill person with violent tendencies, there's no way of knowing the triggers for biting.  The rescue league that adopted him out to us should have made this decision when he was returned by his first owner.  Now my family is left with this difficult decision.   I know it's the right decision and I can't take the stress and worry that he may bite my child again or someone else.  I appreciate knowing I am not alone.


Fran
June 29, 2016

I rescued my Maddie 5 years ago from a high kill shelter. She was so sick with heartworms they 3 vets declined treating her. I finally found one who treated her and against all odds she survived. We fought side by side and through it all she became my "soul dog," my truest companion. She's had a few lingering chronic health problems through the years but has done well. Everyone adores her. Over the years she has occasionally nipped at a man (she was abused before I rescued her) but never broken the skin. We have taken precautions against it and years have gone by between nips. A few weeks she started not feeling well and she had some behavior changes. The vet couldn't find anything wrong but did note increasing identity. She has suddenly become very difficult to walk on lash, pulls lunges... As if she was never trained. Today she jerked the leash and bit our complex's maintenance man - 3 times. I was so shocked I know I didn't react fast enough and I am suffering crippling guilt. He isn't pressing charges and he wasnt seriously injured but the complex insurance requires she be permanently removed from the property within 24 hours. We have nowhere to take her and certainly can't rehome her. We are asking her vet to put her to sleep tomorrow. There are no words for how devastated I am. We have n children. She is my child. The bites were my fault. I could have done things differently. I am out of my mind with guilt, grief... I am afraid I will lose my mind when I have her killed tomorrow. I don't think I will survive this. But I have no choice. We are supposed to get Foster-to-adopt human children in a few months but I am pulling us out of that. I'm not fit to parent humans when I have let down my dog.


Pat
June 29, 2016

Thank you for this article, I volunteer at a "no kill shelter" 25 hrs a week.  One of the dogs I walk and spend time with 5 days a week is a repeat biter.  A panel has decided he is not adoptable so they told me that he was going to be euthanized. Because I know him they said only I could adopt him.  I have cried like a silly person, talked to everyone at the shelter to include my family and all agreed I should not adopt this dog.  My heart with dogs can sometimes be larger than my brain but after reading this I will bring him home 3 days to give him peace before they put him down.  I have fostered him before so he is familiar with my home.  After reading your article, my decision is made for him and for me.  Not worth the stress or risk.  Again, thank you for sharing.


Candice
June 28, 2016

Tomorrow, June 29, 2016, my husband and I will euthanize our nervously aggressive dog. We rescued her when she was around 10months old, and have had her for almost 6years.  She started to exhibit aggressive tendencies almost immediately, so we hired a trainer - one of whom she 'warning nipped." That trainer promptly told us to put her down. We didn't - we already loved her, and worked intently with her - training her to be 'polite", learning to read her body language - so we would know if/when she would nip at someone, taking her to a Vet Behaviorist, putting her on medication, and yet another trainer - this one specializing in dogs with aggressive tendencies.  Off leash dogs, and young kids running up to her were all bad, so living in NYC is tough and walking her became a very stressful event for me. If a person she didn't know knelt down in front of her, she might snap at them, so I had to be wary of that as well.  Our final moment was when our furry girl tried to bite our young niece - completely unprovoked. We got her under control quickly, and our niece wound up with only a bad scratch; but it left me with the sinking feeling that my girl, my love was never going to get better.  I couldn't imagine the guilt of knowing my furry girl might hurt a child - really hurt a child. So tomorrow we are euthanizing my baby girl - it's breaking my heart into pieces, but it will release her from the torment of our world.


Joann
June 25, 2016

Thanks so much for writing this.  I had to euthanize my 6 year old cocker spaniel and it was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life.  He could be so sweet but then, at times, could snap.  I finally came to the conclusion that I could not put my grandchildren at risk.  While I do miss him, I am certain it was the right thing to do even though it was such a sad outcome.


Lola Rubio
June 22, 2016

Thank you for sharing this painful episode in your life. On June 18th, just a few days ago, I too had to let go of my aggressive dog, Mayhem. I had him from the time he was 8 weeks old. I had loved him and spoiled him. His aggression started at around age one and became increasingly worse. When I spoke to the rescue from which I had acquired him, his mother and two siblings had all died from fighting or had been put down for aggression.  In a final effort to help him, I hired a trainer, whom he promptly attacked.  He then started exhibiting aggression towards my 9 year old autistic son. I had to plan his euthanasia and cremation. The act of doing that compounded my grief and guilt. Since Mayhems death, my other dogs are now calm and happy.  We no longer walk on egg shells. My heart still hurts for my lost boy.


Gareth
June 21, 2016

Just wanted to post and say thank you to not only Phyllis for this article, but to everyone else who has shared their stories in the comments. I found it through Google while struggling to come to terms with what we had to do -- to have our beautiful boy Darwin put to sleep because of his aggression -- and it's been very comforting to know we're not alone. The guilt continues to eat away at me, and I often find myself in tears as I remember both him and his final moments, but knowing that many others have been (and are) in the same situation is helpful and reassuring. I posted a piece on my business blog about him, because I know it won't be going away any time soon. I felt I owed him that at least. If you'd like to, you can read about our experience, our decision, and one of the best friends I've ever had, here: http://blog.joneswriter.com/heartbreak-hard-decisions-love-darwin/  I miss him terribly, every day. Keep wishing I could turn back the clock and just have him snuggled up next to me again. Sleep tight, mate. At least I know you've found peace.


Hera
June 18, 2016

Today I made the very difficult decision to euthanize my beautiful lab x Heeler rescue. I've had him a year and in many ways he's made incredible joyful progress. Sadly those windows of joy are few and far between. I'm heartbroken making this decision but after consulting with trainers, controlling his environment, and loving & supporting him...I know it's the best choice. He's very aggressive and has attacked me and several other people. Although his bites have never broken the skin it's scary to see a fully grown lab snarling and aiming for your throat because he doesn't know you. Strangely enough I'm not afraid of him but I also know it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when he will seriously harm someone. He's not gender specific or size specific. If you're a human and he doesn't like you he attacks. And there's no way for me to predict who or when. If he bit a child or anyone else I would be devastated. He's constantly in a state of fear. Monday morning I make the call to set up a home appointment and put my beautiful boy Shadow to rest. I know I've done absolutely everything to help him and that is enough. Thank you for your insight and support by writing this article. Much love xoxo


Melanie
June 17, 2016

I'm so relieved to have found this article. After having a rescue for the last 2 years, his behavior has rapidly declined over that last 6 months. His bitten me, my husband one of our dog watchers and has now snapped at another one. I've tried medication, exercising and reaffirmation behavior but to no avail. I know it's now become a matter of when he's going to hurt someone to the point of regret, especially since we have a child in the house. Since he's a rescue we're not sure of his full background but can only imagine it hasn't been the most ideal. His aggression was originally based on me, but it's expanded to members outside of our home. I hate having to make this decision. Part of me feels like I'm giving up on him, but another part of me knows there has to be chaos going on inside his home considering everything we've tried and watching him slowly decline. He snaps for no reason. He has no triggers. He "requests" attention from us, but then reacts aggressively when we give it to him. I can't help but feel that maybe the noise inside of his mind is slowly becoming overwhelming. I wish we had more insight into this but I know that we have no other options at this point. Even his vet has agreed. Hopefully he'll find peace.


Jonelle A
June 14, 2016

Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and for this article. This is the first thing I have ever read about aggressive dogs that has been beneficial to me. I have spent so much time feeling like I was the only one going through this. Guilty because I failed and because I wanted to give up. Over the years, our Beagle has bitten both my husband and I, puncturing our skin on numerous occasions. We have been full of excuses and have done our best to cater to his needs and avoid his aggression. Recently he bit and punctured my baby's hand and my husband and I have finally come to terms with putting Linus down. Thank you for all your stories, you have helped me feel better about this decision. I don't feel alone and I know I am making the best decision for my family and ultimately, for Linus.


Mara
June 12, 2016

I euthanized my dog yesterday after she randomly attacked and bit me...again.  I spent close to 4 years trying to deal with mild aggressive behaviour that I kept telling myself I just had to work harder with her on but it kept getting worse.  I agree that there must be something misfiring in some dogs - my girl was never abused - she was pampered from the moment my parents picked her from the breeder - I adopted her from my parents who could not handle her from the time she was about 6 months - I thought she was just too big of a dog and wasn't getting enough attention - and I did make some progress with her however there were always the aggressive attacks out of nowhere where she would charge my husband or snap growl and try to bite.  The first time she bit me - I blamed myself because food was involved (me handing food to someone) and I thought I knew the source I can fix this.  But the aggressive acts became more frequent with no discernable source.  I was still in denial when she attacked me a couple of months ago because I moved at the same time as a visitor and bit me twice on the arm.  The realization of how much fear I had of her came when she accidentally got out of the yard a couple weeks later and I had visions of her attacking the neighbour kids or killing their dog or cat.  I was frantic for the short period of time before I caught her and got her back in the yard.  Yesterday she attacked again while I was talking to people in our kitchen (again no food involved).  I felt like an abuse victim - I couldn't with good conscious surrender her because I had no idea what her triggers were and knew that she would do this to a new family.  The veterinarians I talked with were excellent - no matter how much we love our dogs they are still animals - they do not reason like humans and they do act on instinct and behaviours that we might never understand.  I have lived with dogs my entire life and rescued many or adopted from unknown backgrounds.  I have dealt with troubling behaviours from barking to housetraining but this was the first truly aggressive dog that I could not get through to.  I worked in animal clinics in my early career and know that aggressive dogs don't get better magically - I have assisted in putting down aggressive animals who bit and wounded children and wondered why their owners didn't do something before this happened. I didn't want to be that owner. I feel absolutely guilt ridden and horrible that I somehow failed my dog but I also feel relief that I am not also dealing with the guilt and grief of her hurting a child or a stranger - it was only me that suffered her aggression. Like others who have posted here, I am going to grieve long and hard about this decision but I have to keep putting into perspective that she can't hurt anyone else and that she is no longer living the anxiety that she must have felt.


Janaye
June 11, 2016

I have a 3 year old Chihuahua terrier mix. My fiancee has had him since a pup. He has been the sweetest dog until December. Our home was destroyed by a tornado the night before Christmas Eve. I thank God everyday the children weren't there but we were. We were seriously injured. Our dog Mario and one of my cat's kittens were dug out of the rubble. They were trapped pinned by a table for hours. They had no serious physical injuries. But since that night Mario started becoming more and more aggressive. First him but my Fiancee's grandma who was trying to walk him for us. Then tried to attack his uncle. Next it was my fiancee then the kids and me. He hasn't caused serious injury but it has steadily got worse. He will be fine one minute the next he is coming at you. The last straw was a few days ago. I have been trying to train him. I have been trying to train him. I have trained several dogs in the past. My mom and I have rescued countless animals. But here was the problem. He will take commands. He is typically a very submissive dog anyway. But I had put him on a leash after giving him a command to get down and he came after me. So I had him on a leash the next day in the house. I give him the sit command to give him some peanut butter and suddenly he growels and trys to attack me. I'm holding him out from me to prevent him from getting my legs. He doesn't stop and managed to slip out of his collar. My son heard the commotion and yelled from the other room. The dog then went after him. He had to climb on a chair back and I tried to capture the dog with a blanket to get it in its kennel. He managed to bite me through the blanket. When i got him in the kennel he came lunging at the door before I could get it latched. Me holding the blanket in front of me this usually sweet dog was lunging repeatedly trying to get past the blanket to rip into me. My son heard me scream and yelled out again. The dog again went after him which allowed me to capture him once more. It was horrible. I have spoke with two trainers who suggested everything I have already been doing. Give him treats they say.  Keep him on a leash to make sure everyone is safe. Keep trying. We just cant. I cant. I am pregnant and there are two kids in my home. He has went after them. He has tried to bite my son in the face. He has lunged at his face and got him on the hand instead. There is no way for me to be sure I can keep them safe without locking him in a box for the rest of his life which I can't do. It would be easy I think for me to put him down of he had managed to do serious damage. But I can't let that happen just so I can feel better. I know that and still my heart is breaking. Because 80% of the time he is the sweetest dog in the world. I feel like I have failed him. The scariest thing is knowing that he goes from sweet to visious in a heartbeat and never knowing when he will do it. My fiancee plans to have him put down on monday. Right now Mario is being so sweet. And it is just killing me knowing that these are his last days. And that I can't even let him be off a leash other than in his crate for a second. It is too risky. The tornado broke something we can't fix. It broke his mind.


Lisa
June 6, 2016

On Saturday June 4th we made the really difficult decision to put our dog down. We had her 6 months and we adopted her from the pound-she had a terrible start in life. The first 14 months she was chained up which resulted in a deep collar wound developing. She was in the pound for 6 months, recovering and rehabilitating. At almost 2 she had no life whatsoever ,neglected, secluded and treated with disdain by her original owners. We fell in love with her adventurous spirit and sense of independence . She was extremely submissive with children, loved to sit almost on your lap on the couch and licked us incessantly . She loved us, we loved her. But she was starting to show signs of aggression though and only could express her love by attacking other dogs and slowly becoming more aggressive with people. The decision was do we wait for her to attack a human even worse a human child. Who knows what her mentality was after all her ill treatment. We showed her so much love and affection and put so many boundaries in place , it didn't help though ,it is twice as hard as both my partner and I did not get the best start in life. We felt like she was a reflection of us and we could fix her. She was broken tough, full of anxiety , fear , sadness, confusion and wariness when we left the house or we had people come to the home. Like other readers here we started to  plan our life around her, isolate ourselves, live with her behaviors, normalise them until her attack on Saturday , we knew in our hearts it was time to go so we did it ourselves so we could send her off in love . I'm totally broken but find solace in some of these articles here. Thank you.


Rebecca
June 5, 2016

Thank you for your story. I too have just gone through the pain of having to put down my own dog who I rescued as a puppy at just 8 weeks old and raised by myself. She went to work with me everyday and was loved by all who met her. But the last four months of her life she had started showing aggressive behavior sporadically and for no known reason. She had gotten worse over time and even with professional help she continually got even worse. She had bitten me a total of 4 times and I was dealing with her, but she had been attacking me almost on a daily basis randomly. I could be petting her and she was wagging her tail and then she'd snap and attack me. My vet told me from the beginning after running tests there wasn't anything she could do. Most people after finding out everything were shocked after finding out the truth, my neighbors thought my dog was mauling me and would frantically come over making sure I was ok afterwards. The day before having to put my family member down she attacked a neighbor who she had known since the day I brought her home. Luckily my neighbor wasn't injured too bad but the bite did draw some blood and my dog tried to attack more, but I had to restrain her from hurting anyone further. My co workers and family know the entire story but a few clients at my work have been talking negatively about how I shouldn't have euthanized her because everyone loved her and they would have taken her. But before I had to put her to sleep I asked if a more experienced owner would be able to take her and not one person offered. People are so cruel and so judgmental about what they don't know or understand. I know deep down I made the right call but having people tell me "I didn't love my pet" stings especially when I am still in the process of healing. I have not commented or said anything about this to many people because I keep to myself and didn't want people to think of my dog as being scary, but always took precautions when socializing my dog. I wish there was another solution but sometimes there is no other way. Having this be my first dog is very challenging and it's been difficult.  I've been told I should get another dog right away to help with the healing process but couldn't bring myself to get another dog so soon as the pain was too much. So I thank all of your stories and appreciate your understanding.


Jim
June 4, 2016

My wife and I are taking our dog this morning to do the same. He has bitten about six people we know, and 0ne we didn't know so well, but all were amazingly tolerant and understanding. He has started to make a move at children riding by on a bike and seems to view everyone except my wife and I a threat. In our home alone with us he is a great dog. But anywhere we take him, a park, camping, if people come over for a cook out, he goes into aggressive and territorial mode and snaps and bite at people. I talked myself out of turning back over to his breeder who also is a behavioral trainer and works with problem dogs and for police and military dogs as well, and couldn't bear to do it. Three times I almost did it and didn't want to give up on him, and finally he bit a good friend of ours last week who he has known since a puppy, and we called the trainer and brought him back. Two hours later the trainer called us and said we had to come take him back as he could not even get this dog out of his truck. He told us that this is only the second dog he has ever encountered that he couldn't work with. Our dog was in full attack mode and could have killed someone had he gotten out before we arrived. He looked at us and stooped, and we opened the door and he jumped out and ran over to our car and jumped in just like he had always done, a happy dog. We have tried to train, given exercise, socialize as well as we could all to no avail. This dog would have to live the rest of his life in a cage every time anyone came to our home, every time we went camping, we could never go away by ourselves and kennel him or leave him with friends for a weekend. Our lives have become consumed with the role of his restraint for the protection of everyone  who he saw. Our trainer told us this dog cannot be "fixed" only controlled, meaning constantly on a leash, muzzled, caged and hidden away from everyone but us forever. This then no longer is a dog but an inmate that we lock away for others safety, I can't do this anymore.   To all the self righteous animal rights people out there who vilify and berate people like me for doing this, What are YOU doing ? Are you opening YOUR home to dangerous animals ? Are you placing YOUR friends and children at risk ? If you are, I have never seen any of your ads or websites to come an get my or anyone else dog and bring that nightmare into YOUR house. So don't point fingers at us from behind the anonymity of your computer screens and render judgment. We had to put a dog down about fifteen years ago and it still is vivid and sad in my mind. I am dreading the trip to the vets, but have come to the end of my strength. I'm sorry pup, it was not your fault what you were born as, and I will have to bear this this decision all my life. If you are not an animal lover, then you can't understand the connection between owners and their pets, and no explanation would be enough to make you get it.


Diana
May 31, 2016

We have a one year old livestock guardian dog, a Maremma that we got to guard our poultry.  Her name is Tilly.  She has worried me several times with her aggression towards other (friendly family members) dogs but then a couple weeks ago she snarled and snapped at a neighbor girls friend.  Today, she snarled and snapped at my husband because he moved her bone during lawn mowing.  People are afraid of her (now my husband, too) and she weighs almost 100 pounds.  The other thing is this breed is so independent that they don't listen so you can't call her off.  I feel like rehoming her will be impossible.  She is escalating and this behavior with my husband is beyond acceptance.  I don't want to wait til a 100 pound dog latches onto someones face.  And I don't think any of you are wrong.  Reading the posts makes me wonder why you kept those dogs as long as you did but then I look at Tilly and understand.  Somewhat. Every dog isn't a good dog.


Andrea Nida
May 31, 2016

Thank you for sharing your story.  It's 5 am and I am laying on the couch with my baby. Sugar is snuggled in the covers with me. Today she is scheduled to be euthanized at 10am....it's so hard to imagine a dog who loves our family with all her heart and is physically healthy will not be hear tonight.  I don't want to get into the details of the decision to do this. ...I don't want to feel like I need to justify this to others.....I know I did the best I could and tried. No animal should have to be so afraid of the people on the "outside" that anxiety causes the heart to race, pounding with fear, fast breathing and body stiffness that last for hours if not the rest of the day. She wants to go on a walk or car ride but in doing so provokes these horrific panic attacks when seeing "the outside enemy" causing heightened fear seeing the next "enemy" and the next until she is home and can pass out with an exhaustive sigh. So she lives safely locked within the confines of the house with curtains drawn... to the best of our ability we can trick Sugar into thinking no outside world exist. Unfortunately this is hard to manage and not very successful.  No family should have to live in fear of accidentally leaving the door open, or a 5 year old cry as I try to assure him I am not angry with him because in the excitement of running out to greet daddy after work.... he left the door open and mommy screams were not directed at him. It was terror that Sugar would get out and attack another innocent "enemy". No family should have to tell their 4 children it's not safe for your friends to come over or continually explain that they can't walk her, take her to the park, on vacation , camping or outside our home.  Sugar I love you so much. ..I have fought for you. ...in our home with closed curtains you are the most amazing dog. You give the best kisses, provide endless hours of smiles,  laughter , love and warmth. We all love you. ...I love you so much ....I love you dear baby ...enough to let you go.


BE
May 28, 2016

I cannot thank you enough for writing this article even thought it must have been heartbreaking to write it. It helped me make a very hard decision. I am a dog trainer and almost 4 years ago became the owner of a 2 year old working breed dog that was well bred, but trained by a VERY abusive trainer (who, thankfully is no longer training dogs). I didn't realize the extent of her fears and issues until months later. She had to be constantly monitored around other dogs. People, some could touch her, but I had to read her before giving permission to the person. She got over many of her people issues, but I would still deny certain people the right to touch her. Other dogs, well she was not a dog I would let my class dogs or any outside the family play with. I was the person who at the start of classes said please don't let your dog into my dog's face. I sweated when I took walks worried about off leash dogs. She did go on to earn obedience and Rally titles. The other day she went after my son's Terrier bitch who is 16 months old and very laid back for a Terrier. I took notice, my son participates in several dog sports with this bitch and in conformation. He is the youngest kid ever to put a JE on a dog. She never went after my older son's Terrier. Then, when she was at a dog trainer friend's who was watching the dogs for the day, it nearly happened. She went after the puppy again, this time she came across the field to get her. Thankfully, the puppy only received a few punctures. But this time it was different. I wasn't there, it was intentional. Now the heartbreaking decision had to be made. Rehoming was not an option. There were several elements to my decision 1. My oldest will try to break up fights. 2. A child could accidentally get bitten. 3. I could not as a parent let my kid's dog get killed in front of him. I knew it was coming. People (even my husband) told me to manage them differently. Yes, in a perfect word I could, but one day a dog was going to slip out or the wrong crate opened at the wrong time. I couldn't chance it. Separating her from the family wasn't an option. So after talking with fellow trainers who had seen and worked with us I made the decision. I had to talk it through. She was MY dog and I had put hundreds of hours of training and play into her. Was I doing the right thing? My heart broke, but I couldn't put my dog before my kids. So 2 days ago I euthanized MY dog and cried the whole time. I still do, it's a fresh wound. Now I'm surrounded by small terriers, 2 of them, but I know they are safe, and my boys are safe from an accident. She never would have bitten them intentionally, but in a dog fight incidental bites happen and who knows who would have bitten whom. I miss my girl, I always will. My decision tore me on two. But today, today I was able to take in a friend's puppy to train and socialize with my two dogs and not have to stress over crating and rotating. For the first time in years I was able to turn everyone out and know except for the mild, appropriate correction, everyone would be okay. And they are.  Do I feel guilty for euthanizing her? Guilty? No. Sad, lonely, yes. I gave her a life dogs dream of. She was my partner in many ways, she ate good food, had bones to chew, orange balls to chase, fields to run in, hiked many miles, and was a member of our family, none of which she would have had otherwise. So while I am still sad, I know life will go on and I will move forward slowly and my kids will be okay and one day, not any day soon, another dog will come along and fill the hole she left in our house...and my heart.


Diane May
May 28, 2016

Thank you so much for sharing your experience this terribly difficult subject. My 4 yr old bulldog mix (Otis 150 lbs)  has bitten my mother in law (2.5 yrs ago) and my daughter's father in law who was helping my husband work on the electric in our new  house. Both bites resulted in hospital visits and the 2nd may result in surgery. I can tell you, we have done EVERYTHING  in your article. I've been struggling with thinking of all the great traits he has. But his aggression -which is terrifying and instantaneous and completely random is just completely unacceptable and obviously dangerous. There's no rhyme or reason for his attacks ( electrical storms in his brain) and now that we've moved, the self imposed quarantine he's been under for the last couple of years won't work anymore. As I was crying about this whole nightmare to my sister she made me realize that he IS sick. Just mentally. I accept that I will cry and I will miss him greatly. But I also accept that it's time to put both him and myself out of this misery. Thank you again for helping to make an impossible decision possible.


Susan
May 28, 2016

I have turned to this article and the comments several times over the last two years, but this time the appointment with the vet is booked, and I am wondering if there is anything else I can do. If anyone has an idea that would save Teddy, please let me know. Teddy is an 11-year-old miniature poodle-wheaton cross who has bitten five times (and several more times that didn't break the skin). His last bite, two years ago, happened when my husband tried to put his leash on. Since then, we have not been able to leash him, but he is otherwise perfect. I take him to a wilderness park nearby every day. He has never had aggression issues with either people or dogs. All of his bites have occurred when my husband or I (or in one case a friend) reached in too close to his head. He also has an issue with guarding the car once he is inside. He won't come out and bares his teeth if we try. We discovered a way of pushing him out with the broom, and as soon as he is outside, he returns to his placid behavior. He really is a dog that never had any issues except that he felt threatened if anyone tried to get too close to him. It might sound crazy to have a dog that you can't put a leash on, and it is. We could probably get the leash on him, because some times he comes and sits when I put the leash on my younger dog to show that he wants me to put his leash on him. The problem would be taking the leash off, as any move towards his head or neck that makes him feel threatened can trigger a bite. Now my husband is going away for seven weeks and he feels that I will not be able to deal with Teddy if anything goes wrong. It was when my husband was away two years ago that Teddy bit me and tried to bite several other people. And when my husband returned, he bit him. All of these bites were on the hand, and were very deep and painful. My husband takes care of Teddy most of the time, because he works at home and I am away most days. Once he is gone, Teddy will almost certainly become anxious and sometimes that means that he won't come in the house at night and will stay outside barking all night. My husband also worries that he could get off the property and endanger a child. The vet told us that it really is impossible to keep a dog that you can't leash. I have consulted animal behaviorists and trainers, and nobody knows what to do. So we have booked a time next Thursday to have Teddy euthanized, but I can't bear the thought, and I feel that I should try everything I can to get him over this leash thing. At the same time, I know that there is nothing I can really do, and I need to prepare myself to say goodbye. I want to thank you, Phyllis, for telling your story, and everyone else who has told their story. I have never gone through any pain like this. I don't know whether it is guilt for having raised a pet that I could not manage, or just straight sorrow at having to say goodbye to a pet that was my inseparable companion for 9 years. Thanks for reading.


Steven
May 27, 2016

I am coming to grips with this myself. I cannot take the sorrow, and my dog is still alive. My wife wants to put him down. I will probably bury myself in work


Phyllis DeGioia
May 26, 2016

Hi Laurie, What a terrible experience. Even if he could function without you, rehoming would be a truly bad idea for the dog as it would increase his anxiety significantly and make everything worse. I know he's your heart dog. I know how incredibly difficult this is, believe me, and I don't say any of this lightly. Breaking up dog fights can be dangerous, and I hope you are alright.   I believe you've answered your own question when you say you cannot live like this anymore; between the significant stress, the vet and medical bills, the physical pain of both of your dogs and yourself, and the emotional pain of everyone involved, I think something has to change. My heart is with you.


Laurie
May 26, 2016

Hello everyone, I have a terrible decision that I need help with. My dog got into a horrible fight with my Lab two days ago and I got bitten in the process. This is not the first I have gotten bitten while trying to break up a fight between my brindle rescue dog and another dog. This makes the second time a dig fight has forced me to go to the hospital because of this dog. This dog is my heart and I have been told to rehome him however, he cannot function without me. I let a friend watch him for a week because of an earlier fight and my dog didn't eat, or sleep he just paced around the house until I came to get him. I now have a dog in the vet for the second night in a row for observation and a very hurt brindle rescue dog at the house. This dog is not aggressive toward people and I only got bitten because I was trying to break up the dog fight but I cannot live like this anymore and I just don't know what to do.


Jaime
May 23, 2016

Hi all.  I am a wreck today, but trying to hold it together for the sake of my son, who turned seven today.  Yesterday at his birthday party, my four year old American Eskimo got out and bit my daughter's eleven year old friend in the wrist (unprovoked).   This is months after my dog nipped the same girl's sister in the leg.  Last month, the dog got my daughter just under her eye.  All of this behavior has just started in the past few months and we have no idea why.  The dog is fine 99% of the time.  Anyway,  we have been advised to put her down and we have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.  I will be home all day and tomorrow with the dog and I just don't know how to feel.  She is all happy and wants to play and cuddle and I feel kind of like a murderer.


Susan
May 22, 2016

My 16 year old daughter and I dreamed of owning a Siberian Husky.  We did our research, saved our money and found a breeder other friends had used.  We met our puppy when he was just 4 weeks old and visited him weekly until we brought him home. He had typical puppy nips but at age 6 months he started to "guard" anything.  I was bitten multiple times. Once, simply because I tried to pick up a ball of fur I wasn't aware he was guarding.   At 8 months old, I brought in a behaviorist who worked with Apollo for several weeks.  She told us we needed a more firm trainer.  At age one, we sent him to a boarding trainer who worked extensively with him.  While he was better on leash, off leash he would still bite. Our home is off limits to visitors. We can't pet, brush, or show affection to our dog.  We say we live with a "wild animal."   As long as you don't touch him, you are fine. I've been bitten a dozen or more times and this past weekend,  he bit a dog trainer at his "trainers's daycare" facility.  He's no longer welcome there. We've made the decision we must put him down.  I stare at this gorgeous dog and I know I will never, ever own another dog.   I am so heart broken that this broken animal has made me fear dogs the rest of my life.  I'm frustrated I couldn't fix him.  I'm sad because we had so much love to give him, and we've lived in fear for 2.5 years.   It is so unfair. I know we must do the right thing,  but it won't be easy. 


Tracy
May 20, 2016

I'm writing this and been reading the comments in despair.my olde tyme bulldog whos entire at the min was fighting lastnight with my pugxfrenchie. i dived in to seperate them and the bulldog dived at my face as i had to bend down and bit my eye. its a mess and purple, and i feel like so many other do whove been writing on here. hes only about 13 months old and a huge dog. he bit me when he was about 6 months old badly on the hands when he was being naughty and i put him on his back he just went mental. im not sure what to do, to try neutering or have him pts. ive 3 grankids and im worried that visit at weekends but hes always in a crate or tied up outside on a chain when they visit. much as i hate to admit it im scared of him. ive had large breed dogs all my life from mastiff size to small breeds and some several at at time. ive never had a dog do this before ever x


Helen Weinbrecht
May 16, 2016

I had a dal apache i loved dearly same problem. Fear aggression. He would bite at impulsive moments he bite several times but the last time was my neighbors child. I had to do what you did i tried to get him back to the breeder on a plane. When they wouldn't take him on plane i knew i had to save apache from apache. I was there with him till the end. It was a moral responsibility but I know his spirit will always be with me. But yes it broke my heart


Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Catherine, Thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry to hear about Gaston. You are definitely not alone, as you and I are by far not the only people who have made that choice. It's actually pretty common, and should be more common, but people don't talk about it much because they feel they failed or they're embarrassed that they couldn't "train it out" of the dog.  The feeling is a bit like removing your own heart from your body. Please remind yourself of how you would feel if he mauled someone severely, worse than whatever he's done before. That helps to put it all in perspective.  You're in my heart. Please take care of yourself.


Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Jeremy, Thank you for the kind words, and I'm so glad this article, and the numerous people who have posted comments, has helped you so much. Dodger's aggression toward me, and his subsequent euthanasia, was one of the worst episodes of my life. For me, the pain has gone away, and finally three years later I can think of the episode without crying. Hopefully, it won't take quite so long for you and your wife to feel the same way. My heart is with you. Your words mean the world to me.


Phyllis DeGioia
May 16, 2016

Hi Rich, I'm so sorry you're experiencing this, as I know what a slam to the gut it is. In my personal opinion - mine only - I feel that you did the right thing. It's hard to reconcile the big baby who loves car rides and hanging out in the yard with the dangerous dog that has bitten at least 18 times in two years, some of which were unprovoked. German shepherds are large and can do significant damage. I'm not surprised that the only vet who would see him required him to be sedated before arrival; severe bites can ruin a veterinarian's career, nor am I surprised he was banned everywhere. My heart is with you.


Dot Kewley
May 15, 2016

Thank you so much for writing this. I am totally in despair as my weimaramer, who weighs more than I do, bit my face, unprovoked, last night. I have spoken to my vets, my boy is only 20 months old and this is the first ever time he has even offered to hurt/do anything. My vets have suggested we castrate him tomorrow and see how it goes. My problem is, having dogs all my life and now 60, I was attacked back in 1971 by two German Shepard's whilst working in the district, I still have the scars. I am now terrified, full of guilt, unable to eat and crying all the time. He is staying with a friend tonight. Sadly I have been getting vile comments all day about having him put in the big sleep and going to the rainbow bridge. Your comments will be much appreciated Xx


Jeremy
May 14, 2016

I just had to euthanize my one and a half year old Potcake (a rescue from the island of Turks and Caicos). My father sent me a link to this to read and help me and my wife through this incredibly difficult time. I have to say, reading your post has already helped me tremendously, and I just put him down not even 4 hours ago. We have a 17 week old baby at home now, and although the dog did not show aggression towards him ever, he did towards other dogs and other people and has bitten twice. This afternoon, I went to a shelter who said they would take him, but when he was growling and trying to attack the amazing and courageous volunteer at the shelter, I knew that he would not be safe anywhere but at my home, and I would not allow that one day longer with my baby there. It's so true, that euthanizing at one and a half for aggression is the other side of the universe from euthanizing because of pain or old age. It just feels different. After reading your post, you provided clarity and confidence in our decision to do what we did, and although we could be on opposite sides of the country or world, your words hit home like no other "thing" I've read on the internet prior. All I can say is, thank you.


Rich
May 13, 2016

Thank you for sharing your experience. My dog was put down 2 days ago. He was only 27 months old. The most handsome German Shepherd ever. 3 days ago he attacked the wife unprovoked. She closed the dishwasher and he attacked her. Biting her ankle and then getting on top of her and biting her arm. Thank God I was home. I was able to redirect his attack towards me. The next day he bit a friend in the arm that trains Shepherds. My friend was going to take him. It was the final straw. But, there's more. We are struggling with the question of "Did we do the right thing?"  Maybe we could have gotten him more help. The local dog whisperer had been called in months ago. My dog bit him and the guy quit. He got banned every where he went. The only vet that would allow him in, wouldn't touch him unless I heavily sedated him. He has now bitten my wife four times. Me?  At least a dozen. Still we ask ourselves if we did the right thing. He was a good dog outside in the yard. Loved his car rides. Acted a big baby at times. Still, Did we do the right thing?


Catherine
May 12, 2016

Thank you Phyllis; i am in tears as I am taking Gaston tomorrow for euthanizing; he is a beautiful beauceron who turned 9 yesterday and today out of nowhere bit someone..again; a few weeks ago he had bit a good friend in the face and a few months back another friend; i sound like a crazy person for keeping a dog who had bitten several times. We took precautions such a putting him in his crate when people would come over and also recently got a muzzle but it is inevitable for at least one family member at times to forget taking the extreme precautions. Gaston adores me and all of us; he is fun, sweet and beautiful outside of his crazy episodes; we gave so many chances but I know in my heart it will happen again. I failed the people he bit and I failed Gaston. I never thought I had the right to take any life from anyone; i really do not have this right but i do not have the right either to put others in danger; i am afraid of the pain for many years and the permanent scaring for taking Gaston tomorrow; it is horrible but I am thankful to stumbling on your article to simply know I am not the crazy dog lady and I am not alone to suffer like this. Thank you Phyllis.


Phyllis DeGioia
May 11, 2016

Noelle, My heart is with you.


Noelle Bergeron
May 11, 2016

I am glad to have come upon your article. I just put Chance down May 6, 2016. He's bitten many family and friends over the 5 years from the day my son unknowly to me brought him home. I some how became the care giver to him as my son moved out and started a family of his own. He recently attacked my younger son while playing around with his brother, ( wrestling). Our other dog went after Chance and finally we broke them up. Needless to say my son received 33 stitches and it was millimeters away from a far worse outcome of what it already had been. I made the decision to place him down. I went alone with him. It was heartfelt, sad , and just completely crushed my heart. He wasn't right and we knew that over the years , but still decided to give him chances. It was the right choice and I know that bc the next time he attacked could have resulted in someone dying. I know the other side of him too, which was sweet and wanted kisses and to have his belly rubbed. He's at peace now and everyone isn't living on edge. I've been struggling with the guilt and all of the rights and wrongs and what ifs, but you really shouldn't have to walk on eggs and be in fear. Our other dog isn't like that at all. I still hurt and love you Chance. I hope this will help someone else.


Phyllis DeGioia
May 11, 2016

Kitty, the lengths you have gone to for this poor boy and how you changed his life impresses me deeply. To love such a terrified dog  is no small task, and I nearly cry when I think of your Buddy running freely through your house as a happy pet. I'm sad too that things worked out this way. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do hurts us the most. My heart is with you now, and will be on Friday morning. Take care of yourself.


Kitty
May 11, 2016

Thank you for your article.  9 months ago, we found Buddy listed via a rescue site.  They listed as fearful flat-coated retriever, but friendly, etc.  As it turned out, this poor guy was horribly emaciated, was heartworm+ and had not been altered, in other words, he was not ready to be re-homed.  The foster had only had his shots.  He was scared when we got there, we took him.  So afraid that we've had to hold his food for him to eat, for months. His storm phobia is insane.  The sad part:  we love him so much and have watched him finally become a "dog."  When he finally started loping through the house, like a happy puppy, the joy we felt--no words.  There are also no words for when he suddenly would feel trapped, and attempt to bite.  I do believe some dogs are wired wrong.  This guy's fear, began progressing into fear aggression.  Some, with indicators.  Other times--no visible sign.  Those were the scary episodes.  Due to being crated during storms, he suddenly decided last week that he was never going in the crate again.  A fear aggressive dog, which cannot be contained during a storm can injure someone.  My only option was to walk a path through the house, for hours, until storm subsides.  He loves us dearly and has had 9 good months with us, but his anxiety is so great.  It is kinder for us to let him go.  No dog should be that afraid.  We'd worked with our vet, tried anxiety meds, but they had a detrimental effect.  They dropped his bite threshold even further.  I do love this boy, but he will be euthanized this Friday.  His episodes of fear aggression have escalated and we've been walking on eggshells for weeks.  I used to want to save them all.  Sadly, some can't be saved...but at least he knew happiness for awhile and his last moments won't be alone.  Thanks again for the article and to others which have shared.  It helps.


Richard Forest
May 11, 2016

Last week my wife and I had to put our beloved Tucker down at the age of 6.  He was a generally lovable guy, but would periodically snap and had bitten a couple of people, never seriously but enough that we had to keep him contained inside and walk him on a leash with a strong metal collar. We had tried medication and training but it didn't seem to make much difference. While walking him on a quiet dirt logging road, he snapped suddenly and ran and attacked another dog, and bit the owner as he was trying to separate the dogs.  He then ran off and attacked a porcupine, getting a load of quills in his face and mouth for his trouble.  Our other two dogs were fine the whole time, they didn't join in or anything.  Taking him to the vet was so hard, he was in such pain from the quills.  A week later I am still crying at times and feel such guilt.  Thank you for letting me know I did the right thing and that there are others who have had to face the same choice.


Jasmine
May 9, 2016

I am putting my dog, also named Dodger, to sleep tomorrow. I am staring at him now, wanting to soak up every last minute. I am so scared for myself over how I'll get through this. I am his person, the only one who loves him. My husband loathes him, my friends and family can't believe I've had him as long as I have. We've tried training, behaviorists and most recently drugs. This morning he attacked my 9 year old English Bulldog. He's currently getting stitches in his ear. I have a 17 month old baby at home who has been near far too many dog fights. We don't live normal lives. We never have guests, I only walk him on our secluded street. I have to board him anytime new people to be in the house. I don't travel to see my family because I worry what will happen while he's in boarding. I've lived this way for 6 years. There will be some relief but mostly sadness. Thank you for your post. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I know it's the right decision but it doesn't help the hurting right now.


Phyllis DeGioia
April 21, 2016

Lori, I am sorry to hear about the bite, and I'm grateful you did not lose the eye. The sick feeling is completely understandable, and it's the kind of feeling that eats at your soul. It's possible that Diesel has a medical condition causing this change in behavior. Before anything else, I would suggest searching for a possible medical cause as some of them cause behavioral changes. Neutering and/or meds may or may not help, it's difficult to know. What I can say for sure is that you cannot live with a dog you are afraid of, especially one that is 110 pounds. It's unfair to you and the other people and pets in your home. While you are deciding what to do, if the acting weird signs return, do not interact with him and if possible, either put him or the other pets into an enclosed room to help prevent another incident. I wish you luck, I know the feeling, and there's no pain like it.  My heart is with you.


Lori McKay
April 21, 2016

I feel like I am going to die.  I have a 5 year old GSD named Diesel and he has been the most amazing dog I have ever had.  We live on 46 acres and have 4 GSD and two old black labs.  Diesel is the only male and his loyalty and disposition have always been incredible.  Until last night.  I have always gotten down on the carpet to play with him.  He usually gets all excited like a puppy.  But last night he was acting weird and before I knew it he growled and lunged toward me and bit may face.  Two puncture wounds on my left eyelid.  I have had him since he was 10 weeks old. I, although probably foolish to say this, trusted this dog 100%.  Now I am afraid of him and am considering putting him down.  My vet suggest neutering him and putting him on meds but I do not know that I will be able to trust him and he is a 110 lb big dog.  I am heartbroken and I have been crying all night.  It is 7.30 am here in CO and I need some help!!  I am dying inside.  My dogs are spoiled, they sleep with my and they have a doggie door with an acre fenced in and are treated amazingly!  Never any kind of abuse ever!  I AM SICK.


Scott
April 17, 2016

I have a basset who has attacked my wife a few times. A basset, supposedly the mellowest and friendliest dogs out there. He doesn't snap he literally attached and keeps attacking until I stick a chair in between my wife and him. It happened again this morning, so I'm in the same situation that you were 2 two years ago. It's so weird, he has such a comfortably life, spoiled, loved, never abused or anything like that. We had him since he was 8 weeks old. I just can't understand how he could bite us and then 2 minutes later act like nothing is wrong. He has broken the skin a few times so it's serious. I just keep looking at him wagging his tail at me, while saying you signed your own death warrant. What is wrong with you??? Man, I'm conflicted. I know what needs to be done but it's hard. It's hard enough putting a sick dog down, I've never put a 6 years (otherwise) healthy dog down. I just took him to the vet 2 days ago and they said he looked fine. (Albeit i need to muzzle him because he doesn't like getting shots) We tried training, the trainer used a shock collar and we used that for a while but not in the past few years. I woke up today thinking that it was going to be a great day, Sunday morning I just made a cup of coffee... Now all I'm doing is thinking where did I go wrong? This is going be a tough day. Thanks for listening.


Dave
April 14, 2016

We had to put down our 7 year old border-collie mix, Miles, this past week. This blog was very helpful, and the comments section helped us realize that we were not the only ones going through this heart wrenching decision. He always had issues with crying and separation anxiety, so we had him on Prozac since he was a puppy. I'd like to think that Miles had some kind of early-onset dementia. Most of the time, he was the sweetest dog. As he got older, he developed unpredictable moments of aggression that increased in frequency and severity. We couldn't find a clear trigger. We knew that we could not re-home him, and we wanted to give him one final month. I also wanted to see what he would be like off Prozac. He forced our hand when he bit our babysitter, and then bit me while I tried to release his bite. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, taking a physically healthy dog, who was a loving member of our family, to the vet to be euthanized. In my head, I know it was the right decision, but my heart still aches. In hindsight, we shouldn't have waited that final month, because someone did get hurt. Fortunately, she will recover without any permanent injury. Also, I think the Prozac was helping, and he got worse when we stopped it. To anyone else in this same situation: You are not alone, and there are many of us who understand your pain.


Pauline
April 14, 2016

Dear Lisa, It's been nearly a year since we had our beautiful boy put to sleep because of his aggression and biting. We had Floyd (chocolate -working - Cocker Spaniel)from a pup at 8 weeks old and we then, when he was 3, decided to adopt another dog who was 7 months old at the time and very placid as a companion (a Springer).  The two got on very well but every so often Floyd would bite one of us for no reason, mainly my husband, and badly.  We had him put to sleep when he was nearly 6 and it broke our hearts as we loved him so much.  That last evening haunts me.  Yes, it is normal to still miss your other dog - you wouldn't be normal not to.  After nearly a year I still miss him and think of him every day.  I'm hoping with more time I can learn to live with it, even though I knew I had no choice at the time.  I'm afraid this is life and we get the good with the bad.  I try and remember the good times, which were many, and not dwell on the end.  He was unique and will never be replaced.


Joe
April 11, 2016

Thank you everyone who wrote their stories on this site, they made doing what we knew we had to do yesterday a little easier. We rescued Buckwheat when he was just 7 weeks old from the local animal rescue league. Part Shepard part Shar Pei the cutest little guy i had ever seen, my first pup, he looked like eddy munster with his eyebrows,  I was in love.  He was a partner for China, a pit lab mix who we had rescued a few years earlier with Cowboy a blue healer. Cowboy died from kidney failure and China was so sad, we took her around to meet new friends and she picked little Buck. Buck was taken from his mother at just 5 weeks and as a result wasnt fully developed mentally, China was his suragate mom, she showed him the ropes. He lived to meet people, he thought everyone should get to meet him tail wagging, he was a cutie.  We noticed his food anxiety a few months later, he would growl and stand over his food. He also would growl when we patted him at night on the couch, my wife said this wasnt good behavior. I said it was he was tired and didnt want to be touched. After playing in the yard one afternoon the UPS truck came up the hill, Cowboy and China hated that truck and she decided to get it but it got her. Buck was about one year and around 70lbs at this point. We were all very sad  and decided to rescue Django an English Lab for a playmate for Bucky. They never really bonded as we had hoped and Bucky was beginning to show his dominance at that point. Nothing really bad we thought at this point just normal male agressive behavior. While playing in the park with his buddies , one little un nutered dog pissed him off and he drew blood, had him in is mouth. Next he bit my daughters boyfriend, then me when i was just reaching to pat him. I scolded and forgave him and all seemed to be fine, he kept on getting more and more skittish and anxious though. He was scared of everything, couldnt come out of a room unless we put down a carpet for him to walk on. He stopped wanting to meet everyone, something was wrong, he wasnt as happy as he used to be. He loved to run, would beat everyone in the dog park with a big smile on his face as he raced around in circles, we lived to see  him enjoying life. He loved to go in our bedroom and look up the hill to see if his friends were up there playing.  We took them many places, they were our buddies. We planed our days around them.  He bit me a second time  just before Christmas last year when i was going to let him out the slider, I had to go to get stiches. He was 100 lbs at this point a big boy and it scared me for our and others saftey. 95 % of the time he was ok but skittish, it was the 5% that had us on needles. We contacted  a trainer who specialized in shepards, big dogs and his first statement was "wow he is big" , funny he didnt seem big to us, though we called him Big Buck or Mr. Buck. After 5 weeks of training they both returned, Buck wasnt as happy to see us as we were to see him. They said he was a very stubborn boy and had anxiety problems and we should put him on prozak. He tried to show afffection , would jump up on me for a lick and sit on my lap at night for licks and love. We noticed a change, he was better behaved but i was always afraid of when he was going to bite me again. My wife said he would put off vibes and she would get nervous. We were actually like prisoners in our own house. He snapped at me one morning and I corrrected him as the trainer said I should, didnt tell my wife. He had been more / nervous over the last few weeks, wouldnt come out of his crate after feeding, somthing wasnt right. Then Sunday April 10,  I took them both for their morning walk, Buck was smiling and running around the park having fun. We came in , I fed them.  He made his way out to the living room and I reached to pat him and he lunged at me un provoked , it wasnt Buck in his eyes. I tried to correct him and he continued to snarel and snap. I was so angry , hurt and sad because I knew what I had  to do. We spoke wih our trainer for his thoughts and he said it was for the best,  some cant be fixed no mater how hard you try. We did it right away knowing that we would have forgivin him and then lived in fear of the next time. We were there with him till the end, my wife daughter and me,  patting him and hopefully making his last moments easier. My wife said after the sedation shot he almost looked relieved. We only had him for 2.5 years, he will have us for a life time. Goodbye my Big Bucky, run around up there with China as fast as you can go. We will love you forever.


Denise
April 10, 2016

Last night our rescue Dalmatian, who shares a home with my husband, our 8 1/2 female dal and I, bit my husband on the side of the face. this occurred while we had an out of town guest. The dog has fear aggression and has bark and growled but has never snapped or attempted to bite prior to this. The dog was resting on the sofa and my husband laid down and got into the dogs face and the dog bit him, breaking the skin. I have been up most of the night, reading articles on aggressive behavior. I confess to blaming my husband for violating the dog's space but I realize that this should not have happened. This article has brought a level of clarity to me. It is a Sunday so I can not contact my vet will call on Monday and discuss the situation and options. He will be surprised because 6 months ago, he was so impressed by the dogs sweet disposition...


Sharon Quilter
April 9, 2016

We had to let Zane go today.  He mauled me and my husband this morning.  This is the fourth time he has bitten me and the second time he bit my husband.  Our hearts are shattered. He was a retired greyhound.  Gentle, right?  That is why we adopted one.  We struggled with his aggression for a full year.  We had a trainer come in to help us.  We took him to a behaviorist.  We had him on Prozac twice  a day and a tranquilizer at night.  But, he became more and more aggressive.  Each incident was more severe.  The mauling this morning was over a pack of fire starters he had stolen off our picnic table.  I have to keep that image of me fighting him off of me in order to stay sane.  Sometimes, we just cannot save them.  No matter how much we love them and take care of them.


Christie
April 7, 2016

Thank you so very much for you input, we have decided to go through with euthanizing him. Our hopes of him having a wonderful life for the next 15 years is just far too outweighed by the possibility of him killing or mauling someone and altering the rest of their life. My gut was to euthanize him thank you for reassuring me that I was making the right decision,


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
April 7, 2016

Christie, I have been in your position, wanting to believe that a dog that has bitten can be rehabilitated and safely rehomed, but the odds are not good.  So far, you are where I was, lucky that no one has been severely injured or killed. I cannot even imagine the anguish I would go through if a dog I had adopted out severely injured or killed someone.  I am not sure I would be able to forgive myself. If you have access to a veterinary behaviorist, they may be able to help you shed some light on the rehabilitation of this particular dog.  I personally think this dog is going to continue to bite and someone is going to get hurt, if not severely injured. I think you summed it up nicely in your last paragraph, how much money and time do you put into a dog that may be a ticking time bomb?  How many good dogs will go without time, attention, treatment for medical problems, because of the money tied up in this dog. I also think that adopting out an aggressive dog does nothing to help your rescue's reputation.  I for one would never adopt from a shelter or rescue that places animals that have a history of biting. I recently wrote an article about shelters adopting out aggressive dogs. Maybe some of the thoughts there will help you clarify your way forward. http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=7218009


Phyllis DeGioia
April 7, 2016

Hi Christie, I understand your feeling, but in my personal opinion the path is quite clear that this dog should not be adopted out again. The dog has bitten three children; you have provoked him purposely and he doesn't respond. That means, as you say, it is impossible to know what sets him off, which means the behavior is most likely going to escalate. This is difficult for those of us who love dogs with a passion and give the benefit of the doubt. After reading comments from others over the years about how the dog's aggressive behavior just kept increasing - as did my Dodger's - I am more fearful than ever about second chances that can allow serious damage to be done. I feel no one should spend lots of money and time on a difficult dog when those precious resources could be used to help a large number of highly adoptable dogs without aggression problems. Please read this article by Dr. Teri Oursler on the very topic we are discussing: rescue groups adopting out aggressive dogs, at http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=7218009.


Christie
April 6, 2016

We are on the fence about what to do with a dog currently at our rescue. The dog is only a year old was purchased from a pet store spent most of his life in a crate and was then surrendered to us. At our rescue he never expressed any aggressive behavior nor did his previous owner mention anything expect that she acted very strange and didn't say goodbye to him and never even look him out of his crate to unload him. We adopted him to a family with 3 kids age 3, 5 and 7 who doted on him and he doted on them. Then without warning he bit the 5 year old While she was petting him. The mom was watching and said the dog (whose name I am not giving to protect his family) didn't have a toy or bone and had been wagging his tail seconds before and seemed relaxed. The 7 year old then told the dog to be gentle and the dog turned and bit him in the face. Their were no punctures but the scratches from his teeth drew blood. It happened again a few days later with the three year old the child was walking and the dog was walking next to him. Suddenly the dog spun around and nipped the boys arm. Their were scratches from the teeth but no blood. The kids loved the dog and cried when I came to pick him up but the mom and I both agreed it was best for us to take him back. We have tired to figure out what makes him snap, we have felt him all over even tugged his ears and tail a bit. He doesn't appear food aggressive, so we are on the fence. We can't find the cause of his attacks so is it safe to adopt him out and write it off as a fluke or should we monopolize large amounts of time and money into rehabbing an unpredictable dog that may turn into a time bomb after we adopt him out thoughts?


Sue
April 3, 2016

Lisa B:  it has been 7 months since we had our two small dogs killed by our two aggressive dogs and we put the aggressive dogs down.  I still miss the dogs terribly.  I feel so guilty for the dogs that were killed, especially since the aggressive dogs killed another one our smaller dogs in November.  I feel so bad for the two dogs we had to put down.  I couldn't stop crying and became severely depressed.  I had to go on antidepressants and put on 20 pounds.  We stopped fostering dogs.  In December we adopted a small terrier from a shelter.  We now have 3 dogs, none are aggressive.  Life at our house is so much easier.  I no longer worry about a dog getting out to our backyard and killing one of our rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep or cats.  I know our grandkids are safe around our dogs.  But I think about the dogs we put down everyday and miss them.


Lisa D.
March 31, 2016

So it's been 6 months since I had to put my little girl down...and yes, I do have another (very mellow) girl, my heart still aches. And I still have regrets over my choice of euthanizing. Am I crazy? Normal?


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
March 29, 2016

Ms. Curtis, I would like to offer my congratulations to you on your upcoming baby. I also would like to tell you that you are living with a time bomb.  Using a shock collar on an aggressive dog will only make him worse.  He is already anxious and scared and finds that attack is the only way to feel safe, and now he is getting shocked by doing that.  One of these days he is going to snap, and the injuries will be serious, if not life-threatening given his breed and size. I wrote an article about this, and the behaviorists all agree, punishing an aggressive dog is the worst thing you can do.  http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&id=6503590  Please, please, for the sake of your family and your new baby, euthanize this dog. You will be ending his misery from being anxious and scared all of the time, and giving your baby the best chance to have a safe life.  Your baby is more important, as are you and your mother.


Dr. Tony Johnson
March 29, 2016

Ms Curtis: We are so sorry that you and your dog are going through this and we all feel for you as well as the dog. This is not a safe situation for you, your family or your child. Regardless of the breeding and his sad upbringing, this dog is dangerous and should not be in the home with a newborn under any circumstances. Since he has already bitten your mother, he isn't a good candidate for re-homing either, even to a child-free home. Please consider having him euthanized. In situations like this, human life, especially the life of an infant, has to take priority.  Using a shock collar for punishment is causing this already fearful, anxious dog more fear and anxiety in addition to pain.  The shock will cause him to shut down to avoid more pain and make the situation worse and the dog more dangerous. A shock collar will not keep your baby safe. Time will tell nothing other than this. -- Dr. Tony and the VetzInsight staff


Ms. Curtis
March 28, 2016

It took you a lot of courage to post your emotional story. I am sorry for your loss. I have a 94lbs pit bull who has been aggressive since day one. He has bitten multiple times. Poor breeding is to blame as he came from a backyard breeder. He has now started wearing a heavy duty shock collar as the last option since i am now 9 months pregnant and he attacked my mother today and has became very protective over me and my unborn child's crib. He bit my mom because of someone being at our door. He will not let anyone near our home or inside our home. He will bite you if you try to answer the door. He is fearful, but he is loving as well. This is our last option to keep him. So far, he has been very obedient since being shocked the first time. Only time can tell what will happen in the future.


Laren
March 20, 2015

I am so heartbroken , I can't go 30 minutes without thinking about having to put my boy Buddha to sleep. He is a pit,  I have 3  but the other 2 are nothing like him they love everyone . This is torturing me. This last Friday he bit my husband's nostril off, we were laying on the bed and Buddha was between us and Chris was loving on him, am bam out of no where he bit him. He has gotten so attached to me and doesn't want anyone around me. Buddha has always been different, we got him when he was 4 weeks old, and he will turn 6 this year. He has bitten my two little cousins , my daughter,  her friend and this is the 2nd  time for my husband . This is the worst bite, we just keep making excuses for him and then this. I am so torn, I know he needs to be put down. But it's killing me, when I got him I had just had a miscarriage and it was like he filled that void. He is like my son.  I don't know if I can end his life.. i know I wouldn't dare rehome him. And putting him on a chain would just be cruel. I can't stop crying , I feel horrible when he looks up at me with all the love in him for me, knowing that I am the one who has to decide his fate.


Butter's Mom
March 18, 2015

My sweet Butter has had her last chance this week. She has attacked my other dog multiple times. This time being the worst. Sassy had to go under anesthesia to have drains placed to keep the deep pockets from the attack from becoming infected. We rescued our Butter, a pit-mix, in 2008. Butter started taking a turn for the worse around 5 years ago. She started aggressively barking at small things like the toaster, the can opener, the food chopper, the kid's loud toys. Then her love for chasing bubbles turned into a possessive addiction that would cause her to attack the other dog. Then her anxiety when the neighbor mowed the yard would cause her to launch herself at the fence and when the other dog would get too close she would turn that aggression onto her. Twice she has put our other dog in the hospital. I am worried all the time. I worry that the only reason she hasn't attacked a child is because she has never had the chance to. She is never EVER alone with our children at any time...EVER! The aggression is getting worse. She lives in a constant state of anxiety and stress. She is so perfect 90% of the time but can turn down right violent for no reason at all. The attacks are getting more frequent. My toast popped up yesterday and she attacked Sassy. My husband and I have been in denial and should have put her down last time she put my Sassy in the hospital. I gave her one more chance...and it has been spent. She will be put to sleep and out of her anxiety tomorrow. Tears and guilt have taken over my body. However, if she had done to my kids, what she did to Sassy, the child would have died. I cannot take this risk any more. I am broken, but so glad I found this page. Thank you for your stories as they have brought me comfort. Butter will soon run free in a field of bubbles all her own.


Phyllis DeGioia
March 15, 2015

Courtney, It seems to me that you made a good, honest, expensive effort with Oscar. I understand how broken your heart is - more than most people - and I understand the emotional reaction to having a dog try to bite your face, much less accomplish it. Many of us do not have any idea how bad it has gotten until the worst happens, or what we perceive to be the worst. And it could certainly have been worse: I'm grateful he didn't harm a child, do more damage to you and your friend, or kill anyone. I do suggest, however, that you talk with the behaviorist about the concept of dogs and punishment. As to the critical friends and the rescue, it's simply not their decision to make nor their place to comment. I don't care what kind of contract you signed with the rescue, if they are gearing up to sue you, I presume that means they wanted to take the dog and get him into the "right" home, which doesn't exist for a dog who is 5 on a bite scale that tops out at 6. Please see a recent article we published called Adopting Out Aggressive Dogs at http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=7218009. No one should live with a dog that they are afraid of, nor should people have to plan out their daily lives around a dog's temperament. It's much harder than the usual loss of a deeply beloved pet because it's far more complicated. There's no two ways about that. My hope for you, Courtney, is that that big heart of yours will eventually welcome another dog who needs to a loving home, and who has a normal temperament. You'll be stunned at the difference it makes in the quality of your own life. My heart is with you.


Courtney
March 15, 2016

Thank you for your story. I've been searching for this. I recently had to euthanize my best friend, Oscar. He was just over 3 years old and I rescued him at 8 months old from a puppy mill. The rescue that he was originally from is in Taiwan. When he came to live with me, he was fear aggressive toward men. I thought for sure that I could either love or train the fear out of him, but it turns out that it wasn't possible. After years of training (and him always taking punishments and understanding that what he did was wrong), he finally drew blood. Before this he had always nipped and never broken skin. Just like you said, I didn't realize how serious it was until then. The day he drew blood, I brought him to the vet and also put him on Clomipramine. It seemed to make him more confused but helped with his separation anxiety. Last month, he bit my boyfriend. Then two days later he muzzle-punched his face. I then found the best behaviourist in town and asked him to help. We had an appointment for two days away. That night he attacked my friend and I... we both needed stitches in our faces. I really didn't have any idea how bad it was. Through talking with the behaviourist, I discovered that I had watched Oscar progress from a bite scale of 2 to a bite scale of 5. 6 is killing someone. I had no choice. My heart is so broken, and it feels like a lot of the good inside of me died that day. So many people have criticized me and it's just been so terrible. I've lost many friends over this. His rescue seems to be gearing up to sue me based on the contract that I signed 3 years ago. I'm also on the hook for my friend's plastic surgery. So after three years of unconditional love and so many thousands of dollars sunk into my best friend (and I mean he was my everything), I'm left with so much pain and guilt... a messed up face and a broken heart. Thank you for your article. It's nice to know that others have been through this. Nobody seems to understand why this is so much harder than losing a pet...making the decision to not let animal control take him.


Feeling At Ease
March 13, 2016

We took in an abandoned dog two years ago, because I knew that if the dog was taken to the shelter, he would be immediately euthanized.  Our animal welfare people work so hard, but the overpopulation results in many animals being euthanized.  He initially responded well to the fact that he was off the streets, well taken care of, socialized with our dog that we already had.  Basically he seemed happy and grateful to finally have a home.  We even started with training classes.  However, he never seemed to respond well with other dogs or people.  He would nip, bark, run at them, just overt aggression. The trainer indicated there was nothing she could do to rehabilitate him, and commended us for being willing to spend the time and money that we have to save him, but told us that she did not believe anything could be done to address his aggression.  We remained hopeful though, continued training him on our own, muzzled him when out in public, for safety's sake, etc.  In the last year, he has attacked our other dog several times, and has bitten my developed mentally disabled sister three times.  Once was extremely bad.  I decided that after this last bite, I have no choice but to ask my vet to euthanize him.  I hate doing it with all my heart, but if he were to bite my sister again, bite my niece or nephews, my mom, any other person, or even cause my other dog anymore pain, I would never be able to forgive myself ever again.  It's a hard choice, but I take comfort in knowing that at least for these few years, he has had a good life, nice home, full tummy and some really great memories.  I'll be sad to see him go tomorrow, but I'll be happy knowing everyone around me is safe, and having the opportunity to be there to rub his head as he passes away. I hope that dogs do go to heaven and that in his heaven he is able to find the peace that causes his aggression to disappear, and that one day I will get to see him again, toss him his favorite ball, play with his favorite tug toy, and hug him without fear. Thank you for your article.  It doesn't make tomorrow easier, but it does help me to realize my decision is for the right reasons, and that I haven't failed in spite of being unable to help him heal from his life prior to coming to our home.


Michelle
March 11, 2016

Thank you all for your stories.  I cannot believe that we are faced with this decision.  We adopted Peat 5 months ago.  She was 6 months old and had the sweetest disposition at the shelter.  We took her home and she fit right in.  She had fears of the car and stairs and entering buildings.  She was not friendly with other people or dogs, but she was great with my husband and I.  We worked with her to overcome her fears and she did great. She now jumps in the car, does not flinch at traffic, climbs stairs and can walk into a building.  We had her for 2 months and were thrilled with her progress. Christmas rolled around and my adult children came home to stay for a week.  Peat loved my daughter and hated everyone else.  I thought she was shy and new.  My son and his girlfriend breed, train and raise German Shepherds.  They told me that something was wrong with Peat.  She was biting all their ankles and hunkering around them, never engaging. We tried throwing treats and ignoring her to give her space.  After a week, everyone went home and Peat relaxed. My son told me again, and repeatedly, that she was going to bite someone and not to put my head in the sand.  I thought I could love her enough, and provide a secure home and training and she would be fine.  She seemed to calm down for a while, but could not be trusted with people in the house.  We put a sign on the door to ignore the dog, we put her on a leash whenever we had guests.  She seemed better.  We tried taking her off the leash after the guests had been in the house for a while.  She seemed fine with that. But each time someone turned to leave she would go for their feet.  We thought it was herding instinct because she wasn't using her teeth, yet.  She has been in training for over 2 months, doing well at home, but nervous in class.  The last 2 classes, though, she entered the room and started barking and lunging for the other dogs.  She refused to heel or "leave it".  She was out of control and bit both of my ankles in rapid succession.   She did not break the skin, but it hurt.  It was not an accident, it was not herding.  I took her for the class this week.  We arrived a little early to get her comfortable and to try and avoid the problem of the week before.  She seemed calm, but when the other dogs came in, she started barking and lunging again.  When I tried to walk with her, I felt her go behind me to bite my ankles and I quickly pulled the leash to the side, avoiding the bite.  But she would have bitten me.  This is a dog that loves me, follows me everywhere, stays in our property line off-leash, runs and plays in the forest with other dogs, comes when called 4 out of 5 times. She fetches the ball and helps drag branches to the compost.  Then again, she gets over excited at times and leaps at our faces. Once she knocked a contact lens out of my eye.  And many times, hits us hard enough in the face that we think we might bruise.  We thought that was playfulness.  My son told me that she's getting more dangerous and that someone was going to get hurt.  He said that we could try meds and behavior modification, but that the biting would always be there.  We would have to keep her leashed and away from guests and be watchful for ourselves at home. Or we should do the right thing for ourselves and others and euthanize her.  I am sick.  I love  Peat. How can I possibly do this? I could throw up. I have customers coming to my house all the time. I have family walking in.  I am nervous now for myself. Re-homing would be irresponsible. I know what we need to do, but I can't face it yet. Reading all the stories here is helping. I've spent many sleepless nights and feel like I will throw-up.


Belle City Girl
February 26, 2016

This is for lost. I've had dogs, usually more than one at a time, my whole life. When a dog has bitten multiple times, especially family members, the animal has put you as the pet owner on notice and you are responsible. Do not ignore it. It is an accident waiting to happen. My values are that human safety comes first (sorry dog lovers who feel your dog's priorities come first). I was bitten by a dog last weekend who had bitten it's owner multiple times. I have 3 puncture wounds to show for it. IT IS NOT OK TO MAKE CHOICES ON BEHALF OF OTHERS BECAUSE THE PET OWNER WANTS TO FOCUS ON THE 80% GOOD BEHAVIOR. I've only had to euthanize one dog for aggression issues -- we spent thousands of dollars in training, drugs, and doggie psycho-therapists. It was heartbreaking, but I gave it my all and I know it was the right thing. The person whose dog bit me last weekend refuses to take it seriously and says that's just the way the dog is. I am sad to say we will never be close again because of the difference in values and I hope nothing serious happens. Do everything you can and if the aggression persists, make the hard choice especially if it's a large breed that can do some damage.


