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A Westporter Makes A Very Difficult Dog Decision

A Westporter who asks to remain anonymous writes:

We all love our dogs, but how often do our dogs not love us? With a heavy heart I have come to a decision. It  won’t earn accolades from friends or even family, but it needs to be made nonetheless: I’m going to put my 4-year-old dog down.

One day, the dog broke its owner’s glasses.

He is a canine felon. He has a rap sheet in Virginia, and a bad reputation in NY and Maryland with years of biting: me, my daughter and handlers. He lunges with bared teeth at his dog friends, without any provocation. My biggest concern is…what if? What if he pulls away from me, and a child tries to stop him? I could not live with myself if my dog — a known biter — hurts someone.

At Thanksgiving I received reports of his biting when I kenneled him in Maryland. Earlier this fall he was requested not to return to another facility when he bit a handler who placed her hand on his collar as she tried to keep him from another dog.

In his 1st year here, my dog was attacked on a Westport beach by an unleashed and unregistered bully breed. The damage was significant, and it took a few weeks for my dog to get back to “normal” — able to run and jump like nothing had happened. Afterwards I heard from others whose dogs had been injured at Winslow Park or at the beach, some warning me of repeat offenders.

Compo Beach attracts many types of dogs.

I reached out to the breed rescue group I had adopted my then-9-month-old puppy from, for advice on my next steps. The former rescue coordinator responded:

So sorry that you have had to go through these very trying experiences. A biting ‘Big Dog’ is definitely not the norm…BUT it has occurred and will occur since ‘bad breeding’ is something we can’t control. Wish we could but that is a fact. Your dog is clearly NOT the ‘norm’ and the unpredictability of his biting means just that, not predictable and therefore could seriously hurt an innocent person, or worse, a child.

You have done what you could, and gone beyond what many would put up with for so long. That risk of a bite from a good sized dog, a Big Dog, is something you cannot take.

Believe me, after 27 years coordinating the Rescue program, these decisions are the hardest to make, but they are the right ones when folks like you have done  your best, and with so many instances, a peaceful permanent sleep is the only solution.

It’s tough saying goodbye to any dog.

You, we, cannot pass this on to another person or family. Your dog is too dangerous, and others might NOT have the supreme effort for him as you have done. As you do love him, as we all love our Big Dog, this is the loving thing to do. It will be more ‘painful’ for you but the right thing for him.

You have done your best.

“He has a very high opinion of himself, he has no respect” an animal behaviorist told me after several home visits, and I thought: Of course he does. He lives in Westport! Those I have told come in 2 camps: One is, How could I put a family member down? Two: Zero tolerance to a biting dog, put him down, he is a liability.

This decision hasn’t been taken lightly — far from it. But after additional bites where he has broken the skin, my skin, it is time to assess the situation and make the call I am loath to make.

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