Time for a controversial topic readers!
Have you seen the story of little Kevin Vincent? He was mauled by a pit bull, named Mickey, in the face receiving a broken eye socket, jaw and cheek bone and will need lots of reconstructive surgery. Mickey was kept outside on a chain, and the child picked up a bone by the dog while not being properly watched by his baby sitter. The response to the story was something interesting – while there was support for the child so many people wanted to save the dog from being put down. People went on social media and expressed support for the dog, there were vigils for the dog, and petitions to put the dog down received little attention.
Here is where the Lexus Project comes in it. It is a nonprofit organization which comes to the legal aid of dogs who are accused of vicious attacks against humans and other animals, helping to save them from being sentenced to euthanasia in court. They claim to have saved more than 100 dogs from certain death. They also aid animals that are in kill shelters, and those facing euthanasia simply because of a shelters breed policy (like for pit bulls). The project began back in 2009 when they saved a grey hound named Lexus, who killed a Pomeranian puppy in a park while off leash, from doggie death row.
With the intervention of the Lexus Project, Mickey has been saved from being killed. Instead the judge ordered that the dog be neutered, defanged, and microchipped.
The Lexus Project is trying to find a rehabilitation shelter for Mickey. Can he be rehabed? It is cruel to defang a dog? And does removing the fangs prevent any future damage the dog could do if it bites another child?
Only time will tell for Mickey, but below are a couple other dogs which have been saved by the Lexus Project and how they are doing now:
This white shepherd and husky mix attacked a dog while off leash. Even though the other dog lived and recovered, the town attorney wanted her killed. She was saved, and when her family could not keep her was moved to a sanctuary. After observing her, it was thought Sheba might be a wolf hybrid and went a facility for such hybrids and is enjoying a very happy life.
Sheba’s case shows the need to understand mixed breeds and the different needs of dogs who are mixed with wolves.
Brooklyn is a stafford hire mix who bit a child that fell on him. After being seized from his owner and spending a year in a facility waiting for some type of decision the Lexus Project arraigned for the dog’s release. It was discovered that Brooklyn was deaf and did not hear the child coming. The dog is now being worked with so he can be safely rehomed with someone who understands a special needs dog.
Brooklyn’s case is one of an owner who did not understand their dog’s medical condition, and that need for an educated or experienced future owner.
This German Shepherd was rescued from a kill shelter, neutered while still under a healthy weight for surgery, and then placed with a foster who was perhaps not careful enough. The bio for this dog was written with a lot of bias in Alexi’s favor, but what is said of the situations is enough to explain why he reacted the way he did. Alexi was taken to a dog park a day after surgery in a new place which put him under too much stress, he then had a fight with the foster’s other dog at home when he just had too much the very next day. The foster attempted to break up the fight and was bitten. Alexi was again going to be put down but with intervention from the Lexus Project he was freed and is under going training from an elite German Shepherd trainer. After this he will be placed in with a GS educated owner.
Alexi’s story shows the need to really observe your pets for signs of stress and introduce new situations slowly under safe conditions. It also serves as a reminder to not go into the middle of a dog fight.
Should “dangerous” dogs who have mauled or killed someone, especially a child, be saved?
Of course circumstances are the most important consideration. But, can anyone be sure a dog which killed a child won’t get into a situation in which it can happen again? Where is it safe enough to keep such dogs? I know dogs aggressive towards other animals can be placed in homes with knowledgeable owners who can keep them away from others, but dogs who have hurt children?
It is also important to remember in cases involving children that it can seem like animal lives are valued over a human life in a society that is so sensitive (or often insensitive) to life issues. So many innocent and good dogs are put down in kill shelters every day simply because there are too many dogs without homes, and yet so much has to be done to “save” one aggressive dog. To say the least, wanting such dogs to live is controversial.
Most aggressive dogs are only that way because of owners who do not know enough, are abusive/cruel, or are careless. Dogs know no better, and they follow their instincts. Children should always be monitored around dogs and every step should be taken by an owner to understand their animal and do what needs to be done to keep everyone/every animal as safe as possible. In an ideal world, no dog attacks would happen.
Even more importantly, the people involved should be prosecuted too. Nothing will be solved, even if a “dangerous” dog is killed, if the people responsible can continue to abuse or mishandle other dogs or their children/themselves. This is true not only for the specific owners involved, but also for other people out there who read the story. Nothing is learned if the final and only answer is to put the dog down. So much can be learned all around if those who treat their dogs so badly that they lash out at other people/children/animals are either not allowed to keep dogs or be educated and checked up on. What about those who allow a child to play near a dangerous animal, or allow an aggressive dog off leash at a park? People need to understand proper ownership, and that when things like this happen that there are consequences.
What do you guys think? Is the simple solution killing the animal, prosecuting owners, maybe both? Is there more that can be done to educate owners and prevent dog attacks? Have you ever been bitten? Do you have any personal stories of dogs successfully rehabilitated after aggressive behavior?