Anik Iwanowsky
February 24, 2016

I had to euthanize my dog Cairo yesterday because he had seizure and attacked my kids. Thankfully, my oldest son stop him. Nobody was hurt. He was very very sick. He had valley fever and it got to his brain.  We could not do anything. The medication did not work for him. We tried everything. I feel guilty that I could not save him. You really helped me. I can' t stop crying and I miss him so much. Thanks for your blog. Thanks for your help.


Phyllis DeGioia
February 22, 2016

Nancy, you are a good, kind person. I wish there were more folks like you. Thank you for taking such good care of him.


Nancy
February 22, 2016

I agreed to foster my "special needs" dog because I thought I could help him and do a good deed. He was special needs due to aggression.  The rescue agency had had him for a year and mine is his fourth foster home.  He's bitten three people in the 2 months I've had him.  Both a behaviorist and a vet have recommended euthanasia.  So I adopted him just so I could give him a gentle death in the presence of someone who loves him.  Tomorrow is the day.  My heart is breaking, but it is helpful to know I'm not the only one in this awful position.


Tina Vandergriff
February 16, 2016

Hi Steph, is his cancer treatment supported by hormone therapy?  Please consider this as the culprit for the behavioral change during his next onc visit along with seeking out an alternative support.  Thank you for your brave post.


Judy
February 12, 2016

My adult son is currently struggling with the decision to euthanize one of his two dogs.  She has never shown aggression toward any human, but 2-3 years ago we suspect that she was involved in the injury of one dog.  Other dogs were present, but she was the new variable in the mix.  She had never before been dog aggressive.  Just a few months ago we know that she and a dog I was trying to nurse back to health were seen by my neighbor tugging on and shaking one of my dogs, whom she and/or the other dog killed.  Another of my dogs was killed within two days.  No witnesses there.  The other dog has since died, despite my efforts to save his health.  Just a couple of days ago, my son took his dog to his boss's house, which he's done many times.  Unfortunately, the boss's small dog went in the back yard with my son's dog, nipped at my son's dog legs, and was then bitten on the neck and shaken so badly that areas of his neck muscles had to be stitched back in place.  My son feels, and I agree, that the only reasonable thing to do is to have her euthanized.  Your article and the comments from other pet owners have helped me as we have wrestled with this decision.


Lost
February 10, 2016

My dog has bitten 3 people in a month. I want to make excuses but what if it's a family member next? 1 was the delivery guy. 1 was a guy who put away his food during a day with 5 employees around  (always was OK with other employees) (except this employee who me and my partner are aggressive towards...) and another employee we are aggressive towards as well (literal leeches of our lives...they are both never employed for a reason and would be homeless if not for us as we provide a place to stay as we are very generous people and can relate to hardship). He was trying to retrieve my dog when he got out of the fence, grabbed him by the collar, he growled, employee hit him on the nose and grabbed his collar again and then my baby felt the need to defend himself. Add one non spayed puppy added to mix that he absolutely adores.let's her take a bone out of his mouth and everything  (let's me and my parents take bones and toys without any protests or growls). We are going back to basics obedience and have rehomed him on my parents ranch until my home business is moved to a commercial location but they are crating him 24/7 and not socializing him and I'm afraid his behavior is going to get worse. Behaviourist stopped by and got him to follow basic obedience and we told her our plan to start back to basics and she agreed it's the best for him and he can be managed. Never once turned on me or my parents even when we were splitting up the biting incidents . Growled at me on accident (only the literal second time since I adopted him when he was 12 weeks and I blame myself since I was pushing him off the bed and brushed his junk/accidentally alpha rolled). Immediately showed submissive signs after the growl and felt like he showed regret no punishment I issued the off command and ignored him and he was not allowed on the bed but his own dog bed. Many behaviourists I have talked say that we are doing the right thing .. but I'm so afraid after reading this post and comments he's going to inevitably turn on me or even worse my family at one point...even though he hasn't shown any aggression except for that one accidental growl. I can control him on walks with a harness and common sense and training but my parents are stubborn and believe they know everything and he is a big dog so when they walked him in public theye lost control and he jumped on someone twice  (no bites tail wagging grunting noise. . Excitable greeting ) however they refuse to continue exposing him and socializing him so his behaviour will get worse. I am trying to manage 2 businesses and teach my parents basic dog training and it's getting too hard to manage. They ignore my saying to bring treats and reward him every time he focuses on them instead of a stranger and cant associate strangers with pleasant experiences now. I am so afraid they will make him worse and then he will turn on them as that seems to he inevitable. I am so lost and heartbroken and he is a 120 lb mastiff that can do a lot of damage but I know he can be managed but just feel so lost and alone about it. Will I have to euthanize him due to aggression? He is turning 4 in a month and I would appreciate any advice.


CML
February 8, 2016

I'm another person that rarely comments on online articles, but that second to last paragraph about your fear of choosing another aggressive dog was so relatable, I had to post. We are currently struggling with the decision to put down our loving, cuddly 6 year old mutt. He's perfect with us, but totally unpredictable with non-residents. Not even strangers anymore. He's started going after people he's been fine with in the past. It's been extra difficult because I have experience working with wild canids and shelter dogs, so I feel like I should be able to help him. I love my dog like he is any other member of my family, but he put someone in the hospital and has a history of escalating bites that started as nips. He's starting to target faces too, which is terrifying. I don't want him to be responsible for the face biting situation you described. I don't want him to mutilate someone, and I'm convinced he might if he ever got out. It's so hard to make this decision because what if we are able to manage him for the rest of his life and he never gets out when we don't want him to? Or what if he sneaks out an ajar door and rips a kid's face off? The what-ifs are killing me. But that second to last paragraph is something I've thought about too. My parents suddenly lost an old dog and are going to want my help picking out a new one. I'm so scared of ending up with another aggressive dog. I'm really sorry you had to go through all this. I'm fortunate my dog has never even raised a lip at any of us, but I've seem him turn into a monster toward strangers and I can't overlook that. Thank you for the post, it helps to hear about other dog owners who tried to do everything right but had to make that hard choice.


Steph
February 6, 2016

I am a very shy poster, but I wanted to thank everyone that has taken time to write and be so very honest about their situations.  I have a 7-8ish year old Airedale/Coonhound mix rescue that was diagnosed with aggressive canine melanoma in Jan 2015. We have a wonderful veterinary teaching hospital just 40 miles away and we began a melanoma vaccine and chemo to which my dog had a great response.  Our dog was in a metro no-kill shelter for 5-8 weeks before we adopted him in early 2011.  He had some behavior quirks (loathes motorcycles, brooms & mops, and is wary around other dogs) but we took him to obedience classes and worked on triggers with a seasoned professional that taught the classes.  Five years ago and as recently as 18 months ago, our dog could tolerate being in a training class with 6 other strange dogs or going to the vet's office and sitting nicely in a waiting room. We traveled frequently because my husband's father was in hospice and our pet sitters said that while he was full of energy, he was still a gentleman and they were amazed at the change in him from the first time we brought him home. We had careful rules with strangers and an 8 foot fence. We have two other dogs (Cairn terriers) that he adores, allows them to take his food and his bones, and sleep on top of him. He's clearly the omega dog in our house. However, within the last 12 months, we have seen a gradual escalation in aggression and now he has to be muzzled any time we take him out of the house or yard. We don't go on outdoor walks anymore. At first we thought it was the numerous vet visits, blood draws and testing that was causing him anxiety, but today he bit me in a crazy rage, lightly, but still drew blood on my wrist, just by hearing the jingle of another dogs collar. It's like a switch flips and he just zones out into a kill or be killed scenario. My husband has had to nearly sit on a 75lb ball of berserker fury while getting bitten if his body got in the way of the mouth.  This was after the vet staff walked him in a back door at my request to avoid other dogs.  The teaching hospital had a special tech that worked wonders with him and she would move him away from other dogs.  Now we can't go into the door of any vet office without him going entirely crazy or requesting special accommodation.  Our local vet is a big dog lover (Great Danes) and an emergency specialist, so she has an enormous amount of patience with large, traumatized, snappy dogs. I crate him at home and cover it with a blanket in a closed room when we have repairmen or visitors that are unknown to the family.  We have no children and we have none over to visit.  I LOVE this dog and have spent thousands treating his cancer because his quality of life has been quite good.  Fortunately, I am at a place in my life where I can choose to spend that money and I would never judge anyone that couldn't, but now I know that I will probably have to euthanize him for his increasingly aggressive behavior before the cancer kills him and the guilt is crushing me.  We are moving to a new metro area in a few weeks where we will have to live in very dense townhouses in close proximity to other dogs and my stomach was turning at thinking of how to avoid issues of a new situation and a new vet (all major dog stressors).  I realized that I was NOT afraid of him, but I was afraid of his behavior and what he might do and would he bite or nip a vet or technician, another dog, or another person. I keep wondering if the treatments we opted for or the cancer itself changed his brain chemistry.  His blood work is great and he checks in with a vet every 3-4 weeks (local and teaching hospital)  The comments and linked articles have been great to help me try to let go of the guilt--still trying to get past the wishful thinking (if I had tried harder, trained more, spent more time, etc). My head knows I am making the responsible choice but my heart wants to know how I can make the choice to end the life of the dog I love like a child before the cancer does, even though my head tells me his cancer is terminal and we've been on borrowed time for so long already.  Something is clearly wrong with his behavior.  I think that it is has been incrementally changing, but I've been willfully ignoring it and making subtle adaptations to where I didn't realize how far it had gone. I had a meltdown in the vet's office today when a dog accidentally got out of an exam room when my dog was walking by for his blood draw. There was not an incident, but I realized I was holding my breath in fear. I knew when I burst into tears (I am not a crier at all) with the vet tech and was feeling enormous anxiety just by being in the vet's office with him and lots of other strange dogs that there was clearly a problem.   I've only ever had to put an animal to sleep because they were dying or at the end and this is so different. I've already gone through a box of Kleenex this afternoon and I found it is possible to completely cry off waterproof mascara and eyeliner. But I feel like I am not alone anymore and I'm not a wicked, horrible lazy human that failed with her rescue dog. It only hurts every time my dog looks at me with those big eyes that sucked me in the first time. Thank you the author and everyone who shared the rawness, fear, and guilt over a decision like this.  I felt  completely alone in this situation. This has given me some tools to cope.


Beth
February 5, 2016

I am so sorry for your loss. I have never had to put a dog down before but we used to have a dog that was abused and she was never aggressive, she coward instead and would run from us and pee whenever she got scared. It took months to earn her trust and we had to watch our tone. I understand that putting a animal down can be the same as losing an animal because there was a safety issue so you had to put them down even if you love them. It's also a liability issue too. Our next door neighbors had a dog that was aggressive and he bit my brother one day. Nothing happened and that dog was always leashed in the front yard so all we had to do was not go by that house when he is in the yard and we would walk in the street or go to the other side to avoid the animal. It was a tiny poodle and that dog gave me dog trauma for a while because I thought they were all mean animals. I couldn't even go near a dog thinking it will bite me.


Dani
February 3, 2016

Thank you for writing this. We are going through the same issue. Our five year old yellow lab has bit a neighborhood girl, lunged at people, attacked another dog and just this week bit my husband. I feel somehow we are to blame but he has been this way since he was 12 weeks old when he attacked a litter mate. While talking to a local dog trainer, we found out that there have been several dogs in his line of breeding that were aggressive. Does anyone feel like somehow the way they trained their dog attributed to aggressive behavior?


Gina D
January 27, 2016

We had to euthanize our beautiful 3 year old shar pei yesterday for severe anxiety and aggression. He bit me, he bit my 3 year old, he bit my 13 year old dog.  He also had severe medical issues including shar pei auto inflammatory disease, no working thyroid, and list goes on and on...  We went to the behavior clinic at Tufts vet, we went to a specialty vet who deals with shar pei fever.  We tried every med, every behavior technique.  If loved could have saved him, he would have lived forever.  My pain is visceral and awful.  My guilty is overwhelming. He wasn't happy, I wasn't happy, my children were not safe. It was one of the worst decisions we have ever had to make. I wish it on nobody. He was a a good boy, and I am so glad he is at peace for the first time in his life. These stories resonate with me. Prayers for all of us.


Mary
January 27, 2016

This morning our Raina (border collie) went for her last romp through the forest. :( She was nearly 5 years old. She loved wearing an apron as a dress, always wanted me to share my perfume with her and was the most intelligent animal I'd ever known. She had progressively become aggressive, a gradual but consistent behaviour that finally became a nightmare. As the tears fall I want to say, we must do what we must do. If your dog is aggressive and the behaviour continues, it will only get worse with time. Yes, Raina was loving, yes she was delightful, yes she was vicious. Goodbye my beautiful lady Raina.


Rick
January 26, 2016

"Bruno” Adopted into our Home on 11/14/15 Died 1/22/2016 I know that you didn’t want to bite me.  I don’t take it personally.  I just think that’s how you had learned to deal with life. You were a good boy and your heart was true. But security, joy and happiness were apparently fleeting things to you.  You never really appeared to feel safe and secure, no matter how much reassurance and love we tried to give to you. And you responded to your anxieties in the only way you knew. Had you experienced past abuses and cruelty in your short life that you did not deserve?  Had you learned not to trust the world and the people in it?  We will never know, because you could not tell us.  We suspect it was so. But now you are free from anxiety, fear, and suffering. No more need to hide, growl, bite, or to live in a cage. We had wanted it to work out for all of us when we took you into our home and into our life. We had great expectations, but they weren’t to be.  We do hope that you enjoyed a good life while you were with us, even if it was for such a little while.  We want you to know that we had truly come to love you during these past short two months.   We did the best that we could, but sometimes love does not conquer all.  I’m sorry I didn’t get to say good-bye. Rest in peace little friend…


Laura Crandall
January 25, 2016

I'm closing in on the third anniversary of my dog's death.  I'd had him since he was a puppy.  He was a normal and delightful young dog. However, he started to have some odd aggressive outbursts. Initially no one was injured.  I was lucky to be able to afford a full physical and blood work and a behavioral vet.  Besides trying medication, she also had me start a journal of his behavior.  She diagnosed him with idiopathic aggression and we medicated him. He was a wonderful dog most of the time.  However, I never could get a handle on triggers.  Finally he attacked my leg one day.  The attack was silent and serious.  He was on a leash so I could pull him back a bit, but when I would try to walk, my arm would come down closer to my body and he would go for my leg again.  He never redirected towards my arm when I pulled him back.  He was totally focused on my leg.  I realized I couldn't keep myself and the other dogs safe and maintain a quality of life for him.  Luckily his last day was a very good day.  I did some clicker training in the vet's office and when he was sedated, she let me hold him and cry for quite a while before our final goodbye.  I feel for anyone who has to make this decision.  I'm so glad my vet kept saying "He looks healthy, but he is not."


Diana
January 17, 2016

 I cannot begin to tell you how much this article has helped me tonight.  I am still struggling with the heartache of losing my darling girl.  She was beside me every moment of the day while I was at home.  I am wrestling with the guilt of deciding to put her to sleep.  I had just come to the conclusion that I had made the wrong decision. That any life that I didn't knowingly end would be better than this Hell I am living in.  This article helped me to begin to see the bigger picture.  Grief is so complex.  I had no idea that I would feel so raw and tortured about my decision to put my girl to sleep after she bit my husband in his face.


Kelsie
January 17, 2016

Hi there. Reading this is helping me a lot. I got my dog, Spencer, a beautiful black lab/husky mix when he was just a baby. I actually traded an old boyfriend for him...he was perfect. I had him socialized to the point that he would lay down in PetCo and let other dogs smell his belly. Then, one night when Spencer was about 3, I was taking him for a walk. My neighbor at the time trained police dogs, and two german sheppards came racing out of the yard. They had the attack part down, but hadn't yet gotten to the "back off" part. I thought Spencer and I were both going to be seriously hurt, but the neighbor was there almost as fast as the dogs. Now, four years later Spencer is extremely protective of me. He's fine when I take him to doggie day care, but the second I show up he goes into extreme protective mode. He's bitten several people, including a delivery man (thankfully his jacket kept him from breaking the skin), one of my mother's friends, my sister's boyfriend, and a couple of other people. He's attempted to lunge after many more. He did bite me once, but that was accidental. The only person I don't have to worry about him hurting is me -- if he ever does he gets so guilty he won't even touch me. So now here I am. Spencer its perfect when it's just me. He's mellow and sweet and house trained. I can't have visitors because I have no idea how he will react. I can't take him anywhere because he'll go crazy. I've tried to reach out to trainers but there aren't any in the area and none that I've been able to find
that are willing to work with an aggressive adult dog. Like the article said, I feel like I have to put him down. I know that he's dangerous and it's my responsibility. I'ev been hoping something would happen and he would just die on his own, and that thought alone makes me feel like a terrible person.


Pam
January 16, 2016

I've lurked, if you will, for some time since finding this support group.  I have a lot of experience in fostering goldens, golden mixes and labs.  When a young scared golden/chow mix showed up at our local shelter, I asked a rescue to do a courtesy pull for me....because I knew that once his heartworms were treated, I could work with Bing's fear issues.  The only info that I knew was that he was trapped in a not-so-nice area of town.  The way he gives paw when he sits tells me that at some point, someone taught him that.  But he lacks social skills and since losing my two labs 3 months apart last year, his resource guarding toward my golden mix Farley and outright prey-driven frenzies have increased.  He has broken all the walk-through dog doors in the house.  I've had to reinforce fencing as he has tried numerous times to get to dogs or cats in adjoining yards.  He literally zones out and I think all he sees is what he perceives as an intruder or prey.  He has never been anything but devoted to me but to a fault.  Two years later, no one can get near him.  I can't go anywhere because I fear he would attack friends if they tried to take him out of the crate.  I can't take my little golden mix Farley anywhere....Bing has broken out of the crate from separation anxiety.  He has never bitten anyone but I've gone to extreme measures to make sure he didn't have the opportunity.  I've done everything *right*....but things are still terribly wrong.  We've ruled out thyroid based aggression, his bloodwork is stellar.  He's a drop dead gorgeous deep red color, but I think there are demons inside that could burst out.  I do have a force-free trainer coming out for an evaluation this week, and I do have two phone consults set up with a behaviorist out of state.  But in my heart I feel that I am simply prolonging the inevitable.  I have lost 22 dogs and 4 cats in the past 13 years and the thought of having his beautiful trusting face looking up at me as I end his life is more than I can almost bear.  Please know I'll come back and share.  I'm hoping for a miracle but realistically I'm pretty sure I will have to find a way to live with myself if I have to send him to the Bridge.  Thank you for your shoulders.  This plain sucks.


Amerika H.
January 14, 2016

Wow. Just Wow......I needed to read this and about 30 of the comments that followed. :/ I've been going through some problems with my 7 year old dachshund. He was born deaf and I've had him since 8 weeks, met him when he was 6 weeks. It was love at first sight. He grew up with 2 other doxies and he's always been a barker and "anti/social" like a lot of other people he was my baby. My best friend. I spoiled him beyond belief. I will openly confess that he never really liked people but to me that never mattered. He had me and that's all her needed (yes I have blamed myself for this....I should have pushed for more socializing but I didn't, can't change that now) problem now is that I have two little girls, 2 year old and 5 months. He still doesn't like anyone except me or my husband but even my husband gets growled at here and there. He bit our neighbor 3 years ago but she wasn't upset since she's a dog person and back then I didn't have my daughter so I didn't think much of it. Fast forward to today, he's lunged at 2 other people and big their clothes not that he wouldn't have gone deeper. He barks, growls, bites our nice golden retriever, lunges at anyone and anything and I DO NOT trust him with my daughters alone. I keep reading about triggers and the thing is he doesn't like anyone or anything. Some dogs I see are cautious with men, mine doesn't like men, women, children, other dogs. He is very food motivated, we have to watch him because he will eat his food then push the bigger dog out of the way. I'm scared he would go after my daughter while she has food in her hands. He's been on meds, I've called trainers but since there are kids in the home they won't work with him (maybe because they don't want to be liable if he was to bite after, not sure) I've had nights where I just cry because I blame myself for his behavior but I also don't think it's fair he has to be crated EVERYTIME anyone comes over. Reading this article not only made me feel better about what I think is in the close future but also helped me understand that maybe there's just something not right in his head and that maybe he's also not happy. He licks everything, his paws, the carpet (I think he smells leftover crumbs) the dish washer, the blankets...its just constant licking. The list could go on and on but from all the comments I've read I've just come to think this isn't a healthy living situation for anyone involved and I don't want to wait until one of my daughters needs stitches or is scarred and scared for life of dogs. �� Thank you everyone for your comments they've really helped me.


Phyllis DeGioia
January 11, 2016

Hi Cheryl, I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. It is a terrible thing to be afraid of your own dog, and I was too. A bite to the bone is completely unacceptable. Do I understand correctly that all of these bites occurred within a short time frame, as in the last few months, and he was fine all those years before he became 10? If so, it's time for a full medical checkup. That is the first place to start. If all the incidents have been within a short, recent timeframe, pain is a likely culprit. Much of your eventual decision depends on his physical health, as there are many unviewable health issues that could cause short-term aggression. Please write back and keep us posted. My heart is with you.


Cheryl Godinez
January 11, 2016

Thank you so much for sharing.  We have a ten year old Boston who has always been the sweetest goof ever.  He has started growling when we interrupt his sleep, he growled at my niece who was simply petting him, and bit me three times with the one on Christmas Eve being a really bad bite that needed stitches but I was afraid to get them because they would quarantine Rocky.  Right before he bit me he went after our female and bit her but she got away.  Last night he was in bed with us and I started talking to him softly to move him over gently and he bit me again!!!  No blood this time but it is breaking my heart.  AS much as I love him, I will not take a change that he will bite one of my grandchildren or even one of us again.  My confusion comes from not understanding why he has become so angry.  He is not ill (minus occasional ear infections which he allows me to clean his ears and us his meds), he is not loosing weight and I am sure at ten he has some arthritis issues but he doesn't seem horribly stiff, or anything else. My husband wants to try to work with him some more but I am frankly afraid of him.  The one bite went to my bone and he tried to come after me again when I tried to close his crate door.  Just at a loss.  My mind wants me to be responsible as far as my kids, grandkids and everyone else goes.  My heart wants to believe he can be re-directed.  Leaning towards having to let him go.


Beau
January 9, 2016

Thanks for your article. We are in the process of making similar decision to those described here. We love our dog Miles and he loves us dearly. His aggression is escalating and yesterday he bit our housekeeper and punctured her hand. It took nearly a minute for my husband to pry his jaws off of her hand. he has always been areas ice with strangers at the door and has snapped a few times at strangers/guests in our home who he seemed to be fearful of. He has been nothing but loving with us but I fear that he could snap like some of turnstones I've seen here. The risk seems to much for us to take. Can dogs who have bitten this severely be rehabilitated? It seems there is a huge risk this could happen again. My heart and soul is heavy with this decision. Thanks for hearing my story


Diana
January 7, 2016

Hi - thank you SO much for sharing this - I am sorry for your pain and loss.  I had to euthanize my dog in the last hour.  While she was not aggressive to the point of what you endured, she definitely was heading that way.  "Unprovoked growing" is the term for her, I guess you would say.  Then the snapping came. Then the actual going to nip at everybody and the other pets....UGH - so hard.  This is a 9-year-old dog that we adopted from another family 1-1/2 years ago.  We really do not know her history much, but was told she had a very bad early life (whatever that means).  Anyway, I have wrestled with this decision.  She had an enormous amount of connection to me, but as much attention and love I would give her, it still got worse for others in the household and visitors. Okay - well, I am still in the guilty phase, but coming across your article and the other posters is helping.  I am comforted that others understand.  Thank you again.


Pamela Wright
January 6, 2016

Thank you so much for this article. I have a Weimaraner that we rescued 2 years ago.  We have doted on him and given him the best home ever.  Over the past 2 years he has mauled 5 dogs and killed my Dad's dog.  Last night he mauled an Australian Sheppard, fortunately that dogs came away with several lacerations and left me with a $500.00 vet bill.  I can no longer risk this type of thing happening again.  I am utterly heartbroken but we have no choice but to euthanize.  My husband is fighting me every step of the way and wants to "rehome" him but I think that would be very irresponsible.  Your article has helped more than you can imagine.  I will never get over this, it's so sad.


Michael Robbins
January 6, 2016

I would like to just say Thank You! No need to go into details on my heartbreaking situation, you already know them. There is a certain amount of self loathing that I'm experiencing stemming from bringing my Oscar to be put down, and reading your story is helping me with that.


Phyllis DeGioia
January 3, 2016

Anna - You are welcome, and I can't tell you how much it means to me to know this piece has helped bring someone peace. It's a profoundly difficult situation. Please take care of yourself. My heart is with you.


Phyllis DeGioia
January 3, 2016

Hi Barbara, I'm so sorry to hear of your experience and losses, both your beloved dog and your finger. That makes  me so sad. To know you lost it. As I mentioned in the article, I said to the vet that I couldn't believe I had just put down a healthy  nine-year old dog, and she said "If he was healthy, you wouldn't be here." She is right. There is illness of body, and illness of mind and/or spirit. I know how much it hurts, and what it feels like. Time will help, but in the meantime, please take care of your spirit as well as your body. My heart is with you.


Anna
January 3, 2016

Thank you for the first moment of peace I have had since putting my baby down 2 days ago. We tried everything- trainers, etc. He just bit too many people and the last one was so aggressive it sent the guy to the ER. It was too unpredictable.  I'm trying to accept that he's at peace now but I can't stop crying. He was so sweet with the people he loved, but he could snap so easily even if he had been good with the person before. RIP sweet boy. Thank you for all those who have commented and thank you for sharing this article.


Barbara Daniels
January 2, 2016

Thank you so much for this article.  Nearly 18 months ago, we rescued a dog - he had been abused, was emaciated and was "a walking worm" per our vet.  My students wanted to see him live, and raised money to pay for his vet expenses.  We knew that he had been trained to fight, but he was really a lover.  We had worked with him, he had come so far and became such a sweetheart. Unfortunately, there were still "triggers" that would cause him to get aggressive.  He injured our other dogs and bit me pretty seriously a few times. This morning, something triggered him again and he took my finger off. We knew that there weren't really many options left for my sweet boy, and we made the choice to euthanize him this morning.  It was the most painful thing to do because I knew that he was really a lover, but had been trained to fight when he was younger...something that we had worked so hard on getting out of him.  We just didn't know when the "next" time would be. I am definitely struggling with the fact that I put down a healthy, loving dog, but am comforted by your article, in knowing that there are many others out there that have had to face the same issues. R.I.P. Ricky - Thank you for loving me so much!


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
December 31, 2015

Dear Jean, I'm so sorry you find yourself in this situation.  As you can see by this thread, you are not alone.  Your first question "Do veterinarians euthanize aggressive dogs," leads me to think that your first step should be to schedule a consultation and examination with your veterinarian.  That way you can get a clearer picture on whether medication or behavioral modification could help or if there is a medical reason for your dog's behavior (such as pain).  I think this is a good idea not only for your dog's well-being, but also for your own peace of mind.  The answer is yes, many veterinarians will euthanize dogs for aggression, but most prefer to have a lengthy consultation with the owner first.  Euthanasia is an important veterinary service, but it's emotionally challenging for the veterinarian as well as for the pet owner.  You also ask "Is euthanizing him the right thing to do?"  Without knowing your dog, and your situation, I can't answer that.  But I will say that for me, placing human safety first feels most ethical.  I say that as a veterinarian and a mother.  But what is right for me may not be right for everyone else.  Ultimately, only your family can make this decision, but I think that it's clear that some action does need to be taken. The current situation sounds burdensome for you, dangerous for other people including your children, and not conducive to a good quality of life for your dog.  I'm so sorry for your dilemma and hope you can work with your veterinarian toward a solution whether it be treatment or euthanasia.


Jean
December 30, 2015

I am in desperate need of help & guidance.  My husband & I are at a loss of what to do.  We have a very aggressive dog & nothing we have done for 6 months has helped, it is only getting worse. He is 110% affectionate, loving, trusting, everything of myself & my husband, but only the two of us. He has bit my 12 year old son & other dogs. He lunges at anybody & everybody & nearly attacked my neighbor. It was only by the grace of God that someone when I literally dove after him my hand went under his collar & my neighbor was able to get away. We can have no one & I mean no over. We cannot take him anywhere at all. And when my sons are here which is of course a lot (half the time) then he has to be either crated or locked in our room.  I refuse to have animal control take him because they will do not treat aggressive dogs kindly & would keep him for 72 hours before euthanizing him. To me that is not okay. My questions are;  do veterinarians euthanize aggressive dogs?  Is euthanizing him the right thing to do?   My heart is so broken & heavy. I have cried for days since his last attack. He's laying on me cuddled up as I type this & he's just so sweet, to me. But as an adult, parent, aunt, animal lover, & reptile rescuer I cannot risk him getting loose & severely or even fatally injuring someone or even animal. Please, I beg you all for your honest thoughts & guidance. :-(((((((


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
December 30, 2015

Dear Connie, I am so sorry to hear about Roaree.  I don't know the circumstances surrounding your decision, but it sounds like it was the right choice for you and yours.  You may find comfort skimming through these comments (over 500 now!) full of people who have been faced with the same wrenching decision and pain.  It's never easy losing one of our non-human family, and when we have to make the decision to let go of one to preserve the safety of the others it's even harder.  Please be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to grieve.


Connie
December 29, 2015

I had to euthanize my beloved dog Roaree on Saturday, the day after Christmas this past weekend!  I am so sad and confused and emotional. I am looking for a support system and confirm that I did the right thing.  I am just tired of feeling sad and wondering all those what-if scenarios.  Thanks for any help. Connie


KR
December 26, 2015

My husband is his favorite person, and when he's not home, the dog sulks in a dark bedroom all day long, refusing to eat or interact with anyone else who is home at the time.  He growls at me if I go into the room to check on his, showing his teeth & doing a deep growl.  He's also growled & snapped at my husband at times, but never bitten him.  He'll come & seek out attention from us, then growl at us when we pet him. He's bitten me twice, all serious bites that resulted in broken skin & puncture wounds.  Once when he wouldn't get off the bed, one when I petted him.  He's tried to bite me other times but missed. He's attacked one of my other dogs four times & last night we ended up at the emergency vet.  My other dog needed stitches.  The other dog simply walked by him & the aggressive dog attacked, latched on to the non-aggressive dog's head!  This is how he's attacked the non-aggressive dog in the past, always out of the blue!  I have a third dog who's been attacked twice by the aggressive dog without injury. We've decided enough is enough; I'm calling our vet Monday to have the aggressive dog put to sleep.  His behavior has become more erratic and I'm not willing to risk living with what appears to be a mentally ill dog anymore.  He's only about five years old, but no rescue will take him & I couldn't risk rehoming him.  I wish there was another way.


Phyllis DeGioia
December 21, 2015

Tracy, I asked a veterinary behaviorist if there was anything specific with English setters, and she said she'd never heard of English Setters having any particular issues. My heart aches for you, and I'm sorry that he bit your face so much - can't imagine how much that hurts. Very thankful your eye is intact. I didn't have my face in his either, although he lunged for my face on stairwell. I imagine that proximity is the reason for face bites, and giving a belly rub on the couch places your face in close proximity, just as mine was aligned with his when I went up the very steep stairs.  I also agree that feeling positive about ending his mental suffering is an appropriate reaction. Please take care of yourself.


Tracy
December 21, 2015

I've come across your article after googling 'English Setter Attack'. I had to know if this was common as just tonight, I was attacked by my Mason. He is an English Setter my husband and I reached back in May of this year. When I first met him, he stole my heart. It was like he knew he was going home with me. He seemed to get along well with my Bluetick Coonhound, Lady Bird. He was affectionate and cuddly. Always seemed happy. Some times however, . He wanted alone time. We respected that, and left him be. Recently, his behave became peculiar. I can't quite explain. It was just off. Something was different. He still had more normal moments that peculiar...so we just worked with him to make him comfortable. Our plan was if it didn't change in a week or two, we'd take him to his vet. Well, as off tonight we never had that opportunity. My Mason attacked me. He bit and latched onto my face and would not let go until my Lorie savior, Lady Bird, came to my rescue. She began going after him to, so it seemed, divert his attention away from me. It worked, he let go, but not without one more bite to my hand. After that, he went after her. Trying to chase her down and attempting to bite her anywhere he was close enough to. Fortunately for my girl...she's bigger, heavier, all muscle and all some TOUGH. She took him down, laid him out, and pinned him down. She wasn't letting him up either. When she finally did, she followed me around while keeping a watchful eye on him. She literally "got my back" until my husband arrived home on a hurry upon hearing the news. He then locked him in a separate room so be wouldn't try to attack our little Lady while Logan rushed me to the ER. I needed 5 stitches for approximately 6 different picture wounds on my face. The apple of my cheek is largely swollen, bruised, stitched and painful. The bite landed VERY close to my eye. So close the doctor had to carefully pull my lower eyelid out to evaluate the inner lid and signal to ensure no teeth made it through. He tore skin off of my hand, but  rust fortunately didn't need stitches. We have no other recourse but to put him down. I am terrified of him and I don't trust he won't ever attack, completely unprovoked, my husband, my other dog, or myself ever again. We can't return him to the shelter, or ANY shelter as be will be unadoptable now, don't the hospital I'd reword to do a bite report. Understandably. I would never want him to do this to anyone, ever again. I'm honestly a little thankful in the end. It could have been much worse or he could never done this to ANYONE else...including a child, like my nephew who loves him dearly. I don't know for the life of me what could have clicked in him or why. I may never find out. But I do question, are there any diseases that are common among the breed? Having an answer, an understanding, would not change my mind but, it would give me close. I would feel bad for his suffering rather than anger or possible hate. I wouldn't feel like he stupidly signed his death warrant. I wouldn't feel the risk of becoming terrified of all dogs. I grew up with dogs of various breeds and sizes. I understand, respect and appreciate them... From mini yorkies and dachshunds to 145 lb Rottweiler. 7 hours ago, I wouldn't have been able to imagine life withOUT a dog. Anyway, end rant. If anyone familiar with the breed has any info on them, please! Share! And just to fill everyone in, as I'm sure it's crossed everyone's mind.....NO I did NOT have my face in his. Prior to the incident, he was thrilled to see me. I had just gotten home from work. The "kids" their typical greeting, Mason greeting me with any random present at the for...socks, shirts, toys, stuffed animals. He jumped on the sofa and wanted his usual belly rub. I said to him "aaaw you want a belly rub?" He lied on his back, front leg raising to open his chest to the wondrous belly rub. As I reached out, he quickly lunged forward and up onto his front legs, and grabbed the meat of my cheek. That was that. He suddenly looked and acted like a possessed, evil, BEAST. Not just wild. I've never seen a more terrifying creature than in that moment. I apologize for any mistakes or typos. I'm on pain killers and I really don't feel like proof reading myself. If ANYONE reads this whole thing and catches any mistakes, please just ask me about it. Thanks!


Jennifer
December 20, 2015

I needed to come back to this article and say thank you.  Thank you for your candid, intelligent, heartfelt sharing of this piece of your history.  Thank you for sharing Dodger's story with us. Your article was a significant help in my decision to euthanize my rescue dog and then your words have been a comfort in the days following.  On countless occasions, I have heard the words you share from your vet in my head: "If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here today."  Those words - they helped the most. Just over two months ago, my husband and I decided we were finally ready to get our very first dog.  We have 4 boys ranging in age from 10 years old down to 3 years old.  We just bought our very first home in the spring and, finally not renting and now living on an acre, it seemed the perfect time.  We announced it to the kids and set out to find a rescue pup to complete our family.  On October 13, after several meet and greet sessions, we brought our boy home.  Lucky, a black lab believed to be about a year old, was shy and timid but very gentle.  He assimilated beautifully into our home of little boys and 3 cats.  He at times chased the cats, but I chalked it up to puppy play, never realizing it was actually predatory in nature.  I found myself saying things like, "This dog definitely wasn't a stray - what an incredibly good-natured dog!"  We couldn't believe we had gotten so Lucky - hence his name. About 6 weeks in, we had family over for Thanksgiving.  Lucky was visibly upset over the male company in our home.  He barked and growled furiously.  But I excused his behavior; my father in law is a very tall and loud man.  Perhaps he just didn't like large, loud men?  But that weekend, Lucky did something else - he started nipping at a visiting 7 year old little girl.  I defended him - he had never bitten before and she had been going through a "lying" phase; perhaps she was exaggerating.  She went home, life went back to normal.  Except for that one time when my 5 year old tried to pull Lucky off the bed, and Lucky lunged for his face.  He never made contact and AGAIN, I found myself excusing what I had just watched with my own two eyes.  I scolded my son for pulling the dog down from behind; I told him to leave any handling of the dog to me. But within a week or two, there was no denying something was wrong. Our babysitter came over and Lucky barked and growled furiously.  When I had him calm and submissive, she attempted to pet him - and he lunged at her to bite. My sister, niece, and nephew came over.  Previously, Lucky had met them on 3 different occasions and had spent significant time with them; he knew them and liked them (or so I thought).  But this time, Lucky barked and growled at them, never calming down.  We kept him on a leash and walked him around the room away from them.  But each time my 6 year old nephew walked around the house, Lucky sat up to attention and tracked him as he walked, sitting very still.  It sent chills down my spine; it reminded me of an animal watching it's prey.  Still on his leash, but calmer, I made a mistake - I turned my head.  My nephew, still a kid and failing to stay away from the dog as instructed, walked right in front of us.  Immediately, Lucky lunged.  This time he made contact with his chin.  No broken skin, but the bite attempts and contacts were starting to pile up in just a few week period.  I knew something was wrong. So we started making calls.  I called several trainers, a behaviorist, our vet.  I read.  And I read.  And I read.  I read everything I could find.  I started seeing signs all over in his behavior; this had been a troubled dog the whole time he was with us.  He was very fear reactive and very anxious.  He suffered from separation anxiety and gastrointestinal issues from stress.  In the last few weeks, he started losing massive amounts of fur and chewing at his arm, licking his lips multiple times a day, like a coping skill. One night, with me right beside him, he lunged for my one son who literally just walked through the room and was tracking/stalking from across the room my other son.  I knew something had to change.  An acquaintance of my husband's, a certified dog trainer, came over to see the dog.  We had been told by others over the phone through phone consults that we needed to get him out of the house asap, that his behavior was very risky and our kids' safety was threatened.  Before taking Lucky back to the shelter, I wanted this man, the acquaintance, to take a look and see if he could help us at all. He came out on Thursday evening.  Over the course of just over a half hour, Lucky had literally gone through all of the treats this man had brought and was still terrified.  He never made any slight progress at relaxing.  It was with a heavy heart that the trainer told us there was nothing he could do - he was so incredibly fearful and aggressive; the barking and growling were clear that he meant harm if only I'd let him off his leash.  He, as others had, advised us to return him to the shelter. He left, and I cried.  I knew what we had to do.  He was spiraling out of control so unbelievably fast; in less than a month, we had quickly exited the honeymoon phase and entered this dangerous territory where I feared for my kids' safety and daily worried that we would make a mistake and be sued by a stranger who happened to cross his path at our home.  I started getting angry at my kids for any behavior that *may* rile him up - normal kid stuff.  That's when I knew. When the trainer left on Thursday night, my husband and I decided that we weren't going to proceed.  All the trainers we spoke to discouraged us from taking him to a rescue since he was biting so often and had made contact on several occasions, and all encouraged us to take him to a shelter.  But for a fear reactive dog, a shelter seemed awful.  And our shelter has a 70% kill rate.  Bringing him in with aggression issues (we would explain everything), it's nearly guaranteed he would be put down; they are severely under-funded, under-staffed, and over-crowded. So we kept him away from the kids that evening.  They went to bed, and we let him out.  He joined us in the living room, and we spent the evening snuggling him, stroking his downy ears, smothering him with kisses, and telling him over and over again how much we loved him.  I struggled to go to bed that night; each time I thought about heading up the stairs, I knew that would be it.  After spending way too much time awake with him, I spent just a few hours tossing and turning before waking up to snuggle him some more.  At 7:15am on Friday, I took him out potty for the last time, watched him bounce around our yard, and then helped to put his harness on him one last time.  With tears in my eyes, I kissed him and told him how sorry I was.  My husband drove him to our vets, held him close, and sent him to the Bridge peacefully and gracefully. I've been guarded about telling people this.  I know that there are things we could have tried.  I know there were options to exhaust.  But he was so severe and when our friend and trainer advised me he wasn't going to be able to work with him, that he feared for his own safety, I knew.  I knew that not much would help.  I knew why he had been a "stray" despite clearly having been cared for.  And I realized that so much of what we saw had been the honeymoon phase. He was so fearful and so quick to bite.  He stalked several important kids in my life like prey and was escalating very quickly.  I knew in my heart, he wasn't going to change.  As the trainer said, "Sometimes there's just something wrong in the brain and then it's exacerbated by awful life circumstances." We made a choice to keep our house safe.  We made a choice to bring him ultimate peace.  And we made a choice to keep him out of a high kill shelter where one of two things would happen.  Either he would be euthanized in a cold, awful, lonely place where he felt rejection and abandonment.  Or he would slip through and get adopted by another unsuspecting family who maybe would be more trusting and someone would get hurt.  And/or he would end up abused at the hands of the victims.  None of those choices felt right, and we felt morally obligated to prevent harm from continuing.  I was mauled by a dog at 2 and required a handful of reconstructive surgeries throughout my childhood to put my face back together.  That's the last thing I want for my kids or someone else's.  That dog, the one who bit me, had also bitten before, but "it wasn't that bad."  So they kept him around. I will always feel incredible remorse and guilt for Lucky.  I can't bring myself to move his lovey raccoon or his nyla.  I can't bring myself to vacuum up the last of his fur tufts.  I cried all day Friday and most of Saturday.  Moments flood me where I wonder if I should have tried harder, should have - whatever.  But in my heart, I know.  I know now that we averted a crisis and kept him safe.  And I pray that he always knows how very much I love him and how much I grieve for the life cut short by circumstances outside of his control. So thank you for sharing your article.  I must have read it 10 times before we sent him in and then another 2-3 after.  And I keep hearing you saying, "If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here today." 


Elizabeth
December 18, 2015

I am feeling so lost and this article has been the most helpful. We have a golden retriever 5 years old that we adopted 3 years ago. She was a puppy mill throw away who recovered from kennel cough and heartworms, she was near death. When we first got her, she was food aggressive and fearful of everything. She hated the hose and would not swim. We have watched her blossom and learn to play with her favorite ball, roll in the snow, swim in the lake. Then one day at a park we were rushed by an off leash 'friendly' black lab mix. His owner stayed far back and I instinctively tried to break up the fight fearing both dogs would be put to sleep. I ended up with 15 stitches in my hand and some nerve damage. Both dogs had minor puncture bites. This was the beginning of a nightmare. My dog regressed, fearful of everything. I enrolled her in a reactive dog class and sought help from a private trainer and behaviorist. With a lot of work and patience, she seemed to learn to trust, but still had a nervous edge to her. Then our world fell apart when she bolted thru a screen door and ran down the street and attacked a black dog and its owner. It took 3 grown men to pull her off, I again had my hand in her mouth and got bit. She is now extremely reactive growling and snarling at any strange person, animal or noise. We saw a top rated behaviorst who states that she can be 'managed' but never trusted. She I'll always need to be on double leads, muzzled and should not be around other dogs, children, and maybe even people.  'There is no guarantee she won't bite again as the attack was so vicious'. My heart is broken. I feel as if I have failed. I want to die with the dog. This is an awful thing to have to deal with.  I wish for peace for both of us and am not hopeful.


Amy Robertson
December 18, 2015

Yesterday, my husband and I made the impossible decision to put our baby Otis to sleep due to unpredictable behaviour, fear aggression, and general angst. We are heartbroken. And we are grateful for this blog post and for the comments below it. It has provided great comfort and insight and helped us to make the most difficult decision we have ever made. Sending love and hugs to anyone who has gone through this or will go through it. Nothing in the world compares. xo


MOBinDG
December 15, 2015

It is with an extremely heavy heart to be days away from having to put my boy Moe down.  I have read many of the stories on here taking comfort to know I'm not alone, or crazy but also sobbing in tears. The emotions are endless and my initial feeling is that of guilt.  I have enjoyed Moe for 12 years; 10 yrs of which he has been aggressive. Initially he bit my sons, at the time who were filled with teen angst.  Then after 5 yrs of Moe knowing my boyfriend as a buddy, he attacked him. This past weekend Moe bit my sister, and like similar stories, he was provoked.  After my repeated warnings not to engage Moe, my sister thought she "broke the barrier" and approached him while he was lying in his bed. Moe bit her a couple times on her hand, breaking skin with one decent puncture.  She refused initial medical attention and now over 48 hrs later has been admitted into the hospital. I talked to the vet today to inquire about euthanasia. I realize my responsibility lies with my family but Moe is also my family. This just sucks. Moe is the type of dog only his mother loves and that's me.  He has never attempted to harm me, but then again i know him so well. Euthanasia is not cheap that's for sure but I will pay the extra $$$ to be with him and to get his ashes. I have another dog (Ollie) in my home who will not know what to do without her buddy. This is just so stressful and emotional on so many levels. I thank you all for your stories which helps me validate this decision and I sympathize and extend my condolences no matter how long it's been since you lost your loved buddy. Again, this just sucks.


Diann
December 14, 2015

Never did I think I would be reading articles pertaining to the topic Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs. Today I sadly add my name to the list. My baby for 11 years, Harley, broken coat Jack Russell Terrier, who became a part of our family started his aggressive behavior 2 years ago. I say two years because that was the first time he ever hurt another living animal. I was shocked. The next time was about 8 months later. I purchased another Jack Russell, short hair, all white, and male. I knew we would probably have some issues but NEVER did I think for a second I would encounter such aggression to the point of trying to kill the new puppy. Working hard with the older male seem to get worse everyone in the family had been bitten, myself several times. After a year I decided we would kennel him because of the bites we had suffered and our female Jack Russell who is 14 years old, he tried to kill her. Our female never had pups, she was fixed when she was 3 and Harley was her baby. After talking with our vet and trying for over two years to help our little guy and a lot of bites, suffering, and heartache we had no choice.
As tears flow down, and I hold his little head and tell him it's okay he slips away. With my heart heavy and tears flowing as I type I would like to say before someone lashes out please think first because I did NOT make this decision because I did not want him, I did not have a choice. Today I lost a family member. December 14, 2015


Janice Lampo
December 2, 2015

It's been one year ago today that i put down my Lexi due to aggressive unpredictable behavior. While i wont get into the whole story again i have to say thT its because of this website and the caring veterinarians on here that i was able to cope with what i had to do and make it thru this past year. We gave since adopted an 8 month old rescue pup from the south. He is a blessing. I like to think that Lexi led him to us. If it wasnt for that heartbreaking decision that i had to make we would not have this joy in our lives today. But i still miss her and i cry....i still cry.


Winter29
December 1, 2015

I cry everyday because our dog became aggressive toward children. I spent eleven months with the happiest playful puppy imaginable. But we gave in to pressure to spay her at seven months. At 14 months she began lunging toward children. A contractor left the gate open and within seconds she ran full force and bit a boy on the arm. The children downplayed it the parents downplayed it the dog control officer said no fine. Just keep her away from kids  we got more training. Eight months later a daycare worker asked to have the center let us know they were fearful of her. More training. She loved agility. Then another daycare complaint that she could be "reactive". "Defiant."  This dog was loved by everyone. She was the best loving loyal cuddly friendly dog imagine able. I kept her from meeting anyone. I sat in the next room with her on a leash and told company to ignore her   But one day a friend that never has less than two dogs and three cats dropped in during supper. I took the dog in next room and kept her on leash. I told her to ignore the dog. But my friend could not stop talking to the dog. The dog was wagging her tail and the seduction of their bond, their wanting to touch each other seemed so natural. I gave in to it and allowed the dog closer. My friend put her hand down.  The dog sniffed the back of her hand. And then nipped her arm. Now I read in AVMA journal that spaying before a year is correlated with increase in aggression in females. I wish I had read it when so much advice said do it at six seven or eight months. Animal control would not give her another chance. And her isolation before death was horrifying to those who knew she had never been alone. They would not let me keep her until the vet appointment. I cry everyday that I was not with her. Be with your dog   Choose to put her down.


Abigail
November 14, 2015

I am crying reading these posts as I had to put my beloved Sparky down today. I adopted him from a shelter when he was 2 yrs old. He clearly had anxiety but was an instant love bug. My 2 sons bonded with him and everything was lovely. Until, he attacked my sons friend 2 years ago resulting in stitches and a serious wound on his leg. I brought him to the vet and consulted with the health department who both said it seemed like an isolated incident. However, Sparky had become increasing aggressive with my son's. Most recently lunging and growling at them whenever he saw them. I tried more behavior training and nothing worked. I started to live in fear that he would attack them. My sons were heartbroken that they no longer could snuggle or spend time with him. I didn't sleep at night and today he truly tried to attack my oldest son, the one is used to be most bonded with. Thank god, Sparky was on a leash and my son is safe. I knew in my heart that Sparky needed to have peace as much as we did. He didn't look happy anymore, and that his anxiety grew into something much scarier that no amount of love or behavior training could change. I told my boys that we were able to give Sparky almost 5 years of love he would have never had if we hadn't rescued him and that he did love us, but was also very sick. I really did believe I could love him better but I now know that it was also love that brought me sobbing to my vet today. I never knew how many people have walked this path and despite my overwhelming pain, I feel less alone. I will forever miss my Sparky but as my vet told me today " You can all be at peace now." And I have to believe that as this complicated  grieving journey goes on, someday I will.


Angela
November 13, 2015

I sit here in bed this morning knowing that today will be the last day I spend with my best friend (3yr old female English Bulldog). I've been searching for any excuse to continue to help her turn back into the dog I once knew. For the last year she's progressively become more and more aggressive and has bitten a member of our family 4 times now, the most recent was yesterday when my 12yr old son was simply sitting next to her watching tv and ended with him having bite marks from his chin to his upper cheek. I have made so many excuses for her behavior, told myself if we just didn't do this or that it wouldn't happen but after yesterday I have no more excuses. Yet still I think maybe there is more I can do, as my children cry about the decision I have made. I think what could I have done different. I brought in a private trainer but that only seemed to increase her aggression, got blood work and tests run with no signs of any physical issues. Even after knowing I've done that, I sit here with her sleeping next to me feeling like a failure...yet how can I continue to risk my children's safety and live in a home that can't have visitors because I never know what will trigger another episode. I just can't continue to play Russian roulette with the people I love. Reading this article and all of the comments that have been left gives me some belief that one day I will feel better about making this unbearable choice.


Cee
November 12, 2015

It's been three days since my English bulldog was euthanized and the pain and guilt is so real. I too had a 95% sweet, adorable, affectionate & playful pup who just so happened to have a aggressive side. Its hard to remember just how it started, or how it progressed, but at first it was with other animals. He would get off his leash and charge + tackle other animals at the dog park. He didn't play very nice with my families senior pit bull. He has escaped yard's to try to start fights with neighborhood dogs. These episodes were all spaced apart, and regretfully no trainer was ever brought in.  I suffer guilt because of that & am currently having a really hard time with myself because he also had cherry eye, and i suspect he may have been in pain or his vision was impaired. I did take him in to see a vet, and actually got a second opion as well, and they both cautioned against surgery,...but his eyes only got worse and i never did take him back to see a vet about it. I suspect he may have been in pain, or had impaired vision, and i blame myself for not taking care of it, i wonder if that would of made the difference. Anyhow, my dog was staying with my boyfriend & his family ( who also raised the dog since a puppy )..he did not get along with their new dog and we kept him in separate quarters while they took turns in the backyard, etc. He would sometimes get snappy with my boyfriends family and we decided its time to find help. We finally found a rescue who wanted to perform the eye surgery as well as retrain him. He was schedule to be picked up on a monday, when monday came around the rescue never called or answered the phone. That night my dog viscously attacked my boyfriends sisters foot, she went to the hospital and had eight stitches and left on crutches ! the next morning the family called the shelter to pick him up. That afternoon, i attempted to reach the rescue again and i got through, the woman said she was in a car accident, therefore didn't answer and told me to get my dog out of the shelter and we would reschedule…when i called the shelter , i said please tell me the process to take my dog out who was dropped off a couple hours ago, i told the woman he a trainer waiting for him …she did some fiddling on the computer and said sorry ma'am but "I'm showing the dog was euthanized'…it was too late.


Sally Tofteland
November 12, 2015

Reading this article about aggressive dogs really hit home. I had to put my loving but frustrated and anxious dog down yesterday. It was a year and half of unprovoked attacks on me and neighbors just walking the street or out in their yards. I tried to work with him and he made great improvements but it seemed to displace his frustration to more aggressive behavior. We tried meds for two and a half weeks, only to see more anxiety and just plain uncomfortable dog. I spent all my waking hours with him. I would sit with him outside in the afternoon to try to figure out what would trigger his behavior. He was not socialized as a young pup before we adopted him, had many ear infections, and suffered ACL tears in both legs. The tears healed but he still seemed in pain. We had him on meds for that for a year. We loved him and were devoted to his well being. We were hoping to train him out of it, not to be. He will be greatly missed, but feel that for the safety of our neighbors with little kids(scary incident two weeks ago), that this was the best thing. I still have a hard time putting his toys and belongings away. His favorite pillow still had the crease where he was laying before I took him to the vet to be put to sleep. Fly over the Rainbow Cooper, we will love you forever.


Kate
November 9, 2015

I am at the stage where I know what we have to do.  We have a 4 1/2 yo cockapoo who has been growling since he was 10 weeks old.  He bit a boy when he was 4 months old (he was stepped on by the boy.) He nipped my nephew's finger at 6 months old (nephew reached under a chair to pet the hiding dog).  He bit the dog groomer.  Last year he bit the dog trainer when he was carried over an electric fence line (first time he drew blood).  He bit and shook my husbands foot this summer when my husband stepped on his toy.  This past week he bit my daughter's hand when she pushed him off of her while she was on the couch.  He left welts all over her hand.  We have been to 3 trainers and a behaviorist.   He has dog aggression, fear aggression and owner aggression.  He guards his resources and is extremely motivated by food.  We have tried modifications in our lifestyle and his.... But it feels like we are just putting him in a bubble.  He can't go to doggy day care, he gets too stressed.  He needs a dog sitter in the home because he can't stay at a kennel because he gets so upset.  He can't go off leash with other dogs to play because he will go after them.  He has been prescribed Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac.  When our kids have friends over I have to have the dog penned with me.  Sadly he is absolutely adorable and super sweet 80% of the time.  The rest of the time I'm trying to keep him away from his triggers.  Our kids will be devastated and I am completely heartbroken.  But who would take an aggressive dog who is on 2 meds, special food, needs a dog sitter at home constantly, and can't be with other dogs or children?  Even if I could somehow find a "house in the country" with a strong, determined dog lover, he still could attack the UPS man, visitor, groomer or vet.  My in-laws are his veterinarians and they say we have done everything we can.  I wondered about sending him to training "camp" as a last resort.  But my in-laws said he has deep seeded psychological issues, not training issues.  It will give us a sense of false hope.  Sad.....


Rebecca
October 26, 2015

As I lay here snuggling with my big boy it will be our last night together. We adopted him from a family over a year ago and immediately noticed his fearful behavior. When my kids came home from school the dog was excited and happy. He was so happy he became their protector and mine. Fast forward a few months and our dog still wouldn't warm up to any adult men including my husband and 21 year old son. Most days he's happy and a normal dog but anything can trigger an attack. While he has never harmed me or my young children he has bitten my husband and older son several times. We've talked with the specialists and our vet. While some behavior modifications have helped I'm told it's just something not right in his head. Sunday my husband stood up too fast near one of the kids and our dog viciously attacked him. This was the last time I can allow this to happen. After talking with my vet we have decided that euthanization is the last thing I can do to ease his pain and constant life of stress. I love this dog with all my heart and am simply heartbroken but I have to think of my family first. This is the hardest decision I've ever faced. My mind knows it is the right thing to do but my heart is having trouble accepting it. I will always love him and will always have a huge hole in my heart that can't be filled.


Phyllis DeGioia
October 26, 2015

Hi loco, I can imagine how sad your family is. The answer about your 16-year-old daughter is I don't know - that's a parenting issue, not a pet one. I suggest you speak with other parents, a professional counselor, perhaps a school counselor. There is no easy fix to your situation, as you know, because there are pros and cons to every side. Only you can weigh them and decide what's best for your situation. Unfortunately, a 16-year-old girl is too young to understand what could really happen in a worst-case scenario. Trust me, the relief is real. I mentioned when I said I was no longer walking on eggshells in my own home. I believe with all my heart that no one should live with a dog they're afraid of, and as you are crying daily, a decision should be made one way or the other for your own health. Also, I think the dogs can feel the overall stress in the house and react to it. Since you've done everything else, I trust you have contacted JRT rescue, and I presume they won't take him with his bite history. If you haven't done that, I suggest that you do, although it is not likely to change your situation, but you will have the benefit of knowing that you tried; you have already tried so much.


Beth
October 25, 2015

Today our sweet totally blind 3 year old pitbull got out of our fenced in yard and wound up in a fight with another dog and killing him.  We have never loved a dog the way we do this one, but I don't see how we can keep him now.  We could, I suppose, build a better fence, but that is beyond our means.  We could keep him always on leash, but honestly he is more than I can handle on leash.  The family whose dog died lives in apartments behind our yard.  If we keep ours how awful for them to see him!  I think we have to put him down, but am in so much pain and confusion!  Any advise?


Loco
October 23, 2015

Just to add to my previous comment.  We have tried training, a behaviorist, and he is now on prozac. Nothing.  98% of the time he is a love bug...he just has some wired loose.  It's comforting to hear others describe things the same way.


Loco
October 23, 2014

Ugh.  We are all so sad.  Our 6 year old JRT is a biter. It started with a few nips as a puppy and has gotten worse.  He will come toward you wagging his tail and then start to bite...problem is, he doesn't stop. It's not one bite and then he's done.  The breeder wouldn't take him back....this would have solved all our problems. About 5 years ago, we adopted another JRT. The original Jack will now start a fight with the rescue but it's the rescue that doesn't stop.  My husband got bit trying to separate them.  We have learned to crate the biter when we have visitors or put him in a room.  He loves all the people he met when he was a puppy but we have to keep him away from everyone else. We are at wits' end.  We can't keep them both.  We have a 16 year old daughter who is sooo attached to the biter...we would euthanize him but she would be devastated.  Do we let her have a say?  Should we just take care of it?  We are at a loss. Do we give away the rescue and just manage the biter?  This could probably be done but who really knows???? This is an horribly tough decision. Why doesn't anyone talk about the relief one must feel after this is done.  I know there is pain and sadness as I cry everyday just thinking about it but what about the relief? The issue is our 16 year old.  How do we handle this???


Michelle
October 21, 2015

Thank you so much for your story. It helped me make one of the hardest decisions of my life. You see..I rescued a beautiful boy a year or so ago after trying to help him when he lived next door to me for a few years before that. He had been abandoned since he was a puppy, no social skills, no handling, no training, nothing but food and water and he was kept in a small kennel that rarely got cleaned. I found this out to my horror and did what any animal lover would do. Asked to talk to the owner which supposedly was a young girl and then asked if we could clean his cage together and then if I could take him on walks with my other dog and then spend some time with him if they weren't able to. They were fine with this until he would cry when he'd hear my car 2 blocks away. This wasn't good. So I asked if I could just take him.  That was responded to with yelling and verbal browbeating about what kind of person asks someone for their dog!""  Well they moved away and I didn't see him for about a year (I got very sick with Lyme disease) and once I found him he had no spirit left in him at all. He used to jump when he seen me. Nothing. No reaction. I wanted to die. Then o tried to feed hi and he growled at me for the first time ever. I knew he was different.  I kept going back there since he had been abandoned at this point and left in another cage tended to by other people. Finally after a few months I was able to bring him home. We bought him a dog house and loved on him and the dogs shared bones together in the house on a blanky and things were good. Until they weren't. A week into it he started attacking my shepherd bad and biting him in the head. Then he bit him over food. I tried to study everything i could and removed all triggers worked with him alone and things got better. Until they didn't. Then the dog I had been able to take to the dog park started biting people. It was so horrible how his behavior had changed. Took him to the vet and he had serious heart worms and was not well. Treated the worms and he got better but was still very unpredictable. Fast forward a year later to this past Saturday. My husband just had a horrific accident at work and almost died and is in a wheelchair. I am glad it was me who was attacked and not him. My small chihuahua was stuck in a small wire fence and crying, when I went outside to free her he lunged at me and seriously bit me under my arm several times.  I stopped and said no as she screamed and tried again to release her and he bit my thigh very deep and forceful. I know he was just protecting her but the wounds to my body are ugly and the ones to my heart are worse. He immediately went into his house and put his head down but it was enough.  As much as I tried to save him I couldn't. If my husband who is on blood thinners for clots and broken bones from falling thru a 2 story roof, would have went out there he could be dead right now. There is no easy way to deal with a situation like this. He bit a little girl who tried to pet him when my back was turned and I just told the parents that he is unfriendly and was keeping my distance and she crept up on him. I had to was him late at night.  It was so much. And now he's gone and I hate that. But I'd hate it a lot more if he would have attacked my husband or a child or whatever.  Horrible situation when you love an animal and only want to see him have a loving home and a good life.


Emily
October 21, 2015

As I approach the two year mark on making this decision with my own dog I still cry. I find peace that no longer suffers from the torment of his dark side, finally at peace. My pack is at peace and stable once more. I thank Bill for his lessons and take refuge in the happy moments we had together. It's still a hurt that runs deep. Those of us that have walked that walk stand with you, you are not alone.


JB
October 19, 2015

Tonight as I struggle with knowing that in the morning- the mostly sweet, lovable, intelligent dog that I have locked in the garage due to my fear- will be euthanized tomorrow, I came online for some solace.  I found that in your words. I'm heartbroken that this rescue turns on a dime.  One minute taking food so gently out of your hand he barely touches you, to viciously attacking and causing severe injuries.  Thank you for your story and your comfort for sharing the brave thing that you did.


Susan M
October 19, 2015

AJ: I am so sorry.  First of all, take your dog to the vet and make sure that his behavior is not medical related.   A dog in pain will bite.  Secondly, you might want to consider an animal behaviorist.  I say this not to minimize the harm that was inflicted on your friend.  But, you have had this dog for 9 years without a bite incident.  Barking, protective behavior and so forth, it not necessarily indicative of a potential biter.  But, he could probably benefit from an evaluation and training.  He may also be upset by your new baby, and you are right to be concerned.  Perhaps if you could set aside a little 1:1 time with the dog each day, that might help.  He may also need more exercise than he is getting - you know, something to burn off all of that energy. They say that a tired dog is good dog.  These are just my thoughts because once you put your dog down, its over and you can't undo it. So, you need to be very sure and confident that you did all that you could.  I don't think that I did, and I live with it everyday.  Best of luck.


AJ
October 12, 2015

I am facing a difficult situation and need any advice you may have. We adopted our pit bill mix 9 years ago. I would never say he has had "aggressive" tendencies, but maybe I am mistaken as to what aggression vs normal dog behavior is. He has always been protective of the home and barks incessantly at the pool guy, landscapers, etc. He has never bitten anyone in the past 9 years and is just a fun loving playful dog who barks at strangers. He has gone through some training on and off over the past few years and unfortunately we have never been able to stick to a strict schedule with him due to our work schedules. We also made the huge mistake of never getting him around other dogs so he is not socialized with animals, but he has always been fine around people who come over, including kids. In fact, several weeks ago we had to go out of town for work and our dogsitter (a fill in whom our dog had never met) couldn’t get through the front door. She actually crawled through is doggy door after going through the backyard. He had never met her and he let her in the backyard and on top of that he let her in through his dog door. We have always been responsible about locking him in when the landscapers/pool guy is over and for the most part when we have larger gatherings at home, we put him in his little area behind a gate. Here is the change… we had a baby a few months ago and ever since then he has started to withdraw from us (partly our decision because the baby like to touch him and we are afraid that he could just snap). We haven’t always separated him and in fact I have been trying to work with him so he is more comfortable with the baby touching him. But that is so unpredictable. I think he has been depressed because of the new addition and it is starting to change him. He is still a sweet dog, and I believe he is truly a loving dog. None the less, he is still and animal and unfortunately just a few days ago he bit a friend (very very VERY badly). Our neighbor did nothing to provoke him and it was totally uncalled for. We are sick about the situation. The big question for us now is do we put him down. Until last year when we decided to have a baby, he was our number one. We treated him just like our child. I have read a lot of people that put their dog into training to try and help but I feel like he is totally un-readable now and even though it was an isolated event, we have a baby, and I am so afraid for our baby after the dog lunged at him a couple of weeks ago. I feel like we are just going to end up isolating him and making it worse for him than it already is. I can’t stop crying and I feel horribly for our friend and I am in shock over this whole situation. What would you do??


Debi Cheseboro
October 9, 2015

Today I had to euthanize my 6 year basset hound. We rescued Oscar in March 2015. We already had an eight year old beagle. A few days after we brought Oscar home he growled and snarled at my adult daughter. I thought it was just "new home" jitters so we just put it aside. Then a month later it happened again. I called the rescue and asked if he had a history. They said the former owner hadn't given any info. My grandchildren (11 & 10) came to visit and I told them how he could be. Again he had a couple of episodes but no biting. 3 weeks ago he escalated to lunging at me. This went on every few days. This week he started framing at the mouth. Bassets are known for drooling. Today I was out for 45 minutes. When I came home he came running to the door as usual. I went to wipe his face, which he had no problem with, and lunged and bit my hand. I was devastated and knew what I had to do. All day I've been thinking I didn't do enough. I didn't try everything.  When he was good her was great. I know I made the right decision but that doesn't heal my broken heart.


Jay
September 28, 2015

I would appreciate anyone's advice/insight into the following, as you have all experienced aggressive dogs recently....or not so recently.  This scenario concerns a close friend of mine. I have myself been bitten twice by our own dog, when I was a child. The second time was witnessed by adults who realised that the dog was just vicious. My parents returned the dog to the owner who kept him as a working dog (no contact with children) and he was fine from then on, This recent problem, concerning my friend and her rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback, is something that I am confused about and would like other's input. Said friend rescued the dog a year ago - she was 4 at the time and had been used as a breeding machine! My friend already had a ridgeback who's lovely natured. The new ridgeback was fine (the two had a small spat when they were first playing together) until two weeks ago. The new dog was off the lead on a walk when she "attacked" a small terrier who was on his lead. The terrier was uninjured. My friend took the ridgeback to the vets, that afternoon, and had her put to sleep. She was 5. Please advise whether any of you think this was the correct action to take. Thank you.


Polly
September 22, 2015

I would like to say that I think that you did the right thing.  I was just attacked by a dog that has bitten 2 other people and my bites were the worse.  I never even saw the dog coming. He broke his chain and ran up behind me and attacked both of my legs and hand as I tried to push him away.   I think that if a dog bites once it can be called a mistake but when a dog is excessively aggressive and continues to bite there is no other recourse.  I don't want to sue the people as they are very nice but they do not seem to understand that when dog attacks unprovoked then that animal must be considered dangerous.  I adore dogs. As I sit writing this with a very very sore hand and another bite and the 3rd that required internal and numerous external stitches in several places I am surrounded by my 3 dogs. One of those is an older rescue who had issues when I got him but never actually bite anyone.  He now excuses himself if there are strangers here as he does not like to be around people he does not know but no longer shows any aggression if he is ignored. But if he were to bite I had decided long ago that I would not keep him and I would be forced to put him to sleep.  I must admit now though at 61 I am afraid for the first time in my life of being bitten again.  I have never had this fear before. In this country, so many non aggressive dogs are euthanized just because no one wants them and they could easily be a loving partner for someone who has an extremely aggressive dog that they cannot control.  As a victim, I can only say the psychological damage done is far worse then the actual physical damage.  I will not go back to my boyfriend's house where the dog is a neighbor because I am afraid of being bitten again. I also have nightmares that the dog continues to attack people and that those attack get worse and worse... Please know that just like there are people who do horrible things that there are also animals that are just not right either. The kindest thing you can do is to put the dog to sleep so that no other animal or person is harmed. There are so many dogs that need homes who never show aggression and just want to be loved.  All of mine are rescues and all are wonderful loving animals.


Sandy Glover
September 21, 2015

Thank you for sharing your story. I will be taking my little rescue to the vet for euthanasia tomorrow. I adopted him knowing he had suffered a severe head injury and had bitten a volunteer at the shelter. I was hoping that the bite was just an accident. He is the sweetest, most affectionate boy I've had but then there's the other side of him. In 3 days that I've had him, he has growled at me twice and then today leapt up and bit my hand in an unprovoked attack. I'm heart broken but know I can't live with this kind of behavior. He would have been killed at the shelter if I hadn't taken him. At least I have given him two long hikes, a big beef bone to enjoy and lots of cuddling in bed with my other 2 pups. He's a beautiful boy but there's just something wrong in his head. Tomorrow, I'll take him for walk on the beach and then say goodbye. I know it's not his fault.


Pauline
September 19, 2015

Lisa, every dog is different - and no, you don't know what's going to happen but you can't go through life saying 'I daren't do this because what if...'  Dogs bring us so much pleasure so don't deprive yourself of the joy of such a wonderful companion.  We got our other dog Jake (was 7 months old when we rescued him)when Floyd was 3 years old and he was totally different in temperament which is when we knew for sure Floyd wasn't right.  He's such a comfort to us now and becomes more and more such a wonderful dog.  Jake proves to us that it wasn't all us that was at fault, there was something wrong in Floyd's makeup as Jake would have turned out the same don't you think?  Take a leap of faith.  Good luck.


Sue Casper
September 18, 2015

Hi, I am not sure what to say.  I could not get through your article.  It has brought up so much for me.  But I will return to it--I am out in public.  About 4 months ago my foster dog-that I had adopted (totally blind)..started to become more impulsive and quick on food and animal smells.  I started to date a man.  My dog Louie slept between us in bed exposing his belly when we pet it.  One night Louie was "rammy" and I was trying to fix the TV so I was ignoring him begging me for attention (he had gotten more forceful about it)  This guy laid on the floor next to Louie who was biting his toy hard and fast.. I was rambling around trying to fix the computer.  All of a sudden I heard this moaning.  I turned around and he had blood shooting up from his head.  He put his hands on the wound but when I asked to look at it.. It shooting blood again.  He had a hole in his head. I was in shock and went to the ER.  Louie had bitten down one layer from his skull (I later found a triangular piece of the flesh from his head that showed layers of fat and skin and what not...when I was steam cleaning up the blood) He got two layers of internal stitching about 15 per level and then had to pull his scalp together and staple in all closed.  Like you said it was the worst moment of my life putting him down.  I've been through a shitload and nothing touched this.  Drove back and forth to put him down on Easter day 3 times.  The first vet actually saying, "Well he seems like a happy and healthy dog.  It is a matter of ethics.  I do not agree.  You should give him to another rescue if you can't afford to have him see another behaviorist"...Like that didn't make me feel more guilty.  I keep think about writing her a letter but I don't want to draw out negativity.  Anyway...I eventually went to an ER that was active with our rescue and knew of me.  They did it.  I only briefly had doubts that I should not take that course.  I kept saying to myself, "If that was a child.. they may very well been dead"  That night was the first time that I knew the term "heartbreak" can from a physical experience.  I suffer from depression and have for 20 plus years.. but never did I feel that heart attack pain in my chest until that night I was trying to drive him repeatedly to the ER to do it.  Thank you for sharing.  You are so not alone.  I will read the rest of your article when I am alone and can cry freely...sending love to you


Lisa D.
September 18, 2015

How do I know I'm ready for another dog? And I'm so afraid to get a puppy because maybe I messed up with my little one...? Thank you Janice for your words...so sweet.


Pauline
September 17, 2015

Well it's been 4 months since we had Floyd (chocolate Cocker Spaniel) put to sleep. I still miss him like mad and think of him every day.  It's a weird feeling, I've never had children (am in my 50s)but feel I've lost a child. I know he wasn't right and would grumble at the slightest thing he didn't like and bit us both numerous times which needed treatment.  I still get hot and uncomfortable when I remember that last evening when I rang the vet.  We don't have quarantine in the UK and euthanasia is instant in these cases.  I remember getting home and dropping to my knees in sheer grief and pain.  I just want everyone to know this is normal, I still get tearful, 4 months later I still get the odd person asking where he is and I still well up talking about him.  I will always wonder if I made the right decision.  Our other dog who we got as a companion to Floyd when he was 3 years old is totally different.  We trust him utterly and biting wouldn't occur to him.  I know this is normal behaviour, but Floyd was such a character that we miss him terribly, but you can't live with a dog that bites.  There is clearly a massive problem.  When a human kills or maims he's he/she's either executed or imprisoned, it's no different for an animal.  I feel for anyone in this situation, it's not nice but you have no choice whatsoever.  You must keep you family and friends safe.


DGB
September 16, 2015

Thank you for this article. I adopted a rescue less than three weeks ago. He had known biting issues that were supposedly resolved but, since I've known him, has three inexplicable biting incidents involving my friends (one to the face). I made the decision today to return him and he is surely to be euthanized. He is the sweetest dog otherwise but I cannot risk seeing anyone else get hurt and fear even putting my face near his for a doggie kiss. I will miss everything about him except the constant level of concern I had for anyone around me.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
September 11, 2015

Janet, I am sorry you are having problems with your dog.  When I read your story, several things have jumped out at me: 1.  He panics when he is crated, so you cannot keep him away from people to keep everyone safe. 2.  He has grabbed 6 people, including your granddaughter, who he bit. 3.  He has killed your daughter-in-law's dachshund. 4.  You are most likely moving into an apartment.  This will put him in close proximity to even more people, putting them in danger. 5.  He is not young and his hips hurt, putting him at higher risk for biting, just from being in pain. You are right, you cannot shuffle this problem off to someone else.  It is a hard decision to make, but you will feel worse if your dog seriously injures someone, especially your granddaughter. You would be releasing your dog from his panic and pain.  You know deep down it is the right decision for you, your dog and your family.  That does not make it an easy decision, but making the decision will alleviate your stress.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
September 11, 2015

Dear Janet, I'm so sorry for all you're going through. It sounds as though you have tried very hard to give your dog a good home.  However, it sounds as though he is painful and unpredictable.  Even if you were able to work consistently with him, it sounds as though he is challenging, and with your possible move and return to work, things are even more complex. It's also important to remember that this is a dog capable of severely injuring or even killing a person when he bites.  I don't think it would be fair to him or to anyone around him to attempt to rehome him, especially through channels such as a rescue or shelter.  He could just wind up causing someone else the same dilemma you are facing and they might not be as able to cope as you have been.  Someone could get badly hurt. The only other thing I can even think to suggest trying with him would be asking your veterinarian about pain medication.  Sometimes pain makes animals more aggressive than they might otherwise be. However, ultimately, in this case, I don't think euthanasia would be a bad decision at all. It might ultimately be the most responsible choice for those around him and kindest for him.


Janet
September 11, 2015

I could use some advice. I adopted a Mastiff almost 3 years ago after my husband passed away. I don’t know his entire history. I was told he had ended up chained outside and eventually ended up in the pound. He can’t be crated (even in a room with the door shut panics him). He had growled at workers at the pound and they were going to euthanize him. A rescue group went in and took him. They treated him for heart worm and neutered him. I adopted him. For me one on one he has been great. However, since I’ve gotten him he has grabbed at least 6 people including children leaving scrape marks, he bit my granddaughter on the leg and put in a puncture wound. My daughter-in-laws dachshund was with me from last November and they got along great. However, about a month ago they got into the trash while nobody was home and he grabbed her head and killed her. I took him to a behavior vet about 3 weeks ago (very, very expensive) and they raised his dose of medication and started a training plan. Since my husband passed away, I have gone back to work full-time. I don’t have the time that is needed to work with the dog like needs to be and there is a very high probability that I will be selling my home in the spring and most likely moving into a apt. – none of which in my area are pet friendly for a dog weighing 197 lbs. I talked to the rescue where I got him and they would take him but can’t promise he’d be re-homed. With everything the dog has been through I’m not sure it wouldn’t be safer and kinder to him to have him euthanized and out of being shuffled off to somewhere else and if things go badly ending right back in the pound. He is not young by Mastiff standards - he is about 8 and I know his hips are bother him some.  Any suggestions or advice will be really appreciated – heart breaking decision either way for me.


Odd one out
September 7, 2015

I recently had my dog put down. It was the hardest decision I've ever made. The dog had attacked several other dogs, and killed one, and done serious damage to another. No animal in our yard was safe except our own other dog. The dog had never been around babies or even children, and soon those will be a part of our family. Although most family and friends have been supportive, I have two immediate family members very upset with me, thinking "killing" the dog was not necessary. I think it was. I was not going to take a chance that she would hurt a child. It hurts the way they are acting toward me when I feel I did the responsible thing to prevent injury to a child. If I am wrong, we just lost a dog. If they were wrong, we could have lost a child. I wasn't willing to take that chance. I would rather have family be upset with me for putting the dog down, than have other family be upset with me for keeping her with her history, and then a child is hurt, or worse. And I myself would not want to live with the guilt or knowing I could have prevented it and didn't.


Miss Cellany
September 2, 2015

Don't feel bad, you did the right thing for yourself as well as Dodger. He can't have been happy living in a state of mind where he felt he had to defend a stairwell, or be jumpy and snappy to his own owner - even going so far as attacking his owner. He must have been very confused and under a lot of mental stress due to his faulty "wiring". It's kinder for him to have gone to eternal sleep and not have him suffer that way anymore. I can't imagine how awful it would feel to have your own trusted pet attack you. My rescued Border Collie has never bitten me with a malicious intention (he forgets himself and nips in excited play sometimes but it's such a gentle nip it doesn't even bruise) BUT he has growled at me once and it shocked me; it was the first time he'd ever growled at me in 6 years of owning him. I put it down to his advancing age making him cranky (he's 11 now) and the fact that I had been shoving him physically along to the foot of the bed he'd been in a deep sleep on before I woke him (which granted wasn't very nice of me but he was refusing to budge from the middle and it's MY bed). I was so shocked I backed up and told him in a very indignant voice to get off the bed which he thankfully did, slinking away like a wild animal and sulking in the farthest corner of the house for the next half hour. At the time I was terrified it was the beginning of escalating aggression and that I'd eventually have to put him down for biting me but so far we've had no more such incidents. It was a horrible breach of trust though - before that I'd never have dreamed that he'd growl at me (and it was quite clearly a warning growl that he would bite me if I continued to shove him, definitely not a playful or complaining growl). I've never hit him or hurt him in any way so I never expected him to "tell me" that he was prepared to hurt me. Had he actually bitten me I'm not sure I'd ever have trusted him again. I think I'd have felt too guilty to put him down but it would not have been pleasant living with him afterwards. If he'd ever bitten my face and knocked me down a flight of stairs I would have put him down unhesitatingly. When a dog will go that far to its own owner, NO ONE can safely be around the dog.


Phyllis DeGioia
August 31, 2015

Sue - I am so sorry to hear of all your losses in such a short period of time. My heart is with you.


Sue
August 28, 2015

Two days ago on National Dog Day we had to euthanize three of our dogs.  Our little terrier mix was mauled so bad by our two pit bulls that the vet said she would not survive surgery. The pit bulls were upset about someone driving up our driveway and jumped on Fancy.  My husband was there and said it happened so quickly.  Fancy was the third dog they killed, the previous two when we not home.  All our dogs are rescues and former foster dogs.  We have fostered 30 dogs with no problems until recently.  The two pit bulls have been to training classes with me, plus we have had trainers come to the house.  The dogs all go on daily 7 mile runs with me.  My husband and I are retired and own a ranch full of rescued animals.  The decision to euthanize two healthy dogs is heartbreaking.  These dogs were my running buddies and spent their evenings cuddled on the couch with us.  I also have tremendous guilt for our three small dogs that were killed by the pit bulls.  I am so heart broken and have decided to not foster for a long time.  We still have a 13 year old border collie and a 3 year old pit mix.  I miss my 5 dogs that died this year so much!


Janice
August 24, 2015

Dear Lisa D. For you and all the others here who have had to make this difficult decision its been nearly nine months since i had to put down my nine year old Corgi. Lexi was aggressive and we tried everything possible to help her. Nothing was physically wrong with her and she was a beautiful pure bred. We had 3 private trainers come in changed her food increased exercise did everything we were told to do but nothing really made enough difference to really help her. I fought the truth for 2 years prior to having to put her down. I just kept thinking there was something else I could do. We even had her on meds but that didn't help enough either. Anyway i want to say that i still feel the pain just like it was yesterday but i have learned to live with it. Knowing she had bitten many family members i just couldn't allow that to continue she could have seriously injured someone. I have since adopted a rescue pup and he is such a joy. But i cry when i think why couldn't we have this joy with Lexi. I don't understand why and i know i never will. As you can see i still visit this site for comfort from time to time. It helps knowing your not alone and that there are circumstances we cannot control. I wish you peace it will ease up with time. I hope you get to read this. I really do care. Its a sad sad place to be and your heart is broken but you are not alone. You did good. You did what was best. Your furbaby is at peace. A final act of love and kindness


Cindy
August 24, 2015

Phyllis, first let me say how much your writing has meant to me, especially the follow ups.  It has been a little over a year since I made the terrible decision to euthanize my bull mastiff Zilla after she killed  my Boston Terrier.  Not a day has passed since that I have not thought of both of my lost dogs.  My self confidence has been shaken; I question myself for every decision.    Even though I know intellectually that I made the right decision at the time, emotionally I continue  to wonder if another outcome was possible. I have adopted a senior Boston Terrier who is costing me a small fortune in vet bills which I see as my penance. The experience profoundly changed my life. As a added bonus, I get to feel crazy for the intensity of my grief over "just a dog".  The community that has sprung up on this blog has been incredible; in a public media shaming world, it is so healing to see so much support.  Like Scott below, I had considered breed specific rescue; in fact, I was preparing to deliver her to the rescue when I met with my vet.  After all was said and done, I simply knew that I could not live with myself if Zilla  had killed or injured another dog. Zilla was loving, playful, happy, obedient most of the time.  She slept in my bed every night.  She would wag tail on command.  She thought she was a lap dog.  And when my sweet little Boston terrier challenged her over a dead squirrel, she killed him in a manner that could only be described as efficient and challenged me over his body. I had no doubt had I physically intervened, I would have been injured or killed as well. I believe that I made the right decision, but the guilt and grief persists.


YB
August 20, 2015

Reading your article has helped me so much. My 5 yo dog bit my teenage son this morning totally out of the blue. Unfortunately it's not the first time he has bitten, he has attacked my husband and my daughter too. We have decided to euthanize him, because as you said, it's not fair sending him to a shelter and just pass the problem along to somebody else. We also have tried a professional trainer, but it obviously didn't work either. The sadness I feel is so overwhelming but I know it's for the best. He will be better off and so will my family and friends. Thank you again.


Phyllis DeGioia
August 19, 2015

Hi Mandy, The first thing to do is go to the vet for a physical. Sometimes unknown pain or other medical issues can cause behavior problems. If her physical is fine, immediately find a behaviorist (preferably) or a trainer who specializes in aggression. This behavior needs to be addressed quickly in hopes that it can be managed without heartbreak. Also, usually only someone ignorant of canine behavior would wander up to a large dog in "her" truck and try to pet her without asking, but people do that. If you see that about to happen, ask them not to pet her, and until you've finished working with a behaviorist or trainer, don't let anyone she doesn't know pet her. In other words, start protecting her from herself. Sometimes things happen so fast it's impossible to stop, but you can lessen the risk by being more aware and cautious. I wish you luck, and hope you'll let us know how it goes with her.


Mandy
August 19, 2015

I have a 5 year English bull mastiff. We were out on the driveway yesterday and she is usually great and stays on our yard. last night a man was walking up the steps to a building right across the street and she took off. she gave a big mean bark and lunged at him. He had pure terror in his eyes and threw up his fist. She was right at his feet, growling and hair up. once he raised his fist she backed off a few steps, then went right back at him, causing him to fall down. My husband had to physically drag her away as she didn't hear him at all. What do I do???
A few months back she was in the box of our truck and a man came up to pet her. we looked away to get our kids out of the truck, and that's when the guy said she bit him. he wouldn't show us his hand, so we didn't believe him as she has never done that before....now i'm starting to think that she did bite him. Need help!!! Please!


Phyllis DeGioia
August 18, 2015

Hi Scott, I'm so sorry to hear of the issues you're having. Although I understand your inclination, I highly doubt any breed rescue is going to take on a dog that has killed one dog, mauled another, plus attacked two people. Think of it this way: even you wouldn't take this dog into your home, and you love her. I totally understand feeling stupid. Please don't beat yourself up. We want so badly to believe that our beloved dog, the one we laugh and play with, is not going to be that kind of dog. It's even harder when your professional work involves dogs, and you think you have a good handle on this (see the part about the dog obedience school owner's dog). I too have spent my whole life with dogs, and Dodger was the first time I ever ran into that problem - and I hope it's the last. I know you are in tatters, Scott, and I can feel your pain clearly. Please let us know what the breed rescues say and what you decide to do.


Making this same decision...trying
August 18, 2015

My Bull Mastiff Roxy, has now killed my little dog, Rusty, attacked me, my fiance and now our other dog, Calie. Roxys attack on Calie just happend at 8am this morning, she had to be rushed to the vet for surgery to repair her neck and leg. We are faced with the same decision as the writer. Although its very clear I should put my big lug to sleep. I still feel I should try and find her a breed specific rescue first. If they would even take her, I have been comletely honest with the history down to every detail in all the emails I have sent. I don't need to put down all our feelings, DeGioia and Dr. Gaspar said all I would have. We have never been faced with this. I was a supervisor for a shelter for 2 years and a dog owner my whole life. I put many dogs down for illness but for aggression, never thought I would have to. I feel so stupid, I should have known better after Rusty, I thought it was a fluke! I thought I understood dogs and Roxy better then this. I thought wrong... Any help would be appreciated, we are in tatters over here. --Scott


Phyllis DeGioia
August 18, 2015

Lisa, the feelings should subside eventually but a week and a half is just a blink of an eye. Most likely there will be waves of it for a while. Feel your grief but don't get lost in it. We're glad you shared, too. My heart is with you.


Fostering Dog
August 18, 2015

We execute or imprison people wired for aggressive bad behavior (eg. Ted Bundy), and dogs are no different. It's good that you're able to ignore the stupid posts that say "you murdered the dog". I doubt those same people would have serial killer rapist to roam in their house. But problem with dogs is that it's hard to tell if it's truly wiring or something else. I've fostered many dogs, and some were more aggressive than others. All of them became far less so after thorough socializing. Some (many?) people leave their dog in the backyard and rarely venture out beyond couple of blocks around their house and of course those dogs would have issues. Equally important is that the dog need to recognize me as the dominant. That lesson is repeated constantly consistently. IMO, having a trainer could make the situation worse if not done carefully as the dog would see the trainer as dominant. Too often, I see people keeping their dog dominant (via spoiling) while themselves and everyone else submissive. Of course the dog will have issues. And combined with improper socializing is a recipe for disaster. I'm not saying you did anything wrong. I'm just expressing the lessons that my foster dogs taught me and how I dealt with aggressive dogs (actually, dogs in general). Fostering has been good for the dogs, but it seems far better for me as a tremendous learning experience. So if you feel guilty or sad, perhaps you could foster dogs. You can start with something small and docile and let the foster coordinator know your past and anxiety (if any). You will be sad to give him/her up, but you will have a say in what home the dog goes to, and you only give him/her to best possible home. I know my foster dogs are in great homes, but I still miss them all. And my cats miss them, too, especially the giant black Rottweiler/Pitt mix that used to rub noses with the cats in the morning.


Lisa D
August 17, 2015

'doubled over crying'...boy, I thought I was the only one. does this feeling of loss and regret ever ease??  it's only been a week and a half, and I cry EVERY day...my little girl had so much personality and spunk...when she was with me.  even my other dog is lost. sigh. so glad people share.


Amanda
August 17, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and sorry for your loss. I am currently agonising over if I should have my 4yo husky x malamute put to sleep. He has always had behavioural issues and dog aggresion but in the last year or so has become aggresive towards people he is unfamiliar with, he also growls everytime he makes eye contact with my 8 month old son. We've tried behavioural specialists and dog whisperers to no avail and now feel as if both ourselves and our dog are suffering as a result of his behaviour. We love him so much and have cried many tears over the thought of having him euthanised. My head knows it is the right thing to do but my heart says keep trying. No rescue centre or husky charity will accept him due to his aggression. Your article have given me a whisper of relief in knowing that I wont be alone if I do decide to PTS. Thank you x


Phyllis DeGioia
August 17, 2015

Hi Charlie, No one can answer that question but your family. However, I can tell you that I believe no one should live with a dog they are afraid of. It changes the quality of life for every member of the family, including the dog. So let me recap here: you've spent a fortune on  good training; your mother has had to go to the doctor, you've been to two hospitals in one day; he went into attack mode when seeing a dog on the television and the main reason no one got bit is that he was on a lead that someone was holding while standing on a chair to get away from him. You are all afraid of him and you're walking on egg shells. Plus, " He was on his last strike, and my family are seriously having to consider whether we are willing to risk another bite (which is bound to happen) or just euthanize him." Plus he's not even two years old yet. I believe you've made a decision, and it happens to be one that I would make. For myself, I cannot live with a dog I'm afraid of. I cannot tell you the difference in quality of life when not living in an atmosphere where you have to walk on egg shells. And how happy is Monty? Do you have other pets? I completely understand your family's heartache. It's a terrible situation in which to find yourself, loving a dog who loves you but mentally is a loaded gun. My suggestion for your family is more love: the world is full of nice, available dogs with a normal temperament. Find one of those to fill the void in your hearts. Meanwhile, my heart is with you.


Charlie Allen
August 15, 2015

I have a 1 and 3/4 year old Cockapoo. He has been the center of my familys life, and Monty was such a handsome red coated boy, who was so playful, smart and cuddly. But when he feels threatened, its like someone flicks a switch in his brain. He snarls, showing all of his teeth and growls. When he does this if you go anywhere near him he will attack and bite, re-gripping and shaking. My mum had to go the doctor and get a vaccination, and I had to go to two hospitals in one day to get my thumbnail (hanging on by a fragment) removed becaus Monty had bitten my thumb, index and middle finger. He bite me because he was playing with his ball and shredding it to pieces, he walked away (2 meters or so) and saw me picking up the shredded fabric (not the actual ball) and lunged at me, gripping onto my right hand. We should of gotten rid of him then, but we couldn't pass the risk onto someone else. We left him a few months, under a good training programme which worked wonders for months- but within the last month  he has taken a turn for the worse. He has picked up habits like stealing laundry and hiding under the table, sitting on sofas and even daring to snarl and growl- but he hadnt managed to bite/attack anyone yet. Before tonight. We were watching TV when a dog came on the screen. He lunged for the screen and my twin picked up his lead and held him back. My dad then said 'put him in his crate' and then he went for my older sister and was lunging at her. When my twin pulled the lead to choke him and pull him back, he turned to her but she held the lead up and far away from her, so he couldnt get her. My dad then stomped his foot and screamed 'IN YOUR CRATE' and he immediately legged it to his crate-where my dad crashed the door shut and locked him in. Luckily, my older sister had stood on her chair, and my twin bravely pulled back the lead-otherwise my older sister might not have an arm, or at least all of it. He was on his last strike, and my family are seriously having to consider whether we are willing to risk another bite (which is bound to happen) or just euthanize him. Us three daughters (16 and 14 yrs) have decided (heart breakingly) that we cant risk another bite being more serious or at the face- and can't live in fear and walk on egg shells for another 14 years. It is heart breaking! What do you think we should do? He has bitten around 5 times drawing blood and 2-3 serious bites (my mum and I both). Do you think we should give it a go and risk another bite and more money on him or put everyone out of fear? Either way, please suggest some ways to comfort myself and my family during this tough time. Thank you!


Evan Deutsch
August 12, 2015

Excellent article. Spot on. In Decoding Your Dog, they say that sometimes all the therapy in the work can't overcome a dog with severe issues. And as we know, once a dog bites, it can only get worse. Doing the right thing sometimes does not feel good.


Sarah B
August 12, 2015

Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and your words of encouragement. I don't feel so alone knowing there are others going through this same type of situation. The past couple of weeks have been a blur...almost feels like a bad dream but at some point I will wake up and Buddy will be right back by my side where he belongs. Sadly, as we all know, this is not the case. I can't get the tears to stop; he was such a loving, caring dog towards me. My best friend. Very few can understand this unless they have walked this road. In my mind I know we did all we could do (and so did the professionals involved), but my heart says otherwise. I will never forgive myself for making the choice I had to make. I couldn't even be in the room to hold his paw until the end. I was doubled over sobbing and had to remove myself. The only reassurance I have is that he feels no pain now, as he was an amputee with multiple health issues. All the more reason though that he needed my love. Thank you for continued comfort through these dark days. I have no one in my life to talk to that understands this burden I carry. God bless you all.


Lisa D
August 9, 2015

wonderful article...thank you. I just had to put down my terrier mix...she was only 4.  my vet and I tried everything and he basically said 'she was born wired wrong'...I have gone through some really really hard things in my life, but I don't think anything compares to this grief.  I can't kill a spider, how did I put down my dog?? my little talloola was a light in my life and my heart wants to explode. helpful to know that i'm not alone in having made this decision.


Trouble Sleeping
August 8, 2015

Hi, I've been scrolling around the internet looking for advice. I have a German shepherd mix who bit my face about 2 days ago, it was a decent attack on his behalf. He is 5 yrs old, it has happened before about 2 yrs ago he got me fantastically on my neck. I went to the humane society yesterday to have him put down, i was told they don't just put dogs down they need reasoning and reports. I showed up there with my 2 inch long gash on my face still oozing (covered), my face scratched up, my arm with multiple puncture wounds, trying to be a responsible person and making sure this doesn't happen again and get turned away. I can't really sleep too well, everytime i close my eyes i see his teeth, the upper lip clenching to show that one big tooth. Everytime i pass by him throughout the apartment i feel sad but scared...I live in Pa, any advice?


Angie
August 4, 2015

Sarah B & to all of those who have made the ultimate decision to euthanize an aggressive dog & the grief that comes along with it, I am so sorry for your loss.  My family and I recently had to make the heart wrenching decision a few weeks ago to euthanize our 2.5 year old GSM for the same reason.  He was the most loving, faithful, funny, handsome dog until one day he wasn't. He bit my 7 year old daughter in the face about 6 months ago - she needed 10 stitches on her face and one puncture was so close to one of her eyes, it was beyond scary.  A mother's worst nightmare. He bit her for no reason that we could find - she was just sitting next to him on the couch and he got spooked from a sound or movement.  We were devastated.  We convinced ourselves this was a one-time incident and worked with our vet and had an in-home behavior specialist work with him.  Our Jack was a rescue and suffered terribly from fear aggression.  After that incident, we kept him muzzled as much as we possibly could, until the next incident occurred.  In the blink of an eye, he bit my daughter again - this time her hand.  This was a month ago.  She was just reaching for a cheese wrapper that had fallen and he bit her.  Again, devastation - for both my daughter and knowing what we had to do in regard to our Jack.  I stayed up many nights crying and praying about what to do.  Jack was sent to the Rainbow Bridge 2.5 weeks ago.  It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and the hardest one I have to live with.  I will never get over it.  But, I had to decide if I could live with being a terrible mother for keeping a dog who continues to harm my child or a terrible dog owner, who could not help her dog.  I chose to be a terrible dog owner & chose my daughter's safety, because she is my world and I would never want her to think that anybody or anything could take precedence over her safety.  I'll never get over the loss of my Jack, but I could not live with myself if something else (even worse) happened to my daughter.  I hope Jack understands how hard this decision was for me, how I never wished him any harm - I just wanted to love him his whole life; and I did.  I just couldn't save him from himself.  I gave him to God, the ultimate healer & protector and I have prayed that God will take good care of him until we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.  Which, I know God will.  RIP my baby boy, Jack.  I will always love you.


Amy Moode
August 4, 2015

You have no idea how much you have helped me today.  I am going on almost 24 hours having to do the very same thing to my dog after he bit my son severely.  He also was a repeat biter and I have dealt with so many of the same issues you and others have.  I say thank you again for easing my heart...first time since this happened...RIP Snoops, your Mama loves you


Wendy Smith Wilson, DVM
August 3, 2015

Hi Michelle, I'm not surprised that acepromazine wasn't helpful with your big guy.  It's a tranquilizer, but unfortunately it does nothing to alleviate his anxiety and is easily overridden by fear and excitement in all but the calmest dogs.  If you and this dog have an existing relationship with your veterinarian, I would check with your vet about using an alternative oral medication for sedation such as phenobarbital (a medication commonly used for epilepsy patients) or perhaps a nice yummy "meatball" with the anesthetic agent telazol in it.  Your veterinarian can research appropriate doses for your dog--they are not the same as they would be for routine use.  If you're able to go that route, one of those might get him settled enough to load him in the car. If you don't have that current veterinarian/client/patient relationship (it's required by law before a vet can dispense things like phenobarbital), then an alternative might be a housecall vet who can come to your home and administer the medications. I'm sorry you're in this spot; it's incredibly tough.  Sounds like you're making the best decision for everyone, though.  Take care.


Phyllis DeGioia
August 3, 2015

Hi Michelle, First, I'm sorry you are experiencing such a difficult time. Since the ace didn't work, talk to your veterinarian about what else you can use to sedate him. I imagine there is something that you can put in his food. Even if a vet comes to the house to do it, the dog will need to be sedated. Before I left to take Dodger in (they didn't make housecalls on weekends, and I was too afraid of him to wait) they told me how much to give him of my other dog's sedatives. I gave him more than they suggested because he was more anxious than most dogs, and he was still quite alert when we got there and needed an injected sedative before he was calm enough. It's a matter of finding the one that works. With all my heart, I wish you luck and peace.


Michelle
August 3, 2015

Thank you for your story, we are dealing with the same issue with our 128 lb GS only we can't get a leash on him or muzzle to take him to the vet, we have tried ACE but only made him more aggressive. We are at a loss he needs to be euthanized not only for being so aggressive but some health issues that we have tried many thing and don't help him. he has almost bitten me many times. :( I know you loved your baby as I love mine. Your story is a hard one but makes people like me think it will be the right thing to do. Just getting him there.


Donnaquixote
July 30, 2015

So sad hearing this, and I really wonder what inside Dodger was causing this.  You're not exactly the typical joe schmo with no training and experience around dogs like some of these people.  And though sad, I do feel that you gave him the best you could, and there are others, MILLIONS of wonderful pets who are put down but for no reason at all, no harm to anyone just wanting to do their best for whoever would even give them a chance.  Thank you for sharing  your story and your annual revisit of the issue.


Ali S
July 28, 2015

Hi Sarah, I really appreciate this post at the moment as sadly this has now become an option in our household at the moment and it is destroying us, knowing what is the best thing to do. I have a 6 yr old ROugh Collie (Lassie Lookalike) We have had him since 8weeks old. He showed some signs of aggression early on when i changed his food but thnakfully we realised ti was that and changed it for a low protein complete food. It helped massively. We did all the research prior to purchasing Blaze from a reputable breeder as my son then 11 had asked for a Dalmation for 3 yrs. I told him if he still wanted a dog when entering high school then I would consider it. (He remembered) I then also had a 7 yrs old and an 18mth old so we did the research, not wanting to go back on my word and hoping it would be a friend for life as my son was quiet and antisocial(We now know he has ASpergers - High FUnctioning Autism). COnsidering my husbands asthma we discovered long haired dogs were better than short unless curly hair. For young families a ROugh collie was in the top 3 choices for being loyal, protective, friendly etc and thought it would be perfect despite being bigger than the medium size dog we looked for. Right from the start we had Blaze Castrated, microchipped, all his jabs and boosters, trained him to sit, lie down, come, paw etc, crate trained him, perfectly fine and continued thru his years. He would once allow us to muzzle him but he could slide it off his nose. Age 1-4 he occasionally snapped or growled mainly if you tried to take a sock off him or groomed him but we managed. When he was approx 3, my  son aged 13 got knocked down and had his leg in a cast for 6 months. Due to having a young child, a child on crutches etc we stopped taking Blaze out in the car and he prob had less attention but I still walked him 3 times a day as he had always had and still does. When my son had his cast off we couldnt get Blaze into a car, up the stairs etc. We had to get a trainer in as we tried reward, a lead, firmness etc but the trainer helped massively as Blaze would literally attack the lead as if trying to kill it. We managed his problems ok but he still showed signs and over the last few years he has been more aggressive when trying to groom him. Witha  lead on between 2 of us we can brush the top, snip bits from back side, shower him etc as long as he doesnt see a shower head as he tried to kill that too aswell as a hoover or noisy electrical item. Sadly tho this resulted in matted fir underneath, on his legs, backside, under his chin, behind ears. We asked advice, help, etc from vets, groomers, trainers, behaviouralists etc but to no avail cud we get him groomed so the vet had to wrestle him down and anaesatise him to shave him. He got so worked up first time, his adrenalin reversed the medication and he didnt dose. Second time a nurse got bitten and they had to give him a double dose in the night. They shaved all his underside etc but left the top for somereason but we can manage that. Since then he has got worse. He doesnt trust me. He is getting cheeky, sitting on furntiure that he never has before as we trained him not to, when you go to get him down he growls at you and snaps now, He goes upstairs and wanders the bedrooms which he has never done before as he knows the bathroom is up there, he hasnt wanted to. We dont mind it but its odd behaviour. He also goes for my Smaller dog, a Jack RUssel which we have had for 8 months for company for him. They play fight before but now he snaps visciously at her to scare her off as if jealous and warning her away from him and us. I smooth his head and he looks at me out of corner of eye and sometimes starts a low level growellin as if hes expecting something. I have been speaking to people since xmas, Rescue places, RSPCA, VET etc and no body would rehome him but because he is only showing signs of aggression, even in small doses. Nobody will take him in. I believe that in a house with adults only that are good with handling and training dogs. He would be more trusting as getting all teh attention as now we both work full time so dont have time for retraining him etc. He could possible be ok. A lot of people have said to me that I have to consider EUthanisation and I am distraught at the thought. I have done my best to contact peple with a no destroy policy but they wont take him in. My now 16yr old son is destroyed as I have spoken to him tonight about what may have to be the only option. He is totally understanding but agry, upset, and confused as he is a healthy dog who we all love so much but as my youngest son is now nearly 7 and also been diagnosed with Autism, he can also be unpredicatble like Blaze and the 2 together as much as they also both love each other, I know will be so upset but fear he may get injured if in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe if Blaze is getting angry with Missy our Jack RUssell or he tries to get him off sofa etc. He knows to move away if laze gets growly but he shouldnt have to know it and I am feeling pressured into not having any choice but to do the same. Its just that he is perfectly healthy and loving that upsets me. We all feel like we have failed him but onestly as much as we know we could have given him a little more time with a hectic lifestyle, we know that we havnt done anything to have caused this and we are struggling to come to terms with it. We have decided to give it a month and see if he starts to trust us again, work on the grooming more regularly so he hopeully trusts us with that now he has less fir and is more comfortable, and I am still messaging people for help or a home. EIther way We havnt given up YET but I am doubting anything positive for Blaze at the moment as I keep coming to dead ends and the same comments. It is so difficult for us and you cant help but feel like a poor dog owner but I know we are not. We have become unpopular with the neighbours lately too as Blaze barks out side every time he goes out there and we have tried the shock, citrus and high frequency collars on him and none work other than side track him for a moment. They have complained even tho I get him in if he doesnt settle after 5 mins of barking.  I dont let him out after 9pm or before 10am so not to disturb anyone at night. I cannot keep him in in these hot months. It is so upsetting knowing he wont stop barking and we have to get him inside. I appreciate you writing this as I would feel such a failure if I have to go thru with this. Reading your vlog helps me tremendously in thinkning it would be the right decision if we had to do it. It would probably be another case of wrestling him to the ground to euthanise him too which would be traumatising in itself. I just want all of this stress to be gone as I really cant think straight with worry at the moment x Thank You x


Nicole
July 28, 2015

Hello everyone :) I have created a Facebook page for anyone is struggling with this same situation and or going through this situation. Since I have been through it myself I think it would be a comfort place for people who have been through it. A place to tell your stories and get advice, tips and info from others. The group is called "Burden of Euthanizing an aggressive dog, It only gets better from here <3" if anyone is wanting to join :) it will be a safe place. It would be so amazing for more to join and talk to others about the same thing.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
July 26, 2015

Dear Sarah, I'm so very sorry for your loss.  You aren't alone.  Please take some time to read through the comments on this post; you may find some help and solace in knowing what others have gone through. Michele Gaspar, one of our veterinarians, and a licensed counselor, has posted some resources in the comments as well  (just a few comments down from this one).  Please reach out to one of those. I am a mother as well, and have had beloved pets, so I understand the horrifying choice between your baby's safety and the life of your Buddy.  All I can say is that you made a courageous and right decision.  I'm sure the pain feels unbearable now, but like all grief, it will ease if you give it time.  Please take care of yourself during this time, and give yourself the love of knowing you made the correct decision for your family.


Sarah B.
July 26, 2015

Is there someone out there, anybody out there, who can help me with my grief? It is unbearable, and all I can do is sob until I heave. Very few times in life can I remember such pain. Yesterday, I had to put down my 3.5 year old Eskipoo "Buddy" after he repeatedly tried to attack my nine month old baby. I did not feel I had any other choice given the circumstances. I loved Buddy like he was one of my children. This is gut-wrenching, and I need help, but I don't know where to turn.Someone please reach out so I can have a shoulder to cry on, I am devastated beyond words.


Jamie
July 27, 2015

I really appreciate this story. I have a dog, Mochi. I adopted him about 10 months ago and love him so much. He is only 15 pounds, and he is very sweet and loving/loyal to me and my fiancé. However, whenever new people come in our apartment or even at times out in public, he is very territorial and aggressive. We had family over and he bit my cousin, unprovoked. We have just had to isolate him from new people. He bit my hand the other day for the first time when he was upset I had him in the room because we had guests over. I was so hurt and upset by this, but luckily he is small and, though he breaks skin, it is nothing that won't heal. I have mixed feelings about what do to...It would torture me to have to think about putting him down, but this is not a first offense by any means. We don't know much about his life before us, but he was returned 3 times for various reasons to the shelter, so I think it's likely these issues aren't new.


Chris
July 24, 2015

That letter is just what I needed to hear.  We adopted a 7 year old English bulldog from a rescue a year ago in the hopes we would save a dog from this kind of fate.  Unfortunately we were not informed of the aggressive behavior before hand.  We have tried therapy, training, and medication to no avail. We have told ourselves over and over we can get through this.  I have been bitten multiple times, Twice this week and even though I can deal with the pain and blood (thank goodness it wasn't my wife)  I can't allow this to happen to someone else. She has already bitten friends of ours that were visiting.  I feel like we have failed and I don't want her to suffer either.  We talked to a vet this morning who agreed to perform the procedure.  Its  just hard even though we believe it's the right decision.


Phyllis DeGioia
July 24, 2015

Kristi, I am sad to hear of your situation, both for having made the decision and not finding anyone who will do it. Have you called the shelters? How far are you from a state border? I will ask the veterinarians here to pitch in, but first please tell us where in Oregon you are. My sympathies


Kristi
July 24, 2015

Our family four year old German shepherd is very aggressive and no amount of training is fixing her.  She is still an unprovoked biter.  We made the decision to euthanize her but we cannot find a place willing in Oregon.  I don't know what to do.. All of the places around rehabilitate and rehome and we do not want her to hurt anyone else.


Laura
July 23, 2015

Thank you for sharing your story- it takes a great deal of bravery to do so. It sounds like many people have had similar experiences, where the dog initially has problems, they improve, but then seemingly out of no where they crop up again. Is anyone familiar with situations where that isn't the case, where the dog, after some intervention, doesn't bite again? We are in a tough spot with our new adoptee. He has bitten  (or attempted to bite) a few times, and we wonder if even if he did initially improve now, if 5 years from now something more serious happens and we wish we would have made a different decision. Thank you again for sharing.


Dr. Michele Gaspar
July 22, 2015

Hi, Monica, I would highly recommend that you talk with a pet loss support group, either on the phone or in person.  You can contact free phone groups at: www.petloss.com/phones and some humane societies and local veterinary medical associations also have in-person groups.  Just being with others who are going through the process of grieving a beloved companion animal is helpful. If you are having trouble sleeping or are depressed, then please make an appointment with a mental health professional for individual therapy ASAP.   We all handle grief in different ways and it is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. Books can be helpful to grieving people and ones I recommend are The Pet Loss Companion and How To ROAR :  Pet Loss Grief Recovery:  http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Loss-Companion-Healing-Therapists/dp/1484918266/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437572931&sr=8-1&keywords=pet+grief+and+loss and http://www.amazon.com/How-ROAR-Loss-Grief-Recovery/dp/1411656539/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1437572931&sr=8-6&keywords=pet+grief+and+loss I wish you healing and fond memories of your beloved companion, Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice) MA, LPC


Phyllis DeGioia
July 21, 2015

Monica, I'm afraid I don't have any personal recommendations, but I looked around and see that some veterinarians recommend sites such as www.petloss.com. I believe someone at that site would be knowledgeable about such books. You could also contact a pet loss grief hotline, such as at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/CARE/, and ask them for recommendations. My heart is with you.


Monica
July 21, 2015

Can anyone recommend any books on how to deal with the grief and pain of euthanizing a dog?


Monica
July 21, 2015

Reading everyone's comments makes me sadder about what has to happen.  My sister's dog is a beautiful lab shepherd mix and is just not wired right.  This past weekend she bit my sister.  For a year she has worked with trainers and behaviorists but nothing is working.  My sister has such guilt already that there was maybe one more thing she could do.  It does help to know that other people have these same issues with both their dogs and their guilt.I will miss my Kona greatly as I loved her like my own. I know it will be a long time before I am over her.  I hope when she gets to heaven she still gets to take long pontoon rides and swim and jump in a big lake.


Kathy Miller
July 20, 2015

This is so difficult, but I've been down that road as well.  For awhile I was fairly successful in redirecting the behavior of 2 dogs I took in after their owners either no longer wanted them or....sadly one of the dogs had lived in the house with two other dogs for 3 days after their owner committed suicide.  I was the breeder on both dogs and pride myself on the excellent temperaments of my dogs.  But in the hands of the wrong people my breed can run amuck and these two did.  I actually kept them for a few years after I got them and even put titles on them but in the end between age and sickness, they began to revert back to their old ways.  Both dogs had bitten me badly in the early days, but their aggression was cropping up again with out much warning, so in the end I did the very difficult but kind thing and euthanized each dog.  I will no longer take in aggressive dogs but rather now encourage the owners to euthanize them if all other methods have failed.  It's not worth having someone either human or animal getting hurt.  There are too many other nice dogs out there that can replace them.


Becky Lewis
July 20, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. We are in the agonizing position of having to put down our 17 month old Great Dane this Wednesday. He is great with my husband and I, but attacks two of my daughters with 0 reason. My girls have never offered to hurt him. He will be standing in the kitchen with us and we will be talking, and all of a sudden a look comes over his face. If I am not quick enough to grab his collar, he will then attack. Thankfully his has never been able to bite them because I have always been right there when his mood shifts, but I live in fear that there will be a day when I'm not around. I don't understand his behavior. We have had him since he was just a baby and no one has ever hurt him. He also now charges the door and growls and snaps whenever we have to put him up when company comes over. He will bite anyone who walks into our house. He does not growl or give any warning before these attacks either. He just freezes and then attacks. With that being said though I am in agony over this decision and pray for peace for both he and I.


Jenna Ruth
July 18, 2015

As someone who was bitten in the face at age 8 by a neighborhood dog, (who was known to the owners to have aggression issues) you did the absolute right thing. I thank you for doing the necessary thing that needed to be done. For months I would not look in the mirror out of fear of how I looked. Fortunately for me I am only left with a scar on my left cheek that is easily covered with some concealer. I have owned dogs my whole life and continue to do so now (I am 43). Please don't be so hard on yourself!! If you feel you want another dog, get a puppy. Take a vet or someone trained in dog behavior to help you pick one out! I am sure you have thought about all of this before, but sometimes when we hear it from others, it sounds better. ;) Thank you for being brave and sharing your story with all of us. Love and light coming your way!!!


Sarah
July 17, 2015

Thank you for your story.  I am struggling with the guilt and grief of having to put my dog down today.  We have tried to rehome him but since he bit our infant daughter on the head, causing surgery, no one will take a chance with him.  We know its what's best for our daughter's safety, and the only true guarantee that he will never bite anyone again but I still feel horrible about putting him down since he was a great dog when he wasn't in one of his moods.  I know someday I will not be so upset, but I will never stop loving him.


Kayleen
July 15, 2015

I cannot describe how much your story and many of these comments mean to me. We had to put my best buddy, my "little" 120 pound boy, Sigmus. He came from a lovely mother that we own and we had to breath life into him. I have wondered these past few days if this was where the problems stem from, because how much brain problems were created from losing oxygen? I wonder if it would have been better had he not made it that day. He had always been a hyper and anxious dog, as a puppy he would bang his head against his kennel until he could break out. I  loved him so much and always felt he was just a puppy, and I could SAVE him! Our vet had tried to help us work with his anxiety. He had had a biting incident with me and my mother last year, but after some work it seemed this problem had gone away, and it was two isolated incidents. Then in April while a repairman was here Sig started freaking out while I tried to contain him he bit me, through a sweater breaking my skin. It was horrible and his mother was trying to help me by barking at him. She knew he was wrong. I defended him and placed all the blame on myself, my husband and family were so upset, but I fought to keep him and keep working with him. On Monday while our niece went in the house to go to the bathroom while we were out swimming he bit her, I am so thankful he always bit and released, because she was able to get away from him and out to us. At that point we knew it was the final straw. My husband and I have been overcome with guilt and grief. Not only do I feel I left my family down by allowing them to get injured, but I left my best buddy down because I couldn't "cure" him. He was the sweetest dog when he wasn't overexcited, but he just couldn't grasp that was wrong. On Monday he tried coming up to my niece to kiss her immediately after he bit her. Reading your story makes me know there was nothing more I could do for this dog, and no matter how much I loved him he needed to be put down for all of our safety. I had a fear in the back of my mind someday he would either seriously injure me or his mother, our female Rottie. Thank you for sharing your story, unless someone has been in this situation in is impossible to know the unbelievable feelings of grief and guilt we feel. I would've have gone to the ends of the earth to save this dog and make him safe to be in our home.  I will never stop loving Sigmus but I hope he has found some peace now that we have put him down.


Janet
July 15, 2015

I know now (thanks to your experience) that our dog Toby should be put down, he has bitten 9 times , and the last one  was my son 11 years old, and the bite was ugly.


Stephanie
July 13, 2015

I totally understand and grieve with you over your decision. Some dogs are so damaged they can not be fixed. I am a groomer and have been lucky but I do have one dog that truly made me fearful. I learned later that he had bitten another groomer in the face and his owners multiple times. They finally ended up euthanizing him after trying everything. I am not sure they did anyone any favors by waiting.  Maybe one day you will get another dog and trust yourself again. If not that is ok too. 


Pam Fahler
July 9, 2015

There have been times when I'm sure she would attack my daughter's friends if she could get off her chain. Recently she bit my sister in law as she was coming in the house.  I have made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized.  I feel it's for the protection of others.  Still it's breaking my heart and I wanted to say thank you for writing this.  It really hits home.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
July 8, 2015

Stacey, Several things jump out at me: 3 - trainers = you have tried. Aggressive since day 1 = not wired right. I am her hostage - neither of you is enjoying life I have a teenager - and you are right, you do not want him to be attacked. I have been there and done that, and I still feel guilty. No one should live in fear of their pets and you have tried to help her. You are making the right decision for all of you.  The relief when you are no longer her hostage and relief for her when she is no longer anxious and scared and biting will be enormous. Take care, let yourself grieve and know that each day will be better, with all of you safe.


Phyllis DeGioia
July 8, 2015

Stacey, I'm grieved to hear of your situation, and you  have tried so hard. No one but you can tell you if you're making the right decision for yourself. Personally, once I was afraid of Dodger I knew I wouldn't continue to live with him in the house and I would not pass on his troubles to someone else. You had not one, not two, but three trainers. You cannot have people into your home because of her. This is not normal or safe behavior. If you go tomorrow, I hope the vet has given you sedatives for you to give her an hour before you  leave. Because this is such a personal decision, any decision you make is the right one for you. My heart is with you.


StaceyD
July 8, 2015

I had to make this terrible discussion today to put my 10 month old german shepherd down . She is so aggressive 3 trainers and still no change last night she attacked me just for standing next to her, bit threw my thumb and bruised my other arm . I am afraid of her I do not trust her. My biggest mistake was getting her for a Amish breaded, I love her but I should of know she was very aggressive since day 1 but I wanted to try everything. I am her hostage at this point we can not have people over as she is very aggressive to Poole. I have a teenager and I do not want her attacking him. I have cried all day and night and it's going to be the longest ride of my life tomorrow morning. I wonder if I am doing the right thing in my heart. Any advise


Kathy
July 8, 2015

I have a puppy (he was supposed to be pure bred golden retriever )who has been an extreme mouthy puppy for the entire 10  weeks we have had him. I have worked with a professional trainer, but the mouthing is actually biting. He has viciously bitten me twice and he's only 17 weeks old. We have made the heart wrenching decision to put him down. I appreciate reading your post, it will help me do what I MUST do before something tragic happens.


Anon
July 7, 2015

I read your article and just cried and cried and cried. Today, for me and my dog, has been a particularly stressful one and not for the first time have I considered re-homing her (Euthanasia isn't on my mind, yet) for the amount of panic she causes me in areas around other dogs and people. She is dog reactive and just recently aggressive, as well as people reactive (but not aggressive) which requires constant supervision in off lead areas. Today, there were 3 unknown dogs at the park and a family sitting at a table and I couldn't let my dog off lead until these dogs left first. She just barked at them while I tried to reward her good behavior and keep her under threshold. I could see the judgmental stares from everyone there. My dogs behavior to them was a reflection on my training. They don't know that my dog was like that when I got her, nor that she is frightened and has been on 3 different medications in the last 9 months to help her with anxiety, nor that I have seen a plethora of professional trainers and vets on how i can manage this behavior, or that I structure my day around times when other dogs will not be out and I can actually train her without her going nuts, and that just seeing another dog on our walk produces a response in me similar to a mild anxiety attack. They only saw the worst in my dog and I.  I turned around and went home without having exercised her at all. As soon as I got through the door I started wailing and needed time alone. I cried for all the walks I had planned for my future dog. For all the family gatherings in summer around the BBQ where she could run around play with the other dogs. I cried for all the times we could have had a great run at the beach and afterwards watched her tired body sleep peacefully. walking down the street, passing people, not having to constantly apologize for my dogs aggressive behavior. A full year I had kept this all inside and today I just let it all out. All for the dog I imagined that I would get, but instead I grew to love a damaged shelter dog that needs constant supervision and training on our walks. YES I regret adopting her. Yes I would like to see shelters better assess their dogs' temperament. Probably the best thing for her would have been for the shelter staff to let potential owners know about her issues, and only allowed her to go to a home with an experienced person. She was my first ever dog and I was not knowledgeable on body language or training of an anxious dog. Under my care I fear she has gotten worse simply because I was not experienced and put her in simple situations that frightened her and caused her to form defensive habits whenever she see another dog - situations I put her in that would have been completely normal for well rounded dogs - e.g. a low populated dog park, or walking past people on the street. I understand that putting a dog down is heartbreaking but sometimes it's the only way to rid you and the dog of stress and suffering, as you said in your article. I really need to come to terms with that, and I fear that my dog will continue to get worse and will eventually cause a lot of trouble. I am still crying about her 2 hours after this morning's incident. How do people manage to completely screw their dogs over and then just surrender them to a shelter for someone else to deal with? If my dog had be born into a family that cared about her development and actively introduced her to many different situations and people and dogs, im certain she would have been a significantly better adjusted dog. It just breaks my heart hearing that so many of us have to go through this with so many dogs for whatever reason.


Phyllis DeGioia
July 6, 2015

Teri, I cannot thank you enough for your kind words. Most appreciated. Some day the right dog will connect with me, I have no doubt.


Teri Blasser
July 6, 2015

My heart goes out to you.  There was no way you could have predicted his behavior prior to adopting him.  I know.  We have rescued many dogs, most which have shown up on our doorstep since we live in the country.  It is a common practice to dump animals out where we live.  We had to euthanize two who turned out to be aggressive to our other dogs (and in one case our cats and chickens) when they felt insecure yet with us they were not.  The aggressors both started acting unusual months after being integrated into the household.  One developed her neuroses two years after we had her, the other only about a year.  I agree, sometimes dogs are just not wired correctly. If you are meant to have another dog you will, you are looking out for the other members of your household which it the right thing to do.  Again, you couldn't have predicted this outcome at all.  The likelihood of picking another mentally unbalanced dog is low, it is there but it is a low probability.  When the time is right you will do okay.  I pray to the higher powers that you will heal with time.  Take care.


Anonymous
July 4, 2015

I too have made the decision to send my dog over the Rainbow Bridge because I cant trust him.  The other day I was in my front yard and he was in the back yard. A neighbor came out to talk to me and asked to go pet him. I said no, if you stick your arm over the fence he will probably bite you. He walked over to look at him, and yep, stuck his hand over the fence and he got bit. Fortunately, he grabbed his hand and then let go. I saw it coming (the change in his tail wagging) and said something but the guy is hard of hearing.....dumb ass!!  The first thing he said was, dont be upset you told me not to do it.  In 2009 my house flooded and my dogs didnt get socialized like they always do, and in fact were kenneled for 40 days.  I dont blame my dog at tall. But I dont trust him around my grandkids, not men wearing black.  This situation made me realize that just one mistake could cause harm to my grandkids.  He has a super high prey drive and running screaming children is not a good thing for a dog who hasnt been around kids. In 2 weeks I will reluctantly take my best buddy for his last drive. I know if someone broke into my house he would have protected me.  It's like he knows something is happening.  He wont leave my side .Sometimes it really sucks to be a grown up.


Kim
July 4, 2015

I read your story and cried some more. We euthanized our Springer Spaniel yesterday. He was 18 months old and after year of trying everything available to get a handle on Sawyer, we couldn't go on. My husband and I were both bitten severely 3 times a piece. Each time it got worse and the list of things he would choose to get aggressive about was growing longer. We dearly loved this dog and if there would have been anything left to try, I never would have been comfortable putting him down. He was so sweet and loving 95 percent of the time but the other 5 percent my husband and I will bear as scars for the rest of our lives. I know that my heart will catch up with my head on this issue. I've cried more in the last year about Sawyer than I have about anything ever. We have had several dogs that lived long and loving lives with us and I know that Sawyer was just wired wrong. If we made any mistakes with him it was not done maliciously. I have come to believe that there are fates worse then death and I think Sawyer was living proof. He could never be off guard and just relax because of his aggressive tendencies. He was a beautiful boy and there are so many things I will miss about him. But like you, there are so many things that I can just exhale about and let go. I will be eternally grateful that beyond my husband and I, nobody was bit. I could not have lived with that. Again, with most things, time will give us some relief from the immediate pain of the loss of a pet. We wanted a companion that would live a long and wonderful life with us. Sad for us. Sad for him. Bless you for the article you wrote. The people that don't understand this have never been in the hopeless situation. My prayer is that nobody else will know this kind of grief.


P.J. Lacette
July 3, 2015

I have counseled owners with aggressive dogs in private and group sessions for 35 years, and totally agree that letting some aggressive dogs is the best thing for both dog and owner. When you are ready for another dog, you can increase your odds of getting the temperament you want from a knowledgeable hobby breeder who focuses on temperament above all else. Get a puppy that, as Ian Dunbar recommends, has met 100 new people before he is 8 weeks old, and take the pup home at 8 weeks so he can meet another 100 folks before he is 16 weeks old, then introduce him to his 2nd hundred new folks before he is 16 weeks old. That will help develop social portions of the brain and increase connections, and you can help protect him from overwhelming scary situations while he grows up. Get him into the best puppy class you can, no matter how far the drive or difficult the time. Good luck, and know  that good things are wished for you by so many people.


Stormy
July 3, 2015

To anyone who is saying that aggressive dogs should not be euthanized, think on this. it is not unheard of for a dog to attack just to attack. they can develop mental disorders just like we can. so think about how miserable they must be inside their own head to exhibit such behavior. is unfair and selfish to make them suffer mental misery when they can't tell us what's wrong


Rita MacCallon
July 3, 2015

I read your story with a lump in my throat. Having been involved with dog rescue, I have seen a fair share of dogs with aggression issues. Most were able to be rehabilitated but a few were not. The decision to put them to sleep was a difficult but correct decision. One thing that did bother me was that you took him to off leash dog parks. That was very risky. I know you loved Dodger and did the best you could to give him a happy life and a dignified passing.


Phyllis DeGioia
July 2, 2015

For readers curious about "rabies miasm,"  it is a controversial homeopathic terminology that is not supported by science or mainstream veterinary medicine. Samuel Hahnemann, the Father of Homeopathy, coined the term miasm in the 1830s, which he called taint or noxious influence. His belief is that miasms are related to chronic disease.


Jennifer Neumann
July 2, 2015

I completely get it. Glad you weren't hurt more seriously.


Laurie
July 2, 2015

Thank you so much for sharing this. My parents adopted 2 female shelter dogs several years ago. I feel that important information was not disclosed to them at the time. As one was half grown, the other was younger and long story short, the two dogs fight. The younger is usually the aggressor and both of my parents were in the E.R. on a couple occasions for serious wounds from breaking up the fights. The dogs were even quarantined once, and later returned. Then I discovered that they simply stopped telling or seeking medical help for injuries due to these "episodes". The younger dog made a decision one day to attack me as I approached the front of their home(I had no clue; never had any issues with this or any dog)and I froze in absolute fear. The only thing that thwarted the attack was she literally ran out of leash. I felt her mouth brush my leg. My family does not see this as a dangerous dog. She is calm only with my elderly Mother who has mental issues, and I ask her to close the dog up in another room when I visit. I have dogs and I do not like to say I am scared but I respect that this animal does not like me. I have always felt that the dog should be euthanized because when my Mom dies, the only person who can handle this dog is my younger sibling (who has also been bitten). My father who is now deceased, dog is now left in the home and she has never been aggressive nor instigated any episode with the other dog. I am an animal lover but I have been in a situation where I took care of a friends dog (she-the dog- had broken her leg) due to their neglect and after a month and a night where I cried because I had to lock her in an extra room because she tried to bite me and my yorkie, thankfully my vet told me that euthanizing was the only option because the first owner never disclosed to the second full information on her and her broken leg was not healing! She also believed the dog had some behavioral issues. I was so upset and she kept the dog overnight because of the danger she posed to me as well as my yorkie while I was at work. Euthanizing was the right decision and the owner gave permission but I was the one present and took her treats and took her home to bury her, even though she was not my baby. I loved her as much as I could. I am glad that someone else understands and can relate to what I went through. I am not sure how this situation with my Mom's dog and my deceased father's dog is going to end.


MightBeWorthLookingInto
July 1, 2015

I'm not saying that this is definitely what has occurred, or that it has occurred in all of these cases.  Dogs, like us, are prone to neurological and psychological problems and sometimes they cannot be helped.  I am also of the belief that "you can't save them all" and sometimes it's better to open up a spot in your home/rescue/wherever for a dog that has no issues rather than spend a lot of time on a dog that clearly suffers from some major demons. That being said, I encourage folks to research rabies miasms.  It's a vaccine reaction that *can* cause some of the symptoms that folks are sharing.  It's difficult to prove as well, but understanding it might help some come to peace with the fact that their dog could not be fixed.


Becki Bradford
July 1, 2015

I'm so sorry for your experience with Dodger.  As a pet care business owner for 26 years, I've seen this scenario in, thankfully, just a few dogs in my professional life, but it is a heart wrenching thing to go through.  I have also seen, again thankfully, far more rehab successes than truly lost causes, including in my own household of rescues, so I do believe it's worth the attempt to give a dog a chance at a good life and do what you can medically and with behavior modification to change that mindset in the dog.  But a good life means not only physically healthy, but mentally healthy.  As you said, there are some dogs that just seem to be "wired wrong", whatever the cause, and are, in my opinion, in a mental anguish from which they can't find relief, even with the best medical, b-mod and environmental management possible.  It's heartbreaking enough to have to make the final decision for a medical issue, when the dog (or cat) is fragile and at the end of his natural life for a medical cause, but when we look at a physically healthy, sometimes in the prime of life, creature that we've promised to love, protect and care for for life, it's even more difficult to do what needs to be done.  I also think we carry guilt over what feels like a "punishment" for the pet for his behavior.  Taking the life of a pet who is a risk to others can feel like we're punishing him for not being a "good" dog, which gives us even more emotional turmoil because we know that the dog isn't really responsible for the behavior, since they can't control it any more than we can for them. In the few instances where a client has had to make that decision, after exhausting all other efforts to help the dog live that good life, I've had the opportunity to share my thoughts.  I tell the pet guardians that it's really no different than relieving them of any other suffering.  We'd be heartbroken if the dog had cancer, for example, but know we were doing the right thing.  Same thing, different "disease", in a sense.  It's NOT a reflection of any failure of love for the animal.  TO the contrary.  Being willing to relieve the suffering of a beloved pet when all efforts to alleviate that suffering through intervention have been exhausted is the final act of love we can show them.  I also always suggest journaling through the process.  At some point, knowing that there was no other option, it becomes possible to start remembering the good parts of our relationships with these animals - and there are, amongst the tension, the anxiety, the walking on eggshells - moments when we know we made their lives better, to the extent we could.  That's all we can do.  The love we felt for them goes with them.  I believe the love they felt for us - and the gratitude they feel for being released from the mental pain of the life they knew, stays with us, when we're open to feel it.


Nichole Wilde
July 1, 2015

I first want to start off by telling everyone in this thread how sorry I am to hear of your losses.  Losing a pet for any reason is very hard.  But when you have to make the choice to let the dog go when they are young and in the prime of their life it makes it a very tragic event.   When I was 14 I had a sharpie I got as a puppy.  I raised him and trained him and NEVER layed a hand on him.   He watched over me while my parents were gone and he was my best friend.  He was neutered and was exercised daily.  But at the age of two he started to get very strange behavior.  He knew when my parents would come home but he started to challenge them at the door.  He would lounge and try to bite my parents. It got to where I had to get up and hold him so they could enter the house.  Once inside he was fine.  We thought he was just being protective of me which wasn't a fad thing.  Then ge started to jump at random people at the park so I had to stop taking him there. Finally we was all sitting on the couch watching TV and we all started to laugh at the show and my dog went nuts jumping at ya and bit my mom and dad and almost got me in the face.  So we weekend professional help and after one week in training we brought him home and the next say a neighbor slammed their car door and my dog went through the screen door and tried to eat the neighbor.  It was then at the age of 16 I decided to put my dog down.  My mother agreed and my step dad called me a dog murder.  But to this say it still makes me cry.  What was my choices. I know if a few people that wanted him but they had young children and one of the people I couldn't in good faith not know if he was going to use the dog for fighting so I made the choice to let him go.  This happened 26 years ago when they was just bringing the breed back.  I know in my heart I did the right thing.  It broke my heart back then but I think of how I saved my dog from harm and other people.  I hope that everyone facing this choice will try getting help of a vet and a trainer before making the ultimate choice but please keep in mind that it is no life for either you or your dog to live in fear or walk on egg shells.  Sometimes the humane thing to do is let them go.


Repoleon
July 1, 2015

I had tears in my eyes as I read your post.  I’m so sorry that you had to go through that.  I wish more people would take the responsibility of owning an aggressive dog seriously, as you did.   I visit schools with my therapy dog to talk to children about dog safety and I am shocked by how many have been bitten by dogs – their own, a neighbor, or relative’s dog….  More than half always raise their hand when I ask, “How many of you are afraid of dogs?”    As a dog owner, I feel that I am responsible for the safety of all children who may be in contact with my dogs.    There is always the possibility for unplanned, chance encounters.    We forget that dogs are predators and can do significant damage.   When the possible consequence of a  dog getting out is the injury or death of a child, the stakes are just too high.   I am so sorry for all the difficult choices that people here have had to make.   It’s a huge burden of responsibility that you have had to carry.


Karen
July 1, 2015

Sorry for your sad experience. I am no dog/animal expert, but have lived with various animals all my life. You are correct. Some dogs are not "wired" the way others are. I have also witnessed nice dogs going bad, because it was learned behavior.I have seen this with horses and mules, too. Aggression has to be dealt with immediately. I have seen it allowed in puppies, with people thinking it cute. It is NOT, and can lead to heartache later. I was attacked by a guard dog when I was 3 years old. Facially. Scars, yes, but only physical. Don't know how to tell you 'how' to manage that. It was 57 years ago. Humans have to be Alpha. This can be an easy task with some domesticated animals, and with some never an issue. Once you lose that status, I feel problems can rear their ugly head. Again, sorry for your troubles, but I feel you did the correct thing.


Deana
July 1, 2015

In the mid 1980's, I had to have my English springer spaniel euthanized.  Ninety-five percent of the time he was awesome, friendly and outgoing.  The other five percent he was dangerous.  He would attack whatever was in front of him.  It didn't matter if it was a human or a door.  This dog most likely had rage syndrome.  On that eventful sad day, I saw a sense of peace on his face as he slumped to the table.  I still remember that sad experience.  I know that not all dogs can be saved nor should they.


Karen Bordonaro
July 1, 2015

I understand totally as I have had to do that several times with the animals I have taken into rescue.  When the lives of your family and other dogs become a risk through aggression, then the animal who is the aggressor is a tortured soul and it is up to us to allow them to fly free and be happy again on the meadows of the Rainbow Bridge.


Misi Stine
June 30, 2015

I had a 4 month old puppy that I rescued years ago, Dante the Devil Dog, and I loved him and he loved us. There was something very wrong with his brain though.... at 4 months old he tried to take the vet out and was very aggressive to others outside the family. The behaviorist told us that often dogs like him would have continual issues throughout his life and could pose a risk to not only strangers but us or our other dogs (who were aging). It was one of the toughest animal related decisions I have ever made, to euthanize a beautiful 6 months old puppy because we were helpless to do anything for him. He would have been over 100 lbs. as an adult and that would have been scary with what he was already exhibited! I feel for you, and will you peace. I still miss the good parts, and will always love him. That is good to have that validated, because many would just see the issues, and there is so much more to any animal. Thanks for sharing!


Lisa
June 30, 2015

First off, I take offense at her saying to keep an aggressive dog is immoral. Every dog and decision is unique. My guess is if she had the dog for 5 yrs and at 9 yrs, of age it became owner aggressive, there was something physical going on even though he got a clean bill of health from the vet. It's interesting that she gave him clomipramine/Clomicalm which was used for separation anxiety and was not intended to treat aggression. In following the link, it says it can be used for dominance aggression, but interestingly enough, under the concerns and cautions it says a 2003 study showed that it lowered thyroid values in 35% of patients. Hypothyroidism has been linked to aggression and Tufts actually did a study on low levels of thyroid and owner aggression. I chose to allow my dog, Tucker, to live his life even though he had aggression problems. He attacked me twice, which I believe was related to the severe aversives used by the trainers I was working with. I learned a lot from Tucker and from a ton of training and education because of him. I did not live in fear, because with work he was no longer owner aggressive, and I made damn sure I knew his triggers. If I had had children, I would have euthanized him because I would have not risked that. When the article talks about the vet that got bit in the face, I feel that pet owners of dogs with problems need to be honest and err on the side of caution. Tucker hated vets with a passion, but was never given the opportunity to bite one - that was my responsibility - and if you choose to own a dog with aggression problems, you have to understand the responsibility you're taking on.


Vanessa N. Weber
June 30, 2015

In 1996, my lawyer sent another lawyer a payment for an English Springer Spaniel named Noah. When I knew that it had been received, I made arrangements to put Noah down. Noah's breeder quickly replaced him with another puppy. That puppy ended up with a very dominant temperament, but at least he didn't have inexplicable attacks of rage. Between those two dogs - I learned the difference. The breeder in question, who has long since died (let's call her Beth), had a Ph.D in psychology from Harvard and wrote her dissertation on temporal lobe epilepsy in people. She believed that rage attacks in people were related to TLE. I recall attending a seminar on TLE and it was chilling to hear various therapists describe what I felt I had witnessed in Noah. These attacks seemed to be totally unprovoked, were of short duration and were deadly. I had taken Noah in because he was not getting along with the other Springer in his household. He belonged to the lawyer mentioned above. When the rage attacks started, he would rise for no apparent reason, uttered low threatening growls and would stalk and attack some imaginary foe on the other side of the room. Fortunately, he never nailed me, the cats or the other dog in our small Manhattan apartment. After this experience - which I initially felt very guilty about, I began to collect anything I could find on dog aggression but especially on rage.  Ultimately, I gave it all to the head of the breed club's heritable defects committee. My understanding is that through great diligence, the breed, which has seen its share of this malady, is now in much, much better shape than it was in 1986. I haven't owned a Springer in many years. I would consider getting one today. But I have always been fascinated with the possible link to Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and what we could learn from looking at it and canine temperament.  Maybe it's time for someone else to take another look at that possible connection. Vanessa N Weber, MSW


Freda Driscoll-Sbar
June 30, 2015

It is an awful situation to have a 'fear biter'.   We saved a dog that had been abandoned in an apartment.  He'd endured hunger and thirst but that was not what formed him; bad breeding did.  Trigger was an English  Springer Spaniel.  He was a beauty, but inside he was a mess.  He'd bitten everyone other then my then 18 month old daughter. The last attack was on our other dog. He ripped her shoulder open.  When our vet heard this was our dog who caused this she implored us to get him out of our home for the safety of our children.  We called vets, behaviorists and they all said this was not curable through medication or training.  Trigger was a beautiful, healthy dog who was a tortured soul due to poor breeding.  It killed us, but we had to euthanize him.  It still haunts us.


Sarah
June 30, 2015

I run a rescue and have had to make the decision a few times to euthanize dogs for behavioral issues.  I cannot place a dog that has severely bitten a person or that I believe has the potential to hurt someone. That said, this sentence really bothered me and I kept coming back to it.... "Exercise was never lacking, as we frequently went to fenced, off-leash dog parks."  Dog parks should NOT be a main source of exercise for any dog (much less an unstable one).  These dogs need structured physical and mental exercise - jogging, hiking, agility, obedience, etc.  Dog parks are meant for entertainment and socialization with friendly, balanced dogs.  They are not meant for exercise of dogs with underlying behavioral issues.


Bobbie
June 30, 2015

In October 2003 I put down my beloved Jasper after he bit me the second time, unprovoked. I had tried all kinds of attempts to lesson his aggression from counseling to drugs. I was no longer safe in my home. It was one of the hardest decision of my life. Would I do it again? Yes. I believe he needed me in his life to end it. I was there for him, but It was my job to see him through. I think about him a lot, but time has eased the guilt. His life was for the most part sunny and happy and i take comfort from that. I hope the posters on this list find peace. It will come, but it takes time and healing, and is not easy. Still, an aggressive dog is a danger to all around him. It is important to keep yourself, your friends and family and other pets safe. Extremely important. Even if by doing so you have to make gut wrenching decisions.


Lisa
June 30, 2015

I always ask myself "What is the worst result? Can I live with that result?"  Assuming that I'm not killed, I would never be able to live with another person being killed or mauled.  I had an aggressive dog, luckily we lived an isolated area at the time.  Now I live in a neighborhood with lots of children.  Nikki hated children. She had good reason, mind you, but 75 lbs of insane, slavering fury cannot be kept in a city neighborhood.  She died long ago, not before a near-tragedy that still wakes me up in a cold sweat, but if I had her today, I would be faced with the same decision as you.  I'm sorry that you had to do that, but you did the right thing.


Mary S
June 30, 2015

Today is the third anniversary of the euthanization of Tumnus. He was my foster and had been with us about 4 months. We had seen him through heartworm treatment. But he had bitten everyone in our family more than once. And we couldn't determine what the trigger was that would prompt the biting. But after he did a bite and hold on the side of my husband's face and knocked him to the floor, we knew it was time. He was quarantined at my vet for 10 days and then I held him as he was euthanized. It was the right thing to do, but it didn't make it any easier. I felt a lot of guilt afterwards, thinking there was something that could have been done to help him. But his wiring was crossed and he was unpredictable. I still think about him from time to time and am very thankful he didn't hurt anyone else.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM
June 30, 2015

Dear Chantelle, I am so sorry you're facing this heartbreaking decision with Zak.  However, it sounds as though you know that he is a danger to your family and others. If with your husband's extensive experience, Zak is still untrustworthy, that is a hazard to your family.  I know how much it hurts to give up on any loved one, especially one who can't adequately communicate his own needs, but Zak just can't be the family member you need. As a mother and a veterinarian (and former German Shepherd owner), I would say you are making the right choice for your family.


Chantelle
June 30, 2015

I am glad I have read this article, I am facing the tough decision whether to let my German Shepherd Zak go. I have tried and tried with him for the last seven years and can not trust him. My husband has been a police dog handler previously and still works with dogs now which adds up to 40 years experience, however he is also unable to correct his behaviour. He has gone for both of us and it's only down to quick reactions and constantly being on guard with him that we have not been bitten. I have a son and another baby on the way and don't think I can risk his behaviour any longer. I love him to bits but don't want to act after its to late. Am I doing the right thing?


Deb E
June 30, 2015

Thinking of you & knowing that you did the right thing for both you & Dodger. Some animals simply cannot be rehabbed - contrary to popular belief. And his life had to be tough for him as well.


Phyllis DeGioia
June 29, 2015

Ms. Masuk, I am so sad to learn of this preventable bite, and I feel so awful for your young daughter. Of course you feel helpless! I cannot imagine why someone would tie up a nervous dog at a children's pool party, where children are obviously going to be running around and making a lot of noise. The dog should have been inside enclosed in a room. While I'm certain your friend feels terrible, perhaps you could call or sit down with her and ask what her plans are, what animal control has said, ask how many times the dog has bitten, and explain your feelings without threatening going to court or anything like that. After all, their homeowner's insurance is covering your daughter's medical bills.  Also, in order to get her back on the horse, so to speak, I suggest you get your daughter in contact with some nice dogs that you know and trust. This kind of attack often leads - with good cause - to a lifelong fear of dogs. I agree - owners of aggressive dogs need to think about the people your dog has hurt, not just how you feel about your dog.  Again, I am so sorry to hear that your 6-year old daughter is suffering such a preventable and terrible bite to her face.


Nancy
June 28, 2015

My heart wrenches with pain seeing all of the people this affects, and I am so very thankful and incredibly grateful for this article.  Like Sherry, we are currently in a 10 day quarantine.  I cannot stop crying.  Literally cannot stop crying.  My eyes and sinuses are in such pain and are swollen like someone punched me - yet that pain is nothing compared to that which I feel in my heart and gut knowing what I'm about to do in 9 days. Remington, my 18month old shephard/lab mix, bit a service technician in my house yesterday.  AFTER the technician had played with him and pet him and after Remington followed him around and wagged his tail and brought him his toys for an hour.  The technician was leaving and Remington nudged his nose under his hand and he knelt down, gave Remington some kisses, and then pet him for a couple of minutes and then.............JUST LIKE THAT! Remington bit his arm and when the technician got free and tried backing away, Remington lunged again and bit his leg. The arm looked horrible, instantly swollen and bruised and bleeding.  It was absolutely terrifying and completely unprovoked.  But the problem is, you see....My sweet, adorable, loving and precious Remington has bitten before.  10+ times.  All have been on myself and my husband.  The two people that love him almost more than they love each other.  The two people that have saved his life twice, after 2 life-threatening bee stings.  The two people that will never leave him alone for more than 4 hours a day because we think it's cruel to have him home alone for that long.  (and because we can't wait to be with him.)  The same two people that Remington loves more than his blue tuffskin ball or deer antler or comfy king-sized bed.  The same two people that have paid over $2,000 on a dog trainer and two different dog behaviorists.  The same two people that spend 90min/day for 9months - every day, without exception - training and working Remington.  Those two people have been bitten numerous times and we mean, BITTEN.  Bleeding, stitches, permanent nerve damage - bitten.  And the thing is, all of the bites leading up to yesterday, were all predictable and we were given signs before the attack.  We've been trained so well by the behaviorists on what to look for, that we never got mad or considered putting Remington down because we knew how to avoid and/or train through the bites.  He was doing so well with training!  As were we!  We hadn't had an incident or anything close it it in 3 months!  All three of us had worked really hard for 9 months and it was showing.  We have bonded more than most owners and their pets considering how much time we've spent working together to help overcome and live with Remington's little loose screw in his sweet, super smart and amazing brain.  We honestly felt like, though that little screw would never be all the way tight, it would be less loose and we'd all have a very happy and healthy life together.  But then yesterday happened.  He's never bitten another person before.  He absolutely loves people - strangers, too!  He loves when they come in the house!  He knows they're there to see him and he can't get enough of them.  Just like he couldn't get enough of the technician.  Until, he did have enough.  This time, though - we had no warning, no sign.  He didn't purse his lips.  He didn't snarl.  He didn't freeze up.  He didn't put his ears up and back.  He didn't get startled......he simply, and as gut-wrenching at it is to say, viciously, attacked.  Speaking with the most recent behaviorist and the vet, we are positive now, that we can't help Rems.  The worst part of all of this is the waiting game.  Ten days is so long.  Looking at his sweet face.  Cuddling on the couch.  Training with him.  Snuggling up at bedtime.  Hand feeding him.  Smelling his newly bathed and coconut oiled coat.  Falling more and more in love with him for 9 more days.  Crying non-stop.  Not wanting to stop holding him.  Wanting to die, myself.  How do I do this?!?!?! 


Shannon Haddock
June 28, 2015

Thank you for sharing this.  It helped reaffirm my decision to have my very beloved, and usually super loving, dog put down after he bit me badly enough that he broke my finger and I needed stitches.  When he's in a good mood, he's the sweetest dog on the planet, but when he's stressed, and the list of things that stress him is very long, he bites with little or no warning.  Each bite is getting worse.  I can't keep living in fear of the day he finally kills or maims someone, probably me as I'm the person with him the most and therefore the one he's bitten the most.  I wish I could just rehome him as I know a big part of his problem is environmental, but he lunges and barks and growls at everyone but my wife and I.  I know better socialization when he was tiny would've helped, but I'm not sure it would've helped enough.  He's bathing beside me right now and I feel like the worst person in the world to be planning this, but . . . this time he broke a finger, what's he going to do next time?


J. Masuk
June 28, 2015

I am reading your article after having googled dog laws in NY.  My 6 year old daughter was just attacked by a friends dog while we were attending her child's birthday party.  the dog was not considered dangerous at the time but was tied up in the back yard at the time b/c it was a pool party and there was 20 or so kids running around.  i was told they just didnt want the dog to jump on anyone.  my daughters ball rolled to where the dog was and she walked over to get it.  there was no warning, no barking, no growling....  the dog made a cut under her eye, teeth marks down her face, and bit a big chunk out of her lip and cheek.  thankfully it was still attached on the side and the dog didn't swallow the piece.  my 6 year old little girl screamed and screamed, it was heart breaking.  if it was my dog it would have been euthanized immediately.  unfortunately it is my friends dog and i have to just sit and wait and see what they decide to do.  i don't want to have to take a friend to court over the dog, but i don't want any other child to go through what my little girl is going through now. i feel so helpless.  a week from now the stitches come out and she will probably need plastic surgery to fix the damage.  i think everyone needs to make the responsible choice when it comes to owning pets, think about the people your pet hurt, not how you feel about the pet itself.


Jaclyn
June 24, 2015

Hi I just wanted to share my 2 stories about aggressive dogs. I had a bull mastiff he weighed 140 pounds a beautiful dog! However when he turned a year old he suddenly became aggressive not with his family, but with strangers. He was over protective of his home and masters so no one could pet him if they didn't already know he liked them. What made my father put him down(he was 2 years old) was not only because he bit my cop neighbor and she  sued us but because this was a huge dog that could really hurt someone especially a child. I  was so upset for a long time very angry. Then i realized it was the right thing to do. He just wasn't wired right:( he had bitten a couple people before this incident we did everything for him from when he was a puppy socializing him with dogs and people, walks play time but it did not matter. I was heartbroken!!!Here is the second: My boyfriend got attacked 4x from a rottweiler at his fathers junk yard and the weird thing is he used to sleep at my guy's feet under the desk. I don't know what happened but each attack was bad the  first was his wrist thank god didn't hit the artery (needed stitches)!! then he got his butt and side no stitches for that one then his legs and groin (almost got the package thank the lord he didn't!!!) 40 stitches for the legs!! then the final time he bit his arm up so bad he had to have surgery because all of the tendons were ripped up from his hand to forearm. I was so mad at his father and brother for not putting him down the first second or 3rd time it happened because he could have killed him if he got his throat, which was what he always went for but my guy would obviously block him the best he could, but at the same time i knew the torn feelings they had because i went through it too but my dog never bit any of us dogs are your family too so we truly love them(he wasn't only a junk yard dog)but my guy wasn't the only person he bit but he did get the worst attacks. So I do think if a dog can't be helped especially a large one it is the best thing to do so nobody gets hurt or killed. But it is still very sad for the owner to do. The rottweiler almost died from  the heat one time i was wondering if that could have turned him. He also got into a fight with my guy's dog. However he was still good with  him after the dogs got into a fight. His dog had died too before the rott bit him. It was just weird that he would turn on him just like that.


A. Barry
June 16, 2015

I am currently going through this with my 2-year-old cat. To date, he bit me and I landed in the hospital for three days. He then bit my mom and she landed in the emergency room, then continued to attack and bite her, unprovoked, every time she came for a visit. Then last week, he bit my 88-year-old landlord, and I realized that it's time to let him go. Initially, his vet thought that his issues were behavioral, and he tried to get him under control. But now his vet is convinced that, like Dodger, there is something seriously wrong with his brain wiring, and no amount of drugs, training or love will change him. Indeed, this is one of the most painful decisions a pet parent could make. But reading your article helped me to realize that I am doing the right thing. Thank you so much for this. I hope that every pet parent who is dealing with this reads this.


Susan
June 17, 2015

I would give anything to go back in time, to just those few moments before my Chance brutally bit a loved one. I ask myself, could I have stopped it?  Could I have prevented it?  What if? Even now, I feel as though I want to go out and find him.  I can't explain it, but that my mind wants to trick me into believing that he's only lost somewhere.  No, there's no real peace with this kind of decision, no matter the time that passes.  Yes, the guilt and pain becomes a little better, but not much.  The best thing that we can all hope to do is learn, and become better people for having gone through this shared experience. My thoughts are with all of you.


Michelle
June 15, 2015

I have a golden doodle who is 9 months old and has showed aggressive behavior since he was 4 months old.. We bought him from a well known breeder who loves their dogs .. He started going after our 14 year old daughter if she walked by him eating food.. Then one day I was playing with him and my daughter sat down next to me and he lunged at her 2 inches from her face fangs and all.. We were devasted but I can't imagine how my daughter felt cause she loves him so much as we do..The next morning I took him to a behavorist and she spent over two hours with us... She said if we asked her that day to put him down she would have because of everything we explained to her was not normal behavior and the fact that he is a puppy and doing that it most likely escalate.. However she wrote out a whole plan for the family on how to let him know that we are in charge... He is such a fun loving puppy but he will be approx 80 lbs and she said he has not bit her now but it most likely get worse.. We did everything she asked and she said if he Attacks one more time he needs to be put down... She has 6 dogs herself so I don't think she finds great enjoyment telling people this as I sat there and cried... 6 weeks later he attacked my daughters friend for no reason... He went up to her tail wagging and she was petting him.. Then out of no where he went after her arm and put puncture holes in her arm... We made the mistake of making excuses about why he did it.. Thankfully the family was not angry but the guilt I felt was awful.. We should of put him down,   Now tonight I am searching for answers again and sobbing cause I need a solution because out of no where my daughter was standing at the counter.. She just made him sit before she put his dinner dish down ... He is not eating but 20 seconds and he leaves his bowl and goes after her as her back was to her and he cornered her fangs and all.. I will never forget how scary the scene was for her .. Thankfully I got him away but what if I wasn't there... I would never forgive myself if he hurt her.. And no I can't give him to another family.. It is so devastating because we love him so much... I called the vet and this is the right thing to do,, then I started to search for a correct answer to see if I am making  the right choice for my family... I know it is but the sadness is overwhelming... For anyone to think that something is wrong with our society for me or anyone to put an animal down in order to protect our own children their is something wrong with them to judge... As I sit here one last night with my puppy I am devasted and heartbroken but I cant take the chance of him hurting my daughter or anyone else anymore... Would you want your child to be afraid or bit?? I highly doubt it


Pauline
June 15, 2015

I feel I needed to add something further to my story of 2nd May about my boy, Floyd.  Please, please, please, be so sure about your decision as it is so final.  There is no going back, that's it.  Only go down this route if you have tried everything within your power as I wouldn't like anyone to go through the hell we've been going through since.  I'm still counting the minutes/hours/days since it happened and it's still as painful now as it was six weeks ago and I just can't move on - yet.  I know we did make the right decision and everyone who knows us tells us the same but it doesn't make it any easier.


Bria
June 15, 2015

Morgan, Who are you to judge any of us? Who are you to say we did not do everything for our dogs! Spending money on trainers, meds, and hormones to help them. How dare you come to this site and disrespect the people on here who had to put their dogs down, due to aggression. I myself put mine down because she bit and attacked my son, myself and many many others! I loved my dog and still miss her every day; however my choice was made out of love for her and my son. As if I did not make the humane choice she would of been taken. So go preach...elsewhere because we ALL know why we made our choices....our dogs were MENTALLY ill!


Julia
June 14, 2015

Tomorrow is my beloved dog's last day on earth. On May 27, 2015 I dropped my dog off at a well know kennel and expected him to be anxious. He had snapped at my husband before out of fear and would growl at guests in our home if they tried to pet his neck. He was also showing signs of fear aggression to bikes, dogs and joggers. We tried to fix the problem and thought we were seeing some improvement. We had just left our house for our 14 hour trip for a family wedding and got a call an hour into the drive that our dog had bit one of the kennel's staff and we had to get him immediately because he was out of control. What I saw when I went to pick him up was devastating. He was salivating and clearly stressed. I felt horrible that he bit somebody but felt relief that he didn't break skin and that he bit and adult who wouldn't become afraid of dogs as a result of the bite. We contacted the breeder and told her the news. We headed straight to her house and surrendered him to her. He was anxious with her and tried to bite every member of her family. He was stressed and anxious. He couldn't relax. From the time we had him as a puppy he never seemed comfortable in his own skin he could never lay down and be calm. He finally got loose one night and jumped on one of the breeder's larger males who turned around and bit him hard. His entire hind leg is severely swollen as a result. After this incident there's no hope of rehabilitating him. I am devastated, but he will find relief from his suffering. Until this incident the breeder thought she may be able to rehome him with somebody who has more experience with the breed and behavioural issues, but it was decided that the risk was too great for him to seriously harm somebody. He won't let anybody near him to examine the would. I have a sedative to bring with me for our trip to the vet. I am sure that without it, there would be thrashing and an ugly struggle before the initial sedation in clinic and I don't want his last memories to be panicked and frightening.  I am truly heartbroken.  Words cannot express the guilt and sadness that I feel in this moment as I sit here knowing that this is all my fault. I will miss you, my sweet boy. I never meant to let things get so out of control. I will never forget you and this will haunt me forever.


Phyllis DeGioia
June 10, 2015

Morgan, I'm the author of the article. I'm glad training helped your dog, but some of the people who have written in have spent thousands of dollars in training while aggression continues to escalate. Like people, some dogs are mentally ill and frightened 24/7. If a person bit another, there would be serious legal and medical/psychological repercussions. Biting is not acceptable in any domesticated species.  As I have said from the beginning, this is not a decision to be made lightly, and should only be considered after all other avenues have failed. However, protecting people is the priority.


Morgan
June 10, 2015

Is sad that humans think that dogs should be killed for acts of aggression. Those such people are ignorant to the reasons why animals have aggression. I can tell you that there is no point where a dog will attack simply because it wants to. They have their reasons just like us as people do. So if I randomly went up to someone and bit them, I should be put to sleep to right? Even though, that's not how the justice system works today. Its insane how a human feels they have a right to take someone's life because we don't think they act right. I myself have suffered a traumatic dog experience to the point where I needed stitches, yet I did not put my dog down. I put him in aggression behavioral classes and he is still the sweet pooch I've known for most of my life. So stop making excuses and just killing dogs because they momentarily inflicted pain upon you. I am ashamed of this generation.


Cara S 
June 3, 2015

Today I am so incredibly heartbroken. I have cried until I think I can have no more tears. Yesterday I had to put down my 3 1/2 year old brindle boxer/hound mix Brody. It has shaken my very core, and questioned what I thought I knew about dogs. We adopted him from a shelter at 4 months old. He couldn't have been any sweeter. He did great in puppy classes and loved to go on walks with our other dog. He was always in the same room with us and wanted to be close to us. He wasn’t necessarily the brightest dog, but he made up for it in personality. He was the dog you dream of owning. Then about 1 1/2 years ago things started to slowly change.  He became reactive to other dogs, protective of the house, started to attack my Rottweiler, began showing signs of anxiety, he bit me on 2 occasions, then it escalated to biting my 17 year old son. We worked with a behavior specialist and our vet.  Things had improved a lot in the past year with only one incident of attacking my other dog. He was still an anxious dog and in some situations we medicated him to help with that. We were still working on his reactivity toward other dogs on walks, but it was a little better.  Brody on the outside appeared to be the perfect dog. He was sweet and loving, was friendly toward people and he wanted to be where you were.  He was a goofy dog and made us laugh every day. He didn’t get into anything he shouldn’t.  99% of this dog was an angel and anyone’s dream dog, but the other 1% was scary and unpredictable. Last week he attacked my Rottweiler completely unprovoked and we had to pull him off of her. Then 2 days ago he bit my hand and then immediately lunged at me, jumped on me and bit my side.  The earlier incidents surprised me, but this one scared me. This time he went after me. This was nothing I had experienced with him before. It was like a dog with multiple personalities. We decided that night we would go meet with our vet, but had pretty much decided to put him down. Of course the entire morning before going to the vet’s he would not leave my side, he followed me all over the house. After a very long consultation with the vet we decided to put him down. Even with a lot more work and medication there would be no guarantee and what would the next time look like. He laid with his head in my lap and went to sleep. I continued to pet him and told him how much I loved him and how sorry I was as he passed away. I hurt a hurt I have never felt before. I know we made the right decision, but it sucks in the worst way possible. I vacillate between guilt, remorse, regret and just plain old grief. My house feels so empty today. He was that dog that made you feel loved. I know he loved me with all of his heart and I loved him just as deeply. I just will never be able to make sense of why he would hurt me. I do believe that something was just off in his head, and there was never an intention to hurt anyone. No one has ever raised a hand to him and only rarely raised their voice to him. I find comfort to see that I am not alone in making this decision that no one should have to make. I had over 3 years of an awesome life with him and a lifetime worth of memories, and I know he had a great life with us. I miss him so much. Love you Brody!!!!


Venessa 
June 1, 2015

Thank you so much for writing this.  I have been besides myself with grief and guilt about putting my 18 month old 100 lb mix breed dog to sleep.  It is such a sweetheart with our family. He was 7 weeks old when we brought him home and did have fear of my husband and 16 year old son. He adored women especially, I socialized him from the time he came home with small children as I run a home daycare. He played with them fine in the beginning, but something changed and he went at a 3 year old's head. He did not break any skin, but the fact that he was at his face frightened me. Then I started to keep him away behind a gate and he would lunge bark at the children as they passed by. He had bitten my nephew who was 10 in the face, causing  a couple of tooth marks.  I had consulted with my vet and a trainer to try counter conditioning and desensitizing. He was also placed on fluoxetine. I wanted so badly to help and keep this dog. I fell so in love with him. He didn't like my 15 year old daughter's male friends that came over, he lunged towards them from behind the gate and caught a boys finger. I was becoming nervous everytime he encountered new people. I  was in denial about the behavior and my husband was saying this isn't good. I was still trying to make him comfortable around the children and new people, some days he was quieter and other days he would get all worked up. Then last week I completely failed to monitor his whereabouts at our camp area where we boat and a 3 year old stood next to him and he turned on her pushing her down and standing over her with him growling over her face. My friend pulled him off and she was scratched on the face. We don't know if it was by his claws or teeth. So I spoke with the Rescue we got him from and our vet and trainer and they all felt that it was best to put him at peace. I could not come to grips with this as I had him only for 16 months. But from a liability stand point with my busy home business and our outdoor lifestyle at the lake we could take any more chances. They told me that he had a great 18 months of life and he left feeling loved and well cared for. I keep going on in my mind, what had changed, could this guy have been cured. I am so grief stricken by having to let him go. But the professionals tell me that he didn't have a physical illness, he had a mental illness and they are suffering as well.  I just wish I had a longer time with him, he helped me cope with the loss of my 17 1/2 year old Beagle that died of kidney failure. I miss my Riley so much.


Kristal 
May 20, 2015

Thank you so much for writing this. I read your words yesterday before making the phone call to my vet to have my six year old rottie put to sleep. I rescued him as a puppy from a man who was breeding and training fight dogs. He was just a puppy but already had so much mental damage. The first year was bad, so bad, but we got through it with massive amounts of training and a LOT of gauze and alcohol to clean my wounds. I couldn't give up on him. After that first year he never bit again and he was a totally different dog. During that year I worked with the best dog trainer in town and even had the secretary from the United States Rottweiler Association come to my home (seriously went all out for him). I thought it paid off. I had been warned so many times that many times with fight dogs, you never truly cure them. Five years later (earlier this year), my  150lb all muscle baby lunged at me in another attack (no warning). I was devastated. My heart was ripped open. I started getting sick about a year ago, and I've been slowly getting weaker. He had been testing me (pulling things off the counters and shredding them), but that day he went for my neck and I was lucky enough to move enough for him to grab and then break my hand (thankfully it wasn't the neck). I called my vets (my vet and vet friends), my rescue friends, and the trainer who I worked with and am good friends with to this day. They all told me the same thing, he is regressing and is no longer safe. I went back and forth for months with this decision. I looked for sanctuaries (giving them 100% full disclosure on his history), but most are rescue/sanctuary combinations. I had to realize that because he is usually a wonderful dog (plays well with other dogs and people), that there was a chance he could be adopted out. I could not handle the thought that he might attack a child or even an adult. It would be my fault. I stared at my other two dogs that were sleeping on the bed next to me and realized that THAT is how a dog should be. He was sick. I had to put down sick dogs before (when there was no medical cure for them) and that was what was going on here. He was progressively getting worse, more aggressive and would lunge for no reason. Then I read your words and so many things struck me. I wasn't alone and it wasn't just my fight. I picked up the phone and made the call, then a couple hours later I took him to be put to sleep. I pet him and told him how much I loved him and I was so sorry he had been handed such a traumatic beginning in life. I cried over him as he slowly stopped breathing. I am heartbroken. I wish I could have done more, but there was nothing left to do. Like you, I don't regret my decision, I know I may have saved someone's (maybe my own) life. Your words made me realize that I wasn't alone and I'll be forever grateful to you. Thank you for speaking out. The people that are angry at you have never been in that situation and could never know what a heartbreaking decision this is. Thank you so much. Thank you from everyone who has ever had to make this decision. Sorry if this whole thing was jumpy and hard to read... I'm still in tears and having a hard time finding the right words (or probably even spelling them correctly!). Thank you for making me feel that even though I don't know you, I have a friend in this.


Sherry 
May 15, 2015

Thank you for having the strength to share this. My beloved dog is on his last 3 days of a 10 day quarantine after he essentially "attacked" his other human, my best friend and roommate. We've struggled with many different outbursts for 3 years, starting just a few months after we got him as a pup. I love this boy with my whole heart and I ache with the thought that I have to do this, and alone- since the other person who would be there to see it through is recovering in rehab. I ventured out into the land of the internet to see if I could find solace in my decision and I just read all of my feelings-on your page. The hardest part for me is that he looks "healthy" so this past week has been hell each time I'm able to spend time with him (I opted for home quarantine since I don't want him suffering in a shelter-and I was given that option) and see him happy and at ease. The problem is we HAVE been walking on eggshells around him, he's caused us a vet visit for one of my other dogs and has given us several close calls before this. I've been working with him and thought that we had made progress. I love this dog, like I said, and I will love him forever. I'm taking the time we have left and getting many photos of his happiness to last my lifetime. Again, thank you for being a lifeline in this time of dread.


Kim 
May 15, 2015

Thank you for this. I've been dealing with such pain and guilt for the past two days. Our 12 yr old rescue lab/shepherd mix that we've had for 2 years attacked our 13 month old. We were all together, I turned for one second to grab something and when I turned around he had her head in his mouth. Thank goodness we were there to stop it and he let go right away, but six staples later we were so terrified. We decided to put him down due to such an aggressive attack with no warning. I felt so awful making this decision, but everyone kept saying we were doing the right thing. It still doesn't feel better. You do what's best for you and your family. It was the worst thing to witness what happened to my child and the hardest decision to make to end a life. I would never wish it on anyone. I'm just hoping with time it gets better.


Eileen 
May 14, 2015

Today I put down my beloved dog Knox.  He was aggressive from the first month my kids, my boyfriend and I got him at the age of 5 weeks old.  He growled, bit and in the end attacked my 24 year old son while I was away on vacation.  We have two grandchildren who are a year old and my fear was he would attack them.  This rescue lab hound mix was my baby though. I will never forget my 7 years of utter grief and utter happiness with him.  As we were at the vet sedating him, I asked my partner..how can we do this? We love him so much and definitely kept him longer than any other family would have. Reading all these comments while making my decision help me through this difficult time.  Thank you all for sharing.  I will forever miss the smartest, most loving yet strong willed dog in the world, my knoxy boy...


Cathy Prey 
May 14, 2015

Sometimes things really do happen for a reason. I so needed to "run across" this article. A few weeks ago I put down the most wonderful 7 year old dog. My rescue, Tito. Oh how I loved him. I had him for 5 years dealing with his separation anxiety for 4. I went above and beyond trying to "fix him" finally the Vet said there was just nothing else we could try. Your article help with my own forgiveness. Thank you


Lea M 
May 14, 2015

Thank you for this article. We have recently made the decision to euthanize our pit bull Pandora, just not willing to take the chance that some day she will hurt someone seriously. I have cried rivers of tears over this decision and wish somehow that loving her was enough. This article eases my guilty feelings and its nice to know that you have achieved some peace looking at things in retrospect. Although people who have put their pets down understand the grief, only someone who has had to consciously decided to end the life of a physically healthy young dog knows about the extreme guilt that goes along with it.


Courtney Z 
May 8, 2015

I'm SO glad I came across this article, and the comments post below. I have a gorgeous Stafford Terrier Pitbull. His name is Lee. He was born on February 29th 2012! I fell in love with him when he was only a few days old. My mom and her boyfriend were the owners of his parents so of course after seeing this adorable puppy I had to have him. I ended up taking him home at only 4 weeks old. They could no longer care for them so I drove over and picked him up. Gosh, he was the greatest puppy ever. Always so happy and so friendly to everyone! I took him everywhere with me that summer. But unfortunately after about his first birthday he started to be come slightly aggressive toward other dogs. Then shortly after that he became aggressive to people he didn't know. Then that lead to him being aggressive to just about any guest that came to our home. Then to being aggressive with ANY one who comes near the house. But here within the last few weeks he's growled twice at my 16 month old daughter and once jumped on her back knocking her to the floor all whiling growling very viciously at her, which of course scared all of us to death. He's bitten my father twice over the past few years (he's grown up around my father). So we're all coming to the conclusion that putting him down is the only responsible thing to do because of his aggression toward anyone he doesn't know. It's been a hard decision. And I'm crying as I'm writing this right now because I've never felt the attachment and bond I have with this dog with any other animal I've ever had before. He's been loved and spoiled his whole life. And none of us can understand what has gone wrong. But after reading this article and some of the comments I feel as if my decision I'm going.to have to make, is absolutely the right one. I'm tired of living in fear that he's going to hurt someone, especially the little girl I love the most. And with having another little baby girl on the way I just can not take any chances of him acting out and hurting either one of these precious little girls. Thanks everyone for your stories! 


Mark 
May 8, 2015

It breaks my heart to say we had to put down our dog over the weekend.  We adopted her at the age of 6 months and she almost immediately showed signs of aggression.  At first, she’d ‘forget’ who I was and growl at me every time I got home from work.  This faded and in time she began to deeply trust and love us both.  My wife joked that she was psycho over me because she could stare at me for hours if I was working from home. The growling at house guests seemed to continue and eventually turned into biting.  It was always a constant battle when people came over because we struggled with this behavior and feared for people’s safety.  In the 6 years we had her we worked with numerous trainers, tried having friend’s dogs over (thinking she needed a buddy), etc.  Nothing worked.  In total we had 8 biting incidents with only one breaking the skin.  Sadly, she got so uncontrollable that we’d have to crate her anytime we had guests over.   Two weeks ago we had a baby.  We always had hope that the dog would sense she was ours and embrace/protect her but she didn't.  Her demeanor seemed to change and she got very depressed.  She wouldn't eat and constantly paced and stared at the baby while she was in our arms.  We had family staying with for about 10 days and in that time the dog bit my mother in laws ankles.  It was probably our fault for not keeping a constant eye on her (and letting her out) but we lost track with the baby.  We decided we couldn't take any more risks. I contacted our trainer praying that she’d offer to take her in as part of her pack.  She couldn't but suggested that I call a few sanctuaries and shelters.  We called a bunch but none would take in a dog with aggressive behavior.  Even the shelters with ‘no kill’ policies only applied to 95% of the dogs.  The other 5% (aggressive, unadoptable) were euthanized.  They told us if we surrendered her she’d surely be one of the first put down because she was aggressive, black, older, and of pit bull mix.  We also didn't want to lie about her behavior to endanger the next family who may adopt her.   We finally accepted the hard truth that euthanasia was our only option.  We felt it was best if she was in our house and with us when it was done.  A vet came over and had an awful time getting her sedated because of the aggression.  My wife and I had tears in our eyes as we struggled to hold her down because this only validated our decision.  The sedation kicked in and we held her and talked to her sweetly.  She kept looking up at us, ensuring we were there as she fell asleep.  The final shot was administered and she was gone. I've had a very hard time dealing with this.  She loved us for 6 years but I knew I no longer could put people (especially our child) at risk.  I also couldn't give her up to a shelter because I knew that was certain death, not to mention the heartbreak she’d suffer.  I’m extremely grateful I found this post.  It helped give me the strength to make my decision and I still find comfort re-reading everyone’s stories.


Kelley 
May 6, 2015

It’s almost a year since I had to let my Remy go and I still struggle with what happened. I am no stranger to the pain of losing a beloved animal. Despite a lifetime (I am a middle aged mom of 3) of caring for, loving and losing pets over the years, this one- my Remy, he was different. I don’t know if there are many who will ever come across the story I feel so compelled to type, but I am so desperate to ease this million pound weight on my chest and maybe there will be someone who has had an experience like ours: Remy came into our family last November when he was just about 9 weeks old. He was a “Rez” dog, having been born on the Navajo Reservation in AZ, and was rescued (along with his littermates and mama) by a close friend who was their doing a community service project. When my friend saw this starving (and obviously lactating) mama, Rosie, she knew their were pups nearby. Rather than leave them to their fate, which involved a .22, she brought the lot of them to her home- where she and her family already had 4 dogs. The pups were about 2 weeks at that point and for the next 7 my friend nursed everyone to health. She did everything possible to love and care for all of them until such a time as they could be adopted out. When I first saw the pics of these pups there was this one, who just tugged at me. With these adorable little black “smudges” of fur under his eyes and the “X marks the spot” patch of fur on an otherwise blue merle coat, he was a stunner. As he grew, I spoke with my friend more and more about how I’d like to have him even though my husband was not in favor and we already have an amazing dog, Sofie. But, I kept after my husband about this puppy- how good it would be for Sofie to have a companion as she is so incredibly attached to me and anything else I could think of. So… it was decided- Remy, named for a favorite X-Man character of both my son’s, was flown to us by a good Samaritan who upon hearing Remy’s origin story & the fact that I had just (hopefully) had the last of my cancer related surgeries offered to bring him from AZ to the East Coast. Surely it was fate that all these wonderful things kept happening to this adorable pup! All through the fall and into the winter, Remy kept us hoppin’. He was so incredibly affectionate with us, his people (me, my husband and our two youngest who are still at home). He did show signs of anxiety with new things: the mail truck, people he didn’t know, but despite the awful winter we just had we got him out whenever we could. Before long spring was upon us an our once 14 lb pup was a strapping 46 lb (and growing), 6 month old bundle of energy. He always required constant supervision as he would eat anything he could lay paws on- socks, mulch, sticks, leaves, snow, napkins/paper towels (definite delicacies in his mind). Over spring break in April we took the kids to the beach, Sofie stayed with my mom, but Remy couldn’t. She already has 2 small dogs and a large 6 month old pup would be too much for her. I’ve never in all the years that I’ve (as an adult) had pets, boarded them. If family or a trusted friend couldn’t pet sit, we didn’t go. But, this time… I read, I researched. I entrusted Remy to an in-home boarding company. They are nationwide, they are widely known, they screen their “hosts,” they offer 25,000 in doggy medical coverage- it was perfect. If only I’d known. Just a couple of days into our trip, he was sick, but we didn’t know why. The “host” went from he’s fine, to asking that Remy be transferred elsewhere. Somehow while there, I came to discover too late, Remy ate something he shouldn’t have. By the time we came home with Remy he was sick, so, so sick. He was vomiting and had blood in his stool. Thus began an almost 4 month odyssey of health and illness. He went from seeing the regular vet, to seeing the emergency vet, to seeing the internist. At one point he was on 6 different medications daily, special “novel protein” prescription diet canned kibble (at $100 for a case that lasted 1 week). In the end over $10,000 dollars was spent on his medical issues only to come to the realization that there was no good reason why a seemingly healthy pup developed Irritable Bowel Disease that wouldn’t respond to treatment. After the last hospital stay (he had 6 stays over a 6 week period, ranging in length from overnight to a full week with the last one) he came home stable, on meds & special food. That was toward the end of May. But, he was different. Almost immediately we noticed that his behavior was changed. Although always fearful (or maybe anxious is a better word) of things, once he realized nothing was going to actually “get him” he was good- we’d even spent the two weeks before that spring break trip going daily to the dog park where he came across lots of new dogs, people etc. and loved it. Now, after all that it took to stabilize his health, if it wasn’t us he was aggressive. His big, deep bark was scary- to adults, the children in our neighborhood. What could we do to help him? If he was at home with his fur sister and the rest of our family, he was not aggressive- just typical pesky juvenile pup. Yes, he had nuisance behaviors we were working on with him, but we did not feel any threat coming from him. I hired a Certified Professional Dog Trainer so we could learn how to manage his behaviors because we could no longer let anyone else in the house if he was outside his crate (where he slept at night or if we left the house). No 16th birthday party for my son, no more sleepovers for my daughter- we got used to life revolving around who was watching Remy so he didn’t eat something he shouldn’t, it was scheduled, it was consistent- we did everything we could for him that we knew to do. After the first session the trainer said that she couldn’t help us because he was too aggressive, but a colleague’s specialty was fear aggressive dogs. So, in comes the second trainer. She spent weeks working with me, first in person, then on the phone, trying to help us teach Remy that the world wasn’t a scary place. I’d begun to joke that Remy was “going to try and eat you before you could eat him” in a lame attempt to bring levity to this crazy situation because the change in him from 6 months pre-illness to 7 plus months post illness was shocking. I spent hours upon hours reading online, watching positive behavior training videos, talking to various dog savvy people all in an attempt to teach myself how to teach Remy. I thought it worked. I thought that despite his health concerns that his behavior was going to come back to what it needed to be. Last week we had a check up with the veterinary internist- her recommendation was that Remy stay on metronidazole indefinitely and that (at our insistence) he could slowly taper off the prednisone he was on- we knew it can cause aggression in some dogs. But, he would most likely need the special diet, biannual check-ups w/ scans and blood work. None of the specialty vets could tell us why my baby got and stayed so sick. At 10 months he weighed 41 lbs (at least 10 lbs less than he should) and exactly what he weighed at the start of his first full hospital stay more than 2 months ago. Thursday, while playing in the yard (he was off leash even because his recall, for me, had been so great and we live in a really spread out, quiet neighborhood) a woman walked her yorkie near our house, but across the street. Remy went after her and her dog. Luckily, he was not able to bite because my husband got their so quickly. But, I was told later, it was a terrifying experience for all. My husband said he really doesn’t know whether Remy would or would not have bitten. I thought it was a fluke. I wasn’t there and I am the one who does the training sessions, taught him tricks, got him to jump- literally- through hoops) surely, if I was there he wouldn’t have done that. Next day, while on leash and training with me, he tried to go after a woman taking a walk down the street. Monday night when my son came home from a trip with friends, as the door to the house opened and Remy saw my son and the other boys, he went after them with everything he had- barking, snarling, ears pinned, teeth bared… Yet, that same evening when it was just us he was his “normal” self. Except he wasn’t. I could tell he didn’t feel good. Normal is him so excited to eat that he can barely sit/stay until released to eat, but he just lay there sad eyed watching me measure out his kibble. My baby had to be put down not because he had a serious illness and not because he had developed fear aggressive issues. We made the decision to put Remy down because he had both a chronic disease and behavioral issues. My son went with us yesterday. He wanted to be the last thing Remy saw before closing his eyes, the last loving touch to stroke that precious fur, and he was. My heart is so full of sadness, hurt and an aching doubt. I could go on and on in more detail about the lengths we went to in our quest to save Remy’s life. But, what is the point? I will always question if I did the right thing. I know that the various vets, the trainer, certain friends have said we made the right call because the “next time” he could have hurt someone, maybe even us. Even today my vet called to remind me that we did the right thing by Remy- he’d started nipping my family, even me in the last couple of weeks- even a couple of times as I was rubbing him, he’d bite- no blood, but as I look at my arms there are definite bruises from him. But, I miss my boy. He was my little man, my “Rem-Rem”, “Reminator,” our “Mister,” the “Monster,” my sweet, sweet Remy. I believe I failed him in some way either because I sent him to someone that I didn’t personally know (even if they did come with great reviews from others) or maybe I didn’t socialize the right way, maybe it was because I took him from the desert to the East Coast… Did I do enough, did I do it right, did I do everything? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter what others have told me, it’s about how I feel right now. I feel that I let him down- I see him nestled on my son’s lap while we all rub him. I kneel down to kiss him and whisper softly to him, begging his forgiveness, crying as I try to tell him how sorry I am that we are here in this place and this is what it’s come to. I know how incredibly long this story is and like so many others I am grateful to have stumbled upon this site- I needed to be able to share this story and if there is anyone who actually made it all the way to the end, I thank you for allowing me the chance to tell you about Remy. He made my life better. He made me better. I will ache for him and every thing he didn’t have as much as I will try, try, try to remember that we did everything we could for him. I just wasn’t able to save him.- Remy (Sept 8, 2013-July 30, 2014)


Pauline 
May 3, 2015

I had my 5 and a half year old cocker spaniel put down last night after he'd bitten my husband for the 4th time in 5 years.  He has also bitten me twice.  All times were totally unprovoked and needed treatment.  We loved - and love - him dearly and tried everything but decided after the 5th time if he did it again we would put him down.  When I heard my husband screaming at about 7pm while I was getting dinner I immediately started crying as I knew what had happened. I don't know how I found the strength to ring the vet and get him (and my now hysterical husband) in the car to the vet who had agreed to euthanize Floyd immediately as they were aware of his issues having treated him for many years for the usual things.  He was given a sedative which he fought and eventually 3 injections - enough to fell a Great Dane she said - before he finally passed away.  I sat by him stroking and talking to him the whole time and my heart did break then completely.  I loved him with all my heart, as did my husband, but we have been living in fear for the past year and treading on egg shells.  We wondered if it was our fault but we rescued another spaniel 2 and a half years ago when he was 7 months old and he's a complete poppet and continues to be. We still take some responsibility for his behaviour but he's been like this since he was 8 months old.  We wonder if it was due to him hitting his head as a pup when someone left our gate open and he flew into the side of a car(fortunately not going fast).  He picked himself up shook himself and appeared normal.  Another time a large deer hound attacked him when he was only 8 months old and think maybe some brain damage and aggression were triggered then.  It was the hardest decision of my life and I feel sick and can't stop crying as I miss him so much, he was such a character.  I also, like others, now doubt myself but everyone I've spoken has said I've done the right thing and he clearly had a "problem" from the start.  I couldn't rehome him it would haven't been right.  Even though it was only us he bit in another home environment he might have, and probably would have, done the same thing. 


A Hoffman 
April 30, 2015

Sookie, I rescued a dog who has attacked my young son and my dog, still I don't want to put her down :/ Will you take her please!?!?


Marilyn 
April 28, 2015

We had to make this tough decision today. Our 9 year old boy just isn't quite right.  We are convinced after two professional trainers and bloodwork to try to rule out a biological issue that he was the dog that just wasn't "wired the right way".  It hurts so much, but we know that this is what is best.  We have a toddler and a baby on the way and I will always put them above anyone or anything else.  I will always remember the day I picked him up as a puppy and how he cuddled with me in times of happiness and sadness.  We gave him a good life and he taught us something too.  I will miss my Cody boy always.  Thank you for this post, it was comforting to read that we are not alone in our pain.


Erica 
April 27, 2015

I'm thankful to have found this. I had to make the incredibly hard decision yesterday to put down my beloved dog. After multiple bites it was clear she was not going to get over her fear aggression. I tried everything from training, socialization, making sure she knew I was alpha, rearranging my life to keep her comfortable. She was a good dog that gave me so much love, but her scars ran too deep. All the love and training I could give her did not help her to get through what had happened in her past. She was loved deeply, and it hurts so much for her to not be here. I know though, that she could no longer live in the fears that haunted her. It wasn't just a decision for me, but for her. I'm so thankful to read that others have gone through this as well.


Susie 
April 24, 2015

Thank you so much for this post. We rescued a mixed breed, two year old dog in 2012. We have worked hard to gain his trust, but his behavior is still unpredictable. We have a baby now, and he has not managed the change well. We have struggled for months to find a solution that protected the humans without mistreating the dog. Unfortunately, he has continually progressed and it has become clear that his past/personality is greater than we can overcome. We have seen two vets, a trainer and worked with the rescue from which we received him. He has bitten four people with the wounds getting progressively worse. Your post has helped me to see we aren't alone and that when you have exhausted your options that you didn't give up. I feel your pain, and thank you again for posting your story.


Mandy 
April 22, 2015

We have had Mr. Brimley, a Tibetan Terrier mix, for over two years. We rescued him from a shelter/foster home. They said he was a year old but as soon as I took him to the vet they said at least 3, probably more like 4 or 5 years old and very malnourished. He attacked dogs from the very start (which we learned the hard way when he kept running through the electric fence and attacking neighborhood dogs). It's been an inconvenience because we like to be outside hiking and camping and that's really hard to do with an unfriendly dog. However we did everything we could to give him a good loving and comfortable home and just keep him on a leash at all times (although he goes crazy whenever he sees a dog).  Our son was born last Feb and although he loves the dog and is very gentle with him (hardly touches him except to give him a light kiss) the dog hates him. He wont be with us in the same room as our son and growls and sometimes barks at him if he feels he is getting too close. Even this was not enough for me to even consider putting Brimley down. However, a couple weeks ago my husband was walking him and he just walked up to a little boy and bit him on the back of the leg for no reason. The boy was in his yards and was not approaching or trying to touch our dog. After that my husband said we should out him down, but I refused. However, since then I just keep thinking "What's next? What if it's our son? What if it's a face instead if a leg? What if he seriously injured another dog or child?"  I have never been afraid of him and love him so much, but if he hurt someone else I can't say I didn't see it coming. Thank you all for sharing your stories and helping me in this difficult decision.


Kathryn 
April 22, 2015

I had to make the agonizing decision to put my beloved (and words cannot describe the love I felt) baby down two weeks ago this Thursday.  I knew I would feel extreme grief, but I didn’t anticipate the self-questioning that plagued me (and has continued to) …the remorse and regret on top of the grief/loss has been unbearable. I will be forever grateful I found this site so I didn’t feel I was alone in this.  Boo was a gorgeous 6  ½  year old English Setter/Border Collie mix who I literally devoted my entire life to.  And, I don’t just mean love and care for (that’s a given) I was obsessed with trying to make a scary world a little more manageable for him because seeing him in fear/anxiety-ridden was horrible for me. Seeing him in joy was elation. It was the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  He was so emotive that when he was happy he would literally grin ear to ear, shake that tail like there was no tomorrow, and was so loving and sweet to me and my husband…really anyone he trusted.  We have no children and he was definitely my child (I have other furries, but he needed me in a way the others didn’t). Many a behaviorist would say there was an unhealthy co-dependence going on. I needed him to need me as much as he needed me. I often referred to him as my soul mate. He bonded with me from day one. He was a rescue from down south, on the kill list that a rescue group pulled out with hours to spare.  He came to us at 1 ½ years old and from day one he was tormented by noises. The list is endless: cell phones, beeps, empty water bottle crackling, fans, clicks, microwaves, vacuums, trucks beeping outside, elevator sounds, thunder/lightning (obviously!) even a squeak of a shoe. Unfortunately, I live in a bustling city. For the first month, I carried him to the park every day as he was too terrified even to walk down the street.  I was elated when we got him to walk to the park..progress! He was always on a leash, but I did notice he would be fine with little dogs yet big dogs he would almost do a sniff head thing and “bam” unless they were a super goofy or secure dog there would be a dust up. Dogs would often go crazy across a crowded street at him like he was sending some nutty vibe. That said, if a dog decided they liked him they LOVED him. I worked on the outdoor walks and made great progress there. He was so smart he would see a big dog or scary truck and do “ leave it” ( turn head, get turkey) before I even did the command. We stuck to ourselves and his brother ran ahead, but park walks were good. In the home, I created a no-noise zone to try and shelter him from fear, but it was very difficult. Despite full blood work up early on (at that time showed nothing), daily prozac and valium for situations, he never in all the years got over the noise fears. They were just as prevalent as in country house on weekend as in city..just easier to manage. In addition to the noises (although I'm sure they are related), he had a deep seeded fear of being hurt.  He was diagnosed by several behaviorists and vets as having “fear-based aggression” (a real tough nut to crack they all told me). And, he had some association issues where he would literally never forget something that caused him to be fearful.  I started to notice ( because again I was obsessed with him, unhealthily so), that after a particularly scary noise event ( thunderstorm, construction in building, etc.) Boo would be “off” for a week. Not really eating, not really happy or trusting. Wouldn’t go out with his dog walker, almost became agoraphobic. With me he always went out, but even in those times I could see he didn’t want to stay out long. Then the cloud would lift and my goofy/sweet boy would return. A real spirit with SO much personality. The bite incidents over the years are almost too many to count. Although they were what I would describe ( mostly) nips or bruises. He nipped the first behaviorist when he pushed him too far one night in training (early on we had him a month then) he bit one dog walker when he was trying to get him to go out (this was after a year of happily going with him/to his credit he showed teeth/lip curl for like a solid week before bam). That time we figured the trigger was the jack hammering outside on the street and he was too scared to go out. He got him in the face and arm. I rationalized that he ‘pushed him’ and he was scared. At that time I got a friend he met early on to walk him. She stayed on for the next 3 years, but he nipped her 2 or 3 times too.  For the last 1 1/2 years  he wasn’t walking with her at all because every time she would go to put halti on he would turn his head, lunge or show teeth.  He bit the handy man in the country when he came into the house (big old bruise on his arm), he bit my dad for motioning to move out of the dining room one early xmas morning ( behaviorist said ‘motion” was also a trigger). Unbelievably through a crazy course of events he also bit my brother’s girlfriend that same xmas day when she arrived as he thought she was an intruder and we had tried to leash him up unsuccessfully to thwart an incident. These incidents were more nips and bruises but we all remarked that he literally didn’t seem to have any recollection of it. He would be cuddling and so sweet like 2 seconds later with the victim if he knew them. Once the “incident” was over he was back to himself. I was not spared either. He bit me when I stepped on him one night when he was sleeping ( just a big bruise), bit me again when I was administering some ointment to a bug bite ( nip), and of course would go absolutely ballistic at the vet ( muzzled up always).  Just a few months back out of nowhere he lunged at me when I tried to put his coat over his head ( he has worn that coat for years so that’s a good example of association). As I type these out it’s unbelievable that it never occurred to me to put him down. I did go with an “assume he can bite anyone” approach after the handy man.  We stopped having people over ever, stopped letting him go up to people or big dogs on walks.  We had a country place and we only allowed immediate family ( 2 nieces, mother-n-law) to come up and he would be on the leash for the first while and then I held my breath all weekend while my nieces ran around. That said, he was so sweet with the family and so genuinely excited to see them. That really was the conundrum and mystery of him. If Boo knew you could be ‘trusted’ and weren’t a threat he was an absolute angel. And I grew to learn the signs of when he was too ‘scared’ to deal with the world.  There had been mornings even in the last month where he was looking outside the window, hearing a noise and I went to put the leash on him and he gave me “that look”. The dog walker hadn’t been able to walk him for a long time, but she would cuddle and feed him and he loved her.  We all accepted he was unpredictable, but knew the triggers. So, I kept working at it..and working at it. He had a bladder the size of Texas and could hold it for hours. Boo’s ( and our) only vacations besides weekends in country was to visit my family for Xmas and the beach in the summer( we rented a nearby house to avoid an incident). We managed, but it was stressful and with people coming in/out of their house we had to be on the highest alert. My mom said if I left to go anywhere he would look outside and bark incessantly. She described it as he just couldn’t cope on his own without me being there..highly insecure, but he also was clingy to her when I was out ( I joked she was the #2 one he chose).  I had created a bubble for him and we were just barely getting by, but he was my soul mate and I had devoted my life to making life a little easier for my poor scared boy. Weekdays were stressful for me as I hated leaving him during the day while I went to work. If I was held up on the train or at work my stress level would be off the charts. That said I rationalized that he was at least at peace in his own home and he could hold it and chose not to go with the dog walker.  Then a major crack emerged in our little cocoon.  In late November he seemed mopey and was not eating that well. At the urging of my friend she said you’ve got to get him to the vet to be properly vetted. I knew how hard vet visits were for him so I avoided them like the plague. For necessary shots we would do drive-bys ( muzzle up, get a prick and move on).  My old vet was not very tolerant of his behavior and so I found a new one. We got him there for the vet visit and she sedated him heavily to draw all the blood/do the exam and then we reversed it. Our first clue was when she reversed it he just laid there for much longer than he should have. He finally came to and threw up. She had diagnosed him with really bad case of Lyme Disease so we started treating that and we thought that explained the weakness/inability to walk, etc. A week went by and he was in major decline and to the point where he wouldn’t eat and only slept. By the time I got him to the vet a week later he collapsed and they were drawing tons of blood and testing it on site and came back with hypoadrenocorticism. I was in some ways relieved as it's a treatable disease, but it meant daily preds and monthly shots. It is a disease that prevents the adrenal glands from producing cortisone and regulating potassium in blood. Now for a stressed out dog on a good day, this was going to be difficult to manage. Preds had to be adjusted based on stressful situations.  And, what I didn't know is that prednisone causes them to drink a lot of water and of course pee. It also reduces their immune system and means they are prone to infections. For a dog who was scared to go out with anyone but me this was a recipe for disaster. The monthly vet visits were for percoten shots to regulate salt in blood and the muzzle was my lifeline.  Even then it was 30 minutes of PB, turkey and coaxing to sneak it around his head.  The monthly vet visits also meant drawing blood to determine the right dose of percoten so that meant him gnashing so viciously and snarling that I thought my heart would rip out. When it was over he would be cuddling with the vet. I would get home looking like I had run a marathon..covered in dog hair, peanut butter, sweat and crying. He also still didn’t want to go with dog walker during day so I was racing home from work to find him doing a dance at the door. He had accidents on occasion too which I know upset him. So, it was becoming too much and the pred clearly made him pant a lot and irritable (and get numerous infections UTI, URI). Meds were never easy as he never really had an appetite and I would spend 30 minutes trying to get pills in him. I still wasn’t giving up until a fateful day a few months ago where my world really did change. There had been major construction in the building for weeks and weeks (gut renovations in tons of apts) and that meant lots of noise triggers. Jack hammering, sawing, banging. When he was stressed, that meant more preds, more water intake. He wasn’t eating well and I was really concerned that he was going to go into circulatory failure again from the disease. The dog walker had been there and he had wanted to go with her but every time she tried to put his nose in halti he turned head. He just couldn’t muster up strength to go with her because of the noises.  I can’t go into details as there is an open insurance claim, but suffice to say he got out by himself(not on my watch) trying to take himself out to pee ( I kid you not) and got 3 people in the span of about 10 minutes..as he was essentially on his own in the building. Only one broke skin (small on hand and some bruises from a knock down) but police were called and DOH had two reports on their desk Monday morning. That was the last straw for me as it finally crystallized for me that a) his anxiety is at an all-time high and b) the preds are making what was a barely manageable situation nearly impossible and c) I couldn’t create a scenario where I couldn't gty something like this wouldn't happen again and d)He was a liability. He was mentally unraveling and the big bad scary world was winning.  My husband and I spent the last month in a half agonizing over this….the case had been sent to a code enforcement unit who came by on several occasions but thankfully we were not there to ‘check the environment’ so that weighed on me heavily. He did not do well with strangers coming into the home and I was terrified they would haul him away. A letter from the building was requiring muzzling at all times and I wasn’t altogether sure I could do that every day with the association issues. We still had the dog walker come in but just to try and feed him and cuddle..no walking whatsoever even if he asked as we couldn’t risk it. Now the elevator rides down to go for our joyful walk with just me were beyond stressful because I was terrified he would do something like jump up in the air and another police visit would have meant mandatory 10 day DOH hold which he would never mentally or physically survive. He also seemed now very insecure in his own home, barking a ton more, terrified of lobby and when we would return from country he would seem depressed and scared again. The home was no longer a place where he felt safe. I was so stressed out and in purgatory about what to do. We upped the Prozac by 3 xs to try to alleviate the fears. I had a 3 hour session with a world renowned vet behaviorist who basically told me he suffered from crippling anxiety and it would be the humane/selfless thing for me to do to put him out of his misery. His vet 100% agreed and said we are so fortunate we could give him peace. When the day came I still was not sure what I would do…even in that room I didn’t know if I would go through with it. Through my tears I just looked at my vet and said “What would you do if you were me?” And she said, “This. It is the only solution, he is mentally ill and now physically sick and we have tried to fix him with the Prozac and we can’t”. I am a decisive person and have really never questioned a decision I’ve ever made. So, I thought…I have to be strong and do this for him. Knowing I am giving him peace will carry me through our grief and my indecisiveness. Boy was I wrong…within 2 days I felt no relief, I felt only extreme pain and sheer regret. I had lived for him and he for me and I felt I had no purpose in life. This on top of the regret and fact that I saw him everywhere was simply too much to bear. It has been only 13 days but I am finally getting to a point ( in large part due to this site) where I am feeling like perhaps I did do the right thing for my boy. I protected him from a life of more mental anguish/physical pain and I was responsible and protected  others from him. That said, I am still filled with the ‘Did I do the right thing?” “Was it the right time?” “Should I have quit my job and moved him to the country?”  I cry every day ( so does my husband so that guilt stays with me too) when I walk my other dog through the park when I see the places he would pee..and roll. I just don’t know how I can see through to the other side when I can start to grieve without regret.


Barbara 
April 17, 2015

This is something I wrote about euthanasia and rescue; it applies to other situations as well: http://secondchancepoms.org/Euthanasia_and_Rescue.html


Susan 
April 15, 2015

Banjokatt:  I am so very sorry about your Domino.  But please know that you haven't failed.  In fact, you have tried very, very hard to give him a good home.  Please don't be disheartened either because love, kindness and good care can make all of the difference for some animals. But others, not.  Just like people, some of are so damaged that there is no rehabilitation.  The important thing is that you did try, and you risked everything to do so.  The only thing you might want to do now, and its no guaranty but may provide comfort, is to seek the help of a second behavorialist or a different vet.   I wish I had, but the severity of my Chance's attack removed that option for me.  As I said, it might just give you some reassurance and help you to avoid the endless self- questioning that comes after this kind of decision.  I wish you well.


Banjokatt 
April 11, 2015

My heart is breaking when I read about all of your decisions to put your beloved dogs down. I will be joining your ranks in just two days. Six months ago, I adopted Domino, a Shih Tzu male. I was hoping that Domino would be a good companion for Linden, my 14-year old Shih Tzu. I was also hoping to train him as a service dog. Things were pretty rocky from the start. I adopted Domino from a rescue organization that took in dogs from high kill shelters. No attempt was made to match the dog with a potential adopter. About 10 to 12 dogs were adopted out every Saturday at a veterinarian's office. The dogs were neutered/spayed and given all their vaccinations just a day or two before. Domino was emaciated and filthy. He was supposed to be 18 months old and given up by a family who didn't have enough time for him. Of course I fell in love with my little boy and took him home. He was so sick that I took him to my vet's office just two days later. The vet was astounded by his condition. He was in such poor health that they couldn't tell how old he was. The general assumption was that he was three to six years old. Domino had ear,  eye and upper respiratory infections. He was given some antibiotics and other medications. The vet actually had to confine all the other dogs in sterile examining rooms when I took Domino out through the back door. Two days later, Domino was throwing up really gross looking worms and had to be dewormed again. Domino had obviously been abused. He was afraid of his leash and he  had to be coaxed to eat although he was starving. He followed me around where ever I went. He just needed so much love and I was happy to oblige. Domino also made the strangest growling sounds whenever he was touched. I thought he might have had some broken ribs and took him back to the vet's, They could not find any problems. Domino appeared to get along with my other Shih Tzu and two cats but things began to get strange really quickly. He would not let my two college-age sons pick him up and he made those strange growling sounds. The boys brought their two- year old German Shepherd home to stay with us for a few days. Domino started attacking Iris, which seemed pretty funny at the time because she outweighed him by about 50 pounds. One day he grabbed Iris by the butt and she began to cry. When my son lifted Iris up, Domino held on while he was about three feet high up in the air. Domino kept making these strange growling sounds whenever he did not want to be touched. He would lay on my lap and he would growl if I tried to move him. He also started baring his teeth at me. About two months ago, he started attacking my other little dog without provocation. He would grab her by the throat and shake her. I know he would have killed her if I hadn't intervened. Domino attacked her six times in the past two weeks. I took him back to the vet and she said we would have to return him because he might kill Linden and the two cats.R. Domino was also seen by their resident behavior expert and she also agreed. I decided to take him to a different rescue organization so potential adopters would know that he had some issues to work on. He began to growl and attack the two cats and he started to growl at me all the time. I knew it would just be a matter of time before he bit me. He loved to visit my dad's two dogs and I took him over on a daily basis. He attacked my dad's 15-year old  mini schnauzer this morning. I had trouble breaking up the fight and Penny was bleeding all over. I can't take any more chances and will have to put him to sleep on Monday. I love him so much but all my love and good care was not enough. Thank you all for listening to me.


Bria 
April 8, 2015

Sookie, I still cry greatly thinking about putting my Cupid down. However when you are told by your vet and behavior lady that she well never be "right" and she is unpredictable then your choice becomes safety of others. When she would attack my son for walking, sitting or hugging his mom that's wrong! We tried hormone therapy, training, cage, ect and nothing worked for her. I loved her deeply and for you to say we are wrong to do this to our pets you gave NO IDEA THE HEATBREAK WE FEEL DOING THIS!


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
April 7, 2015

Euthanasia is always a difficult decision and an emotionally fraught topic with a wide variety of opinions.  We try, to the extent possible, to allow a space for discussion of all opinions and experiences on this blog.  However, I do need to offer a medical correction to some statements made in Sookie's post below.  Euthanasia by veterinary injection is indeed a "good death"  (the word derives from the Greek "eu" meaning good and "thanatos" meaning death.)  The drug used in veterinary euthanasia is completely different from the drugs used in human lethal injection.  This is an important distinction. Animals euthanized by the veterinarian lose consciousness before any other effects take place.  Thus, they are truly "asleep" before the breathing or heart stop.  Euthanasia is both the most difficult thing a veterinarian does and the best gift we can give both animal and owner.  I doubt any of us take it lightly or perform it without compassion.  I certainly never have.


Phyllis DeGioia 
April 6, 2015

Sookie, I am the woman who wrote the article, and we will simply have to agree to disagree. I did not euthanize  my dog for the sake of convenience; I did so because I believe it's immoral to pass along a problem that can't be fixed. His increasingly erratic and aggressive behavior was caused by crippling anxiety that constitutes a mental health disease. Medication didn't help. The word "euthanize" means "good death" - and that's what I gave him at an appropriate time.


Sookie 
April 3, 2015

Please do NOT kill your dog. That's all the word means. "euthanize". Its taking your dog (who SHOULD be thought of as a member of your family) to a foreign, scary place with a room that smells like rubbing alcohol. And having a Stranger come in and jam a needle into his vein and end his life. Make no mistake, the dog suffers. Its lethal injection. Remember the controversy surrounding lethal injection for death row inmates? It came out that the first shot paralyzes them, so their body cant move whatsoever. But they still FEEL everything after that. They suffer greatly. Do peoples loyal, loving dogs deserve that fate? After everything?? Dogs can have issues just like people can. Physical. Emotional. Mental. If your child went to school and started a fight or hit another child, is it ok? No, of course not. But should you murder them when they get home? Say a family member of yours hit another person,should you take them to a doctor and have the doctor kill them? That would be a "no". People place such little value on these lives, on these little souls that they think they have the right to just wipe the life away. You have to ask yourself, if you fall into that category of people. There are situations where one may see no other option but to put a beloved pet to sleep. Where the animal is suffering greatly etc.. But a dog with anxiety or behavior issues should not be in that category. That's just lazy and horrible pet parenting. You can find a solution. It may be really hard work and a long road ahead, but your dog and his life are worth it. He has the right to life. Work with him. Have a lot patience. Find a caring, trained person to help you. Never retaliate by hitting or hurting your dog. It will only make things worse. Please find help. I know it can work out for you and your dog. If you have to, find another home for him. A person who has the patience and means to help the dog find his way. But please, please do not make that decision for him. It takes only a shred of common sense to know if given the voice, your dog, (or any living, breathing thing) would choose life, not death. How horrible to rob them of that and take their life away. People say things like "its better for them, not to have the anxiety" or "They aren't suffering anymore".. NO. These are things people say to make excuses, try to justify and make themselves feel better. That's it. If you had the choice of having anxiety and having someone try to help or... DIE, which would you choose? Don't kill the dog. Just because he has a biting issue does not mean hes going to maul and kill someone. The person who wrote that article sounds like he probably exaggerated hypothetical scenarios that "may have happened", had he not put the dog down. He probably had to tell himself that to make it ok in his mind. His dog did not sound like a vicious killer that would have torn the face off a child. He sounded like a stressed dog, with some sort of issues. The article had way too many references to all these apparent people (vets, friends, behavior therapists) who not only concurred with his decision, but apparently all put their dogs down too, and for similar reasons... That would be too odd. And convenient. No one knows that many people who all have had dogs so far beyond help, they all had to put them down. Look, you brought this dog into your life. Do right by him. If you just cant deal with it, then really try hard to find someone who will be willing. The poor little guy deserves that. I assure you whatever is going through his head when he's biting, its most likely fear. Its not a lack of love or a disrespect thing. Hes scared, he needs help. I hope it all works out for you


Nancy Toubl 
April 3, 2015

These are all such good comments.   I am in the process of deciding if I should euthanize my pet.  He's a 3 year old cocker mix named Ringo.  We joke around and name off all the people he doesn't like ....which only leaves short women with long hair.  He has bit my daughter and I numerous times. He got loose one day and a tall man walking by reached down to pet him and Ringo bit his hand numerous times.  He isnt afraid to attack larger dogs and has drawn blood on numerous occasions.   But then there's the good things..like how he snuggles in bed and he's a wonderful companion to me, when it's just ME in the house.   One year we gave up a vacation because no one would watch him.  He's laying next to me now with his squeeky toy waiting for me to throw it.  He loves to retrieve.   Wishing this was easier. And wondering what the right thing to do is.


Monica Burnett 
April 2, 2015

Thank you, my decision was even harder as our corgi, Riley, never snapped or bit one of us. Though he was treated very well, came from a great breeder, he bit a woman at age 2.  Initially we sought additional training, therapy, and medication. Nothing worked except keeping Riley away from stressors, essentially most people. For six years we managed to work around the aggression. I miss him terribly, but it was the right thing in the end. As the children have moved on in the last few years, and since we could not bring Riley with us when we went to run on a public trail, to visit the beach, etc the poor soul was spending most of his life either kenneled at home or at an away kennel.


Susan Gargini 
March 31, 2015

I feel your pain. I had my beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback put down 2 and a half years ago. He became unwell after having an operation. His back legs kept going. They put him on steroids and although they seemed to help he started going downhill having good and bad days and started growling at me even when I sat near him. He then attacked my other dog. Lucky I was right by them when it happened and caught my ridgeback before he latched on and dragged him away but he ended up biting my arm. I took him back to the vets to get more medication and she said that he probably wouldn't get better whatever medication was given and suggested he was put to sleep as he was becoming so hard to handle. That day he walked to the vets perfectly and seemed like the dog I once knew and after he was gone I was in pieces and have never got over it. I miss my boy so much and don't think I will ever really accept that having him put to sleep was the right thing to do.


Jane Danforth 
March 28, 2015

My beagle mix has been attacking other dogs and biting people since we got her from a pound 1 year ago..we have done strict training with him to no avail..today he got off his shoulder leash and went after a neighborhood dog..my husband had to lunch at him to keep him from the smaller dog. Today he took the dog to the vet to be put down. We just could not take the stress of his attacks..he was fine with us alone..but we could not live like that..i am very sad.


Jackie Creviston 
March 27, 2015

Boy, am I glad I found this page.  I adopted an 8 week old coonhound/cattle dog male puppy who had already been in two shelters and been neutered at 8 weeks.  What can I say....I went through Hell with Buster and tried EVERYTHING...Drugs, training, you name it even shock collars and prongs.  This dog grew to 75 lbs and the shelter said he would be 40.  Bottom line, I had a big, dangerous, unpredictable dog that I could not control.  He was so loving and loyal to me but even after a few snarls on the bed I started to get a little afraid of him.  He bit people unprovoked, would actually run after people to bite them.  He even went to doggie daycare and I worked on his socialization skills but this dog still nursed from a pillow at almost four years old.  Taken too young from his mother.  After he bit and attempted to attack several people in Washington during the almost four years I had him, I got divorced and ended up on a road trip.  The dog totally freaked out and was attacking people left and right.  He bit a woman in Wisconsin that required 22 stitches and then went after a telephone guy in Tennessee.  Yes, I would restrain him but this dog literally drug me to the ground more than once.  However, even with all of the and I know my decision to euthanize Buster was humane, I still torture myself almost six months later than I could have done more.  Intellectually I know you cannot have a dog that attacks unprovoked (and it was getting worse) but his soulful eyes and gentleness otherwise were unparalleled.  I realize now that he never really had a chance...he wasn't right in the head or he wouldn't be biting people.  One of my biggest regrets is I spread his ashes in Virginia and I ended up back in Seattle so it really pains me he is so far away although I will always carry a piece of Buster in my heart (and on my wrist as a tattoo).  RIP Big Boy I hope you are happy and not so anxious.  Mama loves you and will see you soon.  I wish I could've done more.


Carrie 
March 26, 2015

Even after 8 months, I still find my way over here occasionally to read your stories. In the midst of the immediate pain things do get better. I put down my Izzie girl at the end of July and can finally consider myself 'over' the guilt. We have since adopted two terriers, both who would not have found a home if Izzie had still been here. I'm having to re-learn how to interact with a dog; to stop expecting a bite and just let a dog love being around you. It's a healing process that's taking longer than expected, but it is indescribable the joy and relief to have a home with happy dogs and happy people. I'll always have regret in the back of my mind - how could I have done something different? - but life goes on. We were able to put a miswired mind to rest, save to lives, and in a way save our own lives. To be terribly cliché, from where many of the commenters and readers are now, it does get better.


Kim 
March 22, 2015

Thanks a million for sharing your story.  I have read it many times over the past two weeks, and it has brought me great comfort.  A few weeks ago, we had to put down our three year old lab/dalmatian mix, Beau.  Early one morning I stepped on his ball, lost my balance, and was grabbing at the nearby wall to catch my balance.  He was nearby chewing on a bone, when I heard a growl and he jumped at me biting my stomach, lower arm, and pinky finger.  It happened so fast. He was a rescue dog that we took in 2 1/2 years ago, and he had always growled at us, especially when he was startled at all.  He had been abused with his previous owner.  We took him to personal training, and had continued to love him and work with him every day.  I am consumed with sadness over our loss, but know it was the only responsible choice we could make...a choice that could not be made from the heart.  May he rest in peace.  I can't thank you enough for sharing your story.


Michelle Cory 
March 19, 2015

This article has helped me so much.  I put down the dog i rescued. Although she was learning to control her impulses, she would clamp down on me so hard i was on fire.  Then came the day she lunged at me unprovoked,  and bit me 4 or 5 times in succession.  i knew at that point i had to euthanize her.  I was hysterical, betrayed, angry and destroyed,  and so sad for her and her horrible life.  I blamed myself for causing her stress,  it was one year ago and i still feel like a killer.  ignorant people still cant believe i didn't find someway to fix her.  what bothers me most is that i have ocd and depression and panic disorder,  i was saved at 36 with a proper diagnosis, and medication.  why couldn't i do that for her. I always have doubt that i didn't do enough. I also have a problem with telling too many of the wrong people, who take it upon themselves to call me a killer, and it puts a knife through  my heart.  i loved and love my Cosette.


Sally 
March 18, 2015

This article and the many comments posted afterward helped me and my two daughters more than I can ever express when I finally made the decision to put down our beloved yellow lab last year. Our sweet girl was the kind of dog that was so loving and gentle and beautiful that when she began to attack our smaller dog, her best friend of 10+ years, it was beyond belief at first. She was never quite right.  She behaved very differently with me than with our full time babysitter--often putting people and things at risk when I wasn't home. Not in a typically aggressive, mean way, but in this kind of sneaky purposeful but oddly rude and pushy way.  Still, I never had any fear of her for myself, visitors, my children because she was so smart, so loving, so gentle. Over the years vets and other people had many differing opinions about our sweet yellow girl.  Much of her behavior was considered typical for labs so having had many dogs, but never a lab, I excused much of it.  Because she was not overtly aggressive  in a biting way, there was no reason to fear her.  She was a beautiful dog so if anything, she just seemed laid back, loving, gorgeous, quirky. I did not fully realize the extend to this until she was gone, but living with her we lived on egg shells because she chewed things up every time we left the house.  She ate them.  We had to have things surgically removed from her body that she had eaten.  She'd throw up piles of things like rocks, half eaten books, plastic bags, pairs of underwear, Barbie body parts, lighters, socks.  We put everything away. We learned to live with the loss of "stuff."  Occasionally the items she ate were very special such as a book my mother gave me right before she died.  I knew I was imagining that our dog could possibly choose the things that were close to our hearts, but often I wondered.  It sometimes seemed like she had two personalities or was just too smart for her own good.  I sounded like a nut or complainer, I feared, telling our vet about it over the years.  I switched vets multiple times hoping for more advice about how to deal with her but never getting much more than a smile and a talk about the typical behavior of labs. I had many animals over the years---dogs, horses, cats, birds, etc.  So I was not a novice when it came to animals.  I felt shame and guilt that this particular dog annoyed me so much, was so hard to live with, because I also loved her dearly--she was almost "human" in her ability to understand things. More than that she seemed to love me more than any dog I had ever known--she just absolutely adored me.  It was often very confusing.  She was filled with joy, loved our family so very much. At some point early on I knew I was up against a dog that was different from any I had before.  I sent her away to be trained by a local trainer who trains police dogs because I couldn't handle her and feared for my kids' saftey.   I was told she was "one of the sweetest and also one of the most stubborn" dogs they had ever trained.  Still, she learned many things there--many "commands" and walking on a leash etc in ways that she would not do for us that gave me hope that she was capable of respecting us or being controllable enough to live with. Later in her life she suddenly began having seizures late at night.  This went on for about a year.  Then just as suddenly they stopped.   As she got older her chewing and reckless behavior when our babysitter was here every day after school did not end.  As our babysitter aged I got concerned for her safety.  Our dog would do things like run crazily around the house, ripping apart pillows, furniture, grabbing toys and running outside with them, knocking my daughters down and ripping apart their backpacks, etc.  Our loving elderly babysitter seemed to often bear the brunt of her behaviors even though she herself had many years of dog experience, and was kind and in charge.   We had a behaviorist come to the house to teach her.  We put her on meds to help her.  The meds seemed to make her more aggressive and very wobbly. She did not behave in any of these ways when I was home.  This made it particularly hard for me to not blame my kids or my babysitter in my mind.  I knew this dog was capable of acting like a complete angel. When we took in my dad's dog because he went to a nursing home, this put our dog over the edge.  She began attacking our small dog for no apparent reason.  I allowed this to go on for far too long partly because I really didn't know what else to do.  I had hinted in complete exasperation to vets over the years that I was afraid this could suddenly turn very bad.  But I had nothing significant to base this on. I even doubted my own sanity about it at times. Our lab attacked our small dog on 4 occasions that required vet care.  The small dog almost lost her eye on one attack. On the last one she had to have tubes in her chest for drainage etc. The vet that finally told me I had done everything possible for our dog and if we did not put her down we could possibly lose our small dog ---essentially giving me permission to put down our lab---this was a gift. I had read that attacks on other animals didn't usually translate to attacks on people.  And we had tried all the training suggested by our vet.  However, the problem was never being "trained."  Our lab would learn and do anything we asked of her.  It was the behaviors that were unexpected, destructive, frightening, that had nothing to do with training that I was not able to help her with. Even then strangely, I struggled with the decision.  Our dog seemed so healthy.  People loved her.  How could we betray her like this?  Her life was entirely centered around loving us.  I felt terrible shame and guilt and also so confused.  I felt angry and betrayed also---how could this dog act like this? The hardest part was taking our girl to the vet the day she was put to sleep.  Even now a year later it will sometimes take my breath away to think about it and it will come suddenly into my mind.  She was so happy and excited to go in the car.  She trusted me.  I sat with her, she got up from the floor, stumbled a bit, then went to sleep before the second shot was administered.  Yes, this image is so horrible. The morning I took her to be put down, she heard another dog walking on the sidewalk outside our yard.  We have an electric fence she rarely crossed.  I was sitting with her on our deck second guessing my decision, petting her.  Suddenly she charged off the deck and through the hedge.  I heard my neighbor kind of screaming and I ran out to get my dog.  She had not done anything violent, but her choice to cross that line after years of not doing so made me realize that I was truly putting other people at risk by having her. Rationally I would have put my dog down long before I did.  I knew that she was never quite right.  Emotionally I hung on so long that she ended up hurting another animal terribly and probably putting others at risk. I am thankful that our vet helped me go through the process of trying each and every avenue to save and restore our dog.  I am just as thankful she told me it was ok to make this decision.  Still, we struggle with it because we really loved her. I am glad I did not try to rehome our dog.  I knew very clearly that she could really hurt someone.  It would have been like putting that responsibility on others who would eventually get hurt. I'll never forget that dog.  She was in so many ways the greatest dog I ever had.  That contributed so much to making the decision to put her down so hard. I know I made the right decision. Prior to her death, my daughters and I read the stories on this blog.  It was very helpful.  Thank you. 


Susan M. 
March 16, 2015

Sarah: I, too, feel as though I am haunted by my decision and I know that I will carry it with me until die.  Our story was posted on 10/22/14.  It will be a year in less than 10 days, and its still so fresh in my mind and my heart.  I've told myself that I would never make that kind of decision again, and I have regretted the decision that I made every day since.  But, then I know that no good could have come of any of this.  Sooner or later there would have been another bite, and another decision to make.  That said, I've learned a lot since this happened.  Dogs are incredibly complex animals with emotional capabilities that most people clearly underestimate – just look at all of the posts on this site.  So, just as there are damaged people wondering in this world, so are there damaged dogs.  Believe me, time will help you with this a bit.  Its important not to minimize your loss, even if others do not understand, and to take your time to cry as much as you want and whenever you want to do so.   I still do.   In the end, you will be forever changed but probably for the better.  I know that I am.  You see, its really what you make of it.  But please, don’t ever tolerate anyone who disparages your pet again.  Those are not the kind of folks that you need in your life now or in the future.


Sarah 
March 12, 2015

So sad to read all of these stories, but at the same time good to know I am not alone. My husband I adopted Gatsby, a JRT, at 7 weeks just after we were married. For 5 years he was a wonderful companion. He had the typical JRT quirks, but we kept him exercised and he seemed a happy dog. He loved all people and animals he met and was the best cuddler in the world. He loved to spoon with me on the couch for afternoon naps. But a couple of years ago he got extremely aggressive with a vet assistant for no reason. I am typically not very emotional, but I was so shocked and upset I lost it right there in the vet office. A few months later he nipped a friend in the lip. We wrote both these incidents off, explaining them away to ourselves. But he continued to get worse. He pretty aggressively bit another friend in the face about a year ago. Then started viciously snarling at anyone who would come to our home to let him out when we couldn't get home from work in time. He bit my mother-in-law a few months back. We worked with him a ton and tried every trick in the book to ease his separation anxiety, which we assumed was causing his reaction to people coming over when weren't home. Eventually, he started reacting negatively some people, people he'd known and loved his whole life, when we were at home. We got a second dog as a therapy dog for him. My sister, who has been keeping Gatsby for extended periods of time while we were vacationing since he was a puppy and is a dog groomer and very experienced with handling dogs, became the only person we could trust with him. But a few weeks ago he turned on her and came after her quite aggressively. I think I knew at that point what was coming, but didn't want to admit it. We just kept trying to adjust our lives to keep him calm and others safe. At a party a while back I met a friend's new girlfriend and she said, "Oh yeah, you're the one with the asshole dog." I went to the bathroom of the restaurant and cried after that comment. I hated that this was how I was defined and hated that it was how people thought of my little Gatsby, who with me, only wanted to be loved and snuggled. But a  couple of weeks ago he bit my hand for no reason. I was devastated. My husband took him to the 24 hour Med Vet immediately. After I got my hand to stop bleeding, I joined him in time to say goodbye. Like so many of you, my head knows that it was the right and necessary thing to do, but my heart is shattered. I feel horribly guilty and miss him more than I thought possible. I hope that time will at least slightly heal my broken heart, but I have a feeling I remain haunted by this decision for the rest of my life.


Ashley 
March 10, 2015

I need this so, so much. We just had to put our Shih Tzu rescue down this past Friday due to his aggressive behavior. We had adopted him only a few months ago from a local rescue...In that time he bite and broke the skin on 3 people...I had been in contact with the rescue and we had discussed a behavioralist, and they said that if we chose to return him, they would have to put him down...So we were going to continue to try with him...He favored my husband over anyone, but he attacked him unprovoked twice last week before attacking my mother in law, myself, and my husband (for a third time) on Friday. It took 10 minutes to get him to stop snarling at us...And when he finally decided to go into his kennel, he attacked my husband again as he tried to latch it...After we got it latched, we knew that we had to make a decision. He would not just snap and stop. My husband had to jump onto the pool table on Tuesday and then onto our bed on Thursday to get away from him...We could not put our friends and family at risk any longer...He wouldn't let us near his kennel...We had to make the phone call to the after hours vet. I cried the whole way there and I didn't stop until I finally cried myself to sleep. The vet told us that putting him down was the best option. What kind of life would it be for him to be drugged up for the rest of his life? What kind of life would it be for us to live in fear? We chose to take him ourselves instead of sending him back to the rescue...We held him and told him how much we loved him...It broke our hearts all over again...He healed me after my miscarriage this past fall. I don't know how to handle this. I feel so lost.


Meg 
March 10, 2015

Hello everyone, I am looking for advice, I don't know what to do. Dash is my 8 year old bassett hound/black lab mix. I adopted him six years ago (I am his third owner). Dash is extremely aggressive on leash with other dogs. Walking him is extremely stressful but we rent so we must walk him. Over the years he has had a few incidents of aggressiveness toward people. He nipped my young nephew- we stopped letting children anywhere near him. He head-butted my aunt and she needed stitches- we now board him whenever we visit anyone or have a lot of company over. He bit my leg when I tried to get between him and another dog. He nipped our old landlord- we began muzzling him.  We brought him to an animal behaviorist. We tried prozac. He has to be completely sedated to cut his nails. We can't have any strangers in the home. Today he bit a stranger while out for a walk. Dash was nice to the stranger for a minute and then out of nowhere he attacked. No growl, no warning. The man cursed us out and immediately left. I have no idea how much damage was done. This dog is my world. He is so sweet and loving when it is just us in the home.  But I feel like I have tried everything and what scares me is the unpredictability of his aggression. I'm scared that he is a going to get me sued or worse, really hurt someone or a child.  I love my dog but I feel like his behavior is controlling my life and lowering his quality of life. If I bring him to a shelter I know they would just euthanize him. Can my dog be saved? Can I ever forgive myself if he can't?


Bobbie 
March 3, 2015

We have a 9 year old female Maltese that we have had since she was 6 weeks old. We have tried training and given her a kind loving home and she is kind back to us about 10 percent of the time. I have been bitten I don't know how many times she reaching down to pet her, people can't come into my home and when we walk here we usually offer several apologies to other for her straining the lease trying to go get them, we won't allow children who thinks she is cute to pet her and her people talking about our crazy dog. She spent years making the springer scale the walls of our home because he felt the need to give this dog who was 1/5 his size the entire room because he feared her. When he died of old age after having lived this Maltese for 7 of his 14 years we got a shitzu and she bit her once in the two years we had her. Now the really strangest thing is that she is submissive to our 33 year old with mental retardation and autism. It used to endear me to the dog then I did a reality check and realized that really the dog is afraid of my daughter because she can get loud occasionally but my daughter has never directed this at any animal and most certainly never struck a dog. She pretty much just goes off alone in her room and doesn't pay attention to dogs at all but the Maltese keeps following behind her wagging her tail like she is begging for attention. When I come home from work the Maltese runs up to me to greet me. She lets me put a harness on her to go walking but later the same night she will snap at me if I get too close to her or try to pet her.  I have also tried vet recommended health diets that require me to cook for her. She gets regular checkups so we haven't found major health issues. Did I mention we have tried method after method of training and everyone at my house has been bit during the last 9 years except my autistic child. What should I do, I live in fear because she has run out of the house before I could catch her and had a child cornered but I was always able to get her before anything happened. What should I do?


Janet Wright 
March 3, 2015

I am so glad that I am reading this article again.  I had truly convinced myself after the "Christmas Bite" to return him to the shelter from which I rescued him after reading this article while I dried my eyes.  Unfortunately, the shelter was not open for three days and I was forced to re-bond.  My biter is a JRT.  I rescued him from our local shelter at the end of September.  He bit me before we left the parking lot.  Anyway, this article is spot on.  I have tried many techniques to ease his aggression, but the growling and snapping continue.  He has 6 broken skin bites since Thanksgiving.  And after re-reading this, I am going to return him to the shelter.  I was his third out.  They will euthanize him when I return him.  It is a shame, because otherwise he's as delightful as can be, but, no, I cannot afford to lose the use of my hands.  Ever.  Thank you for your insight.  There is no way I can go on for 5 years.


Minnesota Mary 
March 3, 2015

I've been fostering dogs for a rescue for eight years and have become the go-to home for aggressive or fearful dogs.  I tend to be successful with them with predictable routine, gentle leadership and firm boundaries.  Until last year.  A dog came into my life and exhibited human aggression immediately.  He went on to attack my dogs with no provocation - and with no warning.  I'm adept at reading dog language and interpreting a warning but this one would be fine for two months, then attack in a flash.  He growled at other people but never me.  After I gave him every chance for nearly a year, the rescue and I decided to put him to sleep just after Christmas 2014.  It was a sad, very sad day but I was able to give him some individual time with me, which he craved.  In the end he went peacefully but I was overcome with guilt.  After reading your post, I now realize that he had problems that I just could not fix and that, like had he had a physical disability, he was suffering.  It was a kindness to give him 11 months of stable routine and gentle leadership.  He was happy most of the time.  Thank you for baring your pain and helping others through theirs.


Abby 
March 2, 2015

I am reminded of a quote from Rose Kennedy.  "After a storm, the birds still sing." It sounds like you are able to hear the birds sing more and more.


Amy 
February 28, 2015

I rescued a shelter dog one year ago. She was  2 yr old at the time and a  lab/boxer mix.  She was not house trained at all and had separation anxiety. She has come a really long way. She listens well to commands and looks like the perfect dog.   She has never been aggressive with the family. No food aggression or issues with our other dog either. The problem is that she nips at the heels and knees of people she doesn't know when they come up to the house.  After a short time she was used to the usual neighborhood kids and adults and has been fine with them (had them give her treats).   It was a fear aggression. One new friend she lunged at her knee, retreated, and then peed on the floor cowering. Shortly after she was fine and fine with that friend the next time. She's fine at the vet. She remembered my mom after 6 months and was cuddly with her on a recent visit.  She did nip hard enough to leave a bruise when a delivery guy surprised us on the porch and hurriedly left- looking like running away (he was acting weird, but nice enough luckily about the dog).  That was all in the first 5 months we had her. I thought she had over all gotten over that whole behavior.     BUT, just recently, a new friend with a 3 year old came in the yard. The dog followed them up sort of nipping at the mom's heels. We stood on the porch talking and the dogs both came in and then went out (door open) and I thought were just saying hello. The next thing we know my problem dog looks like she's nipping at the kids face! A mark but no blood. She did a low scared growl after I pulled her away.   She's so great otherwise, but the thought of her hurting a child has be sick.  If we had no visitors or new people we'd seemingly never had a problem.   I can set the under ground fence to just the back yard and keep her kenneled when people come....but I keep wondering if I am being naive.   She has come so incredibly far in the last year that I don't want to discount her ability to keep improving and relax.  I also don't want to put kids at risk.  I did have a trainer here after we'd had her 3-4 months to help with house training issues.  I'm debating going to a behaviorist, but it's a huge expense and an hour away.  I just don't know what to do.  The dog has seen the vet often and doesn't seem to have any issues she can see. She's extremely cooperative at the vet.


Sad Owner 
February 28, 2015

Thank you so much for this essay/article/blog, and thank you to everyone who has commented.  My husband and I struggled for a year with a rescue who had been abused from puppyhood, and we gave him chance after loving chance, even after he repeatedly nipped, bit, attacked, growled, and/or snarled at us, destroying some of our property along the way and harassing our older dog. Although he was a small dog (Jack Russell/beagle mix), it took 3 people at the vet's and groomer's to do anything for his own benefit-- trim nails, shots, etc. And even then, even muzzled, we could hear his hysterical crying. A nightmare for all. Of course, he wasn't all bad-- he was playful, at times very affectionate, we could see that he loved us-- but we didn't want to be owned by him. We realized, after he attacked me last night for daring to move on our own bed (where he'd been sleeping at my feet-- oh, and he drew blood on my husband's hand last week, almost forgot) we had to live our lives revolving around and continually trying to outsmart, wheedle, cajole, etc. a dog who wouldn't obey (and even treats didn't appeal to him, he had a mind of his own). We got him when he was probably 6-7 months old, and I think the abuse he suffered beforehand shaped his brain patterns and behaviors. I guess, when the vet we saw 6 months ago offered to euthanize him, we should have taken him up on it before we'd gotten so attached. And yet the guilt and grief I feel is confusingly mixed with relief and the knowledge we tried-- we did-- and we (including our older dog) deserve peace and safety in our own home. Almost every time he got out of control, it was like he would feel guilty afterwards, cowering and going submissive as if he realized he'd gone off the deep end again. We tried to firmly (but not violently or loudly) correct him, and reward docile, respectful and good behavior, but it just got tiring when he'd find new ways to be a handful. And our vet so long ago was right-- the pound is full of good pets who just want to love and be loved, and they're wired to respect owners in return for the respect and care the owners give them. He said he had to put down dozens of these kinds of animals each week, and it's a shame, to him, that so many easy, good, loving and well-wired pets lose their lives while well-intentioned pet owners struggle with pets who don't seem to want to cooperate in any way, shape or form despite the owners' best efforts. We're giving ourselves time to grieve, and trying to reassure that this dog (our of four that we've owned) was a one-off. We'll adopt again, but we'll be aware of questions we should have asked before, and we'll definitely be going through a humane society or other "official" place. Thanks again for everyone who contributed to this forum, which has helped us (and ultimately, our poor dog) come to peace.


Kari 
February 26, 2015

I just want to thank you so much for this article.  I adopted my dog from the shelter over 7 years ago.  He has always done crazy things (jump out windows, eat walls, etc.) but in the last couple years he has snapped at my father in law, my husband and my teenage son.  We knew he was not trustworthy but kept a gate up to separate him from our ten-month old twins.  Last night, the dog suddenly lunged at one of the babies.  Thank goodness the gate was there and blocked him.  I've made an appt for Saturday to put him down and, even though I know it is necessary, my heart is breaking.  I'm so happy to read this article to help me know for sure I shouldn't give him another chance.  The next one could be tragic.  I wish peace to all of you and please send healing thoughts my way.  I for sure need them to handle this.


Janice 
February 24, 2015

It's been nearly three months since I have had to put my furbaby Lexi down. I still visit this site every so often for comfort. It's a painful memory and reading all these stories helps me validate what I had to do because I still doubt myself about whether I was fair to her by letting her go. I still feel awful. We have since adopted a rescue pup who is wonderful in every way but sometimes I find myself thinking WHY couldn't Lexi be like our new pup is? I feel so guilty yet as if I betrayed her. I wish so bad she could have been different. But to all you folks going thru this same thing I hope you find peace with your decision. It's a tough road. The vets on this site were wonderful thru my whole ordeal. Just want to say thank you once again.


Phyllis DeGioia 
February 24, 2015

We are all so sorry for your loss, and understand your grief all too well. I'm glad your daughter wasn't hurt more than she was, and I'm sorry that everyone in your family is grieving. My heart is with you. It takes a long time to heal, but it does.


Lynn 
February 23, 2015

I was getting ready to go to the grocery store and I told my kids (age 2 and 4) to put their shoes and socks on. They both ran towards the front door to get their belongings. I followed closely behind. Realizing my daughter had just gone up the stairs, I called for her to come back down. My son, trying to help, started walking up the stairs calling out to his sister to "come back down, it's time to go to the store". I was just thinking about how cute it was that he was going to get his sister, when I heard the growl. I recognized the growl, I had heard it so many times before.  It was the growl that cried out, "help me, I'm scared".  I yelled "No" as I ran up the stairs just in time to see my daughter fall backwards. My daughter had reached out with both hands to pet the dog on her head and she had bit her face with enough force to knock her down. I immediately ran and picked her up and we rushed to the ER. Luckily, the bite was primarily on her cheek and missed her nose, lips and eyes, but it was a serious injury and she required stitches.  We were all devastated that our dog would inflict such an injury on a little kid without even being provoked. I felt like I had failed them both since I was unable to protect my child from my dog and my dog from my child. Later that day my husband brought the dog to the vet and they agreed that euthanasia was the best choice because she was a "dangerous dog", so rescues would not take her and if we surrendered her to a shelter they would quarantine her for 10 days and then kill her because of her history of biting (she had previously bit on two separate occasions). We did not feel comfortable even attempting to re-home her, due to her fear, anxiety, and aggressive tendencies.  So, with tears in our eyes, we said goodbye to our first baby.  She really was the sweetest dog towards my husband and I and we are so happy that we were able to spend almost 8 years with her. We are all truly heartbroken over losing her.  Even my daughter was running around the house tonight saying, "Doggie, where are you?".  I told them that she went to a new home where she gets to run free and chase tennis balls all day and night, which was her favorite thing to do.


Michele Gaspar, DVM 
February 23, 2015

Hi, Andrea, A few thoughts for you on this situation.  First and foremost, you must keep everyone in the family safe.  Your son, of course, needs to be protected and your boyfriend MUST NOT intervene with his hands, feet or other parts of his body, when the dogs are fighting.  He risks getting injured in a most terrible way.  If there is food aggression, then in the very short-term, you need to separate the dogs at meal times (separate rooms)  and not allow them to interact until each is done with her food.  If you have not taken the dogs to your veterinarian for a complete examination, that needs to be done as well.  Your veterinarian can direct you to the nearest veterinary behaviorist, or you can locate one by searching www.dacvb.org  If a veterinary behaviorist is not close by, then your veterinarian can make additional recommendations for you.  I would have your dogs evaluated without delay.  I want to encourage you to work as quickly as possible to find appropriate individuals who can assess both dogs.  It is obvious that you are very concerned about your little boy and want to  determine an underlying cause and find a solution to this sudden change in the dogs' behavior, if at all possible.


Andrea 
February 23, 2015

I need help and advice from anyone out there. I'm a new mom of my 5 month old son and that is why I need to make a change. We have a mother and daughter pit bull duo and in the last few months, the daughter pit bull has been getting extremely aggressive around food. Whether it's her food our ours. She has attacked her mom  really bad twice in the last 2 weeks and each fight gets worse and each fight is harder to for my boyfriend to break up. It just seems really stupid for me to keep an aggressive dog around my baby, even though I really do not believe she would ever harm him. I guess I know what I need to do tonight, I just need the encouragement to do so. I would never be able to live another day if something worse happened. She has been the best dog in the world, but she is just different lately. Something is off. I love her dearly. Please help!


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
February 23, 2015

Dear Matt, I feel that with a large breed dog such as Wyatt, you have far less leeway in trying behavioral modification than with a smaller dog.  Wyatt's size just makes the potential for an attack so much more dangerous -- lethal even. It sounds to me as though you have tried to do your best by him and by those around him, but this sounds like a very delicate balance and it doesn't seem to be contributing to anyone's quality of life, his included. Your legal risk with a known aggressive dog is also huge; it sounds like you know the best course of action for all of you.  I'm so sorry you're faced with this heartbreaking situation, and I wish you all of the best.


Matt 
February 22, 2015

Thank you for this article. This has been the hardest decision of my life and I need someone to tell me that I am making the right decision.  We adopted Wyatt, a cane corso, 3 years ago and he has multiple incidents over the years. He has bitten 2 people, lunged at several people faces (including my fiance who now fears him), bitten our other dog several times and most recently attacked my father's 10 week old lab puppy. He also has sleep startle aggression, which he attacks our other dog in the middle of the night. We have worked with a trainer for an extended period of time and Wyatt continues to show signs of unprovoked aggression.  I feel as though I am giving up on him and I have failed with his training. As of right now I am 99% sure that we are going to put him down. We feel that it is unfair to Wyatt to keep him constantly in his kennel (while we are at work and every night) and to have him wear a muzzle while in the house because of the occasional growling at my fiance.  We feel that it would irresponsible to give him to another person knowing his history. We know that our safety and the safety of other that interact with him is very important and we are lucky that he hasn't hurt someone worse than he has or ended the life of a puppy.  Given everything that I have listed above I still question my decision because 98% of the time he is the best dog in world and I love him so much.  I just need some reassurance that I am doing the right thing. I need to know that death for him will be a blessing because he won't be anxious or fearful anymore.  If anyone has any input it would be greatly appreciated. I feel as though I know what needs to be done but it's so hard to give up something you love.


Finnmar 
February 19, 2015

Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I needed...we have made the painful decision to put our 10 yr old Great Dane down. We rescued him 7 yrs ago and worked very hard to rehabilitate him. He's had some health issues as of late but has started regressing behavior wise as well. Then after years of no incident and without warning he snapped at our 1 yr old...that sealed it. He is old for his breed but I still feel impossibly guilty and heartbroken. I know it's the right thing but so painful...our little guy users only one word consistently and that is our dogs name.


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
February 17, 2015

Hi Jayda, If you haven't already, I'd recommend talking with your veterinarian about Tia.  They may be able to help rule out any medical causes for her aggression and recommend a plan.


Laura 
February 15, 2015

I am so sad to hear these stories.  First off, I am sorry for your collective losses. A dog (pet) is a member of a family.  Right now I am dealing with my male Soft -Coated Wheaten Terrier, age 6, nearly 7.  He has been very aggressive toward my husband's (we got married 2 years ago) English Cocker Spaniel (4 yo, male).  It seems he attacked him without warning and it's getting worse.  A few months ago I tried to break them up and was bitten very hard on the leg.  I have 3 deep puncture scars now. I understand that shock and dismay--and feeling of betrayal.  I bought Dooley from a rep. breeder, I trained him well and have had many dogs throughout my life.  He is mostly obedient, sweet, and affectionate toward the family.  Since our move into my husband's house, he is a different dog.  This is breaking my heart...taking him to our vet tomorrow. He attacked the Spaniel again tonight and I had to use the legs of a kitchen chair like a lion tamer to get him off the dog.


Jayda 
February 14, 2015

Thank you for this article.. needing some advice / support with my moms Chihuahua Tia. Tia is 6 years old, and has always been 'snappy' but it's escalated. She does not do well with change at all.  4 years ago we got another Chihuahua puppy, and she tried to kill him whenever she saw him. It wasn't until he got larger that she accepted him.. they are okay together now. Now fast forward to last year, we get an Akita puppy and Tia hates her! She tolerated her as a puppy. And as she got larger started snapping at her more. Now, she is AWFUL! She snarls, barks, snaps if the Akita tries to even come in the same room as her! We think the increased aggression has sprouted from the changes in our home. My sister, her boyfriend, and her son have moved in (In fact, I've been feeling a little aggressive over these changes as well lol) In all seriousness, she has never done well with change. She has bitten everyone in the house. Me, my dad, my mom, etc. EVERYONE! And just today, she bit my grandmother in the face who she loves more than anyone in the world! We have NO idea what to do! We live in a very small town, with the closest trainer being 2 hours away for huge bucks that we can't afford right now. Could this be anxiety? Should we get her on meds? Can this be fixed? Thank you


Vicky de Lacy 
February 12, 2015

I am so glad you wrote this article. The same thing just happened to me and my dog, Radar. He was a rescue dog(a golden cocker spaniel) and he also had biting issues. At the same time he was the funniest, most loving and playful dog in the world. He was my best friend and I adored him for the 4 years I had him. But having bit me 3 times and other members of the family the crunch came when he bit me in the eye 2 weeks ago. I was cuddling him and he suddenly bit my eye. I nearly lost it. So I had him put down even though I adored him to bits. Guilt, sadness and despair are getting the better of me. Your article has helped me.


Bria 
February 11, 2015

Lydia, It is a very difficult choice to make. And I myself know where you are coming from. Deep down you know what is best but you are fighting with that voice in your head that tells you it wont happen again or I am making to much of it. If you are scared of your dog that is a red flag right there. No-one should have to live in fear of their furry baby. If you need more input I would ask your vet or local behavior animal specialist on their view. I hope that whatever decision you make you know that none of this is your fault.


Bria 
February 9, 2015

I posted before on my Cupid, who I put down almost a month ago. Today we lost the family dog (my moms)to cancer. He was almost 9 and was sick for a week and poof over night threw up blood wasn't walking and kept drinking but would throw up. get him to the vet and he says he very dehydrated, cold and breathing swallow. Decided he was in pain and best let him go. It took seconds he was so sick and hurting. At least I know Cupid and Buddy are together again. I'm crushed and broken all over again. Please give me strength!!


Lydia Quartermane 
February 9, 2015

I am in this situation now.  My Boston Terrier has bitten us numerous times and went after a women in the park just yesterday.  Yes, he was leashed when this happened.  He has broken skin and this is a very large Boston, 39 lbs. and very strong!  I have had him since he was a puppy (8 weeks).  My heart is broken over this, especially when he is happy and playing and sweet. I ask myself why he goes into attack mode. He has been spoiled rotten from day one.  Affection, toys, treats, happy home.  I have to reconcile myself to facing the fact that I can't have a dog that I fear.  Nor can I adopt him out for fear he will attack his new owners, guests in their homes, etc. Very sad.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
February 5, 2015

Katya, My suggestion is that you find a veterinary behaviorist, not a trainer. Most aggression is rooted in anxiety, so it is important to find someone who can diagnose and treat the underlying anxiety with positive reinforcement, not punishment. http://www.dacvb.org/ Some information about training aggressive dogs: http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=6503590 A veterinary behaviorist can help you sort out what is the best thing for you, your dog and your lifestyle.  Regardless of what is done, making sure that people and animals are safe around your dog is important.  The anguish you would suffer if he badly hurt someone or their animal is huge and not to be discounted!


Katya Coles 
February 5, 2015

Hi I don't know if you can give me any advice but I have a pit\collie mix and he is very aggressive. He has not actually bitten anyone but he has "attacked" another dog.(ran up to him and was biting his ankles and ears) and it was scary. I have not put him in the position to bite other people but his aggression comes at random times. I was with my friend and her dog (the one dog he gets along with) for almost 2 hours..we walked them and then took a ride in the car. As my friend was getting out my dog Bentley tried to attack her..he was snapping and growling. He had no reason for doing this. I have had him since he was 8 weeks Old and I know that I could have done better training him but I didn't. He has really bad separation anxiety and will lash out at strangers and other dogs. When I grab his collar to go to his bed when people come over he snarls at me. I have tried to get him more exercise and changed his diet and spent more time with him. Trainers are so expensive but I am going to get a vet opinion. He also tries to snap at my boyfriend when he leaves for work in the morning. Please help I don't know what to do. some people have told me that euthanizing him would be the best way because no one will adopt him at 2 years old with this aggression. I don't even know how he would begin to go to someone who wasn't me. Thanks for any advice!


Bria 
February 5, 2015

Melissa, Thank you for the kind words and understanding. Deep down I know it was best and that I could not rehome her because of her unpredictable actions. She bit us numerous times, none bleed however they tore skin. And she started to attack my moms dog who she was raised with. I know my vet was right telling me to do what I did and that rehoming her was not an option. Still breaks my heart knowing how sweet she could be, if you watched her body language. But then why should one have to read their dog in order to love her. I will for sure email you and thank you for the wonderful idea, about writing a letter.


Melissa 
February 4, 2015

Bria, I'm so sorry you still feel so much guilt. Somehow I manage to smile when I think of Buster Brown, who was our two year old pit mix we put down last week. His behavior had been escalating for a while, and although we tried behavior mod and many mgmt strategies, in the back of my mind I knew euthanasia was the most responsible and humane thing to do after biting 4 people, one of which was my roommate in the face, and also our other dog, Kane in the eye. I think it's SO important to remember the good stuff, but don't forget the reason(s) why we were forced to make this decision. As Janine said, with her story, would you rather wonder every day if your Cupid had a good home, wasn't getting mistreated, or worse, hurting someone else? I know it's hard, but something that helped me was writing a letter to Buster Brown, telling him why I did what I did and recapping all of our amazing memories together. It sounds cheesy, but it may help with some closure. Please feel free to e-mail me at HaysMelissa08@gmail.com and we can talk some more. Strength to all of you.


Bria 
February 4, 2015

Janine, Thank you for that. I still wish I could go back in time and fix her. But deep down I know only god could have done so. I know she felt my love for her and I hope that she is at peace now. It still pulls at my heart strings thinking of her and seeing her pictures. My son is now scared that if we get another dog it well turn on him again. I mean what kid goes to pet and love there dog where the dog then growls and lunges at you? I tell him she was sick or she would not have turned on us the people that love her. I hope in time him and I can both heal. She will however be in my heart forever.


Kathy 
February 4, 2015

My 7 year old Golden bit my 10 month old granddaughter on the hand yesterday breaking the skin.  He had one of her toys and my daughter who was babysitting didn't realize it.  The baby tried to grab it and he bit her in pretty deeply.  He has been jealous of her since she became more mobile. we have been very careful to give him extra love and attention when she was over. I'm planning on putting him down asap.  It stinks but he knew what he was doing.  He never would have done that to an adult.


Janine 
February 3, 2015

Hi Bria, You surely did the right thing.  And Cupid absolutely did not know you were taking her life.  Had she known, she would have exhibited terror, and likely aggression (what dog wouldn't?), and done everything in her power to escape. Every creature will do whatever it can to avoid death when she feels her life is in danger. It's so important to REALISTICALLY imagine her perspective.  I know it's very difficult to do that when we feel such guilt and grief.  But they definitely think it's a routine visit to the vet. They certainly detect our sadness and anxiety, but they have no idea why we're feeling that.  They don't know what our plans are; they have no sense of betrayal, and they don't blame us at all---any more than when we euthanize to end their suffering.  Dogs are very good at going to sleep :) and that's all that happens for them.  For our sake and theirs, we have to understand that everything we think, experience and feel about putting them down is completely different from their experience.  Our head and theirs are separate universes!


Bria 
February 3, 2015

Janine, That is really good advice, as I wonder what she thought. If she knew I was doing this, if she knew I took her life. I guess I want someone to tell me I did the right thing: and the vet, and friends and family who saw it all say it was necessary. However I think it was a horrible event. I asked the vet that morning when I brought her in are we sure this is what is best. And she looked at me and goes yes unfortunately it is, for the safety of others. My dog then growled at her. Still feel grief daily about my choice.


Janine 
February 2, 2015

I think a super-important factor is largely overlooked by writer and commenters alike:  A good death is not a disservice to the animal!  NOTHING is taken from him.  He simply goes to sleep.  The remainder of his natural life can only be "taken" from him if he's aware that it's being foreshortened.  He's not aware of that!  He may not enjoy that last trip to the vet, but that and the needle are nothing he hasn't experienced before.  He gets very sleepy...and then he's in the same state as we all were before birth and will be after we, too, are gone. I think it's very important to think hard about the experience FROM THE DOG'S PERSPECTIVE. We survivors are the only ones who suffer.  We miss our beloved terribly. We feel horrific guilt.   Our plans and hopes are irretrievably altered. But the dog knows nothing, suffers nothing, and has not been mistreated in any way. We took in a dumped puppy who turned out to be half-Pit.  He became aggressive toward (and injured) our other dogs, who were too old/docile to defend themselves.  We live in the South and made every effort to train him and to find him a home.  Neither succeeded.  After he bit our 12 y.o. dog in the eye, we took him in to be euthanized.  He was so personable and in such glowing health that the vet refused, but said he could place him that night if we'd surrender him.  We did, but we've always worried about whether he did in fact find a good home, given the rampant cruelty and mistreatment of dogs (esp. Pits) in our area. In retrospect, we wonder if we would have been more comfortable--and he would have been better off---had he been euthanized.


Bria 
February 2, 2015

Nicole, Alana and Mellisa: I too feel guilt daily and still feel I failed my sweet puppy Cupid. I feel I should of tried harder and spent more on her BUT then I come back to realize she was unpredictable and mentally ill. I still don't want to believe it nor can I except it. I love her so much, and cry daily. I more then willing to exchange information to talk more, as I need to heal its been 2 weeks and the pain feels like day 1! We ALL have to stay strong, which is way easier said then done!


Nicole 
January 31, 2015

A few weeks ago I posted my story about my Bella who I had to put down. I come to this site for reassurance every now and then. I have been feeling a lot of guilt and ashamed and I have been feeling like I failed her. reading all these comments makes me feel better that I am not alone. this site helps ease my pain knowing I have people to relate to. Everyone on this site is very strong for making such a hard decision.


Alana 
January 30, 2015

It's been more then a year since I put my beloved Shikira to sleep, and I still feel guilt every single day for what I did. She never attacked a person, but she killed a goat, 10 chickens, ducks, attacked violently a cat, and a possum... She would just rip them up... She would then put her head on my lap with these big doe eyes like butter would not melt in her mouth and we would sit and watch tv together... I made excuses.., they where all animals, right? Prey... But she was raised with the cat she attacked, and she ripped open a door to get to him. We where lucky we where standing near by or Cid would have been killed. She would go right for the throat, not mucking around... She hurt Cid pretty badly but he was lucky... We did all these training methods, talked to vets and trainers... She always loved me. Always. But occasionally she would growl at other people and I worried she would one day move from attacking other animals to attacking them... Making excuses for her cost other animals there lives... But even now I deeply deeply regret my choice.


Melissa 
January 30, 2015

Brian, or anyone else who is in the grieving process coming to the site looking  for reassurance or support - are you interested in exchanging e-mail addresses so we can have a more active conversation?


Bria 
January 28, 2015

Just wanted to thank you for posting my story, helps to read it. Makes me realize I had to do what I did for the well being of my son, family and friends. She was mentally ill, and if my Cupid knew what she was doing I believe she wouldn't of. I was her mom, our bond was so deep. She was my part of my world for awhile and I will cherish those memories. I wish she could have been helped, or something that we did to help her would of snapped her out of it. But when you cant hug your child because she will attack him and bite and pierce anything she can that's wrong. Now she was loving and sweet and there for me...if it was just us BUT I had my son and like the vet said one wrong bit or one attack and no one to jump in he could of been seriously injured. And for us to live how we where, walking on eggshells and having to cage her, and get bitten daily or deal with attacks are wrong. I still fight with my decision daily, was I making to much of it, was I doing what was right. But the videos don't lie. I have to believe she loved us the best she could and I did the right thing, to protect my family. Having to lock her in my room so she doesn't attack my son at night is sooo wrong! Thank you for listening and helping me cope with this. ( My original story was posted 1-27-15) Side note: The mother did have some food aggression BUT still no reason for my furry baby' actions. Love you forever my CUPID.


Melissa 
January 27, 2015

I am so sorry to hear everyone's stories who ended in losing their beloved animal. I know how hard it is to lose a family member (bc that's what they are). This week my husband and I are putting down our two year old dog. In the 14 months since we adopted him he has turned into a different dog. It was slow at first, but now 4 people later, and after biting our other dog, he has now started to go after my husband and I. We have gone through two highly regarded behaviorists, and we feel this is the best decision for Buster and for our well being, but god damn, it's so hard to put down a two year old dog. But then I think of those eyes, and what they used to look like, and what they look like now, and it's sad and frightening. I afraid for myself, but mostly for my new baby (he bit all of these people before the baby came though)..here I go, explaining myself and internally making excuses for him. It's so hard to feel like you're doing the right thing when your heart gets in the way. But I keep on reminding myself what my behaviorist said, which is although he's not physically sick, he's mentally sick, and you need to be able to trust him in your home, and we are well past that point. My thoughts are with all of you through these hard times, ultimately, go with your gut. If you think your dog deserves more work, seek a second opinion, but don't spare your dog for your own heart's sake. It's just not worth the risk in the long run. Much love to all of you and please send your strength through this hard time. Thank you.


Bria 
January 27, 2015

I am happy I found this site. I recently put my furry baby to sleep. She was a poodle-terrier we think and 15 months old only. When we got her things were great our first puppy for my son and I. And she bonded with him first sleeping in his room. She was smart and easy to train to use a puppy pad, and sit and stay ect. Then at 8 months things began to change. we noticed she became food aggressive, and right away called vet and behavioralist. They gave wonderful tips and we used them and things began to calm down. Will then she became aggressive over me, noone could come by me on the couch, noone could enter my room. My 10 yr old son was terrorized by Cupid (the dog) he would try to come in my room and she would growl and lunge at him. All of this was unprovoked. We then went back vet and saw their behavorlist and got more tips, kennel, show dominance, control everything for her. But nothing worked she became worse and started snapping and growling at my sons friends, and growling and nipping people for no reason. She would just go at them. This continued for months and continued to increase, now I'm not rich so i could not do these expensive brain scans. We continued to work with her and it became worse she began to attack my son 2 to 3 times a day. Jumping at him, piercing his clothes and bitting his feet. My son could not walk down the hall, sit at the dinner table or on the couch. We began reading her body language...petting her and watching her eyes knowing when we had move. Once my son was petting her and she jumped at his face just missing him. Now when i would step in and try remove her she turned on me, growling and snarling and baring all her teeth and just evil looking. I would cry becasue this was my puppy her and i become closer as she knew i was the hand that feed her. She was my shadow my furry baby. So when she did this I was heart broken. Things increased with her behavior and attacks. I started recording her attacks to show the vet and behaor lady. She began to break skin and my son was not allowed to live in his own house, we began to not let people over, and began to worry what she would do. She became unpredictable and dangerous. By now we have been bitten numerous times and she has punctured skin. Also ripping hole clothes trying jump at us. on Monday 12th I went back to the vet, we have tried collar with hormones and behavior tips and had medical exams done and she was "healthy" yet that monday I told her and showed the vet videos and began to cry saying my son was scared and she would attack him for no reason and then turn on me when i jumped in to help him. The vet was in shock watching the video, and seeing this lil dog there now. She goes strike 1 was the food, strike 2 was her aggression on anything and now she has bitten and your son in danger. STRIKE 3. I began to cry harder, saying she young and this wrong. The vet told me it was best becasue she was now an unpredictable animal. I went home that night and told my son, he cried and Cupid would go kiss his face and lay by him and then snap growl and nip at him. So that night im in my room and i hear my son cry and i go in and my dog has him backed in to the headboard of his bed. She snarling and growling and freaking out. I walk in and say down firm and all that nope she turned at me. I grabbed a pillow to shield myself(as we do alot) and she goes at that pillow shaking it and pulling it. I get my son out and her and i go head to head. she got my hand, no blood swollen and punctured. I cried all night ...I knew the vet was right my dog was not healthy. I called the vet that morning and told them, crying i said it has to be down. No-one should be afraid of their dog, or be bitten or terrorized in their home. They were very supportive. I went in that friday 16th and was with her the whole time. I cry every day and evryone including the vet tells me was not my fault, she could not be rehomed becasue of her issues and she was an unpredictable animal. Now i have videos of her and pictures all around, and i remember this sweet loving lil puppy and try block out the past 7 months of aggression she had. She was sick i know that, and reading all this stories helped me alot. Now of course there is more details and what have you but this was the short version. I will never love a dog as deeply as i did her, our bond was strong. And every day I ask myself why me, why couldnt she love us both. Ill never know and the what ifs and doubt and pain will never end for me. And people are like that your son, i was ready put others at risk to keep her. I know now she was mentally ill and she is at peace. REST WELL MY CUPID!


Shirley Newland 
January 26, 2015

We have a 4 year old lhasa mix adopted from the shelter 3 years ago and last night was the first time my husband and I talked about the possibility of euthanizing our beloved Cookie. My husband was playing with her and fiddled with her tail and she snapped at him (didn't actually bite but left a little bruise.) She has done this with him a couple of times. She is also extremely aggressive with any visitors and can't be trusted (we put her in a separate room.) Our brother is coming in to visit for several days and we are having her boarded as there will be visitors in the house and we don't want anybody bitten. She has nipped at visitors but has never broken skin, just a nip, usually if they got up to move around or leave. We don't know what to do with her as this behavior became apparent shortly after we brought her home but we felt training ( we hired a dog behaviorist the vet had recommended) and love would fix it. Sadly, it hasn't.


Steve 
January 25, 2015

Yesterday morning, I had to do the hardest thing I've ever done.  I had to put my beautiful tri-colored boy down.  I rescued Tippy when he was 3 and a half.  He recently turned 9.  In the 6 years I had him, he bit 7 people.  Thankfully(?) it was always friends or family so I was never sued.  I think I always used that as my excuse to not make this decision before.  Even with a muzzle, he would always try to attack visitors.  I had him on different medications that, for most dogs, would have helped but none worked for him.  Training did not help.  With me and my roommate he was the most loving dog.  But anyone else that would visit, he had to be locked up.  Even after they would leave, he would charge around the house for 5 minutes barking and looking for someone to attack.  He seemed ok at the dog park, but the last few times I was becoming nervous as he would sometimes follow people barking at them. I was his third owner.  I believe now he was abandoned twice due to these issues, but his previous owners didn't want the guilt of having to put him to sleep.  I feel like he had to pay the ultimate price for something that wasn't his fault.  I feel like I failed him.  I miss him terribly and break down constantly thinking of him.  I've had to put other dogs to sleep due to old age or health issues, but Tippy was different.  He was only 9 and had no physically health issues.  I realize his issues were in his head but because he was a rescue, he earned a special place in my heart.  I miss my special little guy so much at times it feels like the pain will never go away.  I try to tell myself that had it been any other owner, he would never have made it to 9 so he at least got 6 years of a great life, but there is still a place in my heart that feels empty without him.


Brian 
January 24, 2015

I keep coming to re-read this for some support.  Thank you.  I put down a long-time friend, Rufus, and I'm having a very hard time living with his passing.  It helps to hear other people with similar circumstances.  Thank you all.


Andy 
January 23, 2015

Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to respond and help me. I really appreciate the support and reassurance from someone who is in the same situation. I would like to also thank Phyllis for bringing this community together for emotional support and reassurance. I am starting to realise that the guilt I am feeling is actually sadness, guilt would have manifested if we did not make the ultimate sacrifice and allowed something like this to happen to someone again. I hope in time we can both be at peace with what we have had to do, and everyone else who has also been through such a horrific experience. The knowledge that we have protected others and acted responsibly should aid us both in this transition. I look forward to recalling the millions of happy memories we made together and to a time where I can once again smile and laugh. With the continued support of people such as yourself, this will occur sooner than if I were grieving alone. Take care and good luck in your own healing process, and again thank you for your help.


Bradley Brown 
January 23, 2015

As I sit here with tears in my eyes I know this article is right. I know my decision to protect my family was right. But, how do I lose the feeling of total loss? How do I let go and understand it was right? How do I after all the time, training, showing, canine good behavior test, etc.... explain how he could go after my own child....... I'm so lost and depressed still although I hide it everyday with alternative thought, and drinking. I feel like I am to blame, I feel like I failed him even thought the rational side says I know I am right. I see posts all the time of dogs just like mine and it makes me fee guilty. It makes me look at my son with a bit of "you caused this" even though he had nothing to do with it and I would protect him at the last breath of my life. Dogs really reach an emotional level that most humans can't, and its a loss that I bare for each and every one that I have lost until this last Dog. He was special, he was my best friend, he was my star, but he failed me. I think my hurt is that dogs had never failed me...... maybe that they had always been my hero as a child coming from a not so perfect childhood of constant parents fighting. Maybe just this once a dog had failed me like humans had always and I just couldn't understand it. Could it be that my only true trust relied on dogs???? I've come to face that dogs are my therapy, and although I will never be able to explain the actions of my best friend, I also cannot answer for crimes in which he chose to commit. My eyes swell, my tears fall like lost friends from years gone past, but my memory of him will always remain positive. I hope that one day i will get to see my Bear again, I hope that he will never hold his actions against mine for the choice I had to make, I hope that he forgives me and I forgive him , and we can meet together while I hold him stretched out across my belly and legs rubbing his tummy and giving him the unconditional love he always deserved. I hope my feeling of being completely empty and sad passes, and that faith is restored one day. One dog, who liath in Heaven, Bear is his name, and I wish him the best until we can meet again. Until then, I will carry this extremely large rock in my chest for my brother who has passed on much to early. Bear was a friend, although I cannot forget his choice, and I am thankful for my wife and child's safety, I will always forgive and love him for eternity!


Evelyn 
January 22, 2015

Sorry for what you have been through. I too had a dog like this.  He was only 18 months old when he attacked my daughter for absolutely no reason. He was a very anxious dog since we got him. In the beginning he was fine, nervous with anxiety but was fine with our family. No aggression at all. Then things started to change. He would growl at strangers, cower from any loud sound, yawn continually with anxiety. Got very anxious when we left the house, even nervous when on walks. He had bitten a friend needing 10 stitches( someone he knew since he was a pup) I made an excuse for it and got a trainer and behaviorist who told me he had weak nerves, just wired bad. We chose to keep him and work through it after all he was great with us. Snuggled with my kids on the couch, happy when we were around. Then he snapped at my nephew just for walking past him, lunged at me several times when I tried to get him away from our cat.(stare down) he never I'd this in the past. Something was changing in him. He would hide under the house outside when he heard a  Noise. Even his eyes had changed. The sparkle was gone. On the day my daughter got attacked he was just laying on the patio, like he always did. My 10 year old daughter opened the door and called him for dinner like we do every night. I heard her open the door, her voice was sweet like always. I heard her say "what's wrong, come on boy", within seconds I heard her blood-curdling screams, I got to the door in seconds, she was standing with her arms crossed over her chest, blood on her arms, he just kept jumping at her trying to land more bites, snarling. It was all seconds but it is etched in my mind forever. He retreated the minute I called his name. Her had bite her hands puncture wounds, and jumped in and bit her chest. Requiring 8 stitches.  Doctors said she had multiple scrapes to her chest, which indicating he couldn't latch onto her. I still to this day can't understand why he would do this to his own girl. They were friends. We loved our dog. But how many times was I going to make excuses for him. With my daughter's bite, it was 5 total nips/bites behind him. I think his anxiety made him snap. No one had any explanation why, except that he was just wired wrong.  There was no other option. The next time he could have seriously injured or killed.


Jennifer Knotts 
January 21, 2015

Andy- I wanted to send you a word of support… your story is so familiar to mine and so very fresh like my pain is.  If you scroll down, my story is below about my beloved poodle. I have and had many of the same exact feelings you are experiencing… On the morning we went to send Scooby to Heaven, January 2nd of this year…. I talked to the vet again about the decision.  My vet has been involved in Scooby's life for the past 6 years and knew what we'd been through in his total 7.5 years.  Like your beloved baby, Scooby would get incredibly nervous around shouting, loud noises, if a guest was over and putting their shoes on, he'd start batting his eyes and lowering his head in nervousness… the sound of ice coming out of the fridge and dropping into a cup would all but send him into a tizzy… he was truly ALWAYS nervous and had terrible separation anxiety from being away from my husband and I. That day, the vet told me that Scooby made the final choice so that we didn't have to… we truly didn't have a choice.  When a dog shows signs of aggression to a child, that's it… there is no going back.  You, like me, are so very lucky that your dog didn't hurt anyone more than he did… that doesn't make him a bad dog though… it makes him stressed and he "was" living with a disease.  Although it wasn't a cancer, it was still eating him and he was suffering from it… you ended his suffering.  <-- this is the advice that my vet gave me, and although it was PAINFUL to hear, it "did" help me understand that there was nothing I could do for Scooby any longer.  They truly become part of your family and it's heart wrenching to let them go.  It's been nearly 3 weeks and I still cry daily… not always in sadness… I choose to remember all of the times that little "neurotic" dog made me smile… how many lasting memories I'll have with him forever.  Nothing will ever fill the void, but, I promise, the grieving process "does" get more bearable once you are able to let yourself focus on the good memories and to not blame yourself for the bad ones. If you ever need someone to talk to-  I'm here to listen, because I truly know exactly how you feel.  You did the right thing for both of you.  Take care! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
January 20 2015

Thao My, I am very sorry for your loss of your dog.  It does hurt!  Know that she is in a place where she will no longer be scared and take the chance of biting someone.  I know you would have felt a lot worse had she seriously bitten one of your friends.


Andy 
January 19, 2015

Thank you to everyone that has shared their horrific experiences. It soothes me to know I am in the company of like minded dog lovers who have had to make the hardest decision ever to euthanize a dog who is their best friend. I am so glad I found this site and hope others can take comfort in my words too. My story is about my beloved 4.1/2 year old boarder collie Archie. He honestly was the love of my life and the most loyal, loving and caring dog I have ever known. He was everything to me, my life revolved around making him happy and in return he brought me pleasure I cannot begin to describe. However yesterday I had to say good bye to him as many other commentors on here have had to. From having him since 9 weeks old, he has never shown any signs of aggression to any human or animal, he has been the perfect dog. He has suffered with sensitivity and nervousness as many collies do but nothing worrying. He would cower and tremble whenever the wife and I would raise our voice, and was petrified of loud bangs and fireworks. Other than that he never showed any sign of behavioural abnormality. However everything changed a month ago when he nipped the face of a 3 year old visitor seemingly unprovoked. We immediately enlisted the help of a behaviouralist who assured us there was no cause for concern after assessing him, he said, like everyone that ever met him, that he was loving and friendly. We did employ a few minor behaviour modifications to help him when our first child was to be born in June but these were just to stop him sleeping  on our bed. However last Saturday night when friends were round everything changed. Again for no apparent reason, a familiar face was stroking him on the sofa as she has done many times before and out of no where he jumped up and bit her face twice. Resulting in a hospital visit and a stitch. Following this, a vet visit confirmed that due to the unpredictable nature of 2 attacks in 4 weeks we could not run the risk of it happening again. He would not be accepted by a rescue with a bite history and we considered it immoral not to disclose it. This left us with no choice but to make the ultimate sacrifice of our beloved 'child' for the safety of others. My heart has been ripped out, I know I have made the right decision but I am riddled with guilt about ending his like so prematurely and am sick with feelings of failing him. But it was a decision that had to be made, and it will be the hardest decision of my life and will plague me forever. I would urge others to share similar experiences to help with their graving process. We will all heal a little more with the support and reassurance from others. Remember all the help in the world cannot guarantee an unpredictable dog will not bite again. And in situations such as ours where there is soon to be a baby, it is not fair to run the risk. It just proves that the seemingly most loving dogs can become ill and change irreparably. Good bye my little boy, I will remember you as the loving, caring dog that you were and will treasure the happiness you brought into my life forever
 


Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM 
January 19, 2015

Dear Tad, I am so sorry for your troubles.  You didn't mention how old Ringo is or if he has any other history of aggression, but you did mention that this is his first bite.  As a mother, I absolutely understand your wife's fears.  However, this does appear to be a provoked bite; I know your son wasn't trying to scare Ringo, but from a dog's perspective the sudden kiss may have felt threatening, especially if Ringo was sleeping. Would your wife maybe be willing to talk with the veterinarian at today's appointment to get an opinion from a professional who knows him? Regardless, I'm holding you all in my thoughts. Christy


Tad 
January 19, 2015

I am sobbing as I write this. Last week our best boy Ringo was sleeping on our sons bed. Our son bent down to give him a kiss and Ringo bit him on the mouth. He was obviously startled and didn't attack, but gave a snap. My wife is insisting that we put him down and has made an appointment for this afternoon. He has never been aggressive and this was his first bite, but my wife is confident that he cannot be changed now and she is unwilling to look at alternatives..


Elaine 
January 19, 2015

Thank you for your story. We are in the process of making this decision for my dog, Carina. She has been always loving and gentle to my kids and myself, but even after a lot of training and socialization she is showing more signs of aggression and bit a child in the face so badly that he needed stiches. This happened in my home while she was calmly lying next to me. We thought to find her a new home but fear for her future and now feel that putting her out of harm's way is the best choice. My heart is torn to pieces for her, for myself and for my children. This helps me to accept that this is the best choice for us all. Thank you.


Cecilia 
January 18, 2015

Yesterday evening my 160 lb German Shepard/Keeshond mix attacked my 50 lb pit mix when a delivery man rang the doorbell. He attacked him once before when the meter reader came by. This time it happened indoors and both my roommate and I were bitten as well. She has 3 significant wounds on her torso. I had to get my finger stitched back together with enough room between the stitches for it to drain. The big dog had knee surgery ,  years ago and usually moves slowly but not today. I am considering whether or not to euthanize the big dog. I don't know what to do.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 15, 2015

Hi Tina, You  and your husband are not bad people - please believe me on this! You are allowed to make whatever decision you want , and you should not have to live with a dog you're afraid of, not now or after the baby arrives I think that someone who returns a dog because their fur shows up on the new furniture aren't good people, but I would never think that of an expecting couple with an aggressive dog. The laws about aggressive dogs vary widely even within the United States, and most of us don't know much about the laws outside our own area. I suggest you call whatever government authority is in charge of dog laws, perhaps the police or the city, or a veterinarian who is familiar with them, and ask what the current laws are. It would be interesting to know if the shelter's contract to return the dog to them and their subsequent refusal to do so is legal - as well as their threats to take your other dog, which makes no sense at all and makes me wonder about the legality of what the shelter says. Whether the law is on their side or not, their response is inappropriate at best. I wonder if other people have had the same problem with this shelter. In other words, let's find out what's legal and what isn't, and what your legal options are. If the law says you have to abide by their contract, yet they refuse to take her, that may be illegal on their part. I am sorry that they are treating you in such an inappropriate manner by harassing you, and discussing how you will treat your child is simply out of line. Have you ruled out any medical cause for her aggressive behavior? Perhaps she has some medical issue that needs treatment. If your veterinarian cannot find a medical cause, perhaps he can euthanize the dog for you. Much depends on your local laws, so let's start there. Please keep us informed and let us know how this progresses. My heart is with you.


Tina 
January 15, 2015

Hi there. First of all thank you for a very helpful article. My husband and I, are in a bit of a situation as well. We have to shelter dogs, the oldest we got when she was 4 months and the youngest when she was 8 weeks. We were told the youngest was a Labrador and German Shepard mix, though we were ourselves pretty sure that there was no German Shepard in her. She is a border collie and something else maybe Doberman. She is now 7 months old. She has always been a very nervous dog, and kept to herself a lot in the beginning. As she grew she became more social and with that very jealous. She does not like when, especially me, is showing our other dog or anybody else attention. She gets right in there. She has also been very destructive, but we have written that off to being a puppy. A month or two ago she started being aggressive. It started with a fight with our other dog, she was vomiting and the younger dog attacked her. I was home alone and got very frightened, I didn't know what to do so I tried to separate them. When I held both dogs the younger dog launched out for me deliberately and bit me so she drew blood. I realize that it was in a heat of the moment situation. But after I put her outside I cried my eyes out. I'm from Denmark, but live in South Africa. And in Denmark a dog have to be putted down if it bit a human, by law. So I thought it was the same here, but it's not. After that episode her aggressive behavior have accelerated. She have attached our other dog on 3 or 4 other occasions, where she also drew blood. We took her to the shelter for her sterilization and I had to wait outside because she was so aggressive towards all the other dogs and humans. A small boy walked close to us and our dog almost attached him, had to hold the leash with all my power. She is foaming and drawling at the mouth. We think it is because she have such a nervous nature that it comes out as aggression. We have only given her a loving safe home. Our  Dilemma now is that I'm 3 months pregnant and we have tried the whole pregnancy to teach her not to jump up one stomach with no success, our other dog learned a long time ago (she is just over a year) and I'm scared of her. We have been to dog training etc and now thought about a "dog whisperer" but have come to a conclusion that we can't have her in our home. We don't want to risk our unborn child's safety. We don't feel we have the time to spend on an expert on a plan that might or might not work. She is a very sweet dog 99% of the time, but the 1% is just to big for us, especially with a baby on the way. We have contacted the shelter because in the contract it states that we have to give the dog back to them. They have made us out as criminals and terrible people and have absolutely no empathy or understanding for out situation, witch is not at all easy to begin with. The emails they have sent us is bordelinine emotional abuse, and they compare the dog with a child, blaming us for making the dog this way. Indirectly telling us we are gonna do the same to our child. And threatening that they will take our other dog. It's all very heartbreaking and confusing as they in all their emails want us to keep the dog. It makes us second guess ourselves. But are both our gut feelings and my mother instinct wrong? Or are we just very bad people. They is no consideration about if the dog is actually born this way. All the above might seem like we don't love both our dogs, which is not the case at all. We love them as part of the family. But we have to do what we think is the best for our child. What do you think we should do?


Sarah 
January 13, 2015

Thank you all for your comments here. My boyfriend and I have been laboring over the decision to put our dog Bob down. He's a Pitt/Lab mix. Bob is my boyfriend's dog. He's had him since birth. With the two of us, Bob is a sweet loving dog who wants nothing but pets and attention. But over the past year he's started to get more anxious/jumpy. Any major disruption (me moving to stand on a chair, dropping something, carrying the duster) sends him into a barking fit. Over the past year, Bob has nipped at and/or bitten 3 children. After the first child we had him boarded and observed by a vet and his behavior monitored. They released him back to us...but since then there have been 2 more incidents. The last child was my nephew. He was leaning down to pet Bob and while he was petting him he lunged at my nephew and gave him a puncture wound just below his eye and another  under his chin. So that tells me his mouth was all over my nephews face. I've tried to find Bob a new home with a rescue who could house him with a person who has no interaction with children but so far no one will take him. I'm sick to my stomach about this. I don't want any child to be injured in my home but I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my boyfriends decision to euthanize the dog. Should we try more training or while we do that, will Bob bite again? And will it be an even more severe incident...? I take solace that we aren't the only ones that have had to deal with this heart wrenching decision... I just wish I could know for sure it was the right thing to do.


Susan Oldham 
January 13, 2015

Reading this article and the comments has been so insightful and helpful.  I was recently advised to euthanize my 1-yr old border collie mix by my trainer (who specializes in behavioral issues) and the rescue group where I got her.  I am at an emotional and financial tipping point, but still somehow feel like I'm not doing enough and am a failure.  After reading these posts, it seems more and more like letting her go is the only option if I want to live in peace, and if I want her to be at peace.  While she has not sent anyone to the hospital, it seems inevitable and I am not willing to wait around for that to happen.  She has had 3 serious biting incidents and many displays of aggression towards people that did not result in bites but were very unnerving, all unprovoked, all unpredicted, all causing bleeding wounds to my friends, male and female.  I feel awful at the thought of ending my beautiful dog's life, she is the sweetest thing with me and has never shown aggression to me, but I can't go out of town, can't introduce her to friends, can't socialize.  The fighter in me wants to keep giving her chances but it seems like that is the commonality in all of the stories I'm reading, and that it's only a matter of time before she will have to be put down.  I worry about what I will tell my friends, my dog-walking buddies in the neighborhood, the doggy day care where I take her.  Most people have not seen her dark side, and I'm sure they won't understand.  But I have to follow my gut, even though it hurts so much.  We have been in a rigorous training program for the past 6 months.  The trainer says she is unpredictable and would not bring her into his home.  The rescue group I work with said that they would not place her in a new home, knowing her issues, that it would be irresponsible.  I feel the same.  Now, I need to do some meditation and think about what is best for both me and my dog, who I had committed to caring for and protecting.  I'm trying not to worry about other voices in my head, or about what others will think.  It's heart wrenching and so frustrating to consider having to end her life, but if our life together is not a happy or harmonious one, I have to make this choice.  Thank all of you for telling your stories.


Thao My 
January 12, 2015

Yesterday we euthanized my dog, Mimi. This year she would have become 3 years old but sadly she couldn't. Coming home from school yesterday was hard, I asked my dad where she was and he said that we euthanized her. It was to believe that she was gone. When I got her I never thought I would euthanize her, this is so unrealistic. The reason we did that was because she became really aggressive and that was not safe for children if they came to my house. I will never hear her again, I did not want accept that but I had to. I wish I could see her once more but I guess that is to late. It was hard for me to know she will never comeback, I will always love her as my first dog and my baby.


CW 
January 12, 2015

I want to thank you, Phyllis, and everyone who posted comments.  I truly believe that reading these messages gave me the courage to make the most upsetting decision of my life.  This afternoon I had to put my beloved Zephyr to sleep.  He was a 7 1/2 year old Border Collie, who I got as a rescue when he was 10 weeks old.  As so many of you described, he was a wonderful dog-- except when he was aggressive, and his aggression was escalating quickly.  He saw two separate behaviorists over the past 6 years, and had been on anti-anxiety medications for years too.  Recently (despite training, exercise, special diets, and anti-anxiety pills, allergy treatment, and treatment for IBD), he'd started acting more anxious than ever.  In the past ten days he's bitten two family members (not his first bites), and we felt we had no choice but to send him across the Rainbow Bridge.  As brokenhearted as I am, I'm also very grateful to all of you for sharing your experiences.  This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, and it helped me to know that others had had the courage to look beyond the heartbreak, and to protect themselves and their families.


Phyllis DeGioia 
January 12, 2015

No one should live with a dog they are afraid of. Not only should you not be afraid in your own home,  but also your dog may pick up on that fear, increasing his anxiety and possibly making matters work. I disagree strongly, almost violently, with your husband - if you were able to "break" him (I'm not sure what that means, but I presume you mean like breaking a horse) you would have done so long ago. As you present the situation, this dog is clearly dangerous and cannot be rehomed. Diane, you are literally in fear for your life.  Someone, maybe you, maybe your husband, maybe your son (think of the sorrow) or a service person (think of the liability) is likely to get seriously hurt. I don't mean might get hurt, I mean it's a matter of time and you spend the most time with the dog.  What are his reservations about euthanizing? The dog's aggression began when he was a puppy and has continued to worsen. You have tried a good trainer, a diary of what sets him off, and I presume you cannot afford the diagnostics your veterinarian suggests or you would have done them. Since he gets more aggressive on any medication, the only other option I can think of is to surrender him to a shelter where he will be quickly euthanized, but that endangers other people. I am sorry to say that your situation is one of the most frightening I have heard of, and it makes my heart race to even think about being in a room with this dog, much less living with him, and I too fear for your safety. You're afraid to let him out of the house, much less let him back in. I'm really sorry that you and your husband cannot come to an agreement. Have you made it clear to him how scared you are of this dog, and what your fears are?


Christina 
January 12, 2015

I can't tell you how helpful this site has been. I have cried for two days straight feeling a range of emotions. We had to put our beautiful four year old Lacquer Black German Shepherd Duke down on Saturday. The worst day of my life. I loved him more than words can describe. His aggression got so bad over the last two years that we started to live in fear. He was so strong and really did some damage to several people. we tried a trainer and meds we tried just keeping him away from people.It became so difficult to  not be afraid he was really going to do something dreadful. The final straw was just over two weeks ago when my husband went out on our back porch and bent down to pick up a toy and Duke attacked my husband tearing into his right arm something fierce. All I could hear was my husband screaming and Duke making the most frightening growling and snarling sounds I had ever heard. we spent 5 hours in ER and we knew that we had to make the choice to put him down. Our thirteen year old son was so fearful of Duke after that. Duke had bitten our sons friend who was just sitting on the front porch facing in the opposite direction. Thank God my husband was quick in getting the dog away and the boy had only had a single bite on the shoulder. I think it would have been a lot worse if he wasn't able to grab him. After reading so many of the stories on this site I do feel a bit at ease. I feel heartbroken that I had to send my beloved Duke (who was extremely close to me and very protective of me) to his eternal rest, but somehow I know it was best. Until someone has lived with this type of aggression from an animal that they loved like a child they should not judge how to handle it. I never thought I would have to put a beautiful healthy sweet (most of the time) animal to sleep. I will never be able to fully explain the loss and hurt that I feel. Time will heal this hole I have in my heart. To everyone suffering from the grief that comes with this decision my heart goes out to you all. Hopefully our babies are doing good and playing together happily.


Diane 
January 11, 2015

So, I've been sitting here for the last 2 hours reading the comments on this site. My husband and I have been struggling with the decision to euthanize our 18 month old Belgian Malinois for the last 8 months. He bit me, his primary trainer and caregiver, just over a year ago and we've been going through his aggression issues ever since. There have been times I wasn't able to move off my chair because Yawkey was sitting next to me and something upset him and my moving made him snarl, growl and drool worse. I've literally had to wait and not move for hours until my husband got home from work or my adult son came over. We have another 11 year old Malinois, who was actually a rescue pup, so we knew what kind of dog we were getting, but I don't think I should be afraid to move in my own house. Yawkey has 'gone after' everyone in our family so we don't have anyone come to our house, ever. Even when he's crated he freaks out and we've spent countless hours listening to him growl all day/night long. I knew early on that my training skills were not good enough for this powerful breed, so he has been with a trainer, and by all accounts a very good one who is well versed with the breed (he also trains and breeds German shepherds) and we have shown Sam video of Yawkey...he says it could be seizures or a brain tumor or so many things. We have kept a Yawkey diary to see if we could figure out what set him off, but it varies from time to time..the diary included things like type of weather, play time, number and lengths of walks, any new toys or food, visits to the vet, number of hours of sleep....just about everything. My husband still feels that we can 'break' this dog, but I am afraid of him every time I have to open his crate and I'm still the primary caregiver as I work from home. He weighs 86 pounds, so he's a large Malinois and I'm honestly afraid that it's not just going to be my face, but my life or someone that I loves life that the dog ends. The vet seems to think we can try medicine, but only after MRIs and other tests. Any time he dog takes any meds, even if they don't have any aggression side effects, he gets aggressive. It's 2 am and he's barking to go out right now and I'm afraid to go get him. I know I'm probably going to get hate messages, but honestly I hate hurting anything or anyone and yet I feel this dog should be put down so I'm not afraid to move in my own house. I'm not naive enough to believe that comments from strangers will help me convince my husband that this needs done, but I am relieved to know I'm not the only one struggling with this. Thank you for listening.


Chris 
January 9, 2015

I'm putting down my 6 year old Dalmatian/springer/shepherd mix today.  She's absolutely beautiful.  My husband and I went to St. Croix in 2009 for our 10th anniversary and saw her pic in a window...she was looking for a home and was at the shelter.  We brought her home. She was 10 months old.  She's always been a little skittish and insecure.  About three or four years ago she started getting little funny around little kids that weren't our own.  We have three girls.  Two that are 13 the other 11.  I didn't worry much about it.  It was more like a funny look and a little growl so I just kept and eye on her without much incident.  That changed this past spring when our daughters' 10 year old friend went to pet her when she was sleeping.  She lunged at her viciously but didn't bite.  This time I figured I'd just put her away when kid visitors came by.  Last week, she went after my 13 year old when she went up to her while she as sleeping on the couch.  Scary but no bite so I rationalized keeping her again.  Wednesday she bit my 13 year old in the face.  Bruise on her forehead and two small cuts near her eye and nose.  I realize now that it's getting more frequent and escalating.  Why??  Today at 4:30 we're putting her down.  Can we take the chance that next time she rips apart her face?  Or a visitor.  I'm sick and in tears.  Please tell me I'm doing the right thing.  This same dog will roll on the floor and play with my daughter...that's what makes it so hard.  This is awful.


Linda Tinsley 
January 8, 2015

I had to put down my best friend today. Atticus was a pit/ Shepard mix who stole my heart as a 3 mos. old rescue. Overly anxious, I hired behavioral it's and put him on Prozac. A few accelerating attacks on other housemates, made us wary and a tailored room crating system began in the house. I was told that it was not likely that his animal aggression would transfer to people. He was my savior when I became disabled and had to leave my job as an RN. He was silly, loving and needy. I loved him. Last night he attacked me with no provocation and if it weren't for my son and partner being at home I don't think I would have survived. I ended up in the local trauma unit with chest, shoulder and injuries to both arms.  Since he remained aggressive at home towards my son, a decision was made to call animal control to have him removed from the home. Today he was euthanized. I know that this was the right decision but my heart feels like it has been ripped from my chest. I know he was frightened at the local shelter right up until he was put down. I feel like I should have been there with him but it wasn't allowed. Guilt, remorse and knowing that I did the right thing does nothing tonight to assuage the thought that I let my best buddy Addie down.


Amy 
January 7, 2015

I too am heartbroken and devastated by having my dog attack my sons face on Monday. I am grateful to find this page. It helps to know I am not alone. We got our Hershey months ago. He was a AmStaff (pitbull)mix.  He adored me and made himself my dog. We lavished each other with love. I felt so fortunate to have him.  He was very territorial with my bed, the car the house. He attacked my son when he walked up to the bed. I never thought I would experience such a nightmare.  Now I wake up to the same nightmare everyday. My son had to be put under to do stitch-work on his face and I can only hope that he heals well emotionally and physically. We put the dog down the night it happened. I know it was the right thing to do. I feel awful for putting my son at risk and I would not want the dog to hurt anyone else. In the back of my mind I knew it was only a matter of time before he bit someone. I did not listen to my instinct and I don't know how I will ever forgive myself. I passively agree to get a pitbull and convinced myself he wasn't a bigger risk than other dogs. I was an AmStaff advocate. Now I know he should have been sent to a specialized training place AT least! I feel like I failed the dog and my son. I feel for everyone here. I have such mixed emotions. the dogs love was so unconditional and beautiful. I miss him terrible.  I also hurt like crazy for my son.  Such an unfortunate random act of violence. Now I will be an advocate for not putting others especially our children at risk. All the dog love in the world is not worth it.


Lisa 
January 5, 2015

In 4 hours and 7 minutes we have to euthanize one of our dogs.  Dooley is a sweetheart most of the time - very loving and obedient.  On occasion, however, he will turn aggressive and bite for no reason.  He has bitten friends who come in our yard and has leaned over our chain-link fence to bite 2 neighbor children (he is a very tall Doberman).  We have since put up a tall privacy fence on that side of the yard. The trainer/behaviorist we took him to said that he is not a "bad" dog, but thought Dooley would bite again.  He recently turned and bit my husband on the leg out of the blue.  The final straw is that our neighbors (older couple) are moving and have sold their house to a couple with young boys.  We cannot risk Dooley harming another child and the risk of a lawsuit.  He was a year old when we got him and he had been "evidence" in a police case (his owner threw him at police when he was 4 months old).  I keep telling myself that we gave him another 3 wonderful years, but I feel like an executioner.  I never realized how many signs/bites someone can overlook before reality sets in. I feel so guilty that we have to put our sweet boy to sleep. Our whole family is devastated that we have to do this -he is a member of our family and it feels like we are having him murdered.


Jennifer Knotts 
January 2, 2015

Oh my goodness- you and this article are completely God send to me today.  I have a poodle that we've had for 7.5 years... In that time, he has bitten my husband and I and some relatives more times than I can count... Embarrassingly enough. We've since been quarantining him in the house from visitors (family included) and everyone knows they cannot touch him. Our first child was born a year and a half ago and in that time, my husband has made custom gates around the house to keep Scooby (our Poodle) away from the baby. I'm currently pregnant with our second child and in a rush to get out of the house to get me to the hospital for some complications I'm having with pregnancy, I accidentally left the gate open and Scooby got out. My toddler tried to play with him and he bit her on the arm and on the leg. Though the bites did not break her skin, they bruised her, scared her and broke a piece in my husband to see our beloved pet on top of our child... It could have been so much worse... Like you, we were very lucky. I've been in the hospital and was released on bed rest...'I've been ordered to have zero stress in my life.... And today, we will take our first "baby" to send him to Heaven. I'm a total wreck and have so much guilt, mostly like you, over what could have been- how badly he could have hurt her, how I let it go on this long... But, then... Am I cutting his life short? Could I have done something differently to help him? Although he has left my husband and I with no choice... It is one of the most painful experiences I've ever been through. After reading your story- it's so easy for me to tell you to discharge any negative comments from readers who do not understand what you've been through... Just as I've had several close friends tell me to "suck it up, I should have done it long ago." Only you know the bond you have with your baby and only you know what he meant to you... Which is what makes it so painful. I wanted you to know how much your article made me feel "normal" to see someone else expressing the same emotions I'm feeling. I wish you all the best in your healing process and hope you can eventually think of nothing about your sweet baby except the good memories... I hope you can feel thankful that God put him in your life to allow you to feel the kind of love a dog can bring to a family and I hope you know that you changed his life by giving him the best life you could when many others would have abused him or gotten rid of him long ago. It takes a much stronger person to stick it out, to work with the dog and to give him the gift of time... I believe God put Scooby in our lives to grow us and make us better parents and to teach us the un fathomable love we have for our children that we may not have otherwise had for ourselves... If we'd never have children... We would have kept Scooby until he passed naturally on his own and we'd have dealt with whatever curves he threw our way. Many people would call us crazy... They were right... We are crazy in love with our furry baby... I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and would appreciate the same as my husband and myself will leave today to end the life that first made us a "family."  Thank you- your article makes me feel more normal.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 30, 2014

Nicole, I totally understand. I'm so sorry about the traumatic experience with Bella and the many significant injuries she caused. You tried everything and went above and beyond for her. I feel certain that she is calmer and happier now, and I know how good it feels not to have to walk on egg shells. My heart is with you and your family. Take care of yourself.


Nicole 
December 30, 2014

4 years ago I adopted my Australian Shepherd Bella from a rescue at the age of 8 weeks. She was such a loveable puppy always willing to please and be at are feet constantly she was the best thing I could have ever asked for. As she grew older I notice things started to change and didn't seem right. At 10 weeks old Bella was barking at Men for a 10 week old puppy to Bark aggressively at Men it was not right. So I got her into to training classes and worked with her none stop getting her used to Men she started to warm up to them but still was cautious around them. We put Bella thru 3 classes and she passed them all and made it to advanced. She was a smart girl loved to learn new tricks and train by my side. When 6 months came around I noticed a bigger change we where in class and one of the trainers came up to pet her out of no where Bella turned and tried to attack the trainer. we tried to calm her down but couldn't so we had to remove her from the building. Everything seemed to be getting Better after private training with a professional trainer. I worked with her for many Hrs a day to help her through her problems. 2012 came around it was a beautiful fall day I had let Bella outside a neighbor kid came over and went to pet her bella sniffed her and was showing no signs of aggression, fear or anxiety out of no where she jumped up and attacked her and got her chest area the girl had to go to the hospital. so we sent her to rehab after that for a few months. she came back Better and I spent everyday working with her. 2013 came around everything started out fine but one day bella got in one of her moods and went after my dad and he almost lost a hand. in that time frame we tried medication but nothing worked her eyes where always dilated something was really wrong mentally. this year alone she went after me I almost lost a hand and also my mom. December 12th was the last straw when out of no where she lunged at my moms face I went to grab her I had to rip them apart it was really scary. so yesterday we had to put her down, it hurts a lot I loved her and I still do with all my heart. She was a sweet and loving dog when she wanted to be, she loved to pose for the came and hold items and snuggle up on cold days. she loved to run and go for long walks. we where walking on egg shells for 4 years and finally said enough was enough. I miss her dearly and I will always feel guilty that I try enough. But deep down I know it was the right thing. We talked to the vet yesterday and they said it was the right thing to do. we rescued Bella from a shelter and the pups came from a BYB. I miss her dearly but I know she is in a better.


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 29, 2014

Hi Toni, I'm so sorry that you are experiencing this situation, and you are definitely not alone or a terrible person. Please remember what my vet said to me the morning I euthanized Dodger: "If he were healthy, you wouldn't be here this morning," she said, and I love her for that. You have diligently worked with trainers and behaviorists, plus were bitten so many times (being bitten in the face is terrifying, and had it been someone not in your family, it would cause significant guilt and financial injury). It's also not fair to allow your Lab to be constantly afraid in her own home, and attacked repeatedly. There are no easy answers here, and we each must do what we need to do for ourselves. Please take care of yourselves.


Anne Springer 
December 28, 2014

As a trainer, I also feel that, aside from skills training, it's so very important to socialize young puppies safely.  The American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior suggests early socialization as does the Pet Professional Guild - and they have a terrific puppy education section on their website.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
December 27, 2014

Cathy, You can start by talking to a veterinary behaviorist to have her behaviors evaluated.  My best is guess is that she is not going to be reformed, but you might be able to manage her to prevent bites.  This can mean living with crates and taking extra care when anyone is around.  It can mean living a life of walking on eggshells around her.  Rehoming her is not fair to her or anyone who takes her. Here is a link to the Veterinary behaviorists' website.  This evaluation is beyond the realm of a dog trainer.  http://www.dacvb.org/ And here another article I wrote about making sure you do not use punishment when training an aggressive dog.  http://www.vin.com/vetzinsight/default.aspx?pid=756&catId=5861&Id=6503590 I wish you luck and hope you can come back to update all of us on your decision.


Cathy Hoard 
December 27, 2014

My husband and I adopted a beautiful Aussie-golden mix in October.  Our introduction to her went well and the ride home was great.  She showed us that she was a good rider and that she loved the wind blowing in her face.  That evening my husband played with her in the yard.  She happily pranced around as they chased each other.  Unfortunately, later that evening as he leaned over to pet her, she bit him twice on the face.  I took her to the vet the next day and found that she had an untreated ear infection.  We hoped that that would solve the problem, but she has continued to be very aggressive toward males.  I called the shelter where we had adopted her and they admitted that she may have been mistreated.  The vet had also noted a weakness in one leg and an eye that sometimes crosses.  Our poor dog may have also been hit by a car and sustained nerve damage.  She also had a severe seizure a few weeks ago.  Our two sons have been home for the Christmas holiday and she has been very aggressive toward them to the point that we have to put her outside or hold her to prevent her from attacking.  Our dog is so sweet to me and sticks to me like an extra shadow, but I cannot continue to worry when the next attack comes.  She may have behavior issues which may or may not be correctable, or brain damage which we cannot address.  I love her and am so torn.  Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.


Toni 
December 25, 2014

I am so glad I came across this website. My fiancé and I have come to the very painful decision tonight, Christmas Eve, to put to sleep my beloved 9 1/2 year old Siberian husky Kodi. We rescued her from a shelter 3 1/2 years ago. She showed signs of aggression when I picked her up to put her in the car that day. I should've taken her back then, before I could grow to love her as this just makes it more painful. She has never really been people aggressive, but there has been multiple bites due to breaking up her fights with our Lab. We sought help right away with training and behaviorists. While it was determined she could be managed, it was made clear that most likely, she would attack again. I'll be clear, she doesn't just attack to reprimand another dog, she attacks to kill. Unfortunately, I have been bitten multiple times trying to keep her from our other dog. Today, she bit me in the face. And I guess, that's the last straw. I could have lost an eye. And what if she gets loose and bites someone else, or someone who comes to the house? We have had to alter our lives around her aggressive behavior. We can't take trips because we can't board her and no one wants to come to the house to house sit, not that I could blame them. We have to keep her separated from our Lab, who is terrified of her. I know that putting her to sleep is probably the best decision, but it doesn't make it easier when 95%!of the time she's a great dog and I love her. I was a vet tech for so many years and it just seems wrong to have to euthanize a healthy dog, but in have to remember, that in her head, she IS sick. It doesn't make it easier though. I don't think I've ever had to make such a heart wrenching decision. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories so that I don't feel l'm alone and a horrible person.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
December 23, 2014

Lisa, I am so sorry about what has happened with your family and your dog.  It is amazingly hard to have your beloved canine friend turn on you, to be so unpredictable.  I know that you are doing the right thing by putting him down.  You don't want anyone else hurt, as all of you have been hurt.  I am very glad that your daughter's eye was missed. Please know, this was not caused by anything you have done.  My heart goes out to you.  Please take care!


Lisa 
December 22, 2014

I feel everyone's pain!  As  I lay here in bed sobbing, I came across this site.  We have to give up my English Springer Spaniel whom I love like one of my own children in 9 hours, 3 days before Christmas.  I feel like my heart is ripping apart, my eyes are almost swollen shut and my head pounds so.  My almost 3 year old Springer attacked my 14 year old daughter just 12 hours ago.  He  bit her in the face and arm.  He too has had an aggression issue since he was about  10 months old.  98% of the time he is this smart, loveable & most affectionate  guy.  But that 2%, if he gets a hold of something he's not supposed to or doesn't like something, he turns into the most scary, vicious, snarling attack dog you have ever seen.  His attacks have never been this extreme.  He lunged at me a year ago and bit my hand as I was following him down to the basement after he growled, showed his teeth and barked nasty at me.  Scared me to death.  He also has jumped on top of my daughter growling/barking aggressively at my daughter before, but never full out attacked like he did yesterday.  I could go on, but, I love him so much I have given him so many chances.  But this time as my husband came running downstairs hearing the dog and my daughter screaming he tried to get him and he attacked my husband's hand so bad we are pretty sure he could use stitches and possibly broke a finger, he's in so much pain.  We know we have no choice now.  But, how can a dog, especially with how he adores my daughter and I so much and we love on him constantly and spoil him do this??  He attacked my niece when he was just 10 months old....and that's when it all started.  And the thing is, it's so random! But it seems as he gets older his "mood swings" just got worse. These traits we tried to over look, especially having him since he was 9 weeks old.  He never chewed up furniture, listened to all commands and was the smartest dog we ever seen, but the aggression was one like a Doberman they way he would bark and show his teeth and drool.  We  bought him from a breeder, and honestly her house wasn't in the best shape, smelled like urine & cluttered and we think now his parents were over breed.  My husband grew up with English springers and said he never had one that did this. So, now how do we deal with putting him down?  I feel awful, but know this was the last straw. Just 2 more inches, and she could've had eye damage. Now she has a bite mark on her face, swollen lip, bit arm and bruised.  I watched it all happen, like a bad movie in slow motion and by the time I ran to get to her he ran away from her.  Just awful. He laid in our laps all the time, we snuggled with him daily, played with him, rewarded him all the time and still ended up like this.  It's such a hard decision but I know it has to be done.


Jessica 
December 21, 2014

Pat; LeeLou's mom, I am so sorry for you. Ill be praying for you and I know the heartache. We put my dog to sleep Dec 2 for aggression. It hurts but I pray you have peace.


Phyllis  DeGioia
December 19, 2014

Pat, my heart aches for you. I found significant sympathy among my friends for the "bad" dog, as most of them were afraid of getting bitten or that I would fall down the stairs again. I too wish I had done things better, different, but I didn't. Hindsight is always 20-20, but we make decisions based on what we know at the time. So when we should have done more, we may not have been knowledgeable enough to know we should have been doing more. I would be terrified to have company come over knowing my dog had killed someone else's dog in my home. What a heartbreaking time. Please take care of yourself and your broken heart. I totally understand.


Pat 
December 17, 2014

Tomorrow I will put my beautiful Leelou down.  She killed another dog that was brought to our house.  There is so much sympathy for those that lose the "good" dogs, but none for those that lose the "bad".  Leelou wasn't a bad dog.  She was loving, funny, smart and protective.  I should have protected her better, I should have done a million things better.  But, the one thing I did well was to love her with my whole heart. Thank you for your article.  I feel like you understand.  My husband and daughter do not.  They don't agree with putting her down.  But I cannot take the chance that she will hurt someone or something else.  I love her.  And my heart is broken.


Janice 
December 16, 2014

Two weeks ago today I put down my beloved Corgi. Her name is Lexi.  I posted my story so if you want to read it I think its still on this site. December 2. A day I will never forget. To all of you fellow dog owners going through this heartwreching time I am so sorry. To the person who voiced his opinion on euthanasia its saddens me to think that someone would make such a heartless remark such as you have. I loved my fur baby very much I took very good care of her got her help to overcome her mental issues but nothing worked. I always had a fear if I were to become ill and couldn't be here for her that she would be mistreated and abused since no one else could take care of her but me. My family would have had to give her away. That's right sir, I have a husband and three adult children and they could not even feed her without getting growled at or bit.  So after over one year of thoughtful consideration and research on other alternatives I had to let her go. So please never judge another's actions unless you have walked in our shoes. I come to this site for comfort and reassurance that what I had to do was right. Its not kind to make anyone on here feel worse than we already do. We are all suffering enough with this. Perhaps if you researched the subject and educate yourself about it your thoughts on it would change. I sincerely hope that no other posts such as yours would be given the benefit of being allowed to be posted on this site. It serves no useful purpose to anyone coming on here for advice. [Editorial note: This comment appears to be in response to that posted by Patrick below.] 


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 16, 2014

Kristen, I also used a sedative at home before we left. I actually gave him a bit more than they suggested and it still wasn't enough. He had to have another sedative at the vet before they could euthanize him, so don't be surprised if it works that way for you too. Hopefully, it won't. I'm sorry you're experiencing this terrible situation, and human safety has to come first. I know all too well how it feels as though I'd failed. My heart is with you.


Karl 
December 15, 2014

Hi there.. I too have a big decision to make.. My boy cypress has always been a very loving dog of adults and people he meets.. He has no issues with biting adults.. But he has always attacked cats and other dogs even the birds if they land on the lawn.. Now I have recently moved house and there is a 4 year old child living on the same property and within the first few days he tried to attack her... I'm guessing the best decision is to put him down as I just can't afford to take the risk that he will eventually get her.. Just sucks cause he's so loving of adults and wouldn't ever bite one.. It's just something bout other animals and small kids.. I'm heart broken cause he's such a good dog but I can't take the risk.. Nothing I do is going to make this any easier but I just feel so guilty ending his life ova 1 thing.... He's a pitbull x ridgeback.. I've cried for days over this cause it's the hardest decision to make ever.. What are your thoughts on this..


Kristen 
December 15, 2014

Sometimes it's nice to know you're not alone.  We rescued our dog about 3 years ago.  We are having him put down for his aggression towards people in 4 days.  Like many of you, we have been dealing with trainers, veterinarian behaviorists, medication etc.  None of it has helped.  Our boy has bitten 3 times over the past 3 years.  One of them was myself.  He has severe anxiety when around even 1 person he doesn't know.  As a result of that and the bites, he's crated whenever someone comes over our house.  Unfortunately, we don't ALWAYS know when someone is coming over and over the summer right after we found out I was pregnant with our first child he bit me when an unexpected visitor showed up at the door and I was trying to get him to stop charging at the door to get to the person on the other side.  The behaviorist and trainers all agreed that our dog will never be able to be trusted around people, even on the medication and with the training, and that the escalation of him now transferring the aggression towards us, is sign that none of the treatment and training is working, and that the most humane thing to do is to have him put down.  Well...we are now 7 weeks away from our baby arriving, and while there haven't been any more bites, he does still try whenever someone is here, and as pregnant as I am, it's hard for me to get myself to safety if the fedex guy delivers a package.  Our dog almost bit my face the other day when fedex dropped off a box.  We've known since the summer this is what we have to do, and we've been procrastinating because we love our dog, but with a baby on the way we know in our hearts this is what has to be done.  I don't think I can even safely bring him into the vets office, so will be asking for something to sedate him at home before we bring him in for the safety of everyone in the office when we bring him in.  It's so hard to feel like we haven't failed him...because that is exactly what it feels like.  I KNOW we haven't and that he is mentally ill...but that doesn't change how this all feels.


Natalie 
December 11, 2014

Sarah,  you are not only.  As I lie here trying to go to sleep, I thought of my beautiful Sandy that used to sleep right next to me.  I don't why I'm having a hard time tonight.  I have cried like this for 2 weeks.  It will be 3 weeks tomorrow I got the horrible call at work from my husband about the fight between Sandy & Holly, our dachshund/beagle.  They always had to be separated by baby gate and doors always shut.  This had gone on for 4 years.  The vet said the fight was to the death.  Little Holly was seriously hurt. She is great now. In fact she and our beagle are like new dogs.  They go any where in the house.  No gates or shut doors.  Holly has so much energy and wants to play.  My husband noticed Milo doesn't sleep as much.  The stress and tension is gone. We didn't realize how much of it there was and how it affected the other 2 dogs as well.  I miss my beautiful and loving Sandy who we had for 10 years,  my heart is broken & aches, but I believe we made the right decision.  She had become so anxious all the time, crying a lot, wanting to be by my side constantly.  Just before the shot, I held her head and looked in her eyes and told her no more crying or anxiety.  She is at peace now.


Katjea 
December 11, 2014

Hello, I've been reading the comments on this site for some time now while I deliberate the actions I need to take with my beautiful 9 year old, English Springer Spaniel male, Logan.  This site has been so helpful in this process.  I am so surprised that there are so many people faced and suffering with this horrible situation of having to make such a brutal decision about ending the life of someone they love, their chosen family...  I am getting very close to having to make this very decision. Logan has been getting progressively worse and although he is somewhat predictable in his "moods", his growling, dominance and attacks on my other dog are increasing in frequency.  He has now started charging me, snapping at me and trying to bite me when he is in a "mood". Could anyone tell me if they have had any success with medication???  I am taking him to the vet today to see if an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication will take the edge off. Any kind of feedback or advice would be most appreciated.  I don't know if I am trying to fool myself into thinking this could get better, I know I am not yet at the place where I can euthanize him........but it is getting so scary in my home with him behaving this way. I have also tried dog trainers, working him on a puller and walking him upwards of twice a day. Thank you and god bless you all who have dealt with this same situation or are going through it now. Katjea


Phyllis DeGioia 
December 11, 2014

Dear Patrick, Given that the dog was neutered when I adopted him, I was not practicing any form of eugenics, but instead was practicing appropriate  zero pet population growth. I believe it was to society's benefit that he did not reproduce. At any rate, I disagree strongly that this was murder, which carries an intent of harm. He had severe anxiety, which is a form of mental illness, and euthanizing him gave him peace as well as providing safety for the people he'd bitten, or would bite again, including me.


Patrick 
December 11, 2014

You killed a dog because of its nature.    This is not able to be rationalized.  It's basically a form of reverse eugenics-selecting for the weak and is tragic and perverse.


Elle 
December 11, 2014

Hello, this is the first site I came upon which I can truly connect to. You are all compassionate and loving owners, which is why you are here. I am still in shock and quite a bit of pain when our 3 1/2 185 lb Great Dane/Mastiff rescue brutally bit my arm and hand while my husband and I were watching TV. It looked worse than a shark bite; over 50 stitches and a badly fractured thumb, after four days I finally am trying to  process this. There was no question what we had to do, no way to try him in another home or risk him hurting our neighbors or attack our other dog, whom he had already attacked and shook like a rag doll. He survived. We tried, like many of you, numerous methods- he had even made it to advanced obedience school and thrived at doggie daycare. We installed fences, bought special food for his sensitive stomach and worked with behavioral specialists. We acquired him at three months old, malnourished, sickly and had been in a laundry room for that portion of his life. We gave him all the love we could, and still could not save him. To those of having gone through this, my heart goes out to you; I know it is broken as ours are, but it was the ONLY thing to do. To those who struggle with this decision, there will be a point and you will know it's the only thing you can do. I wish all of you the best.


Janice 
December 11, 2014

@Gabriella and Alli. Its been a week and two days for me. I still come visit this site when I need a little encouragement. I wish you both peace in your hearts this  is not an easy road to travel. But maybe in some small way knowing others are going thru the same pain and grief and we are not alone, gives strength to us. That can make all the difference.


Hannah 
December 10, 2014

We had our rescue, a beagle cockerspaniel mix, put down for aggression right before thanksgiving. He was two when we got him. We had tried behavior modification and medications. Even though he had made a lot of improvement he was still very unpredictable and dangerous to anyone/anything he came in counter with and it was controlling every aspect of our lives. I know it was the right thing to do, but that doesn't make it any easier. He was such a sweetheart to my husband and I. Little things like finding one of his balls or even one of his hairs makes me cry. The pain is unbearable at times but it makes me feel better knowing I'm not alone. My heart goes out to anyone who has gone through this and hope you find peace.


Sara 
December 9, 2014

I'm glad I found this website. But I see that most of your dogs are aggressive towards humans, my dog (that I have not yet euthanized) is extremely aggressive towards other dogs. Even when he was a small puppy he would try to viciously attack other dogs. He was able to live with my pack of dogs (it usually takes about 2 months to introduce him to another dog) peacefully (for the most part), however, lately he has begun to attack one of my other dogs for no reason at all. And once he starts fighting he does not stop, he has killed a dog before. So I'm faced with a decision about what to do with him. He is putting all of my other dogs at risk. He is unpredictable and dangerous... but only to other dogs. That's why this is so difficult. Is it fair to find him an only dog home, or would he be better off euthanized? When he's on his own he doesn't seem unhappy or anxious, he's actually quite happy. I just don't know what to do. My family is telling me that he's a risk and should probably be euthanized. But I saved his life (and he saved mine), and I don't want to take it back. But even if I found him an only dog home he would still be a risk. If he ever got out of the yard or something he would attack any dog he saw. Who would want a dog like that? I just don't know what to do. I'm sorry this post is long and poorly written.


Alli 
December 9, 2014

Last Wed night our beagle, Bo, bit a friend's little girl on the face, resulting in 5 stitches. We had Bo euthanized last Thursday morning. We know this was the right thing to do but that's certainly not making it any easier. I'm absolutely crushed, angry, feel guilty that my dog harmed someone, etc. Bo had a short fuse when it came to little people, but my hubby and I were never recipients of anything but love and affection from him. We rescued Bo at 1.5-2 years old, he was previously neglected and abandoned. Despite what Bo did my love for him didn't change, I miss him desperately. We had done professional behavioral training and saw major improvement in so many areas but not little people aggression. So, now, 5 days later, we are dealing with the insurance issues and praying the friendship between the little girl's family and us survives.


Gabriella 
December 7, 2014

Tomorrow I am taking our much loved Smokey to be put down.   Reading this article and all the comments makes me feel we are not alone.    Adopted from the shelter at six months he was always my problem child.    But with lots of training he is now a really well trained dog.    Unfortunately, he has an extremely high prey drive and has killed numerous squirrels and cats.   Two summers ago he attacked a child in our yard.   That incident was somewhat provoked by the child as he was trying to pull him out from under a table.   Which is how we justified it.   Now this past weekend he attacked my nine year old niece for no reason other than he thought she was in his territory.   She had a three inch laceration on her face requiring many stitches.   I fear that he could permanently damage a small child.  I've been walking him with a basket muzzle for the last three years.  We love him and will miss him very much.   I am sad


Jeannie 
December 6, 2014

Thank you Janice for your response and the sharing of your journey.  It was so very helpful.


Paul 
December 6, 2014

Thank you everyone for your stories and supportive messages.  Yesterday evening my wife Annie and I put our dog Rocky down.  As she noted in her post yesterday, we purchased a house, got Rocky, and became engaged within a short time frame.  We truly were starting to build our life together and Rocky was a big part of that.   Last night and today have been very tough.  My wife is at work and I have had a typical Saturday of doing chores around the house; except today my little helper and shadow isn't with me.  I miss him so much and can't stop thinking about how he would be snuggling between my legs right now if he was here while I type this message.   There are so many things I miss about him and my heart feels like a part of it is missing without him here.  I take solace in everyone's posts as I know we, and myself in particular, were ignoring the fact that despite 1.5 years of work with a behavioral veterinarian and a number of different medications his anxiety and aggressive behavior really wasn't improving.  Bites had gone down but this honestly was more due to us avoiding walking by him closely when he was on anothers lap (he was protective of whoever he was snuggling with) and sitting in different locations when in the same room.  These posts reassure me that we made the right decisions and I know my wife and I will make it through this tough time.  Today though I am really struggling and am overwhelming sad.


Joanne Moore 
December 5, 2014

I have been fostering a year old Pit Bull for a month. He was dropped off at my house.  Very sweet and loving little boy.  I'm trying to rehome, because he does not get along with my elderly dog and she has to be my priority right now as I will lose her son.  So I'm trying to re home this Pitt.  In the interim, I'm training him so that he's a great pet for someone. I've given him full body hugs, stuck my hand in his mouth, held him by the collar, put my face very close to his face, if he acts up or will not settle down, he needs to go in the crate.  Usually he does, but not happily unless it's for a P-Butter bone or his food 2 X per day.  He's running off the leash and is worn out.  Tonight he was acting up.  I went to get him by the collar to put him in the crate.  He growled and struck at my hand.  I pulled back in time.  I did a little time out for each of us, then went to do it again.  He growled this time again.  My son was bitten by a GS when he was six.  He had 120 stiches in his face.  Nearly half of his forehead was gone but we have a great plastic surgeon that night.  I am not a fan of biters.  For many good reasons.  I cannot, in good conscience, rehome this dog.  What if he bites someone's child, niece, etc.  I'm thinking euthanasia, but he's only a year old.  Do I have to wait for him to bite someone before I go that far?   I'm really upset and very stuck right now. I tossed an toy in his crate that he went after, so he's been in there ever since.  Usually he whines.  He has not made one single sound.  Something just went hay wire with this dog and I do not know what to do.  I don't trust him and I certainly do not trust him around my 13 year old frail little girl. Help?


Lorelei 
December 5, 2014

Thank you Janice. I too find comfort in the fact I'm not the only one dealing with this situation. I've made an appointment for Dexter for next week. Yesterday was a the final straw for us not only did he severely bite my husband later on in the evening he lunged at me several times when I told him to go lay down. I'm tired of living in fear of him doing something, having muzzle him in public and living with the worry of who's going to get bitten next.


Janice 
December 5, 2014

To Annie Jeannie and Lorelei. I too am comforted that I read these posts and grateful I came across this site. The vets have been so helpful. I am sure you all have already read my posts. Its been only 3 days since Lexi has passed and I am still coming to terms with what I had to do. I found out years after we got her she probably came from a puppy mill.  Its an outrage. I am feeling so guilty for this even though I know deep down I had no choice. I wish you all comfort and peace. Its very hard to end a life that we worked so hard to help make better. All the love and money in the world just cant change some things.


Annie 
December 5, 2014

Thank you so much for this article; it is exactly what I needed right now. We are putting our dog Rocky to sleep today. We got Rocky as a puppy. The summer we got Rocky, we also got engaged and bought our first home together, so this dog was such a big part of my husband and I starting our lives together and becoming a family. Rocky had always been anxious and startled easy as a puppy. We later found out when he was about 6 months old that he is deaf. We were so in love with him already, we decided to keep him. We were prepared to learn hand signs and learn to train a deaf dog. He learned signs quickly and was able to sit, lay down, etc. However, his anxiety and startle reflex soon turned into aggressive behavior, including growls and nips. This progressed to bites, breaking skin and deep puncture wounds. After consulting with our vet, we began working with a dog behaviorist. She was wonderful and never out of ideas to help redirect his aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, all of the behavior modifications and several medications did not help. His being deaf, on top of having major anxiety make him an especially difficult dog to treat. His aggression continued to worsen. People do not want to come to our house anymore. My husband and I have been bitten countless times and carry many scars.  After a very severe and unprovoked bite last week, we had a long discussion with our dog behaviorist and have decided it’s time to put him to sleep. I am devastated but I take comfort in reading this and knowing we are making the right choice.


Jeannie 
December 5, 2014

I want to say how much it meant to me to come across this web site today.  We have just made the appointment to have our dog euthanized in 3 days. We adopted Zoe 3 years ago from a shelter when she was 2 years old and have loved her dearly.  She was an aggressive dog with other dogs from the start and even with training that never improved. We have learned to live with that.  She has never bitten a dog but certainly lunges at them if given a chance.  We never give her the chance.  She growled at our grandchildren the first time they met her.  We crate her when they visit now.  She has food aggression with our cats. We have found ways to deal with that.  When people come to our door she lunges at the door and gets loud and aggressive and we have to remove her to another room to answer the door.  She continues to become more and more aggressive and now wants to protect us every minute.  She growls at our adult children when they hug us hello or goodbye. We are managing this too but for the past few months she is threatened by anyone who comes to the house and even those she knows.  Now it is no longer just a growl or a bark but she is lunging at some and it is all unpredictable when it will happen.  She is a well exercised dog and she is very well cared for and in good health but I am growing more and more fearful.  She lunged at visiting family members on 3 separate times this week.  It is breaking our heart.  I appreciated hearing from others who state that some dogs are mentally ill.  She had lived outdoors neglected her first 3 years, never socialized and fended for herself a lot. We can't change that. She is fearful and anxious and we have eased some of the fears but it is still there. We have decided to not wait until there is an actually bite before we act.  She is a mixed breed and has strong guarding and herding instincts.  I am also feeling like a failure that we have been unable to change these instincts but in my heart I know we can't.  I kept thinking as long as there wasn't a bite we could manage but after reading all of these posts I know with my whole heart that a bite is coming and I shouldn't wait for that. Know what you are getting when you adopt an older dog.  Know their history. Sometimes there is no fixing things no matter how hard you try, and money you spend.


Lorelei 
December 4, 2014

Thank you for writing this piece it's helped me to come to a very difficult decision regarding my dog. He's a 8 year old JRT who we've had for a year in that time my husband and I have lost count of how many times we've been bitten. Unprovoked over something as simple as touching him. He was badly abused for the first 7 years of his life and I've hung on desperately hoping it would get better it's only gotten worse. My description of him would be 0 to 60 one second he's fine and the next he's ripped your hand open. Trainers, vet visits and meds have done nothing to help. He viciously bit my husband again this morning when he went to pick something up. I couldn't rightfully surrender or hand him over to someone else knowing what he is like as his previous owners did to us. As much as it kills me to do it the time has come that I need to let go and do the right thing for him and us before he hurts someone else.


Janice 
December 4, 2014

Thank you Rene for your kind words. I didn't see your post till later.  But I wanted to acknowledge it. Thank you


Janice 
December 3, 2014

Thank you Carrie for commenting on my post. Your story of Izzie is eerily familiar to my Lexi. Lexi never injured anyone seriously either just nipped and a few times bit me and left puncture wounds. But what I wanted to say is today all I can see in my mind is how she looked so peaceful and I don't remember the ever seeing her in a peaceful state. But I cry because I feel like somehow I failed her maybe I just didn't do enough. Even after vet tranquilized her she nipped at my poor daughter who was crying her eyes out and wanted to touch her and comfort her. Your words have helped me tonight to feel validated and less guilty for putting her down. I am still sad beyond words and I will cry until I have no more tears. I hope someday we can overcome the fear we as a family now have of being bitten by a pet so that perhaps Lexis death would not be in vain and we can help another poor dog by adoption. We learned some hard lessons especially me.


Carrie 
December 3, 2014

Janice, my sincere condolences for your loss. Reading your posts brings back the dark time in July when I had to put down my 6 year old corgi for uncontrollable anxiety and aggression. She hadn't seriously injured anyone, but we were out of options to help her and her bites were increasing in severity. I couldn't bear the daily stress any longer; it was no longer IF she'd hurt someone badly, it was WHEN. The most painful part was seeing her afterwards and she looked more at peace than I'd seen in years. You made the right choice for yourself, your family, and Lexi. It'll hurt for a while and you'll cry until you can't force out another tear, but eventually the pain will diminish. It still hurts to think of Izzie, but it would've hurt more putting her down after she seriously hurt someone. Good luck, my thoughts are with you.


Janice 
December 3, 2014

Yesterday I put my beloved corgi Lexi to rest. Its heartbreaking.  I stayed with her thru the whole ordeal. I hugged her close as she took her last breath. I can only say its extremely painful to go thru and afterwards feel even worse. I really wish things could have been different.  I took good care of her almost to a fault. My life evolved around her and my family. I got her as a 7 week pup from a pet store. My husband was home with her all day everyday until he passed away in 2010. I loved her with all my heart and still do. Now I pray that the pain will soften as its unbearable today. If you have to do this because your pet is not right its the right thing to do although very painful. My baby died in peace with me near her better that way then if she really harmed someone then had to be put down because of that. She died with dignity and somewhere deep inside me I know she is now at peace.


Renee 
December 3, 2014

I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss.  We had a dog for almost a year that had food aggression/anxiety.  I have 3 young kids and he did a total of 8 bites.  4 of them were breaking the skin.  99% of the time he was an awesome loving dog.  But the last 2 times he bit there was no way to prevent it and it was out of the blue.  No food was being eaten, but it was just nearby.  That was enough for him to snap.  I couldn't risk my kids getting hurt anymore.  Luckily, in my case, I found a GREAT rescue and he is being fostered currently and eventually be adopted to a family without kids with them knowing his complete history. We let him go a few days ago and we are heartbroken.  We didn't put him to sleep, but just not having him around anymore is so difficult.


Susannah Auwerda 
November 30, 2014

Thank you for writing this article. It has to be done.


Alisha 
November 29, 2014 

Hello. I am so glad I came across this post. I literally do not know what to do with my dog. He is about 5 years old and is a Chihuahua. He Is such a cranky dog. He has snapped at people the last 2 years and recently bit my fiance's friend in the face. Not to bad. More bruised then anything. He was originally my 5 year old's dog and he is so protective of her. He recently snapped at her as well. He growls anytime its time to go in his kennel and I never trust to leave him out when people come over. He is mean to my lab and always snaps and growls. I tried re-homing him but no luck. I know he should not be re-homed. I guess it made me feel better then sending him to the pound. We are ready for our second hunting lab to be bought but have not bought due to this mean guy. He is so sweet and loving on his own terms. When no other dogs are around. That is what is killing me inside is knowing how sweet he can be. Any ideas? My fiance is done and said he has to go. No dog is worth my relationship or my kids getting hurt.


Deborah 
November 28, 2014

My 11 year old dachshund is aggressive to other dogs, strangers, my grandchildren and now me. I really hate to put him down, but I am so very afraid of what he may do next. He has nipped at others, including my husband, but not me, at least until two days ago, he literally tired to bite my finger off. It has made me scared of him and what he may do next. I am know that the best thing to do is to put him down, but it just hurts so bad to think about even doing that. My heart is breaking, but I just cannot trust him anymore and what he may do next. He was the best birthday gift I had ever received 11 years, but now things have changed. It is a shame that I will have to do this especially since my birthday is December 2nd. I cannot stop crying thinking of being without him. My mind knows what it should do, but my heart says differently.


Peg 
November 27, 2014

We took in an 8 month old dog. We are his 5th owner. We've had him since 11/25. In that time he has unprovoked attacked my Corso, our elderly Corso rescue and my 9 yr old Rat Terrier and seems like he would kill the cats. This is all out of the blue - he just snaps and attacks.


Jennifer 
November 26, 2012

'm so sorry for the loss everyone is facing with their dogs. I am doing a research paper on aggressive dogs and how they can be be treated or even cured. After reading through these comments, it doesn't appear so easy anymore. The recommended treatment is to have the dog thoroughly checked by your vet and then to contact a behaviorist to then begin a treatment program. Reading through all the comments it seems eveyone has done this and felt as a last resort they had to put the animal down. What a horrible decision to make! In all the cases I have read through it was the right thing to do. Safety of our children and ourselves should be a priority. Sometimes the dog just can't be fixed and thank you all for giving the dog a chance before you had to make that decision. It really is what's best for the owner and the dog. I'm so sorry for your losses.


Janice 
November 25, 2014

Thank you for your support it is helping me come to terms with what I may have to do. I am going to give this one more small shot and put her back on her meds along with dog valium. Utimately I know deep inside what I need to do. Just have, to find the right time and the, right way. Thank you so much. I just love her so much.  No one else here understands that. I will update you in the near future.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
November 25, 2014

Janice, From your description of your dog, the fact that she is biting all of your family members, and that you are no longer enjoying her due to the stress of trying to keep everyone safe, it is time. Quality of life has to be for everyone, the dog (she sounds anxious and fearful) and you (you are stressed) and your family (they need to feel safe).  I would say that right now, none of you has any quality of life. Putting your dog to sleep to keep you and your family safe is ok.  Putting your dog to sleep so that you are not stressed and walking on eggshells all of the time, is ok.  You have tried, to fix your dog.  She can’t be fixed and she can’t be re-homed.  You know what the right answer is and I am telling you, it is ok.  You are a good person who deserves to live safely with your family.


Janice 
November 25, 2014

Thank you for taking notice of my post and sending me a message. Its a cry for help. I am still deciding what to do. Any further training or behavior specialist is out of the question. I know what needs to be done but fearful of how and if I can deal with my decision once she is gone. I am not sure that I wont regret it. I feel like I am a horrible person putting my dog down. I guess I am looking for someone to say hey its ok to do this.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Cynthia, I'm sorry for your loss, and understand not wanting to talk much about it in the immediate aftermath. You did give Petie a great life! It's possible that there was a medical condition that worsened his aggression, which might account for that state of "being off." It doesn't matter why, though - it only matters what you did to try and work with him to improve it, and you worked hard towards that end.  Petie is very lucky that you did. You are definitely not alone in this. Please take care of yourself.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Hi Janice, You did just post on here. I'm sorry for your situation. I loved my aggressive dog deeply too. It seems to me that you have made every effort and covered the bases: medical checkups, tried more than one trainer, changed her diet, and put her on medication that was not effective enough. Did you try a veterinary behaviorist, in addition to trainers? You say you cannot deal with the stress any more, and that it's a terrible situation. I suggest you listen to whatever your gut instincts are telling you. I cannot tell you how much easier life was for me after I no longer had to worry if my dog would bite me (most likely) or someone else - I was really walking on eggshells around him. I wish you luck in making your decision.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 25, 2014

Jennifer, It's a difficult situation, and I'm sorry you are experiencing it. It's a terrible thing to be in-between a rock and a hard place. Many dogs dislike children, and those dogs without bite inhibition should not live with them. The safety of your children is most important. Ask yourself is how happy is Boo? What is his quality of life like living with children? Is he happy more often than unhappy? Also ask yourself how you would feel if Boo seriously injured your child. Would your child be forgiving if he or she had facial scars forever?  You were lucky this time (in that you didn't say the bites were severe). A big dog can inflict some serious, permanent damage in an instant. Given that you feel you cannot risk injury to your children - and I agree on that - you need to do something. The other option is to rehome him with someone he knows, but I suspect that would only increase his stress and cause him to be more likely to bite.  Only you can decide what to do, so examine your heart and figure out what is most important to you. He will always have a piece of your heart no matter what you do. He knows you love him.


Jennifer 
November 24, 2014

My Boo is a chow/lab/pit mix and will be 13 years old in December. My husband and I have had him since the day he was born and I was just 15 at the time. He was the runt from my mom's dogs 1st litter of puppies, his fur momma passed away just two months ago at 13 and a half. I am still dealing with the hurt of that. He has been a huge part of my life and I am struggling with the guilt of what I feel is right. Tonight he bit my 17 month old son in the face, not once to warn but several times to injure him. He was simply patting him on the back. My dog has no tolerance for my children and I knew it would be a problem many years before I had children. He has had a few different behavior issues going back to when he was a puppy. He is a nervous dog and used to pee on himself or you when you would approach him or pet him. It wasn't an excited pee either, it was fear or nerves. That behavior stopped several years ago out of no where. He has a history of dog aggression too but that let up as he got older. He has also gotten aggressive with us when he has been scolded, nipping at shoes but never landing a bite. That didn't happen often but something that has to be considered. A lot of these things cleared up after receiving tips from vets and trainers. Even through all of his frustrating behavioral issues, we both always referred to him as our child and treated him so. He would sleep in our bed every night and cuddle with me. If I couldn't sleep, I just needed my Boo there to spoon with and I'd fall fast asleep. He has been thru everything my family has. From the struggles in the past, to the stability and happiness now. Rewind to 2011 when his world was turned upside down. He has never enjoyed children and always looked very annoyed by them. I knew this would be a problem years before my daughter was born and jokingly used to laugh that I could not have children until he was no longer alive. My daughter is 3 years old now, and my son is one and a half. Both of them are very gentle and they love him very much, but the feeling has never been mutual.  I Heiactually pretty lucky that they are so in awe of him, not hair and tail pulls like many children their age are. But I fully believe my children ruined his life, it's very heart breaking. He has distanced himself from my husband and I because the kids are always around. He has lost most of his hearing and is beginning to lose his vision. In addition to that he has developed arthritis and grows fatty tumors that we have paid to have removed multiple times with new growths appearing shortly after. He is not my happy prince that he used to be. He was my first baby and my heart just hurts. I can't let him cause further harm to my children, they do not hurt him. My son is a nuisance to him because he was run excitedly toward him just to greet him but that's the worst. I try to keep him away from them at all times because I have feared this for 3 years now. At his age I don't feel like any training will improve his behavior with his hearing loss and other medical issues. He isn't knocking on deaths door but he isn't in the best shape. My heart is broken... I know it is the right decision but it feels so wrong. I cannot risk him inflicting more harm to my children. No one wins here, they love him so much and so do we.


Janice Trowbridge 
November 24, 2014

How can I post on here. I need help. I have a terrible situation with my dog. She is a 9 year old corgi. I had various trainers come in changed her diet, tried medication. I have to put her in the basement room when we have anyone over and on holidays. She lunges and nips at all family members. I love her deeply but I cannot deal with the stress anymore. She has been examined many times for medical conditions which may contribute to her aggression and nothing is physically wrong with her. She is a pedigree I think she may have been inbred. I feel horrible even thinking about putting her down I need some support in making this awful decision. Please help me.


Cynthia 
November 24, 2014

My husband and I just put our aggressive Jack Russell mix down about a week a half ago. It was a heart breaking decision and I still wonder if I did the right thing. My husband keeps reminding me that we did. Petie came along in my life over 10 years ago. An old friend of mine adopted him from a shelter. He was a 9 month old Jack Russell mix. He had been brought back to the shelter twice at that point. Over time, my friend would tell me Petie bit him and so on. I saw that my friend was a bit rough with him at times and thought I would bite you too. Petie was never aggressive with me and until the end never was. When Peite was 3 I told my friend that my husband and I would take him bc he was not taking great care of him and pretty abusive. He is no longer our friend by the way. At this point, Petie had shown many aggressive tendencies towards others besides myself. He would become aggressive and try to bite if you touched his food, toys, or tried to mess with him when he didn't want attention. Over time, we saw Vets and behaviorists and his behavior did not improve. The last behaviorist who is very well known told us it would be best to put him down. I cried the entire way home. That was 5 years ago. We adopted another dog even though Petie was not a fan of other dogs. They eventually became best buddies and his behavior improved for a short bit. We now have 2 children; a 3 1/2 year old and a 19 month old. He has bitten my husband numerous times for no reason. The bites started out as a warning and progressed to wanting to do harm. It seemed like he would go into a rage and then snap out of it and try to be sweet. That was the hard part. He would be sweet and loving and then just snap. It was like he didn't know what he was doing. Over the last few months, something changed in him. Well, he lost most of his hearing, but seemed off. He tried to bite my oldest and growled at my youngest. We kept them separated 99% of the time. The last straw came one week before he was put to sleep. My husband let him out to and he started wondering down the street. My husband went after him and found him in my neighbors front yard. My husband said he seemed off and not himself at all. He told him to get back to the house and Petie charged and attacked him. My husband was able to wrestle him to the ground and grab him by his scruff and back legs. He brought him back to the house and set him on the front porch. He tried to continue his attack. My husband was able to get him again and put him over the fence. He said something was different and he didn't intend on stopping until he hurt my husband. We talked it over for a few days and decided putting Petie to sleep was our only option. We couldn't rehome him knowing full well his bite history. We couldn't find a place for aggressive dogs because he would be in a kennel and he hates that. He chewed through a metal crate to get out before. We did it at home where he loved to be and he was in his bed. I feel like we took him and gave him a great life. He had a huge back yard to run and play in and a best buddy. He wasn't always aggressive and mean. He could be so loving and sweet, but he was becoming so unpredictable and dangerous. I know we did the right thing because I could never forgive myself if he did that to one of my girls. I just miss him and wish there was another way. Thank you for this article and the comments. It made me realize I am not alone. sorry, if I rambled. This is the first time I have really talked or wrote about it. It has been too difficult.


Natalie 
November 23, 2014

Thank you all of you who have made supportive and caring comments.  I don't think I could tolerate mean and nonsympathetic words.  It is a hard decision a dog owner has to make.  I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone.  After reading the above and the comments, I feel a little better knowing that I am not alone.  Thank you, Mar for the peace and blessing.  I will bookmark this page to read in the future often when I think about my loved one, Sandy.


Wendy 
November 23, 2014

One month ago this week, my rescue attacked me, unprovoked.  This article was very therapeutic.  He was a beautiful dog and could be very loving, but there was something inside of him that just snapped.  As you noted too, I had no remorse putting him down.  For me, it was not only my safety, but the safety of my family, neighbors and townspeople that made the decision final.  I'm glad I'm here - had it not been for the valiant efforts of a fellow passerby, I would not be here today.  He not only bit me, but tried to drag me into the bushes to complete his task.  As I screamed for help, a man ran out of the post office across the street to twist his collar, stopping his breathing.  It was the only way he would release his grip on me.  It was a horrific incident and I'm still skittish around dogs his size and bigger.  But I'm still a dog lover and it hasn't stopped me from researching a better breed for myself and adopting one better suited for my lifestyle and needs.  I pick him up in 2 weeks


Amy 
November 23, 2014

Hi there, I just found your post while searching google for some sort of answer or comfort I did the right thing and I just wanted to say Thank you!! Last night we had our Jack Russell of 8 years euthanised. He had been getting progressively worse over the last year, biting and snapping for no reason, sometimes he would attack me if I got upset. It was like he didn't recognise me at all. He had also began to be child aggressive which we noticed when my God daughter came round, I just couldn't run the risk of him attacking a child. I feel awful for having to resort to euthaniation, I feel guilty and like in some way I have betrayed Gizmo. But reading your post made me realise that I didn't do it just for my safety and others but that I did it for Gizmo, he had been getting worse and any intervention wasn't working. As much as it hurts like hell now I want to know I did the right thing and your post has helped that. Sorry for the rambling! 


Natalie 
November 22, 2014

I was so surprised to find this issue and discussion.  I just put my 10 year part pointer, part beagle (we thought) to sleep.  She was healthy and vibrant. She had attacked and tore up our dachshund/beagle 3-4 times.  Two of the fights ended very bloody and resulted in me & my son getting hurts and more recently my husband.  This was the most difficult decision I have made.  I loved Sandy, the pointer/beagle and she seemd to be more attached to me than my husband or son.  She placed her self as the alpha dog.  She bit a human or was mean.  But she hated Holly, the dachshund/beagle.  She got along with Milo, a male beagle.  Last Friday I was called by my husband.  I raced home and had never seen so much blood...and I am a nurse who has worked on an ambulance as an EMT. Sandy was always so anxious and had separation anxiety from me.  She would cry when I left the kitchen to just change my clothes, or go to the bathroom.  She was a hyperactive dog and for the past four years, we have had to keep gates up and doors shut keeping the two separated.  It has been so tense and nerve racking in this house hold. Euthanizing Sandy was against everything I believe.  I always said when I adopted a dog or purchased one, it was for the life of the dog and I would not get rid of a dog because they were an inconvenience.  I have been telling myself that giving her to someone would not have worked because her attachment to me and she might kill someone's cat or other animal.  After the first big fight we had someone take her and he brought her back in 10 minutes.  Sandy used her body to beat at the truck windows.  The guy admitted to punching her to settle her down. We even hired a trainer and she asked me if I would ever be able to trust Sandy around Holly. We are dealing with our choice.  I miss Sandy so much and poor little Holly has had to have 2 surgeries.  I truly believe we made the right choice.  But it's made me think differently about having dogs.  I love dogs so much, but I think after Holly & Milo pass, we will be "dogless" for awhile.


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 21, 2014

Hi Pogo, I'm sorry you were attacked. I presume your parents are the legal owners of the dog, and not you? In that case, what to do about the dog's behavior is their decision, although one would hope they would take family member's wishes into consideration. If you snuck out with the dog and did something against their preference, it would likely have a very adverse effect on your relationship with them, possibly permanently. My father gave away my dog when I was in high school and I never forgave him for it, and all these decades later I still get angry about it. I would not recommend doing anything without their explicit consent. Have you suggested a medical work up and consulting a veterinary behaviorist/certified trainer to your parents?


Pogo 
November 20, 2014

Our family dog just attacked me tonight and mom isn't considering putting her down or getting rid of her. I want to get rid of her without them knowing it was me i know it sounds bad but i believe that an animal should be put down if it shows any sign of aggression towards a human. However they would be so angry with me if they knew i was the one that took her in. I've been attacked by another dog almost exactly 1 yr ago while working at the pet shop and the animal control did nothing but put it under "quarantine"


Phyllis DeGioia 
November 20, 2014

Amy, I'm glad this piece, and all the comments, helped. It's a terribly difficult time. For me, the pain has not gone away entirely but it is significantly muted. I believe you will experience the same. I wish you peace with your grieving.


Amy 
November 19, 2014

This article brought both my husband and I solace. We had an 11 year old rescue that was so so sweet with all adults he met. However, he had many anxiety issues and he never was a fan of children. After many close calls with my son, he finally bit him in the face, completely unprovoked. My son bent over to look at him. No tail pulling, no tackling- just plain checking him out. It was by the grace of God that Duncan 'nicked' my son's face and caused a small scratch and some bruising but not enough harm to need stitches or any other lasting effects. Both my husband and I saw no choice but to euthanize him. I felt like I failed him.I felt like we should have tried to prevent the bit by locking him up while my son was awake or have him rehomed to a person without kids. But after reading this article, I see that it may have only caused more issues. Plus, what type of life is it for a dog to live locked away for the majority of the time? I know we had no other choice and my heart breaks but I know he is now free from his anxiety and we are free from fear. RIP Duncan.


Jackie Creviston 
November 13, 2014

An update on Buster...my big boy that I had to have euthanized for aggression...one of the hardest things I have ever done. As most of you know from my previous two postings, I had planned on spreading Buster's ashes in Montana on my way back to Washington.  Well, going into Virginia from North Carolina, for some reason I pulled off on a small side road that led to a large pasture.  I was drained and still emotionally spent from Buster's death and not being there for him in his final minutes.  So I pulled over to the side of this huge pasture and parked the RV for the night. In the morning, a pickup came up behind me and it was the owner of the property.  I looked and saw a house in the distance.  Anyways, he asked what I was doing there and I started crying (as I am now) and told him about my big boy and how I had to put him down.  The man was extremely sympathetic and I told him how guilty I felt because Buster always loved to run and run and he couldn't because I couldn't control him and we were  both going crazy in the rv.  The man said, "you are welcome to spread his ashes in the field and stay as long as you like."  It was a huge bean field that had been harvested. I thought about it and thanked him and decided, yes, this is where I would spread his ashes.  So Rosie, my jack Russell, and I walked this huge field spreading Buster's ashes with me talking to Buster like he was at my side and telling him what a wonderful boy he was and how sorry I was about what happened.  We must have spent an hour in that field.  As I approached the end of the field there were several trails off into the woods.  God how Buster loved to run the trails in Washington.  There was a particular spot where the sunlight shone on the leaves between the trees and that is where I spread the last of his ashes; after spreading some on the trails.  I look down one trail and could imagine him running towards me as he always did...so happy to be free to run.  I could see him running towards me (in my mind).  Then Rosie started barking even though there was nothing around.  I think Buster's spirit was with us and that is what she was barking at.  It was really surreal.  After she stopped barking, I looked to my side and saw a large boggy swamp.  Buster used to love running in the mud.  So my "big boy" has his fields, trails and muddy swamp to play in.  I felt in my heart him saying, it's okay Mama, I know you tried and I am happy.  Please don't grieve....I don't want you to be sad because I am in a better place.  I will be waiting for you at Rainbow Bridge with Angelica (my rescue kitty who I had to put down because of stomach cancer...my vet said the prognosis was extremely poor) and I can now run and play without having my world be smaller and smaller because I can't be trusted in my behavior.  Euthanizing an aggressive dog is SO HARD because it's not like he had a good long life...he was only 3 and 1/2 or he had a terminal illness but as the author said...sometimes dogs are mentally ill just like people.  There are still times like now where I tear up and when he and Rosie used to share my dinner plate after I finished eating...I put it down the other night for Rosie to lick and and starting crying because Buster would always patiently wait until he was his turn.  I am looking at moving to South Carolina so I won't be too far from that field and maybe someday I can visit it again...with Buster in my heart.  At the end of spreading his ashes, a middle age man came out of the house and I asked about the man who told me it was okay to spread Buster's ashes. He said that was his roommate and then he said, "boy, the dogs love it when we cut the beans...they run all over the place."  So run and run all over that field Buster.  God bless you for the few years I had of your undying loyalty and Mama will be looking for you when my time comes.  Angelica, show Buster around on the Rainbow Bridge.  I love you both.  Mama


Kim 
November 9, 2014

This past week, I had to lose a friend - my dog Ziggy. He could be such a sweet boy, but he was very unpredictable and after he bit me again, I knew that I had no choice. He was a rescue dog, abused at an early age and therefore, he never trusted people. I don't want to go into the details of the times he bit - it's too painful. But I do know that I did everything I knew how to help him and give him a good life. Sadly, his early abuse made him too anxious to ever fully relax and be a happy dog. I do hope he knows how much I loved him and that I wish I could have "fixed" him, though I know that wasn't possible. I feel so horribly guilty and keep thinking there was something else I could have done. I'll miss his brown eyes, floppy ears and goofy walk. Rest peacefully, my dear Ziggy. You took a piece of my heart when you left ... but I know will see you again.


Karen 
November 7, 2014

Thank you for this. My rescue dog is sweet as can be...most of the time. She has shown some aggressive signs scattered throughout hr two years with us. Two days ago she bit my one year old son in the face when I accidentally gave her a treat outside her treat area and he tried to take it or play with her. She is going to be put to sleep and I have not stopped crying and sobbing hysterically for 2 days. My son had surgery..over 25 stitches in his face and he will put put under anesthesia again in a week to remove them...and I am here all devastated that it was my fault that my very very anxious dog is going to be put to sleep because I put her into this dangerous situation. The guilt is awful..but I can't risk it again by accident. I love her more than anything and it is heartbreaking but it is what is best. Thank you for sharing your story and reading mine. I have to wait 8 more days (due to animal control quarantining her in our house despite being up to date on shots) and we are going to spoil her rotten for 8 days and say goodbye i our home. It is devastating.


Rylee 
November 7, 2014

I'm in a bit of a similar situation, I adopted 2 Akita adults, they are extremely well behaved, got along great with other dogs in the shelter, beautifully leash trained and all around great dogs. The female is definitely the more dominant of the two, (I believe she is the mother of the other) They were at my parents home with their dog (who they had no issues with) and completely out of nowhere the female attacked my parents dog. (the male Akita never joined the fight) She tore up my parents dog pretty badly, he is recovering. Then the next morning, somehow she got inside and went through the baby gate that was up to separate my parents dog from most of the house so he could heal. She attacked him again, much more severely the second time, and after we separated her she attacked my mom, and ripped her leg pretty badly. I have made the decision to euthanize her (the female Akita), I also know that the shelter had reported that she went after a cat and possibly a child (their information was not from a reliable source so they  tested her with other dogs and cats and adults and she showed no interest.) My biggest concern now is for how the male Akita (her son and lifetime companion) will react to being without her. (he has never shown any sign of aggression and responds very well to me in any situation, during the fights i told him to go sit in the other room and he did and stayed there until i went to get him, and he trusts me explicitly.)  Any suggestions on coping after she is gone? Or any advice really? I really wish I had any other option, other than putting her down, but there is no way I can re-home her or ever be able to trust her again..


Amy 
November 6, 2014

I'm in the same predicament as Sara, below. I have a wonderful 4 year old pointer/hound mix named Owen who is fantastic with people but very aggressive with dogs. Since I live in an urban environment, this has always been a challenge. But I hired an excellent trainer, who helped me manage his behavior. He also takes Prozac, and we've seen behavioral specialists in the past. Despite my extensive efforts, last week, while on a walk with my dog walker, Owen attacked another dog and caused her to go to the emergency vet. Fortunately it looks like the other dog will be all right. But I understand it was a pretty brutal attack (I won't even get into how the dog walker is to blame for this.) This is the second incident for Owen, as he previously attacked a pit bull after breaking through my fence in the back yard. This time, animal control was called, and they are currently doing a dangerous dog investigation. There is a chance they will allow a voluntary ban of Owen from my state, but I can't find a rescue to take him, and anyway I worry the next owners won't take as much effort to keep him and other dogs around him safe. I'm considering euthanasia, but I can't get past the idea that perhaps he could thrive somewhere in a rural setting, and I should look harder to find it. Owen is amazingly sweet with people and children, and is very calm and obedient around the house. He isn't made for the city, though...does anyone have any ideas I haven't thought of? I would appreciate any advice during this very difficult time.


rphockewyife
November 6, 2014

Your article speaks to me in a way that only someone in the same situation could understand.  It's only been 3 weeks after the attack on me by my beautiful brindle Plott Hound/Rhodesian.  I adopted him a little over a year ago.  he could be the sweetest boy and then turn on a dime with someone he'd get a bad feeling about.  He and I had a very close relationship - I was on my own while my husband travelled for his job.  During our morning stroll, he walked in front of me and I stepped on his paw.  He jumped up at me as if to say "ouch" but then he sat back down, looked at me as if to say "you witch" and attacked.  Luckily I was in a populated area and a man ran to save me.  He had to choke him to no breath to get him to stop mauling me.  It's horrid, but I didn't hesitate to put him down.  What if he hurt someone else?   I asked the vet and the SPCA where I adopted him if he could be rehabilitated and they all said "no." I still wrestle with the guilt and the "what ifs"  but in the end, I know I did the best I could do and there was nothing else that could have been done. But you're right, you feel almost betrayed for loving something so much only to be hurt by them.  That is my struggle.  But it won't stop me from getting another dog. 


mars 
November 5, 2014

I am so sorry for anyone who has to face this hearbreaking issue. I have nothing but deepest compassion for both human and animal in this situation. may every one of you know peace and be blessed.


Mary 
November 1, 2014

Thank you for that article I so needed it.


Jackie creviston 
November 1, 2014

Hi, it's me again.  I am the person who had animal control put down my Buster after he got loose from me....again...and nipped a worker in an RV Park.  I am having a really hard time processing his death.  It is a grief beyond words.  I know I did the right thing intellectually but emotionally Buster's death is killing me inside.  I miss him so much and I am blaming myself.  I am on a cross country trip and have been beating myself up saying I never should have taken this trip because it just made his anxiety and aggression worse. Evenings are the worst because that's when he would sleep with me and bring me his toys.  He should to love to have his butt scratched and look at me so lovingly.  However his passing has improved the quality of life for my elderly jack Russell and cat because he doesn't chase KitKat anymore and I have started walking Rosie more.  Again though, this is all intellectually.  Last night I cried and cried over him.  I also cried over my poor cat that had cancer and I had to put down in late August.  They say God never gives you more than you can handle but I am drained.  I recently got divorced and although I was fortunate in that the ex gave me the equity in the house, I am living in an older rv and traveling the country.  My pets were/are my children and I feel like I lost half my family.  I am estranged from both my adult children (by my choice as they are abusive beyond belief).  Buster was with me through my severe depression, loneliness, divorce but it was also a real stresser dealing with him.  Who wants to drug up your dog and put him in the bathroom while you drive cross country??  Last night while walking Rosie here on the North Carolina Outer Banks I saw a catastrophe in the making if I had Buster with me.  Some people on the other side of the road were walking a dog without a leash (some kind of pit bull mix).  The dog stopped, looked at Rosie and I but didn't cross the road.  If Buster had been there I can guarantee he would have pulled me to the ground and attacked that dog.  As it was, Rosie and I just continued on our walk.  I got back to the RV and cried my eyes out.  I know time will help but I feel so guilty not being there for him in his final hour when the animal truck drove away with him.  But I know that if I went, I would have chickened out of having the deed done.  However it was like I never really got to say goodbye until I picked up his body the next day.  I've never had to do this before and I just could not deal with a ticking time bomb, Mr. Jekyll and Hyde as someone said.  But God I miss that dog and his floppy ears and happy smile when we lived in our house and he would sun himself on the deck.  I have no choice but to go on but I am almost 60 years old and have had ALOT of bad sh&t happen in my life.  I just pray that he is in doggie heaven running in the fields and doing all the things he couldn't do on earth. 


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 27, 2014

Hi Amandah, Have you consulted a veterinary behaviorist yet? Have you ruled out any medical causes with a thorough work up at the vet? Is your vet aware of this behavior? It is frightening to hear that he went after two children, and clearly you need to do something. While you weigh your options and talk to a behaviorist or a certified trainer who specializes in aggression, is it possible to muzzle him when he's outside?


Susan M 
October 27, 2014

I'm not sure where to begin. I've had miniature schnauzers for 32 years, and I love the breed.  I lost my second schnauzer 2 summers ago.  Jerry was 15 years old  when he passed and he had been a sweet and devoted animal his entire life.  My heart still longs for him.  2 1/2 months later while looking for a puppy, I found a breeder who also showed mini schanuzers.  He had a nearly 5 year old black male that he was looking to retire and to give away to a new home.  Well, I thought, let's go take a look.  While I had wanted a puppy, I had not had much luck locating any litters at that time.   So, we drove about an hour and half to this fellow's home and met him and our Chance.  His show name had been Give Me a Chance.  Chancie was jet black with a stripe of white on his chest, and a truly gorgeous animal.  He seemed very needy and so wanted to be loved.  He had been a show dog for most of his life, appearing in shows 2 to 3 times each week, and confined to a crate most of the time.  I've since learned that the show life is not the best life for a dog.  To be fair, his breeder cautioned that Chance had been with another family before us and had bitten a child ("broke the skin" is what he said).  I thought, children and dogs, its hard to know what happened or who is at fault.  In any event, we had no children of our own and  I promised to keep Chance away from other children (not the easiest thing to do with 5 kids living next door).  In the end, his breeder agreed to let us have Chance and made us also promise to bring him back if anything went wrong. You can guess the rest - we took our Chance home with us and fell in love with him immediately.  He was very sweet, very obedient, and just delighted to be in his new home with a family of his own and so many toys and comforts.  Chance had never had toys before, and came to us with a single, raggedy squeaky bear toy that his last family had purchased for him.  I almost threw that bear out more than once.  Now I am glad that I never did.  Later that month, he and I celebrated our birthdays together as they were two days apart – we even shared a cake with both of our names on it.  Afterwards, his beard smelled just like the cake and ice cream – it was the cutest thing.  As time went by, our bond with him grew very strong and I cannot describe the happiness that he restored to our lives.  In many ways, I think he saved mine.   But several months after he came home with us, Chance started exhibiting certain strange behaviors which at the time, we chalked up to his upbringing on the show circuit or perhaps the way that he had been treated by his prior family - he was afraid to go into the fenced backyard by himself, he was afraid of loud noises and traffic sounds, and he would stop and become steadfast when we tried to walk him on a leash. All of this seemed so odd given that he had endured applause and walked on a lead in the show ring.  We wondered if he had been abused in some way. Then again, perhaps these were signs of things to come.  Well, we just loved him, vowed to work with him on each of these issues and he was making real progress - he had started to readily  go out into the yard by himself, was less afraid of loud noises after some training, and was leash walking more readily.  Then, 7 mos. after we had him, he suddenly snapped.  We were watching TV one night and Chance was in my spouse's lap sleeping (where he insisted upon sleeping every night before bedtime with us).  Yes, he slept with us too – right next to me and usually with his head on my shoulder.  I never minded – I loved him so.  In any event, we both had gotten up and put Chance down on the floor.  He looked so adorable that we both then knelt down onto the floor to kiss and hug him as we had done so many times before.  As I approached him, he looked at me and appeared a little dazed. Then, he looked away and I thought that he was licking my spouse's face - it took me a moment to figure out that he was actually biting and was not going to let go.  This happened very quickly and without any warning.  As soon as I figured out what was going on, I told Chance to stop and wrapped my hands around his jaw (probably not the smartest thing to do), and pulled it apart.    When my spouse got up, I knew that we had to go the emergency room - bitten badly around the noise, a broken noise, and punctures near both eyes.   Chance followed us as we ran into the kitchen for towels to apply pressure and help to stop the bleeding.  There was blood everywhere.   But, I honestly don't think he knew what he had done. The next day, I called a very good friend who has raised dogs all of her life, runs a dog day care facility and is a former professional groomer.  When I told her what had happened, she immediately thought that it was rage and encouraged us to get Chance out of the house for our own safety.   Well, I had never heard of rage before and I called the vet to discuss it with him.  He wasn't sure either and said that we might want to consider a behaviorist.  Maybe we should have.  All I knew was that I had a really scary dog in my kitchen that I could no longer trust, and a spouse that was now terrified and badly hurt. I then called Chance's breeder/handler who had always said that if we had a problem with Chance, to call him and he would take him back because Chance was his baby too.   I hated the idea of losing Chance, but I thought, at least he will be ok with his breeder.   Well, when I called him, do you know what he said?  He didn't want the dog back and told me to have Chance put down.  My beautiful 5 year old baby, put down.   These thoughts had crossed my mind over the last 24 hours, but I never thought that it would come to this or that I would be the one to have to do it.   (In hindsight, I am actually grateful that I was the one because at least I could make Chance's passing as stress-less as possible for him and to be sure that his remains were treated with respect.)  The vet came to our home late that afternoon. Just before,  I had fed Chance his dinner and taken him outside to play for a little while.  I felt so badly for him - he was acting just like he always did wanting to kiss and hug.  But when he looked at me that afternoon, he seemed to know that something had gone very wrong. Then, it was over - almost.  Because Chance was put down before he could be isolated for 10 days for rabies verification purposes (state law), I had to consent to having his head removed and sent to the state lab for testing.   After which, Chance's head would be discarded.  The thoughts of this almost killed me on the spot.   I knew that I could not let that happen to my Chancie.  With my vet's help, I contacted the lab first thing the next morning when Chance's head would be arriving for examination.  Through a number of emotional calls and messages, the technicians agreed to return the head to me but I would have to go and get it.  I didn't care - I would have done anything for that little dog.   So, off I drove through some of the worst parts of the city and got quite lost even with the aid of Mapquest. As I was beginning to cry and completely fall apart in my car, I prayed.  Suddenly, I looked up and on the top of hill, I saw that God-awful lab which I recognized from its website. Literally driving past burnt out buildings, I parked and went inside.  Gratefully, the technician that I had last spoken to understood - he said that he was a dog owner too.   Chance didn't have rabies.   I took the sealed and cold box that contained Chance's head and wrapped in it my coat on the back seat of my car.  I don't know why I did that.  I then drove an hour to the vet's office so that my Chance could be sent intact to be cremated and returned to me.   I have him now, and his ashes are in a little marble urn next to that raggedy squeaky bear toy that I am so glad that I kept. But, it still wasn't and isn't over.  There is not one day that I have not questioned the decision to put Chance down.  Although we only had him for 7 mos., I loved him dearly and I still do.  Even now and with a new and very sweet puppy (yes, another mini schnauzer), I have not gotten over this loss and the way that it happened.  I am very sorry for anyone who has, or will go through what is without a doubt, the heartbreak of a lifetime.


Sarah 
October 26, 2014

We got our dog 3 years ago. A black lab- from an animal shelter. It had been starved, lost it's coat by the time he got help. Fast forward in time, we started having incidences of him reacting aggressively to people when they came over. He scratched/bit the neighbor who came over to get his ball, my aunties hand one time and this weekend my friends' arm and thigh. It was the worst yet. We have had input from a doggie behaviorist and overall his behavior improved and he always gets on well with other dogs at the dogpark. But his unpredictability (those times when we miss something) scares us. He has a dogcrate and usually keep him out back, but he knew this friend and she came over unexpectedly. I have emailed my dog therapist about options, but I have a niggling fear this may happen again. It was the worst bite yet. He is my best friend and I don't know what to do. It is almost easier to vow to 'try harder' to protect others from him and also keep him safe from being in those situations where he reacts badly. But the thought of it happening again... this is a difficult decision.


Amandah 
October 26, 2014

MY 8 year old boxer has "bitten" more like nipped at 6 people over his life.  2 of there people have been over the last year.  This week he went after 2 young girls.  He is territorial and protective.  He is the biggest baby and lover, if you come in to our house he loves you....if you try to come into our yard he is a psycho.  I don't know what to do.  I feel like putting him down is the best and most responsible thing to do?? I can't imagine just taking him one day to put him to sleep but I am worried that despite our efforts to keep him in our fenced in yard and on the leash, something bad is going to happen and I don't want that.


Jackie Creviston 
October 26, 2014

I am so glad I found this board. I adopted Buster from the humane society and was told he was a blue heeler and would probably not weigh more than 40 pounds. He came from an "unplanned" litter of 12 pups from Western Washington. Right off the start, I could tell he had been removed from his mother and siblings too young, as at 8 weeks he had already been in two shelters and neutered.  Well, Buster turned into a 75 lb. cattle dog/coonhound heeler mix.  He would nurse on a pillow and bring toys to me, played with my elderly jack Russell, got along with the cats.  The most loving caring dog in so many ways. When I went though a divorce, having to sell my house and was unemployed, Buster was there for me always.  I LOVED BUSTER.  But, early on in the first few months of his life there were signs of aggression that were troublesome.  The dogs at the dog park that he used to play with he started attacking.  Dog walks were torture because he was so big and powerful that I literally COULD NOT control him.  He pulled me down several times.  He also started nipping and trying to attack people viciously for no visible reason.  I actually was afraid of him a couple times when I asked him to move over on the bed and he tried to nip me.  Buster went to three dog training sessions...no result..was on meds..no result.  His world became more confining and I tried muzzles, special harnesses, etc.  He would not come when called and would run off.  The effort I put into trying to train him was unreal.  Then I had to go on a trip and he bit a woman very badly.  I could see what was on the horizon.  It was horrible to see the unpredictability.  His eyes would glaze over and he would act like nothing had happened when he would nip at or bit people.  The poor dog just wore me out. Finally after a last biting, running away incident, the victim called animal control and I agreed to have him euthanized.  It was hard but he was suffering, I was suffering and his behavior was escalating.  He was only 3 1/2 years old.  I had him cremated and have his ashes and toys that I will spread in the fields of Montana.  It breaks my heart.  I know I did the right thing but that doesn't mean it was easy.  He was so loyal to me I felt like I betrayed him but I know I didn't.  Buster was bred to be a herding dog and the increasing confinement only made his anxiety worse.  I also believe that some dogs are just mentally ill due to a number of factors and being taken so young from his mother didn't help.  I love you my big boy and will see you at the Rainbow Bridge.  This only happened a couple weeks ago and I cried and cried for several days but now there is some relief in knowing he can't hurt anyone and his quality of life was not good.


John Peters 
October 25, 2014

On a slightly different angle I'm having similar guilt, although the decision wasn't mine and the dog wasn't in my view at fault.  I'm in the UK and I've have just had our beloved 4 year old lab destroyed (such a horrible word) by our "justice" system.   Some kids accessed our house whilst we were at the neighbours.  They opened the stair gate to the kitchen which is where our dog is kept and is there to stop him bolting for the door.  We don't know what happened next other than one of the kids got bitten, but it did not pierce the skin.. Unfortunately, when he was a puppy (6 months) he pounced a toddler in a high street which is where the the first caution and control order came in, no biting, just a jump with sharp claws. He was an excellent pet, great with all our kids and friends, top of dog training classes and all it's taken is 2  trespassing  under 10s and their negligent parent's to see our family heartbroken.  I ask what reasonable precautions I could have taken, other than locking the window that they  came in through? Fury has changed to sheer disbelief that this is justice...


Lauren 
October 24, 2014

I'm really in awe of all the support on this page.  I have an 11 year old terrier mix who the vet believes has cushings disease.  For the last 6 months she has been pouncing on my other terrier mix who is 2 years old.  It wasn't until the last 3 months or so that the pouncing turned into aggressive attacking.  She pins the younger pup to the floor and tries to bite her all the while my younger pup is yelping and trying to fight back.  My oldest dog will not back down until i literally pick her up and put her in another room.  Once they are separated, my oldest dog struggles to calm down.  her bottom lip quivers, her eyes are blood shot and she is shaking and completely stressed.  the attacks are completely random, however, they are becoming more and more often that i'm having to keep them separated all the time now.  in the event they are not separated, i keep a very close eye on my elder dog and it is not more than 15 minutes before i'm intersecting her dart to my younger pup and preventing yet another attack.  my older dog is miserable being locked behind a baby gate.  my heart breaks.  for both dogs.  i'm so sad.


James Taylor 
October 22, 2014

Thank you for your story and trying to work with your companions. Once the trust is gone, it cannot never be recovered. Our lovely rescue dog crossed the line this evening after an increase in aggressive behavior over the last month. Oliver brutally and viciously attacked our 17 year old male cat. The cat that everyone in the family loves. The most docile and innocent cat around. Simon, the cat, was walking from one room to another, no where near Oliver, and Oliver ran to Simon, pinning him to the floor. Simon made sounds I haven't heard him make his entire life. That guttural howling that you know, instantly, something is terribly wrong. As soon as we pulled Oliver off of Simon, he lunged at us. I love animals and have grown up around them my entire life, but this is an episode that I will never bear witness to again. I will not be terrorized in my home. I will not allow my animals to terrorize each other. And through this evening, there had been perfect harmony between our four cats and two dogs in our 3500 square foot quarter acre Texas home. *I say that only because some people might think too many animals in tight quarters. My heart breaks that Oliver is in a kennel outside tonight. It breaks my heart that we have to go to such extreme measures, but we simply cannot assume this risk. We cannot risk rehoming an animal after such a brutal attack.


Beth 
October 17, 2014

Reading all of these comments about the same situation I have found myself in has brought some comfort to me. My 9 yo Am Bulldog Penny is the sweetest, most loveable cuddle bug you could ever want. That is until the switch flips and she wants to kill my French Bulldog. It first started when Penny was 2 and she attacked my 11 yo Boston Terrier. The kids where playing ball with her when she bumped into Wilby startling him. He being old and grumpy growl a little at Penny and before I knew it she was on him shaking him like a rag doll. I tried to get her off but she would not let go. I finally had to choke her enough to make her let go. My poor Wilby had lost too much blood and passed away on the operating table. I wanted to put her down then but everyone said she just reacted to Wilbys aggression. She knows that she has done wrong and is very remorseful acting. Things after that where fine for a couple years, I felt safe to get myself a French Bulldog named Bella. They love each other cuddling up to sleep. When Bella was 3 she was chasing squirrels in our yard when out of nowhere Penny runs over and snatches Bella by the neck. Again I am yelling pulling on her smacking then finally choking her to make her let Bella go. Bella ended up needing stitches but was ok. Excuses again for why it happened. Over the years I have done everything I know to try and help/figure out why she does this. We have had trainers, dog behavioralist and vets work with us and nothing has helped. Last week was the last straw. I let them out back in the morning and our neighbor was stacking firewood next to our house. Bella ran over and was barking but it was more of a hello then a aggressive bark. I was standing there watching when all the sudden Penny runs up behind Bella And grabbed her by the neck. I went running outside yelling no to Penny but she was shaking Bella all over. I ended up getting bit several times trying to prevent Penny from killing Bella. I finally managed to choke her and she let go but I was bleeding all over. I knew at that point that I could not live like this anymore. I love Penny very much and have cried so many tears over this decision but know that it is what I have to do. I still feel like I failed her and that I am to blame somehow. I guess it is something that will take time to get through. I have found this vet that will come to my home and put her down which gives me some peace. She will be laying on her bed safe in her home when she falls asleep. That is the best gift to her I can give her.


Liz 
October 17, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. My family & I have been struggling with my dog's aggression problems for over a year now. We have had so many close calls; his attacks are completely unprovoked and unpredictable. He has targeted my family, friends, house guests and other dogs. I love him with all my heart, but I feel like he is a ticking time bomb and that him severly injuring an innocent person or dog at some point is inevitable. I have tried everything I could, but for some reason he feels threatened so easily, and responds to those threats with extreme aggression. Seeing that I am not alone in having to make this heartbreaking decision is somewhat comforting during this difficult time. I am most likely bringing my dog to the vet this weekend


Becky Lieder 
October 13, 2014

Maureen did you ever find a support group? Does anyone know of one?


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 13, 2014

I am so sorry for your loss and your experience. All of us with aggressive dogs we love know the justifications and explanations to ourselves. After a while the pain lessens and even ends - at least for the most part - and eventually you feel better about your decision when you realize how much time and energy you put into protecting him and other people, and how free he must feel from all that anxiety and fear. I think all of us with these dogs spend a great deal of time justifying and explaining things away - it's human nature to do so in the beginning. Be good to yourself. Your heart will open again.


Susan 
October 12, 2014

I too just had to euthanize my sweet boy just a few days ago. I adopted him a little over 13 months ago and he was my best friend. The most amazing dog with the most amazing personality. Due to a head injury he suffered from a car accident less than two months ago he developed an aggression towards my husband. We continued to find him the home and love he deserved by keeping them isolated. We also consulted with a dog behavioralist and were in training. Unfortunately he viciously attacked my other dog out of no where this past Tuesday night. We felt at this point it was time to free him of something he was becoming that we knew wasn't him. It kills me to not have him follow me every where. To not hog my entire bed. To not lay his big head on my lap every chance he got. To not demand my one on one attention and massages. To not see him being silly and doing the craziest things. But deep down I know I did the right thing by him. He knew how much he was loved right until the very end.


Elizabeth 
October 11, 2014

I have spent the morning pouring though the comments on this page. I haven't shared it with my husband yet because he's too distraught. We're both pretty emotionally raw at this point but, I wanted to reach out. Perhaps selfishly for some comfort. On Wednesday night we put our beloved English Mastiff/St. Bernard mix, Henry to sleep. This has been on the horizon for sometime now but, we had always hoped to avoid it. Henry was about 9. My husband and I joked and said we had a blended family. He got Henry as a puppy when his girlfriend at the time couldn't keep him because she was moving out west. She had gotten him because she wanted a "guard dog." She quickly lost interest in him and my husband raised him and he was NEVER trained in any "guard dog" capacity. When we met, my lab mix and Henry hit it off wonderfully and we started our life together. We've always considered our dogs our children so this has been especially hard. Henry was always wonderful with us. He could be sassy and stubborn but, I called it only child syndrome b/c my husband spoiled him and found some of his traits cute.  When I moved in, I insisted on more of a pack structure having raised and worked for an Irish Wolfhound breeder. I think large dogs are awesome but, they need to have some boundaries because they can become difficult to control without them. Henry responded well to this. The first "issue" we had happened when I asked him to hop off the bed so I could close the door to the bedroom while I was at work. He was defiant. I reached for his collar (not a good move, I know) but, wasn't expecting his reaction to be to nip. He made a little scratch but, it mostly just startled me. He wasn't fixed at the time so again I insisted we neuter him in hopes that it would help with his "sassiness." He mellowed out a bit with this and I consulted with some breeders and trainers to help with our "pack dynamics" at home.  He would exhibit aggression toward other dogs, particularly strange males but we never had issues with my sister's dogs or my parents' dogs. We did purchase a basket muzzle for safety safe especially during the initial meet and greets. Weighing in a 140 lbs and solid muscle and bone, we didn't want to take any chances. For the most part things were fine until we moved to New York. Over the course of 3 years, he bit several people. The first was my husband's grandfather's hand. He didn't need stitches but, it gave us a scare. The next were nips on the butt of 3 of my husband's guy friends who came to visit. He didn't break the skin but tore the jeans and caused a bruise/swelling. We started putting him in the bedroom when people came over to avoid that issues but, I was nervous. I started to recognize Henry's anxiety at this time too and my husband and I made changes to address this. His most serious issue occurred 6 months ago. While on a walk,a young boy unexpectedly darted in between Henry and myself and Henry lunged. In a  rapid respond my husband grabbed him and I blocked him. To say it was a close call is an understatement. The boy was about at tall as Henry and was right at mouth level. Not having any options I blocked him with my hands. He bit me and immediately released but the damage was done. I had serious damage to my left hand, needed surgery and spent 4 days in the hospital on 24 hr IV antibiotics. I'm not sure that he would have let go of that boy and not sure that boy would have survived. We talked about putting him down but, couldn't. Blamed ourselves for not having his muzzle on or not noticing the little boy even though his behavior was as unpredictable as Henry's. We have been careful ever since but in July a friend tried to pet him and he bit his hand. Then just last week a neighbor came over. He was fine with her the entire visit  and she went to say goodbye. She put her face in his face (stupid move but, if you as me humans are just if not more unpredictable than dogs) and he bit her cheek. She acknowledged her mistake and new it was not a reasonable way to interact with animals and apologized. We just thought about how many "close calls" we had and worried about the potential.  At this point we have no more tears but, feel the guilt and shame. We feel like we failed him and feel like as the "humans" we should have protected him from himself. I spoke to the vet and she felt euthanasia was the best option for him. She was very compassionate but, I can't shake these horrible feelings or the picture of him lifeless. We have lost a piece of our heart and soul as well as a family member. If nothing else this is helpful to wright out and this blog provided some comfort in knowing we're not alone. For all of you who have shared your stories, I understand the heartache, confusion and despair you're feeling or have felt. I'm deep within it myself. Henry we love you and miss you deeply.


onnieh 
October 11, 2014

You can't possibly know how much finding this article has eased the gut-wrenching pain I am going through in this very instant. my dude, my boy, my heart, my sweet and soulful 4-year old flat coat retriever is scheduled for euthanasia and I feel like I can't breathe and the pain will never end … you have helped me realize that our decision, though painful and heartbreaking is not wrong. we have justified and explained away so much but we have reached the end of the road and must release him and us from the fear and anxiety. thank you so much for sharing your experience and your feelings.


Becky 
October 10, 2014

My Bear had grabbed at my friends pants, I was able to get him off without her being hurt. The second time he jumped at another friend and I grabbed him but he left a little mark. There were numerous times he would grab people's feet and if I grabbed him it would make things worse. He only listened to my husband. I kept thinking I could fix him. Yesterday he bite my stepsons mother. We had to take her to the hospital. She is going to be ok. We came home, had our vet come over and put him down. I feel like I failed as his owner. If I had just..... After reading this article and comments, my beautiful Bear wasn't wired right. He was only 17 months old. He had worms so bad when we got him they were making him sick, at about 8 months he tore his ACL (lots of muzzled vets visits, shots into his hip and knees, limited activity....) the list goes on. Only 17 months old. I promised we would never leave him and we didn't. But the pain of not seeing his drooling face on my shoulder in the morning, right now it feels unbearable.


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 9, 2014

Sara, I'm sorry to hear you are in-between a rock and a hard place. I know you have done your best with her, and all the training has clearly been advantageous although it did not resolve her hard-wired prey drive. It's terribly difficult to find a good solution for a dog that has been deemed dangerous.  I'm not surprised that rescue won't take Charlee because dogs that have hurt other dogs are basically unadoptable. Your condo association has given you a very short time-frame in which to make arrangements for Charlee. Are they requiring it because Charlee has been deemed dangerous or because of a complaint by another homeowner? Did you buy her from a breeder? Responsible breeders should take a dog back for any reason. Unfortunately, some breeders won't do that, even if you can find them. Dodger's breeders would not take him back from his first owner, so he went into rescue. Have you spoken with a pit bull-specific rescue, even if one is not local to you? I'm afraid I have no new suggestions in this case, and I too wonder about her quality of life with all of her new restrictions. If you surrender her to the shelter, they will euthanize her, and if that's the end scenario it's better for her if you take her in for that. Who were the professionals who suggested euthanasia, the trainers? What does your vet think? Whose opinion do you respect the most? What can you live with, and what can Charlee live with? I wish you luck. Let us know what evolves.


Sara 
October 9, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. I know this can be a traumatizing experience because our animals are a part of our families. I have a 2 year old pitbull named Charlee who is an absolute sweetheart with humans. She will lick anyone to death.  When it comes to other dogs, specifically small ones, it is a completely different story. Charlee has bitten my parents dog and my best friends dog, and we decided that it was time to keep her out of those situations and get her some training. We spent lots of time and money on the best training we could find. As a result of the training, Charlee was very obedient, but we could never seem to get rid of her impulse to growl or lunge at smaller dogs. About two months ago, Charlee got away from me outside my home and ran towards two small dogs being walked by their owner. Charlee grabbed one of the small dogs and bit her causing fairly significant damage. The owners of the dog opted to euthanize the dog although I insisted on paying vet bills. Long story short, animal control was called and I was taken to court.  As a result of this, the city I live in deemed my dog a dangerous dog which requires me to comply with many rules and regulations in order to keep Charlee including extra insurance, signs around my condo, and having her on muzzle and leash anytime she leaves the house including in the backyard to go to the bathroom. At first, I believed the best thing for Charlee was for me to comply with all of the requirements so that she could stay in her home with me even though she can no longer go to the lake and swim, run around at the beach, or go for long runs with my husband.  As time goes on though, I feel more and more guilty about her quality of life Although I give her lots of love and walks, I feel like her life is very different from the way it was before the attack. To add to this, my condo association just sent me a letter saying I am being ordered to remove the dog from my property by October 17th. According to our bylaws, they have every right to do this. I have been in contact with many pitbull rescues, posted ads on Craigslist, etc and cannot find anyone who will take Charlee because of her history and the amount of responsibility it would be to own a dog that is registered as a dangerous dog. I am running out of options and time to figure this all out. To add to this, my husband and I would like to start a family, and although Charlee has never shown aggression towards people, we worry her aggression towards small animals could translate to a baby or small child. The thought of this terrifies me. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? As much as I absolutely hate the idea of this, a few professionals have suggested euthanasia.  I would appreciate any helpful suggestions that you all can give. Please keep in mind, I have tried to do my best for my pup because she really is my baby.


eb 
October 8, 2014

in dealing with that exact situation....a female pit raised as a pup was all my daughter needed to satisfy her great love for animals. she was 16 and very aware of the dangers she was aquiring. a family friend warned...and i now firmly beleive, that *if a dog is spayed as a pup (which is preferred for the health of the dog/ unused organs to prevent cancer/disease)she will remain a pup and her behaviors,instincs, learn process, maternal,etc. would not reach maturity.* at three 1/2 years old she stunned my baby with bitr to the face while playing. UNACCEPTABLE. processing the unwanted deed of putting her down was overridden by re-establishing boundries and behavioral training. not seeing an adequate change, then a noticable exculation....her unwanted deed became her reality. so so sad for all. but like you the bells ring loud and clear and i praise her for her strength to do what is right for all. peace has come for one and soon enough for the other. blessings from my mother to me, as your mother to you.... much love, mom
 


Phyllis DeGioia 
October 7, 2014

Dear Jason, first, I am so sorry for your loss and your deep pain. I know how it feels, and crying is a healthy, cathartic response, so please don’t fight it. It’s best to deal with your grief head on so that it doesn’t bounce back at an inappropriate time and interfere with your future life. Spreading his ashes where you walked him the day you took him into your home sounds like a perfect memorial. Cry it all out. You went above and beyond to work with him, made every effort possible. His freedom from anxiety was the second best gift you ever gave him; the first was your love. I agree that “there are no bad dogs, just bad owners” is ridiculous. As I see it, there are two kinds of anxiety in dogs: the one created by poor training and leadership, which is what the adage refers to, and those who suffer from some level of mental illness. If medication does not lessen the latter to a liveable degree, a dog owner ends up living with a difficult and potentially dangerous dog. On a side note, it makes me angry to hear that the shelter was persuaded to adopt him out to you when they knew, in no uncertain terms, that they should not have. This situation is a fertile ground for heartache and liability. Perhaps one of the ways you could deal with your grief is to write them a letter outlining what happened and why they should never again adopt out a dog with obvious aggression.  Take care of yourself.


Alissa 
October 7, 2014

I wrote  a few says ago. the pain is still raw and I am struggling day to day...waves of emotions. For those people thinking of putting their aggressive or mentally unstable dog down, I hope you try other avenues before you do it. Medication etc...give your fur babies a chance....mine didn't get that chance.


Juan Fonseca 
October 6, 2014

It breaks my heart. This morning our 5yo dog bit my wife as she was giving him love. The last few months have been full of anxiety and agression, he nipped my brother twice in the last few weeks, I was so afraid that my 3yo daughter was next, we called animal control and they picked him up. There's no chances for him, they will put him to sleep immediately. It really breaks my heart, I loved the darn dog. But my daughter's safety comes before my love for a dog.


Jason 
October 6, 2014

Thank you for this article and it's comments.  It helped me make a difficult decision and to heal a little too. I put my dog down Wednesday.  It felt like a liver punch.  I simply crumpled and cried. I woke up at 0200 and did it again. When I saw his body after it had been done, it was the first time in 9 years I had ever seen him at peace.  As awful as this process has been, euthanizing him was the best gift I could give him. My ex found him at an animal shelter in 2006.  He was about 6 months old.  He had been found running with another stray in Fruita, CO.  He was fuzzy and adorable, and he charmed her. The problem was the animal shelter wouldn't adopt him because at 6 months old he repeatedly failed temperament tests and was incredibly aggressive.  She talked them into it, and he became my dog a few months later. Not wanting to give up on him, I did everything.  EVERYTHING.  I spent thousands on trainers, crates, better environments, everything.  We began socializing at dog parks, and he did OK for awhile.  There would be an incident every once and awhile, but eventually he was too combative with other dogs, so we just went to parks.  Then parks were too much.  So, we walked in the neighborhood.  He found too many cats and dogs to attack, so he ended up in my yard and ultimately my garage.  He would only be good if I was there with him, which simply isn't possible 100% of the time.  No one else could either, especially with his history of aggression.  He was given much love and attention, but it never made him able to relax.  He was constantly afraid of some unknown danger, and aggression was the only way he knew how to respond. I had not realized was how anxious and afraid he was all the time.  He didn't even sleep well.  He'd attack my other dog, he had bit me before while attacking other dogs, and finally he bit a neighbor when attacking her dog, which he has attacked before even though they were a block away.  My wife could not control him, nor could anyone else. His hips had begun hurting him a couple of years ago, and our grand mountain hikes were just fond memories.  He was in pain and I didn't see it.  He was afraid all the time and I wouldn't admit it.  There was something deeply wrong with him, and it had been getting worse despite my best efforts and the efforts of great trainers.  He was suffering silently, and because of that he was getting increasingly aggressive.  Because of his increased aggression, he kept limiting his world and mine to a more and more isolated existence.  He needed a freedom this world couldn't provide him. That freedom was my gift to him. Next week I'm hiking his ashes to the top of Mount Garfield, where we walked the first day I had him.  I'll probably cry again even though it's something I rarely do. I'll remember the true love that only a dog can give, and how he was true.  If he could have understood how difficult he made my life, he would have acted differently, but he simply couldn't.  That addage about no bad dogs only bad owners is garbage.  I wish they could all be saved and count him among them, but it's not true.  If there was any way possible to have done anything other than euthanizing him, I would have done it.  I'll speak my peace, let his ashes go and then I'll go back to my neighborhood where my neighbors and other dogs will no longer fear and avoid us.  They'll talk to me and play with our other dog, and we'll carry on as we must. Slowly, my life will normalize, and I'm already starting to see how abnormal it was constantly caring for an aggressive dog. Thank you.  Good luck to all of you grieving or deliberating what to do. In the end, only you know what's right.  Not experts, not the almighty google, just you.  My heart is with all of you. 


Megan K. 
October 5, 2014

I am so grateful to have found this piece--and these comments--as I sit here tonight trying to find the words to explain this very same decision to my five year old daughter. Lyn Koenig, we too are waiting for the appointment. This Wednesday at noon. I feel like my heart will shatter into pieces. I hope you find peace with your decision, and that we are all able to make room for the many animal companions that will surely touch our lives for many years to come. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on such a complicated, intensely painful, deeply personal topic.


GJM 
October 4, 2014

Luckily I found this site today. I am in turmoil myself, after our little chihuahua, bit my husband the other night. HE bit him on the hand that my husband just had surgery on a month ago. We are doctoring it up and I have him on some antibiotics. But our love for this dog is now gone. I just do not think I can afford to keep him now, and treat him the same. I have great fear of him doing this to someone else, and causing even greater pain. Am asking advise of family as to what I think we should do, but now I know there is only one thing to do. 


Sydney Williams 
October 3, 2014

I'm laying on bed reading all of these stories and I am crying my eyes out because I'm so afraid for my girl. She's a 4 year old English bulldog named Lucie. We've known she's had vet and groomer anxiety/aggression since she was about a year old-she had many health problems as a pup and was always at the vet. My sister is a license vet tech and now practice manager and the other night she tried clipping Lucies nails, when I told her it wouldn't be a good idea.. Lucie doesn't like being "messed with". She nipped my sister on the chin and nearly knocked her jaw out of it's socket. A couple days ago I noticed she had an ear infection and I was SOOO reluctant to take her to the vet so I called asking if she could just get me a script for antibiotic. That was a no go. She's familiar with Lucies tendencies so she called in a prescription for Valium for me to give prior to the appt. so they can sedate her for the exam. She was better than usual when I first got her there but the second my sister threw a blanket over her face to try and pin her for the shot, she started lunging at me and my sister. In a fit of desperation I took my foot and put it where the leash clasp and the collar ring met and stomped and pinned her face to the ground. The shot was successful but when we thought she was asleep and tried to move her to the table she went for my sister again. So she got ANOTHER shot. After the second shot, they thought she was out and again she got up and started lunging at the vet. So they gassed her. I noticed a big bruised bite on the inside of my sisters arm and I just started sobbing. Lucie has been great with us, and she's NEVER bitten any of us or a house guest or even snapped at a child. We have a 3 to and we host a lot of play dates with kids in the same age group and she's always been a great dog with the kids! She hates vets, we know this. She is only to be seen on an as needed basis now. My sister will give her her shots every 3 years at our house so were praying her health holds out so we won't have to take her in. We have a 3 year old son and 3.5 month old baby girl now. I told my husband after the stress she put me through today she has one strike with anybody outside of a vet clinic. She hasn't had much professional training, just a few sessions with a group of other dogs- with which she made light years of improvement with dog aggression(tiny yappy dogs are also a trigger for her) I've seen her run up on them before and usually she just runs up and bumps the dogs with her nose then the little dog bites her and lucie gets mad and tries to bite the other dog. Which she's only landed a bite once on a chihuahuas tail. The one strike rule seems like a fair system, because is hate to euthanize her because she might bite someone. I don't even know what to do. I have horrible anxiety so naturally, she behaves worse with me than my husband, but he can't ever get off work to take her.


Alissa 
October 3, 2014

Tears are falling as I read this. My parents put down our family pet at 8 years old yesterday. After a new grandchild arrived they visited the vet for anxiety tablets, and they were convinced she was a danger to all involved and we had all done well to last 8 years. She was unpredictable to others and had severe anxiety and also overly protective. I'm gutted I didn't get to say goodbye and finding it hard to accept a healthy dog was euthanised when we had learnt to control and manage her in the home .A huge loss and I can't stop crying.


Johanna 
October 3, 2014

I type this with tears in my eyes. Our 3 year old great dane/st. bernard mix bit our 10 year old son - 15 stiches to the scalp and some small lacerations near the eye. I count my blessings and am thankful that my son is alive and will heal. meanwhile, my heart is crumbling and I'm filled with grief imagining the day I drive my dog to the vet to have him put to sleep.  I keep reminding myself that it is what needs to be done and that behavior is unacceptable for a family pet, but it does not take away the hurt and sadness of having to make this difficult decision.  so glad I found this post and thread - I'm not alone and we do our best as pet parents but some dogs are beyond help.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
October 2, 2014

Sarah, Sometimes it is so hard to admit that there is nothing we can do to fix a problem, in this case the aggression of your 'cuddly girl'. You have done all of the right things, trainers, drugs, etc, and they are not working; as you stated, she is a complete danger to society. Know that you have done the right things, but making the decision to remove a danger to society is the right one and you will feel relieved as well. Then, you will feel guilty for feeling relieved, but that is normal.  It is still the right decision for all of you.  Your dog will be released from her demons, you will no longer have to walk on eggshells and no one will be hurt or killed. Even  with all of those positives, it will still be a very hard thing to live through.  Allow yourself time to grieve and remember the good times with your girl. My heart goes out to you.


Sarah 
October 1, 2014

Your posts have moved me so much. I am facing the same choice, while not being a choice. My lovely cuddly girl is a complete danger to society. She has also seen many trainers, including myself becoming a certified trainer for her, she has been on reconcile and clom. Please send me an email if you have time with any guidance. She is only 4 but already so far gone.


Malynda 
September 30, 2014

Thank you for this more than you will ever know. You just started my own healing from the same issue.


Lyn Koenig 
September 30, 2014

I await for the appointment to have our rescue boxer euthanized. Removing the swirl of emotions that you so aptly identified, I know it is the right decision for so many reasons. As you said, however, I am so saddened and sick to the stomach when I think of ending the life of a dog who was unfairly treated by someone else. Yes, we have made him a better family dog. He is energetic, goofy, and loving with the family but there are too many risks and he truthfully limits our lives. I hate the people who did this to him. I hate that we have to do this to him. I wish it were a year later already. Thank you for writing your experience that helped me see more clearly. Now I will go enjoy my last few day(s) with him. My precious boy. Always.


Bonnie 
September 29, 2014

Thank you for this website.  My husband and I have been struggling with our Charlie.  Charlie is a beautiful terrier/dalmation/pit mix.  We rescued Charlie when he was about 6 months old.  We noticed immediately that he was a nervous dog and a bit dopey but we figured he needed a little extra training.  As time went on we starting spending more and more money on training, doggie day group and all sorts of toys.  One year later Charlie is now on prozac and I can no longer take him out without a muzzle.  He cannot be around any dogs without becoming violently angry.  He also lunges at any stranger that gets too close.  We enjoy the outdoors but can't bring our dog to do anything with us.  We have tried so many things and have spent thousands of dollars trying to help Charlie just be sane.  For so long I have been in denial that there is just one more thing I can try to help him but this weekend i have come to terms with the fact that Charlie is just not wired correctly.  We love him very much and I especially feel a special bond with him but the fact is he is dangerous.  I just can't make that ok in my head.  We are so torn.  This website has helped me and although it is so sad it is comforting to know other people feel the same way we do.  We love our dog like he is part of our family but the reality is he is an animal and he is 70 pounds of unpredictable muscle. We are probably putting Charlie to sleep this week.  This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.  I am going to be sure to always remember how awesome Charlie is with a ball and how adorable he is when i ask him for a kiss.  Thank you everyone for sharing your stories.  It has been very helpful and comforting.


Jude 
September 26, 2014

I am so, so sorry you had to make such a devastating decision....I do, however, understand completely. My sister is, I believe, going to be put in the same position before to long....she isn't quite ready yet, but it worries me greatly. She adopted a chihuahua last December....and was not told that the poor dog has severe, and I mean severe, behavior problems that became painfully evident as soon as we arrived home. This poor dog had obviously been terribly abused and emotionally neglected. Her nails were grown around her little paws, so, our first task was to clip her nails. There was no way in Gods green earth WE were going to be able to do it.....she went absolutely berserk. We called our vet, made an appt. to get her nails trimmed, and took her in. It  took 2 techs. and the vet to put a helmet on her....forget a muzzle. The task was accomplished, but the vet told my sister not to bring the dog back. She needed shots, etc., so.....we made an app. at another vet herein town. The dog was so violent she tore the vet tech's finger open. They had to sedate her to give her her shots. Doggy prozac does very little...we've tried. She goes from calm and sweet, to whirling dervish, red zone slasher in .002 seconds. You just don't know when she's going to go off. I called the woman we adopted her from, and she told us the dog had just had a litter of puppies not long before, and ate them all....perfectly healthy puppies, I'm told. Just this morning, as she was lying next to my sister, on the pillow next to her head, she went for my sisters' face...don't know why. I'm scared to go over to the house with my little dog....an 8 month old chichi, who is  a sweet, loving little girl....named Jabez. I'm scared to death Clover is going to eat my little girl. I just wonder if euthanasia wouldn't be better for this poor dog....can you imagine how unhappy, scared, and untrusting she must feel? My sister isn't ready to give up on her yet, but I, personally, am frightened for her...she loves Clover. I just don't feel secure for my sister. ANY ideas?


Brenda 
September 25, 2014

I am also very glad I came across this blog. And the comments, a welcome surprise. Ryan, I feel for you, and for everyone who is living with an aggressive dog that you love. I love my dog too...and I've tried so hard to help him, fix him ..but it just is not happening. he can also be very obedient, or he can be insane. Three years we've had him (he is 5) and he  doesn't  like to be touched or cuddled. He can relax sometimes, at night, when its dark... But most of the day, he is panting, he is barking, growling, pacing... He is very threatening to strangers and even people he knows. it is more than we can take. He lunges, jumps at and wants to get anyone that comes close. This summer he scared a little 18month old baby...and I said to myself, if I had lost control of him and he jumped on her, I would have changed her life forever... even if she had not been hurt, she would have been terrified for life...We've exercised him, medicated him, gave him toys to occupy him and keep him challenged and busy.. had him seen by a behaviourist..And no, he just cannot relax. he cannot be tolerant of anyone beyond us. the time has come. As sad as it makes us, we feel it is the only way he will finally be peaceful. How can he be well spending almost every waking moment - frantic. My heart goes out to all of you. Don't beat yourselves up about euthanasia. The alternative possibilities are far worse I'm sure. My boy will find peace tomorrow, and he will finally be at rest from whatever demons have been torturing him inside from his past...


Ryan 
September 25, 2014

This is the first link I stumbled upon when I googled "euthanize an aggressive dog."  Two weeks ago, a more likely google search would have been "I hate my dog- what do I do?"  Right now, Cooper, a Weimaraner that my wife and I bought at a yard sale, is sitting next to me with his warm head on my leg.  If I pet him right now, it could go one of two ways. He could nuzzle closer and do his little happy groan, or without warning he could lash out and angrily bite my hand.... or face.  I've been bitten 3 times within the past month - top of head, face, and hand.  We've always been quick to brush it off as "what had we done wrong?"  It's been upsetting, and as much as I may joke about "killing this $%&*#!@ dog", we never really thought the day would come that a veterinary doctor would suggest that euthanasia may be our only option, until yesterday.  It's never going to feel right, as we've put so much time, love, and training into trying to make Cooper a comfortable and happy dog- he's usually very smart and obedient, just violently unpredictable.  We give him the exercise that his breed NEEDS, and more patience that I thought I could ever have.  We're still wondering what else we can do to exhaust our options... we feel like we're at a dead end.  I thank you for what you've written - we can at least know that we're not the only ones with this issue... I'm not sure what conclusion we'll reach.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 24, 2014

Hi Kelly, It's difficult to be in-between a rock and a hard spot, I know. It's understandable that the rescue won't take the dog back because all they could do is euthanize her - they can't risk their other rescues' safety, and no one will adopt her with her bite record. Clearly, your situation must change quickly. At this point, I think they should be kept separated at all times. You have taken the coonhound to the vet several times as the injured party - can we presume that you have had the  weimaraner/lab examined for physical causes? Some medical situations, such as a brain tumor, can cause such behavior, but that's normally a quick change in behavior as opposed to your dog's long-term escalation. I'm not sure I agree that "all she needs" is to be the only dog in the house, as she has to go outside several times a day and still has to go to the vet on occasion, and interact with other dogs. You can't afford the cost of the  trainer, and you can't afford the ongoing vet bills to your coonhound. Sadly, you need to decide what to do soon (talk about easier said than done), since this cannot continue. In this situation, I suggest you follow what your head says; it's not a time to follow your heart. My heart is with you.


Kelly 
September 24, 2014

'm so glad I came across this article because I am struggling with the very same thing and I felt like I was the only one. I rescued my weimaraner/lab mix when she was 2 and a few weeks later, I rescued a coonhound puppy. For 6 months they coexisted peacefully until one day, my weimarlab Charlie attacked the coon, nearly to death. Since then (about a year ago), there have been half a dozen incidents like this, twice resulting in injuries to the coon that required immediate vet attention (one surgery for stitches). We have tried to manage the situation, they are only together when we are home, no toys or value items, always fed separately, etc...This past weekend, the attack was totally out of nowhere and thankfully we were able to pull them apart. Charlie never shows aggression toward us, she's always sorry when it's over and she leaves our two cats alone. But she hates other dogs and it feels like it's getting worse. I have had trainers assess her and offer to "rewire" her but at a massive cost and with no guarantee, it just doesn't feel like that will work. After the vet bills she has already generated, I am at the end of my rope. the rescue that I got the dogs from will have nothing to do with her and offer zero help because she's "a liability." I'd be willing to keep her until another home can be found - she just needs to be the only dog in the house. Since no one seems willing to help me find a new home for her, I feel trapped with this ticking timebomb. It's not a matter of if something terrible will happen, it's a matter of WHEN. I have two children who come home after school alone, what if the dogs fight and kill each other in the presence of my kids? What if Charlie suddenly decides to turn on a human? I can't take the risk and I feel like there is NOWHERE to turn. This article and these comments have given me some insight. I don't want to put my sweet, loving, beautiful girl down, but I also cannot risk the safety of my family, neighbors and my other dog.


Celeste Brighton 
September 22, 2014

Suzan, I can relate to your post. I am struggling with a similar dilemma.  I have had my ~3 yr old pit mix for a year now and while he has never bit anyone, he has displayed increased fear aggression towards people over the past 6 months.  It started out with aggression towards other dogs, so I just avoided the dog park and dog interaction.  But then, 6 months ago, he started lunging at strangers. He has never shown any aggression towards myself or my parents who dog sit him frequently.  Is it wrong to euthanize when a dog has demonstrated increasing aggression over the past 6 months but has never bit anyone? (at least not since I have owned him. He is from a shelter and his past is unknown although it is clear he was abused). I have worked with trainers and a behaviorist.  But despite my best efforts, I am afraid that his lunging will escalate to a bite.


Bre 
September 22, 2014

Jeanell, I know how you feel... I had to give my dog Brutus, an American bull dog with a little pit in him, to a shelter last week. I feel horrible about it... He attacked our other pit over food.  But he also nipped at my moms knee breaking the skin and damaging nerves on her knee.. So we thought maybe we just couldn't feed them together anymore, so I let them together again and they were fine until my mom came home and then they just for some reason flipped again.... Then he snipped at her boyfriend when we tried to pull them apart. Thankfully our neighbor heard me yelling for help and we all got them apart.. Then we just kept them separated. No contact whatsoever together. the closest they ever got to each other was a door was in between them. Everything was going good. I was going to keep my dog until I moved out which was this coming summer. All until I made the careless mistake to keep my dog out back and let the other out front with us so he could socialize with our guests, one guest didn't believe us and had let them get to close together at the fence and they broke through the fence leading into another fight... I, alone, tried to pull him off of my other dog, and he turned around and bit my knee so bad I was dripping blood everywhere and required stitches... I am still recovering from this incident on the fourth of this September... I was terrified of him for that night... the next day he was so sad he hurt me, I am still feeling so guilty at which I was forced to give him away. I defended him against many who tried to tell me they were going to shoot him. He became my best friend again and slept with me and went on car rides with me. Then it came the time when my mom arranged my uncle to pick him up when I was at school to take him to a shelter... I am still devastated... Now this shelter is harassing us trying to sue us even though we signed off all rights to him because a guy was way to rough and crude to him so he bit his arm. They're threating to put him down even though they're a no kill shelter and they cant. I just, I feel terrible.. I want my dog back... I want to hold him and love him again... he's so good when he's not around the other pit. he's great around other dogs but now they say they cant adopt him out because he bit their employee... I mean he just got his nuts cut and this big ole dude is being aggressive with him. I'd bite him too. he's never been aggressive towards people besides those incidents that we stepped in the middle of... Can someone please tell me how I can get over my sorrow and hurt feelings about this whole controversy? I feel like the worst doggiemom because I gave my forever dog (he was rescued) away and totally betrayed his trust... He's so scared at this shelter and I want to go get him but I cant because I'll be facing charges that I had no control over nor was he "my" dog then... Can someone help me....


Suzan Polivka 
September 22, 2014

I am facing putting down my 3 yo chow. I got her as a puppy and from day one she was aggressive with my other dogs. She has food aggression, but only with the other dogs, I can take her dish away. She also has some displaced aggression and has attacked my shar pei more than once, to the point of killing her if I had not intervened. She gets along just fine unless thee is a trigger. Yesterday she got out and tried to kill my goats, once again I was able to stop it before too much harm. She has never bit me or another person but I am not confident she wouldn't, she has growled at me before. Really struggling with putting her down, she is a sweet dog 90% of the time! ugh this is just so hard, I have never ever re-homed or euthanized a dog for behaviors. I would not re- home her as I feel this is irresponsible...what should I do?


Maureen Steffen 
September 21, 2014

Does anyone here know of any support groups for this?


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 18, 2014

Leilani, I'm sorry you and Bailey experienced this, but I'm pleased this article and the comments were helpful to you. I think you feel calm and at ease because you no longer have to worry about what she might do or who she might hurt. It takes a while to work through the varied emotions, and everyone has their individual timeframe; your timeframe may be very different than other people's - or not. Time does help more than I can say. I hope you will soon get to the place where you think mostly of how much you loved her and why. My heart is with you.


Leilani Bird 
September 17, 2014

I had to put my Pit Bull mix to sleep on Monday due to increasingly high levels of aggression. She wasn't even two years old, but slowly after a year, she began showing signs of aggression. I tried obedience training and socializing (it was hard because she wasn't good around children). She knocked a kid over at the dog park once and started to initiate almost a warning before attack, so I could never trust her off the leash. Just a few weeks ago she bit my niece and every day since it got worse. It was almost like blood lust and Sunday night our African Grey Parrot fell and she constantly tried to attack him, so the other dog was protecting it and my step-dad had to tackle Bailey. I made the tough decision to put her to sleep, but realize I should have done it much sooner. I've been crying for days and wanted to understand why through my guilt, I felt calm and at ease over her being gone. Reading your story really helped clarify that I no longer have to worry about her hurting someone, or feeling nervous of those coming to the door. I miss her very much, as she was my best friend and incredibly amazing to me, but only me. I really wish I could have helped her, but thank you very much for what you wrote - I feel much better about my decision to let her go and think she may feel better now too.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 16, 2014

Evan, I am so sorry for your loss. Trust me, I know what it feels like to love a dog like that.


Evan Deutsch 
September 16, 2014

I am so glad I read this article. I put my rescued rottie down last week after she bit my neighbor. No warning, no provocation. I felt guilty, but I know it was the right thing to do. The next victim (and chances are there ) could have been mauled and that person could have been a child. She came to me damaged and there is nothing I could do about it.


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 15, 2014

Kathryn, I'm sorry to hear about this. Did your mother need medical treatment? I presume you have worked with a trainer or trainers specializing in aggression?   Let me assure you that you are not a terrible person for thinking about euthanizing your aggressive dog. Ten bites over the years from a dog that size and weight is more than considerable, and he should not be rehomed as the stress will likely increase his anxiety and aggression. Do consider how you would feel if he went for your daughter instead of your mother's dog; he is several times your daughter's weight. I understand what it feels like to face this decision and see that something must be done. What does your veterinarian think? My heart is with you.


Ollie 
September 13, 2014

I totally understand how you feel Robert. I had to put my precious dog to sleep 5 days ago. She was perfectly healthy and only 5 yrs old but had shown bad signs of anxiety and aggressive behaviour for some time now ,she would go crazy if anyone came to the door or if me or my family were to go out she would go crazy as well. She started to nip people as they were leaving as well and had done this to my uncle and neigbour. I spent thousands on training options. She had always been an inside dog but we tried her outside several times as we have a newborn that's around 10 days old. I feel so guilty and sad and have been feeling very depressed by it all. I tried to rehome her but we had nobody willing to take her on and I feel that a new home would have made her more anxious. I just hope this sadness passes soon as its eating my heart out. I just wanna be able to enjoy my new born baby without feeling this way. Reading everyone's messages here has given me some comfort knowing I'm not the only one going through this alone


jamie 
September 13, 2014

I've read so many of your stories and I thank you for sharing your pain and insight.  A month ago, we had to euthanize our Dapple Chiweenie, Cobie.  This blue-eyed boy went from fear aggressive to totally aggressive.  Two trainers, medicine, and as much love as we could give this little guy.  It was, by far, one of the most difficult decisions my husband and I had to make in our 33 years of marriage.  We had four dogs in the years past...all lived 15 1/2 years plus.  Loving kind and gentle.  Our Cobie bit numerous people, including me on several occasions.  What drew the line was when he was licking and wagging his tail with our grandson one moment...and then went after his face the next.  Thank God our grandson got away quickly because it could have been awful.  The "stress" it causes in the home to own a dog like this is beyond words.  We loved our Cobie.  Sometimes, however, we have to make decisions in life that are not pleasant.  Are not fair.  Are not what we want...but cannot fix with love, trainers, or medication.  We were so grateful and thankful to our Vet and the entire staff for their love, direction and guidance and support in making this heartwrenching decision.  Realizing that when he was sedated, before the euthanization, it was the FIRST time since bringing him home as a puppy that we could hold him, pet him, kiss him.  Such sadness.


Teri Ann Oursler 
September 12, 2014

Jeanell >>>How do we know if he is beyond help?<<< I think you have to listen to what your heart is saying (your daughter comes first) and what your vet has to say when you talk to him.

>>> Even while in his kennel he snarls and growls and snaps when we have guests.<<< 

 >>> we have time to devote to the right kind of training ( whatever that is) nor do I think we can continue to put our child , guests and neighbors at risk in the meantime.<<<

From your description, I would have my doubts that he can be helped.  I, as a veterinary professional with no kids at home, would not adopt him with those behaviors and I would not put people at risk while I tried to train him, it does not sound safe.  What did your trainer say?  Did they believe he would ever be totally safe, or can he only be controlled with a kennel, etc.? As you know, as your child grows, there are more interactions with your child and other children, thereby putting even more stress on you to control the dog from biting any other children. I know that Sherman the beagle was deemed a dog who was never going to be truly safe around people.  Deep down I did not believe this information from the veterinary behaviorist and my child got bit because I was  in denial, because I believed all dogs could be trained to be non-aggressive.  I was wrong and my child paid the price (thankfully with no lasting physical or mental scars). My heart goes out to you as you make this decision, it is never easy.  Ever!


Phyllis DeGioia 
September 12, 2014

This article about dog bites was written by an animal control officer in Oregon. She says the *average* cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $27,862 in 2013, according to the Insurance Information Institute."
http://www.oregonlive.com/pets/index.ssf/2014/09/pet_talk_a_look_at_what_happen.html


Jeanell 
September 12, 2014

We have a dachshund mix who tried to bite our 19mo daughter in the face with no warning the other day. Back in December she pulled his tail and he bit her on the temple. (We thought, she hurt him, who can blame him?) It broke the skin in only one place and no stitches were required. At the time we were already working on training him. We thought about getting rid of him then but our trainer recommended keeping the child and dog separated and only allowing interactions that we can control. We have been really careful ever since and have had some But earlier this week while we were having good interaction time, I had a hand on both of them, she wanted to hug him so she leaned every so slightly towards him. With no warning growl he went for her face. Because I was right there I was able to prevent him from doing any damage. But once again we are faced with what to do now. Clearly the dog is a danger to our child. Even though we have a kennel where he stays while my daughter is in the same room, it is impossible for us to completely eliminate interactions between them, nor do I really see that as a solution. We are having to accept that this dog is aggressive and the training we went through did not help with that. He has nearly bitten a few of our guests and lunges at neighbors while we are out walking. Even while in his kennel he snarls and growls and snaps when we have guests. We do not believe the dog is beyond help (maybe we are wrong.) My husband would like to try a different training program but I have many doubts. I do not think we have time to devote to the right kind of training ( whatever that is) nor do I think we can continue to put our child , guests and neighbors at risk in the meantime. We love this dog dearly and he has been part of the family for 3 years now. He is very sweet and loving to us and other members of our family. We do not want to see him euthanized. But we are afraid that no one else will adopt him because of his aggression. If it is possible to fix his aggression through training it would be preferred, but as I said, we have already tried one training program and I have doubts about the effectiveness of any other. But our child comes first. (FYI: our old trainer said she believed the dog had been abused before we got him- we rescued him from a shelter). We are going to talk to our vet about our options tomorrow. Our hearts are breaking over this and we have no clue what the solution should be. How do we know if he is beyond help?


Kathryn 
September 11, 2014

I'm at a lost.  I feel like a horrible person.  My Great Dane of 8 years has now bitten his 10th person.  This last time was my mom and it was pretty bad.  He wasn't going for her I don't think, but her dog and he bit her instead.  My five year old was right next to her.  I don't know what else to do but put him down.  I don't trust him around anyone except for my daughters and I, but now I'm starting to doubt even that. 


anon 
September 7, 2014

I have a pitbull/boxer mix that I adopted when she was about 2 months old, she is now almost 2 years old. I have always liked dogs but when I adopted Nova I really started to take more of an interest in dogs and now I completely love dogs, especially pitbulls/boxers! She was not an easy dog to take care of; she needed a lot of attention. She has a cruciated ligament in her leg which causes her to be in pain although she does take medications for it.  Nova really was such a sweet dog most of the time. She loved being around people and we always came home to a greeting from her at the door. She would always get so excited to see us when we came home from being out, she would hug/kiss/tail wag etc. Nova bit me twice, and my mom once. The two people who take care of her more than anyone. Even though she bit me twice (once in the face, now on my finger) I still love her and want to keep her. She has been evaluated and we've tried to get help but she isn't getting better and I know she will bite again. Now, this week is when we have to decide if she should be euthanized or not. This breaks my heart , but it seems it is our last option.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
September 6, 2014

Robert, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  You are doing the right thing to protect your son and you are doing the right thing by releasing Daisy from her fear.  You are correct, rehoming her would only elevate her stress. I am also very glad that your son suffers no critical damage! My heart goes out to you.


Robert 
September 6, 2014

Today I have to put down my beloved Daisy. She is 6 years old and is fear aggressive. We have spent thousands in training, added another dog to help calm her down and have essentially isolated her. She is great with us when we are alone. In the past she was great with our baby. Our baby is now 4 years old. 6 months ago he grabbed her from behind and she nipped at him breaking the skin. She has had more anxiety with us leaving, nipping at us, biting guests that are leaving, going out of her mind when guests are simply sitting down. she is not right in the head, and we have tried everything we can to help her. Last week my 4 yr old was playing chase with the other dog. Daisy went into her kennel which she will do when she is not comfortable. My boy went into the kennel  to get her out because "it wasnt time to   go to sleep yet". Although he claims she bit and scratched him, based on the wounds I think it was a scratch (her nails are really long and she wont let us cut them). I was home and had left the room for just a couple of minutes. He came around the corner bloody and terrified with half of his face scratched up and bleeding. Fortunately the wound only required one stitch and although he will likely have that scar forever, there was no critical damage. It could have easily been his eye. We have had her quarantined for the past two weeks. This morning I am taking her in. This is not an easy decision. she is a sweet dog, but we cannot fix her. This has been a tough morning and will get tougher as the time draws near, but the decision is clear. To send her to another home would only cause extreme stress in her and is a liability. She has to be put down humanely. 1 hour left. this sucks but I know its the right thing to do.


Darin 
August 31, 2014

Please forgive my poor grammar just wanted to share my experience on august 26th I had to but my best friend Boss my English Bull dog to sleep he began having seizures in april of this yr vet but him on meds and help for sometime but he began having them again staring the week of august which followed 2 more seizure then started being aggressive he bet me one night when I picked him up to but him in bed with me he just wasn't himself anymore the or seizures changed him he would pace all over the house couldn't seem to relax and he wouldn't let me out of his sight so on tues the 26th I took him to the vet to have his nails clipped and talk to doc about what could be done but he came out of it and tried to bite doc at that point doc told me that wasn't the dog I use to bring in and best thing for me and him was to put Boss to sleep that was a very hard decision make but I didn't want him to be fighting whatever it was going on in his head anymore cause I know what its like I fight depression and alcoholism I stayed with him while they did it I talked to him I loved him and I would miss him he was at peace finally he road home with me in front seat of truck with I got home I buried him under a shade tree in the back in a antique carpenters boxes along with his comforter I still wonder if I did the right thing I feel like I let my best friend down Boss I love ya pal again sorry for the poor grammar just wanted to share


Beth Van Allen, CVT 
August 30, 2014

I completely understand what you went through and I give you kudos for taking steps I wish many pet owners would do. Having been through the same experience with two of my dogs for aggression - one ended up being medically related and one ended up being the same situation as yours - it is a heartbreaking situation. I still remember both those boys with fondness and their quirks. Loved them both. But I had to do what was the best for them, and what was the best for me and the public in the case of the second one.


Crystal Nosal 
August 14, 2014

My boyfriend and I desperately need support. After reading your comments, I feel like this is the right place to ask for advice. We adopted our loving boy a little over a year ago. He is a Lab/Sharpei/Pit mix. He bonded with us right away, and quickly became the most loving and loyal dog I have ever known, he also quickly started showing signs of aggression towards other people and dogs. Leash aggression pretty much started right away, followed by a few scuffles at the dog park, then an attack on a very large Alaskan Malamute. No harm was done in any of these instances so we became diligent about leash training, avoided the dog park, and kept him away from large dogs, thinking that was his trigger. His aggression towards people started to show about a month after we got him. He would charge people, lunge at people, jump up and nip people. So we met with a trainer, she assured us he wasn't a killer and showed us some techniques to use when people entered the house. We tried our best, and he seemed to be getting better. Then we had a baby and moved. Once we moved he seemed to regress a little. He went after one of my friends like she was a dog. He didn't bite, but I thought he was going to. Finally he jumped up and nipped my landlord. She asked us to remove him or we would have to move. Moving wasn't an option, so we sent him to an angel of a friend who was committed to rehabilitating him. He seemed to be doing so well with her pack, we thought everything was going to be ok. Then, he attacked her male dog. Her dog ended up getting 18 stitches. The vet said he "bit to kill" based on how deep the puncture wounds were. Needless to say he can't stay at that foster home anymore. We have run out of options. We love this dog so much and the love he shows us is unbelievable, but he is dangerous. We have the option of putting him in a no kill shelter, but are worried that he may be adopted out to a home that can't manage his behavioral problems, leading to someone getting hurt. On the other hand we are also very worried that the right home will never come along and he will be left to deteriorate in the shelter. He is a very sensitive boy and gets stressed out very easily. I just don't see him doing well in the shelter. We are considering euthanasia to avoid both of these potentially terrible situations, but can't help think that the perfect home may come along, and we don't want to rob him of a good life. Please, we need advice. We are in so much pain and are struggling. We have to make this decision tomorrow. Thank you in advance for any words of wisdom anyone can offer.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
August 28, 2014

Angela,I am so very sorry you are having to go through this.  It is NOT easy.  As I read your comments, the following sticks out to me: "it scared the hell out of me....and the woman." "but I can't imagine another 5-10 years of this type of behavior" "I’m exhausted, overwhelmed' ""muzzle punched" people.' "After dog training classes and seeing a couple personal trainers" Those statements tell me that you fear for your safety, the safety of people and animals around your dogs.  You have done the training, the consulting with the trainers and it is not working.  Your dogs are too dangerous to rehome. The guilt you will feel when they kill another dog or hurt a person is much bigger than the guilt you will feel euthanizing these dogs. You have given it your best and I think you know euthanasia is the right answer for these two dogs and most importantly for you and the people around you.  You have all of my empathy, it is not easy, but it is right, just as my euthanizing Sherman was right. Teri Ann Oursler, DVM


Mike Davis 
August 27, 2014

Thanks so much for this. We had to euthanize our 10 year old Pitbull today. Heartbreaking. She was affectionate, smart, really well trained and loved people. But we couldn't predict her behavior around our 5 year old. There was a nipping incident where our dog broke our daughters skin when she was 2 which meant a trip to the ER, and a scratching incident a few months later with another trip. We couldn't bring ourselves to get rid of the dog or euthanize it. For almost 4 years we kept our daughter and the dog apart. Recently though my wife let the rules get lax and there was another nipping incident which broke the skin. We had the fortitude this time to do what we needed to do. I will miss her so much but I will not miss the energy we won't have to put into constantly making sure our child isn't in harms way. The dog was a rescue - she had 7+ years with us - she was loved and she died peacefully in the vets office with both of us there petting her and telling her how much we loved her.


Julie Iorns 
August 27 2014

Leslie, My heart truly hurts for you and what you're going through. I'm glad that you could relate to my story. As devastating as this whole ordeal has been, it really helps me to share my story with people who understand and sympathize with what I'm going through. Boomer was one of a kind to me, as Mojo is to you. We are very luck to share our lives with dogs like them. It's an unconditional love that we are blessed to have experienced. With that love, comes pain when hard decisions have to be made. I still deal with a lot of guilt and feelings of having let down Boomer and my daughter, as I took my eyes off of them for a moment. That's all it took. I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life. The amount of guilt and sadness that I feel towards the decision we had to make for Boomer doesn't even come close to the amount of guilt and sadness I would have felt if my daughter's injuries were worse then they were. As parents, it's our job to keep our babies safe. I never would have ever believed something like this could have happened, but it did. Thanks for reading my story and empathizing with me. It means a lot. I'll be thinking of you. Take care.


Angela 
August 27, 2014

I have 2 pitbulls and am struggling with putting them down. One of them is 6yrs old and was adopted from a shelter at 6 weeks old. She's been in 3 dog fights causing serious injury in each of them. After dog training classes and seeing a couple personal trainers they all concluded she has poor bite inhibition. Being removed from her mother at such a young age she wasn't able to learn valuable skills such as dog body language and bite inhibition. She isn't reactive when she sees dogs and can be around them with no incident 98% of the time. She is the most loving, calm and obedient dog but completely capable of killing a dog. My other dog is 4 and I got her from a "breeder" at 7 weeks. She has always been a crazy handful. She's leash reactive; lunging, growling, barking etc. I've spend literally thousands of dollars on trainers and classes. She's very obedient until she sees another dog then she charges and air attacks them. She has never shown aggression towards a person but has "muzzle punched" people. She attends a dog daycare run by one of my training schools and is very shy and they've never seen problems in a group off leash environment. This weekend they were both laying on my deck when a woman with a tiny dog walked behind the deck (I live in a townhouse with general free space behind my lot, no fences) My dogs jumped the deck and charged her dog, steam rolling it around until she pulled them both away from her dog. No one was bitten or injured but it scared the hell out of me....and the woman. I'm so torn between being more vigilant than ever with them, keeping them muzzled and thinking about every move I make with them or putting them down. They didn't hurt the little dog but all it would've taken would have been one bite. If it was a larger dog that would've started fighting them....I can't even imagine. I kind of feel like it was a warning to me, reminding and showing me how little I've accomplished with all my greatest efforts. It's so tough but I can't imagine another 5-10 years of this type of behavior especially considering it will most likely only increase. I don't want to wait for the day the one dog decides to start biting, the other dog tears into the next dog or they team up on and actually injure on together. I guess what makes it overwhelming is one is very manageable but potentially deadly to a dog while the other is very difficult to manage while showing indications of possible dangerous behavior developing. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed and have no idea what to do.


Leslie Merchant 
August 26, 2014

Julie, I could have written your letter word for word only changing the children's names. My Mojo is a gorgeous black standard poodle. Personality, looks, energy level, attachment to me, all mirror your relationship with Boomer to a T. Two kids, 11 years, and 5 plus bites with punctures later on both my kids and two others, and I am at my wits end.  I can't have him maul my 6 year olds face when she walks by him on her way out of the room. It is breaking my heart but I can't predict when he will lash out again, nor do I want to face those consequences. Thanks for your story, like I said, I could have written it myself.


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 26, 2014

Chris and Kristin, I'm sorry you are both facing this decision. From your descriptions, both of these dogs go off on no notice (as did mine), and the professionals from whom you have sought help indicate that they can't work with these dogs. First, no dog should have to live with that kind of anxiety and mental health; the dogs cannot be happy. Consider the legal liability and financial depletion from an incident, plus the guilt of a worse attack. Kristin, you are scared of your dog now, even though you have done what the professionals who have seen Louie have suggested. Chris, is it fair to your other dog to allow the golden puppy to keep attacking him? If you feel that the puppy could kill another dog on the street, and he keeps attacking your other dog, it's possible your puppy could kill your other dog. Plus, your golden is not even full-grown.  In both of these cases, my inclination is to go with the professional advice you've been given, although Chris you don't say if you've been to a trainer or behaviorist specializing in aggression. I loved Dodger too - he made me laugh like no other dog I've had - but I can tell you that life without him is one without fear or worry, and the household and other pets are now calm and happy. Facing this decision is gut-wrenching. I know, I've been there. I wish you both luck in your choices.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 25, 2014

Chris, I am sorry you are having to go through this.  It sounds like you have done your best, going to a positive trainer to try and work with your dog. If you cannot keep your dog from all other animals (and that is really hard, if not impossible), then it is probably time to euthanize.  Not only do you need to worry that he could kill someone else's dog, but people could be badly injured trying to protect their dog from yours.  That is a nightmare that would be very hard to live through. You are in my thoughts as you walk this road.


Quentin Nell 
August 25, 2014

I have a 4 year old English Bulldog who I have had since a puppy. Around a year and half he started showing signs of fear aggression. He has never bitten anyone or any dog, but I believe that is because we take extra precaution when taking him out. We live in an apartment complex, so there are always people coming and going and other dogs. We took him to UPenn to see Dr. Wilhemy and she diagnosed him with Generalized Anxiety disorder. He currently takes 40mg of Fluoxetine once a day and 2 tablets of trazadone daily. We are getting married soon and want to have kids, however with Teddy it is impossible. I feel we have done everything we could possibly do to help him. It's hard to even comprehend putting him to sleep, because he has been my buddy since I was in college. However, I don't want to be forced to put him down because he bit someone and remember him that way.


Kristin 
August 23, 2014 

My boyfriend and I have a 10 month old golden retriever named Louie. My boyfriends parents are the ones who had him and I fell in love before Louie even had his eyes open. We decided to keep him. When he started eating food we could tell he was food aggressive. Then other things made him aggressive. Now we never know when he is going to snap. He never gives warning signs. He has attacked everyone he has been around. My boyfriends sister had to get stitches. He recently just bit me. He attacks other dogs. Everyone is afraid of him. He has had a trainer and it didn't help. The vets I have taken him to are afraid of him. One of them told me to go to a special trainer that deals with aggressive dogs. I took him. She said he was wired wrong. She could tell by the stories and by the way he acted during the consultation. She told me she could not work with him until we find out what is wrong with him since its something mental with him. I called a vet specialist and they are talking about all kinds of tests and tons of money. Louie is my baby boy. But now I'm scared and nervous around him. We have been talking about keeping a muzzle on him all the time but what kind of life is that? I'm in tears writing this because after I read your story I am scared it is never going to get better. I feel like it will be to hard to euthanize him. I'm scared I won't be able to if we need to. What are your thoughts?


Chris 
August 23, 2014

I am struggling with a different problem.  My dog is dog aggressive and it is escalating out of control.  He has always been aggressive with new dogs from the day I brought him home at 8 weeks old and he met my daughters 10 wk old puppy, he attacked him and pinned him to the ground.  He has been to 3 different trainers, one of which was a positive behaviorist.  Nothing has fazed him, he will attack any strange dog and has now started attacking my other dog.  The bad thing is you don't see it coming, they play and interact very sweetly and suddenly he lays into the other one which such viciousness.  The other day my other dog just walked in to the room and got attacked.  I have no doubt that if he were to escape our house or yard and come in contact with someone walking their dog he would kill it.  I live in fear of that happening. What hurts the most is that he is so good with people, he loves kids and will roll on his back for a belly rub every chance he can get.  His tail is always wagging and he has never shown one sign that he would ever harm a human. I know I have to euthanize him, he is a 5 year old 80lb dog that is super powerful and would terrorize anyone that saw him lunging toward their dog.  Living with that guilt would haunt me far more than the guilt I could ever feel from euthanizing him, but I know I must.  It is such a heart wrenching decision.  I freeze at the thought of taking him in to the vet.


Tammy Parson 
August 21, 2014

Today was a rough day. We had to put down our beloved 3 year old Lab "Bogey". He was very mild mannered up until about 4 months ago. He bit my 15 year old  nephew in the face when he was cornered. Then my sons friend came for a visit from California and they went walking and his friend tried to hug him and he bit his head and the boy had to have 6 staples. Bogey was just released from quarantine on Saturday and he bit the little girl next door on the lip and she had to go to the ER for 20 stitches. We decided it was time to do something and this morning my son and granddaughters came to say goodbye to Bogey and he tried to bite the 3 year old. I know it was for everyone's well being but I feel like I have a hole in heart and to watch my 18 year old son grieve for his best buddy is Awful. I just hope he knew how much we love him.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 18, 2014

Julie, You are correct, being able to share the pain is helpful. I euthanized Sherman 10 years ago this August, and I still think about him, but thankfully the pain is not as sharp and I can remember the good times and the parts of having him in my house that were good.  You will get to that point also, we all just heal at different rates.

 'but I just can't wrap my mind around why it is hurting so badly if in actuality that was the right thing to do??"

 I think this stems from our desire/belief that anything is fixable with enough time/love/commitment/money or whatever.  Did I watch too many Disney movies or too many reruns of Lassie?  I don't know.  I know that as a vet, I certainly felt like I failed Sherman, after all I was the professional, so why could I not fix him?  Because, just like there are unfixable medical problems, regardless of time/love/commitment/money, there are behavior problems that cannot be fixed either.  The world is full of unfixable problems, Sherman was one of mine and Boomer was one of yours. Know that Boomer is in a better place and your child is safe. Take care.

 


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 18, 2014

Heather, My heart is breaking with you.  You have tried the trainer and the behaviorist and medications.  From your description, you do not believe that your children are safe.  I have to concur.  It is only a matter of time before he backs up the growling with a bite and the guilt that will inflict on you will be worse than that of euthanizing your dog.  I know, I have been there and done that with Sherman the beagle and my son.  I did not euthanize at the first bite (or the second or the third...).  And I lived to regret it. Another lady wrote today that she had to put her dog down 5 weeks ago, after he bit her 17 month old on the face.  She feels tremendous guilt for turning away for only a moment.  Thankfully her child is not going to carry scars on her face. I wish there was some way to make this less painful for everyone, but keeping your children safe is very important and not re-homing your dog where he can bite someone else's child is just as important. Let me know  if I can do anything else to help.


Julie Iorns 
August 18, 2014

I am overcome by such emotion as I sit here and read all of these stories. It was 5 weeks ago today that I lost my Boomer baby. I was blessed to have had Boomer for six short years. My husband and I raised him from a puppy, and what a gorgeous handful of a German Shorthaired Pointer he was! Although I'd always grown up with dogs, Boomer was my first dog as an adult and he was MY dog. He went everywhere with us and was like velcro with me. Everywhere I went, Boomer would follow. Bath time, laundry, relaxing on the sofa...it didn't matter as long as he could be right there with me. Being a GSP, Boomer always had a lot of energy. But, that was fine with us as we were very active and helped him burn that energy. However, despite being active and well loved, Booomer dealt with some separation anxiety and anxiety around loud noises, especially fireworks. When Boomer was 4 years old, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby girl. We were so excited, but anxious as well. Boomer had some nervous tendencies and was not always comfortable around young children. He got nervous around their energy and had a bad experience with one of my nephews, where my nephew hit him repeatedly in the face. After that point, he was always wary of children. However, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, Boomer changed immensely. His energy level became more calm. He was so respectful of me and stopped jumping up on me in excitement (which was how he greeted me every time I came home) and even went so far as to come up onto the bed on the opposite side as me so as not to jump on me when I was laying down. When my daughter arrived, Boomer was the best dog with her. He was so gentle and good with her. Boomer loved to play tug of war, but with my daughter, he would let her take anything out of his mouth and it was just like he knew she was a baby and something to treat delicately. Then, we had an incident between him and my daughter 5 weeks ago today. I am still so numb and distraught, as I still haven't fully processed all that has happened. The morning was like any other. I had just gotten back from running errands and was straightening up a bit, as my Mom and brother were coming for lunch. My daughter ran into the living room, with Boomer in tow, when I stopped to answer a phone call. Next, I heard three loud barks and my 17 month old crying. I'll never know exactly what happened, but ultimately Boomer bit her twice on the face. The bites were not serious enough to need stitches, but there was a cut above her eyebrow and serious swelling and bruising on the left side of her face. When I ran to see what had happened, my heart just sank. I knew that I had just lost my dog. I cried and cried as I tried to clean up and console my daughter. I feel so much guilt and keep replaying that day over and over. If I just hadn't answered that phone call. If I hadn't been concerned with straightening up the house for company that was coming. All of these things run through my mind and I can't help feeling if I hadn't been preoccupied, things wouldn't have happened the way they did. I knew for my daughter's safety I could not keep Boomer any longer. The decision is just killing me. I contacted several purebred rescues, who would not touch him because he had bitten someone. I was so scared to re-home him (of course I would have been honest about the events that had taken place), but Boomer was just so attached to our family and me especially, that I was so afraid that his anxiety would lead him to either be mistreated or to lash out again at someone else. After talking with our vet and going over all of our options, we decided the best thing for Boomer and our family would be to euthanize him. It has been 5 weeks, and I still cry everyday thinking about him. He was Mr. Personality and I just have this horrible empty feeling without him. I have received a lot of support and people tell me I did the right thing, but I just can't wrap my mind around why it is hurting so badly if in actuality that was the right thing to do?? I do take some comfort in knowing that Boomer had a great last day. He had his favorite meal and spent the day at the park with my husband and I, chasing geese, squirrels, and swimming in the stream. He was at peace and surrounded by love when we let him go. I'll never forget that day and will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I know time is a good healer, but I just don't know when I'll ever start feeling better. Boomer was a beautiful dog. We got so many compliments on him wherever we went. He was a character, too and made us laugh all of the time. He was one of the smartest dogs I've ever met and I swear he understood what we were saying. He just had these eyes that looked into you and connected. Unlike any dog I've ever had. Through Boomer's short life, I met a lot of people and had a lot of experiences that I may not have if it wasn't for him. I take some comfort in that. And I'll never forget him. I still feel his presence all of the time, on our walks, at the park, and I hope that he'll be with me always. I truly empathize with all of you that have had to go through this trauma. If you've made it to the end of my note, I thank you. It helps to talk about it and realize I'm not the only one who has had to go through this. Boomer was my baby and I'm not angry with him for what happened. I'm just filled with so much sadness that I won't be seeing that goofy boy everyday. My shadow. Until we meet again, my sweet Boomer boy. Run like the wind. Run like the wind.


Heather
August 18, 2014

My heart breaks reading your story, like you i am in very similar situation. I have a 2 year old German Shepherd that i have had since he was 8 weeks old. He is my baby and it breaks my heart that i am at the point where he needs Euthanized. It has been an uphill struggle since he has been with us. He has been in obedience training since he was 9 weeks old up until 8 months ago. The last training we had was a private trainer i had called in for a behavioral issue with growling and fear aggression. I have tried the option of a behavioral consult with the Vet and numerous medications with hopes of him "getting better" he has not. He has bit 4 people total (thank goodness all close enough that it wasn't turned in.) I have two small children in my home (5) and (3) that he has now began growling at. Both of my kids have always been so good to him it breaks my heart he doesn't act like their best friend... It is with a heavy heart that i have been considering putting him down. I just don't know what else to do.


Lynne 
August 17, 2014

We have a 1 year old border collie with fear aggression.  He was either born this way or the breeder let something happen to him as a pup since we got him at 8 weeks and he was already growling at every stranger and other dog.  Living with an aggressive dog is difficult.  At first I worried about our kids and we were ready to put him down if needed but we have also invested a lot of time and training into him.  Most people would just give up or not spend the huge amount of time needed with hours of daily training needed to work with a fear aggressive dog but we fell in love with him.  We feel he is 100% safe with our kids now and us.  He has made huge gains in his anxiety and aggression.  He used to want to attack anyone he saw, now after a few minutes to adjust, he can be off leash with ADULT strangers in our house if they agree to ignore him.  He cannot be touched by strangers and he  does not trust the unpredictableness of children so he is crated if children (other than our own) are in the house but given the progress we have made in one year, we are hopeful that someday he can recover enough that people can come into the house without him caring at all.  So, the moral of the story is that rehab CAN work if you are dedicated and find the right behaviorist and medication and stick with it and work through many daily hours of practice.  Good luck to all who are dealing with it.  My hope is that we continue to have success and never have to put our boy down.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 17, 2014

Tara,

  I'm torn between euthanizing him and living my life this way for another 10 years : ("

 " I don't trust him with having friends in the house and yes he has bitten two friends and also me."

"Being fearful of someone or another dog getting hurt or a medical bill to cover, he will not be returning to daycare."

Those 3 statements tell me that neither of you is happy right now.  Rocky is fearful and aggressive and you are isolated from friends because you cannot trust him around anyone.  He has even bitten you, so I am sure you are nervous around him as well.  Living with constant anxiety is not good for either of you.

"he has come a long way"

You have tried hard and spent the last 2 years working hard to make him a less fearful dog who can enjoy you and your home.  This has not worked simply because some animals cannot be fixed, regardless of how much you have tried to do so.  This is exactly the place I found myself in with Sherman, the beagle in the story. I know for absolutely certain that Sherman is in a better place, no longer afraid.  I know that my family is in a better place (and certainly safer) having put Sherman to sleep. You describe not being able to take Rocky outside if anyone else is around your complex.  To me that sounds like an accident waiting to happen.  You can try very hard, but you cannot control everything around you and if someone gets hurt when you have Rocky out on a walk, it would be very hard to live with. I absolutely agree with you, re-homing him is not fair to him or to anyone who took him.  You certainly don’t want to hear that he hurt someone after you re-homed him.  That guilt would be worse than the guilt associated with euthanasia.  And his fear and anxiety would only go up if you re-home him, making his aggression worse. Having walked a mile in your shoes, I know this decision is hard and never made lightly.  From your description, I think your trainer is correct, euthanasia is the best choice for you and Rocky.  Remember, you are not failing Rocky by choosing euthanasia, but releasing him from constant fear and anxiety and probably saving someone (you, or one of your family members or friends) from being severely hurt.

 


Tara 
August 17, 2014

I adopted 4 yr. old Rocky through a friend 2 years ago that was moving and couldn't take him.  It was a situation where if I didn't take him, he would have been euthanized.  That person did not properly train, socialize or exercise the dog.  This led to some aggressive behaviors. I have taken him to several trainer and classes and he was able to be accepted to doggie daycare.  Doggie daycare was my saving grace.  Knowing that he had an outlet to be a "dog" and the supervision of people who used training techniques gave me comfort.  When he is with me, we can't socialize with other dogs or people, I don't trust him with having friends in the house and yes he has bitten a two friends and also me.  He has been attending this daycare for about 5 months.  It is an off leash facility.  Yesterday, I was told by the daycare manager that they can't reach to grab Rocky by the collar when he is fixating on another dog.  I have a problem with this too.  Rocky will bite if someone goes to reach towards him when he is in that state of mind.  The daycare said he will not be able to come back if he bites someone. Being fearful of someone or another dog getting hurt or a medical bill to cover, he will not be returning to daycare. I've had to pick up another job which now leaves Rocky at home for sometimes 10 hours alone. I was thinking about trying to re-home him.  After thought I realized that he would probably not be adoptable.  In a conversation with a trainer I worked with, she said she would recommend me euthanizing him.   I am not in a situation where I am being forced make any decisions now. But I am feeling stressed, not having the daycare to rely on.  I'm single and am realizing that everything revolves around Rocky.  I have to walk him at specific times of the day, I have to wait till no one is outside my complex before opening the front door and having company come to my apartment is complicated.  I've looked into another trainer, but financially I can't afford the high cost. I love him dearly and he has come a long way, and I do feel a bit selfish. I cry every time I think about this, but I also feel that my quality of life is hindered.  I'm torn between euthanizing him and living my life this way for another 10 years : (  I'd appreciate any advise!


C Amariles 
August 14, 2014

I just wanted to thank everyone I too am facing the same thing with my St. Bernard and it is killing me he is only 5 but has been biting us just because this last bite really hurt my son and had me running to the ER for sutures, all of this has been a nightmare I appreciate the honesty, people who comment with dumb responses like how could I do that is because they don't understand unless they've experience what we have.


MP 
August 12, 2014

Thank you for your article.  My wonderful rescue lab that we had for 1 1/2 years quickly became my daughter's best friend.  She had a complex partial seizure one night and had signs of fly snapping that we didn't know was a sign. Anyway, she bit my 7 year old's face so bad she had 3 hours of plastic surgery and still needs one more surgery. Our dog was our love.  The act was so aggressive and like Teri, I will never get the sight and sounds of the attack out of my head.  The vet recommended that we put her down.  I know it was the right thing but it will be a year this week and we are still grieving her loss.  She was such a good dog up until that one unprovoked night. My daughter does not fear dogs but it has left me with an image, I can not erase.


Heidi Ripke-Curcio
August 11, 2014

I sit here reading all these comments.  I have spoken to many people.  I know what I have to do, yet it is so hard.  I told my husband that I would let them ake my right arm, if I knew that Otto would/could be well.  He loves me, trusts me, looks to me for help, protection.  He hates my husband.  He ha gotten him several times.  Once he put him in the hospital for surgery.  He has never hurt me unless I have tied to stop him from giong after my husband, separate him from my husband, or distract him when he has gotten upset about other dogs in the neighborhood.

Now I am faced with euthanasia of my sweet, scared, boy who trusts me for protection.

I wish there was a magic wand, a pill, anything really to make him well.

I don't want to be selfish. I wish I believed all those things that people say about him being in pain, and the demons in his head.  It would make it so much easier.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 10, 2014

Greta, I want you to know that my heart goes out to you as you make this very difficult decision.  You are correct, the next few days are going to be difficult, but thankfully that will ease with time. It sounds like you have worked  very hard to keep Gucci from biting people, but as you say she is a high anxiety dog.  I think you are 100% correct, that rehoming her will increase her anxiety and make her aggression worse. As for your 9-year old, my son was 8 when we put Sherman down and I did it the same night he attacked my son.  Even though my son was the one who was scared and hurt, he too, did not want to see Sherman euthanized.  I spent quite a bit of time, talking to my son about how miserable it is to live in a state of fear and anxiety day after day.  We had tried very hard to rehabilitate Sherman, but it was not to be and that, having just come home from a 6 mile hike in the mountains, Sherman had just had a great last day. I let my son spread Sherman's ashes and we picked out a photo to frame and put in his room.  That was 10 years ago and we are all at a peace with that decision, but it did take time to get to that point. I also know Sherman is in a better place, where is he is not afraid and where he gets nothing but love.  He can introduce Gucci around. Take care of you and your family. Teri


Greta 
August 9, 2014

Like most of the rest of the commenters, I am here because I have an aggressive dog and feel that our family is now facing the reality that we are going to need to say good-bye to a beloved family member.  We have had Gucci, a weimaraner, from the time she was just 6 weeks old. She is now only 2. I am an experienced dog handler, have shown in the confirmation ring, and have had weimaraners for the past 15 years.  Our oldest weim is now 13. Weims can be tough to handle, but we know that and have done well with them over the years.  We lost a 12 year old to cancer just a couple of years ago, and Gucci became a part of our family a few months after that loss. Gucci is a sweetheart to our family.  She sleeps in our bed, cuddles with our small boys, age 6 and 8 and is full of all the personality that weimaraners have. She is obedient, comes when she's called, etc. BUT she bites.  As of about an hour ago, she has now bitten 5 times. Weimaraners can be high anxiety dogs, and I work from home so she is rarely ever alone more than a couple hours.  Every time she has bitten, it has been when neighbors or strangers have come in our yard.  She nips at the back of their legs when they walk away.  There is no warning.  She has allowed them to pet her, she has been fine, and then when they walk away BOOM!, she goes straight for them. This last bite was the worst, she nailed the poor young woman and left clear puncture marks.  We helped her clean the wounds and she was more scared than physically injured, but we are just sick about it.   I know we have made excuses long enough.  We don't have people over and when we do, we leash her.  When the neighbor children come to play, we make sure she is confined while they are here. We have invisible fencing and she stays in the yard just fine, but she does bark at the many cyclists and runners as they go by.  I know it's a matter of time when that fence may go down or she just won't care about the warning and shock and will go through the line to attack.  I know we can't risk another injury to a person, especially a child. My heart is breaking and our 9 year old  is deeply distressed about what is to come. How can you euthanize a family member? I don't feel rehoming or rescue would be the right answer for our Gucci.  She is so bonded with our family, I think with another family, the anxiety may make her aggression worse.  The next few days are going to be difficult for our family. Sometimes the best decisions are the most difficult ones.


debbie 
August 7, 2014

This coming sat. I have to put my beloved chief down. He bit me several different times most of them unprovoked. He is all right 86 percent of the time But like Dr. jackal and Mr Hyde his brain works. I can not grab his collar with out him growling. Sometimes he will growl when petting him I thought he was trying to purr because he was raised around cats. He is an Australian cattle dog and Australasian shepherd mix. The guy that we got him from said he had dingo in him. My husband let me get him even when he had reservations about him. He was all right with our cats but the vet saw something was not right. he was food aggression  then he just gotten more spaced out looking. Then he grab my sleeve of my sweater and just would not give it back. Then he started to want to bite at me different times. I had to hide my bruises from my husband and the bite marks of broken skin. Now this coming sat. in august 2014 we have to put him to sleep. So he will not bite me again or someone else


KimJ 
August 5, 2014

I have had my aggressive dog for 12 years so our story is long filled with triumphs and traumas. He was always highly managed, put on prozac, amitripylene and on going behaviour modification after seeing Dr Overall from UPenn. Shep is an Aussie we rescued from an idiot who kept him in a pen 24/7. We have adjusted our lives for 12 years. never had children, parties, vacations (rarely) but I've always went with "you have to do, what you have to do." Also we've had to live with being fired from kennels and vets. Shep has one police record and that is from a vet. One other bite too. (a 4) I finally found a vet who would see him (and its a chaotic awful experience for all) and she has been amazing. Shep is 14 now. He is sick. Not sure what is wrong. But given his age, it's probably not good. I'm deciding right now if I should have him PTS this week. He wouldn't be able to have any kind of constant check ups or certainly wouldn't do anything like chemo. We've worked so hard and have come so far...and now I will kill him bc I *think* he is very sick and because of his aggression further treatments are not realistic. This dog loves us so so much. We love him. This article and the comments have helped me and I thank you all for sharing your heartbreaking story. I am alone with this decision you all have helped me not feel so crazy. Especially those who have said they don't know how they will survive the decision. Then the loss. As I type this my Shepherd is peacefully sleeping on the couch. He has no idea that I will end his life soon. I'm sorry Shep.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
August 4, 2014

Carol, Yes, it will get easier.  Time does help heal all wounds, it just does it one day at a time and sometimes that feels too slow.  I know that I still feel guilt over euthanizing Sherman (the beagle in Phyllis's story), but I know deep down that I did the right thing, releasing Sherman from his fearful life and protecting people from his biting. You ask yourself "did I try hard enough?"  Your trainer and your veterinarian both believe and assured you that you did the right thing.  And they truly have nothing to gain by telling any untruths, so accept their counsel - you did do the right thing!  Putting her in a shelter would not have alleviated the guilt, it would have fostered guilt about leaving her there and wondering if she was adopted and if so, who did she bite?     I can't imagine the horror you would feel if you opened the newspaper to find that Abby had been adopted out and subsequently maimed or killed  a child.  That would be infinitely worse, in my opinion.  I don't think you will be blacklisted from adopting a dog because you put Abby to sleep due to aggression.  Use your trainer and veterinarian as references, as they know you did the right thing for Abby as well as all of the people who you encounter on a daily basis.  In reality, if a rescue is such that they are adopting out aggressive dogs, you don't really want anything to do with them anyway.  You don't want to have to travel this path again, once is plenty. I feel for you Carol, it was a hard decision to make and tough to live with, even though it was the right decision.  Some days it really does suck to have to make grown up decisions and I want to go back to being a kindergartner where I don't have to make any big decisions, they are all made for me. Teri Ann Oursler, DVM


Carol Frizzell 
August 4, 2014

It has been a month and a half now since my beautiful 2 tear old Boxer, Abby, was euthanized.  Does it get easier?  I still burst into tears when I think about her.  I still play the "what if" game in my head.  What if I didn't try hard enough?  What if I sent her to a shelter instead of that dreaded room at the vet clinic?   Both my trainer and veterinarian have assured me that I made the right decision with Abby.  My daughter has pointed out the dangers and risks that keeping Abby would have (and did) present.  She was worsening, and all the training and various therapies (including medication) simply didn't work with her.  I've found out the name of the kennel she was from, and realize they were indiscriminate breeders. Abby was not to blame.  She didn't stand a chance. But I have a question for you readers, and the answer evades me.  How do we cope?  I am so ashamed of euthanizing Abby, that I have developed a basic answer when asked where she is, "Abby is in a place where there are no other dogs nor children for her to attack."  It isn't exactly a lie, but I feel guilty. I want to get another dog eventually, and I fear that I will be black listed off from any rescue organization out there.  I'm sure you all know of the stringent application process potential adopters go through.  As soon as they discover I euthanized Abby, I am toast.  I won't be ever considered as a loving parent to a dog.  But if you ask my 9 year old lab who is lying at my feet right now, he will tell you different! I feel pushed into having to go to a breeder for a puppy, simply because I know the rescue groups will not accept my explanation. Have any of you dealt with this, too?  I would be interested to hear how you did.


PamelaL 
August 1, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story. I am on my way to the vet in the next hour, and wanted to read how others have handled this difficult (but necessary) decision. It's at once heartbreaking and the right thing to do. It took until Jackson bit me and sent me to the emergency room (after biting others less seriously) before I could even consider putting him down. Even then, I had him evaluated by a person who trains police dogs for area K-9 units to see if his aggression could be channeled properly. The trainer spent an hour testing him and concluded he would never be a reliably safe dog, let alone suitable for police work. Reading your story is that extra little bit of comfort I needed got put Jackson in the car and head to the vet. Thank you again


Phyllis DeGioia 
August 1, 2014

Joe, I am sorry to hear about Equis, and just as sorry to hear that you are struggling with the decision. I know your heart is aching, and mine hurts for you. Remember that aggression typically escalates. If he's bitten a child in the face badly enough to warrant plastic surgery (I presume they are suing you?) remind yourself of how much worse his behavior would likely have become as time went on. The legal liability alone could be devastating to you emotionally and financially, not to mention what guilt you would experience if he caused a worse injury. Dealing with grief and financial devastation would be incredibly difficult. I can tell you that time is a great healer. I hope that you can make your way through this terrible time and eventually find another dog that you will love as much as Equis, but without his aggression. Please take care of yourself.


Joe C 
July 30, 2014

I euthanized Equis 2 days ago, and I am having crying fits.  I have guilt and rage and an empty feeling.  I'm told I did the right thing, but I'm pretty sure I murdered my best friend.  I saw the fear in his eyes before he went limp in my arms.  He bit a neighbor's child, and he may need plastic surgery.  The bite was unprovoked and the best I can tell was over food.  The boy was giving him milk bones, and Equis circled and jumped grabbing his face.  I was still holding his leash. I grabbed the dog and he then bit him on the leg.  He had a previous bite that I attributed to being afraid of the weight pull cart noise on the track.  I have been taking him to dog shows and he had over 1/2 the points needed to be a champion.  If I was bitten or if I had intervened in time to prevent the bite I would still have him.  Because of his breeds negative image all the people I knew through dog showing feel he needed to be euthanized because poorly breed human aggressive dogs are all over the news.  I feel horrible about what happened to the boy, but my heart aches for my healthy active 2 year old dog, but I had him killed, and I'm not sure I can live with it.


JMarie 
July 30, 2014

I, like many of you, read this article and the comments with tears streaming down my face.  My husband and I suddenly lost our 8 year old dog in December.  We were devastated and debated long and hard over what to do.  We decided to buy a lab puppy because we wanted a "sure bet" that we'd get a good family dog and be able to train it from day 1.  We worked so hard with that puppy.  I took him to puppy classes and puppy socials 2-3 times a week.  He had a structured home environment, we worked so hard on training him.  From day 1, he also had to wait to eat his food.  We made him sit and wait until we said "ok".  We thought we had done all the right things.  When he was about 3 months old, he suddenly started showing aggressive growling behavior when he had a rawhide he was chewing on.  I was shocked. His behavior escalated very quickly.  It was not only his toys, chew items, it became things he'd find around the house.  When he cornered me in the shower because he was chewing on my sock and I was completely defenseless, I knew it was serious.  Still, we kept thinking if we just did the right training, we could fix him.  He was so young!  He was a wonderful adorable lab most of the time, exactly as he should be!  We went through 3 trainers, tried different methods, and paid thousands and thousands of dollars but have not been able to fix the problem.  He even spent 4 weeks at an intensive dog camp.  When we got him home one of the weekends to try and practice the training, he bit me leaving a huge bruise on my calf (wasn't the first bite we had received).  We tried to work on more training in the yard for over 2 hours that weekend and could not get him to submit to us. Once we were done, completely exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally, from our dog aggressively lunging at as, knowing he could have bit us and caused great harm if we hadn't been prepared, we knew this was it.  He had even showed aggressiveness when I told him to "leave it" when he was chewing on the carpet once.  He is so unpredictable.  9 times out of 10 he'll give up the item, its just the unpredictability of when will it happen?  Some trainers say you have to control his environment, but how do you stop a dog from finding something he thinks is "his" all the time?  He bit me over a bone he found in the park once.  I can't prevent him from finding items 100% of the time.  I can't stop him from guarding a sock, or the carpet, or whatever other random item he finds that is his. He also started pinning other dogs in the park if they come near him when he has a ball or toy.  I felt extremely guilty for some time thinking, if only we'd have done a different training method sooner, or what did we do wrong?  But what I realized is we didn't do anything wrong.  He has something wired in his genetics that is causing this.  My friends from puppy classes who have dogs the same age as him don't have issues.  My last dog never, ever came close to biting me.  This dog has bit me and come close to biting me too many times.  My husband and I are starting a family. We made the decision we can't keep him, but now the question is, are we setting him up for failure and putting other people at risk to even consider trying to ind a new home for him - even if we're completely honest about his behavior?  How do we know what the right answer is? How will I deal with the guilt either way - abandoning my dog or having to end his life?  It's so devastating and heart breaking I can't even comprehend. What happened to the loveable family lab we thought we were getting?  Why can't he be that all of the time?


Michelle Smith 
July 30, 2014

I find your story very comforting in my time of loss. I had my dog put two days ago and I am an emotional wreck. I have struggled for four years taking Brixton, a Cane Corso Mastiff, to UPenn for a behavioral assessment, had two behaviorists come out to my home, and he was placed on an anti anxiety (Clomipramine?) as well. The anti anxiety actually lowered his bite inhibition. 95% of the time he was an amazing dog. He trained well and was my best friend. Long story short, he became unpredictable when walking him on the streets of Philadelphia. I muzzled him which appeared to make him even more unpredictable. He bit my boyfriend twice and his dad once. He has nipped numerous times. I recently moved out to the country and thought maybe the land would help with his aggression. It seemed to at first. I had him around company and children and he appeared anxious, but eventually would calm down. The last straw was when my brother in law was over and he followed him to the bathroom while his aggression continued to escalate. This is someone he has met numerous times. As Brixton began to reach to bite him, I intervened and grabbed his collar. He then bit my hand. I did not go to the hospital and managed the wound myself. There was some swelling for a few days and I could not utilize my hand at all the first two days. I don't really care about my hand. I did still have some restraint with me, but what if it was someone else that intervened? I continue to be tearful and feel extreme guilt. Its only been two days and I am struggling with how to walk around this house that was filled with his energy. I swept his fur yesterday and I lost it. I am struggling to cope. He was my best friend and I feel like I failed him. Reading your story and I believe there is another article regarding Dodger and aggression? Is helping me to find solace in a very crappy situation. I would never forgive myself if my nieces or nephew where here and something happened to one of them. I cant say he every would, but I could not say he would not. I managed his behavior for four years,  but I felt like is was getting any better and in some ways worse :/


donnasue 
July 28, 2014

I was in GSD rescue and sometimes you just can't save them all - put resources in those dogs that can be rehabed, those that cannot are a real danger to society and those who vote against dog laws. As a trainer I've seen this too often, and it's no one's fault if the genetic/behavioral wiring gets screwed up. It's never easy, but it's the kindest thing for all involved.


Stephanie Day 
July 28, 2014

Owning an aggressive dog requires a lot of management.  This is similar to owning a pet with diabetes.  There is no cure for diabetes, and there is no cure for aggression.  Ideally, each person in this situation would sit down with a competent behaviorist and discuss the risks involved in owning an aggressive dog.  Then the decision can be made.  Is the owner willing to accept the risk that goes along with managing an aggressive dog. This part of the equation also can go poorly when the poor owner is given poor advice, rooted in dominance theory.  Dogs are aggressive because they are fearful or anxious.  They may present with confident body language, especially if they have a history of learning their aggression drives away or stops the scary thing.  Advising an owner to “discipline, punish, or otherwise increase the dogs arousal and fear level” is contra-indicated and falls well below what we know to be the standard of care.  Consult the AVSAB position on punishment or dominance if this information is new to you.   If the owner, who is bonded with the dog, is unable to accept the risk of owning an aggressive dog, then euthanasia may be the most humane option.  It is not humane to rehome these dogs to unsuspecting people or old school dominance/discipline trainers.  These dogs are at high risk for abuse and neglect because most people do not comprehend how much worse punishment can make this situation.  They don’t know the side effects of punishment, and they cannot read dog body language for subtle signs of anxiety.  They may also perceive a shut down dog, offering no behavior, as the ideal result.  This conflicts with the actual ideal result of a relaxed, confident dog who has learned things aren’t so scary.  A dog with less anxiety and fear, who has learned more tools to cope with an overwhelming environment. Managing and training an aggressive dog can be a profound undertaking requiring more resources than many people have to give.  It requires as much work as taking care of a small child, perhaps one with autism.  It is not shameful to admit you don’t have the resources to help a dog whose wiring is abnormal.  The people who do are few and far between.  Aggressive dogs far outnumber the environments/ families that could help them.  It is OK to be frustrated and overwhelmed by the environmental management strategies and learning that an aggressive dog needs.  It is OK to put the dog to sleep.  Dogs with extra anxious wiring need special handling and learning from puppyhood on.  They can not rebound from stress or punishment like a normal dog can.  One bad experience and they have learned something you did not intend. It is a great tragedy being people not recognizing aggression in dogs is rooted in fear and anxiety.  Similar to crying children.  They are not bad, stubborn, or in need of “discipline.” They are in need of help to deal with overwhelming emotion.  People focus too much on suppressing the outer behavior because it is inconvenient to them, and not enough on investigating an attending to the underlying source of the behavior.


Jenelle Jones 
July 27, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story I has given the courage to do the same.


Carrie 
July 27, 2014

Thank you Phyllis for sharing your story, and thank you to all the commenters with their stories. I had to euthanize my beloved corgi Izzie two days ago. She came to us an anxious puppy 6 years ago. At her first vet checkup when she was 8 weeks old she bit the vet. We worked diligently with her to properly socialize and train her to be a happy, healthy dog. But her anxiety kept growing. Over time we had to remove triggers from her life and ours. We haven't watched a movie with horse noises at home in 5 years; she hasn't played with other dogs in 4 years; its been two years since I could trim her nails or brush her myself, and a year since the vet or vet staff could handle her without a muzzle. We tried training, sequestering, love, and then medication to help her fight her demons, but in the end they won. She tried so hard to be a good dog but she was so afraid all the time her quality of life was awful, and we were tired of the constant stress and biting. We joked when she was younger that she had bitten all of our loved ones, until it was true. I hope wherever she is she's no longer in such pain and mental anguish. My family looks forward to moving on and remembering her at her best, not at her worst.


Kelly 
July 27, 2014

Last night we made the decision.  After months and months of intensive training, seeking the advice of professionals, reading anything and everything I could find on how to work with my aggressive, young dog (a rescue from the Navajo reservation in AZ)I know in my heart that Remy cannot be "fixed." Two times in two days he went after someone unprovoked and with no warning.  Thankfully no one was hurt just terrified.  I, like so many who have commented on this blog, have struggled to make the "right" choice for him and for my family.  But, as I have come to realize what I want and what is best are not the same thing.  I want the puppy we expected to have when I first saw the adorable photo of this blue merle fluff ball, gamely trying to crawl around his whelping box shortly after he was rescued from a life of deprivation and neglect in the desert. Even after he first started to demonstrate these alarming behaviors I went into research mode- reading, talking to friends, talking to rescue groups, trainers, vets and anything else I could think of so that I could "fix" him.  But, as heart breaking as it is to me, my children, my husband- he can't be fixed and he is unsafe.  It is because I love him so that I will set him free to cross "The Rainbow Bridge."  I hope that in doing so my sweet boy will finally live a life without fear, without aggression and feel the peace that he has never had here.  Thank you to the author and those who have shared their stories. It is an indescribable relief to hear the stories that show me that I am not alone in this difficult situation and having to make this untenable decision.


Norm 
July 25, 2014

Today we had our 5.5 year old female Rottie put down.  It was very hard to do, but it was correct, for many of the same reasons as Phyllis' story above.  She got more aggressive over time and was way too protective of us and the property.  The term "not wired correctly" seemed to fit her.  She did bite a neighbor, and did a 1-mile chase of a family of bicyclists when a side gate was left open.  That happened two years ago and it was clear now that things were digressing.   So, now there are no worries that a gate might be open (in fact, I can take off the lock on that side gate...) or that she might think we want to take something from her.   It was a quiet house when I returned home tonight, and that made it all the sadder.  Was it lack of training, reinforcement, praise, discipline, or something else?  The vet previously said that she had a screw loose in her head when she attacked him in the examining room (muzzle was on). I was way too patient and very slow in taking care of the situation. Now let the healing begin, please.


Bear's Mom 
July 24, 2014

To Phyllis and all the commenters, thank you so much for sharing your story, it has really helped me. I first found this blog three weeks ago after realizing it was time to make a decision regarding my beautiful Lakeland Terrier.  She was never a ‘normal’ dog in that she did not seek or give affection and enjoyed doing her own thing. I blamed it on the terrier independence. But as she matured and became an adult she had more difficulty coping with everyday things and thought she may just be ‘special’.  From loud noises to visitors to dogs – she became very reactive and anxious. She began to defer that anxiety to our other dog through aggression. It got pretty scary multiple times.  But, I figured it was something I could manage.  And then she attacked my 2 year old nephew at my parent’s house.  We didn’t know he was in there, we were just stopping by to say hi. Thank God he was okay because he had a big winter coat on which protected him.  Two days later we dropped her off for a 7 week inpatient rehab program with one of the best behaviorists in New England.  When she came home we adapted to new boundaries and were showed exactly what we needed to do to set up our girl for success. Was she better? Yes, but only to a certain extent. With our vet and behaviorist’s encouragement we started her on a daily dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) and that also helped, to a certain extent.  We continued training at home, obedience schools, and with the behaviorist.  She got to a point where I could predict her triggers and behaviors so I thought I could still manage her. Well, last month she boarded with our behaviorist for 3 weeks. When we picked her up he gave us a dose of reality. He explained she’s better than she was two years ago, but she’s stuck in a bad place and will not get better no matter what we do. He explained some dogs like her aren’t wired right, and whatever she can’t handle now, she’ll never be able to handle.  Still, I thought I could manage her.  Well, the following weekend she went after my nephews face, completely unprovoked and she showed no remorse.  We were simply leaving my parents’ house; I had her on a leash and with her basket muzzle on for safety, thank God.  Although there are many instances where we knew ‘this should be it’ that incident was the final straw. I could not put my family, neighbors, other dogs and even her in danger any longer. No dog should want to repeatedly and without provoking want to attack a child. I knew completely then and there my dog definitely wasn’t wired right.  It took me days to actually call my vet just to make an appointment to discuss her future. I talked with my behaviorist and he gave me validation that it was time to set her free of her demons.  My vet explained and validated that she had a disease, not just a behavior problem. My husband and I set our little, gorgeous, 2 days shy of being 4 years old terrier free this past Saturday. It was very, very difficult to say goodbye. But I cannot feel guilt. No one can say ‘you should have tried this’ because believe me, I did! My little dog flew to heaven feeling loved, freed of her demons, and knowing she never has to disappoint her mom and dad again.  For anyone else that has gone through this or is in a place having to make a tough decision, realize you are not alone. I know you love your dog because I love my dog as much as any owner could. I loved her enough to know what she needed.  Now I have to transition to a life where I do not live in worry or fear that my dog is nervous, anxious, unhappy or will hurt someone else. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders which I did not expect, but know I made the right decision.


Carla 
July 23, 2014

Last week I had to have my most beloved dog 'Sausage' (terrier) put to sleep after he bit my 11 year old son's face. Although there were significant puncture wounds to my son's nose and top lip, he did not require stitches. I called the vet out there and then and made the most painful decision I've ever had to make. The guilt and shame I feel is nothing compared to the way I would have felt if my son had been more seriously hurt or if it had been another child (I have a younger daughter, children in and out of the house and little ones living next door). It was not the first time the dog had bitten and despite all the training and and responsible ownership, the vet said I was doing the right thing. Sausage had been mauled by his mother at a week old and spent the first 4 months on a scrap yard - I'd rescued him two years ago. His spine was damaged and he was going to have trouble in later life with pain and disability. Your article gives me strength to realise that I did do the right thing - a dog's life cannot be more important than my child's health and I would have been irresponsible re-housing him. Incidentally, the relief (and subsequent further guilt), is odd but I've now I realised how much of my time was spent running around after the dog to ensure no one was hurt. I miss him terribly.


Kristie 
July 21, 2014

Thank you for your story. We are going to have to put our Tiger (pit bull mix) down due it aggression. We have two small children. I have tried everything and have been told it will only get worse. Your story is helping me through this incredibly difficult time. I am absolutely devastated.


Julia 
July 20, 2014

I hope I can briefly explain my situation...Here goes...My mother and step-father have always had Chows...The one I'll be referencing is their 3rd one...A male, 4yrs old...Last Nov. my step dad received a terminal diagnosis and then only 3 weeks later my mother ( who wasn't in good health) passed away...Up until that time "PawPaw" had shown no aggressive tendencies except for being very aggressive towards any food that might fall on the floor,i.e. if it hit the floor don't even attempt to pick it up, it was HIS...Because of that he did nipped someone at their house who wasn't warned in time...Since my mother's death he has bitten the same female neighbor twice ( the first time just a nip, but the second time definitely more vicious and broke skin)...She's a dog lover, has known him since he was a puppy, and we don't know why he turned on her. Yesterday, my stepfather passed away and now we ( his 2 adult children and myself) are trying to decide what to do with him...The dog was actually my stepdad's and ultimately the decision is his kids...I was hoping that one of them might take him as they both live in the country and on some acreage...On the other hand I live just outside a city on a busy road...My yard isn't large or fenced in...I also have a small dog who, while PawPaw has never been aggressive with, is still afraid of him...PawPaw seems to like me "OK" but is very fond of my husband...About a year ago when my youngest ( 15 ) went to pet him at my mother's though he growled at him, and again we aren't sure why...My son is very good with dogs and likes them. Anyway, both have indicated they aren't comfortable taking him and we are now looking into possibly finding him a new home, but not having much luck...They are going back to their homes mid-week and it is now Sunday and I feel like the clock is ticking...I've been reading about Chows in shelters ( dogs period really) and that doesn't appeal to me...I'm afraid he won't be adopted and will become even more aggressive because of insecurity and fear...Or worse yet, "adopted" by someone who wouldn't want him for the right reasons and mistreat him. Watching him lay in the yard last night watching people walk by ( which he's very good about), as we discussed his fate, made me feel awful...His life's been turned upside down and all of this is through no fault of his own, ( other than the biting behavior he's beginning to exhibit)...He's young and can be very sweet...I obviously have the ability to "save" him by saying I'll take him, but if I'm honest I'm not sure I want to do that. While this has nothing directly to do with the dog...6 mo. before I lost my mother I lost one of my children and now my stepdad...That's all my life's been the past 18 mo...Part of me just wants a normal life back but the idea of another death is also overwhelming too.  TIA for any thoughts/comments.


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM 
July 16, 2014

According to behaviorist Valarie V. Tynes, DVM, DACVB, in her 2008 peer-reviewed paper "Behavior Myths," http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/advanstar/vm0908/#/36 the most dangerous canine behavior myth is that aggressive dogs act dominant, and that to show the dog who is boss, an owner should lay the dog on its back and discipline him as the human is the leader of the pack. The human certainly should be the leader, but these dogs should be trained using a type of positive reinforcement called the "no-free-lunch" method that teaches the dog that the owner is trustworthy and predictable, and not likely to fly into anger.  Over the past 25 years, both veterinary and non- veterinary behaviorists have said that punishment based-techniques are not appropriate for aggressive dogs. Usually these dogs are anxious and fearful and this type of training actually makes them worse, not better.  Sadly, this theory of dominance training was incorrectly extrapolated from a wolf study.  The truth is the polar opposite of the myth: in the wild, subordinate wolves show deference to dominant wolves by rolling onto their backs - the dominant wolves never force subordinates onto their backs.  This tactic makes no sense from a training point of view, plus it is dangerous to the dog, who only learns that people can be terrifying - and getting rolled reinforces his view - and the owner can get bitten.


Jeff 
July 6, 2014

If you cannot claim dominance over an aggressive dog you too (or someone you know or may not know) will be a statistic of another dog attack.  Your best bet is to give up the dog (before it attacks anyone) and find yourself a dog that is very calm and submissive. You'll be doing yourself and the dog a favor. This is a moving story and I believe that euthanizing the dog was the correct decision but it could've been avoided. Sure she took it to exercise but that alone isn't enough. I didn't read anywhere in the article on how she disciplined the dog after any attacks.  I am not saying you need to hit the dog, but you need to lay it down in its side until the dog submits and knows that you are not the one to mess around with and that you are the leader of this pack. Dogs can learn, but if you don't claim dominance, by nature, the dog will.  ***editors note:  This comment is posted out of chronological order so that it could be adjacent to the response from a veterinarian (above).***


Jessica 
July 15, 2014

Thank you. I found this article while I am struggling with what to do with my best friend. His name is Lesnar, and he is aggressive. Ever since we rescued him as a puppy he has been fear aggressive, and we bonded hard, so he's protective aggressive over me. He's not even four, but his behavior is becoming dangerous. I have a seven year old. Lesnar has never bitten anyone yet, but I don't want it to come to that. We've trained, but the aggression will likely escalate with age. How can I put down a healthy, young dog who has calmed my fears, brings us toys when we come home, licked my daughter's tears, and has the silliest personality I've ever seen? Your article reminds me of my buddy, but I don't want myself or a family member to be seriously injured because I can't let go. I also fear forcing Lesnar to live an uncomfortable life in a constant state of rear and vigilance. Ugh.


Mattie 
July 14, 2014

My dog is an emotional disaster. We rescued Beaker (yes, named after the muppet because of his crazy hair) from a puppy shelter when he was 15 weeks old. They rescued dogs from a high kill shelter. If I'm honest with myself, I should've known from the day I picked him out, he was struggling. He was excited to have me in the kennel with him, but he couldn't relax when another person walked by or another dog was brought out. Anyway, flash forward 1 year. He has been an amazing protector and friend to myself and my daughter. To everyone else he has seemed a high risk threat, even my husband. The day and space seem to short to write the the things I love about my dog or have come to fear about him. I do have enough time, however, to write about how my life has changed for the worse recently. He bit someone. Hard. I have made excuses for his unpredictable and sometimes alarming behavior in the past, but tangible evidence has made me realize we have to act. Beaker loves me and my daughter with all he has, but it's not enough to keep him from his own demons. Beaker is scared of life, especially life without me. No narcissism here, but he literally needs me to function. Sad. So so sad. Our incident happened after my family and I left for a bbq. We left him in the backyard as we always do. We came home to find a broken fence and soon to be broken home. He was so scared. Beaker tried to stay here after he jumped out of the fence the first time. He bit lady who happened to be walking by on our driveway, (broken skin and an ER trip) then he jumped back into the backyard. Our neighbor said he was pacing and nervous. Then the police showed up and tried to get to him in the back. That's when he broke the fence trying to get away. Then they tried to shoot him w tasers and he jumped the fence and took off. Fight or flight. We didn't find him until 3 am. Scared, covered with sambers and asphalt burned pads. He was so relieved and excited to be home and back with us it broke my heart. We have up put him down. Breaks my heart even more. I love him but I can see his brokenness. What life does he have if everytime I leave he is sent into, essentially, a legitimate panic attack until I come home? He loves me and my daughter to the point it's scary. He is on guard when my husband hugs me and has rushed him when he plays with our daughter. Love to the point of fault.


 
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