“He just totally went off the wall”

New Hampshire:  If you want to buy a dog off Craigslist without even knowing the name of the seller or if the dog’s had a Rabies vaccine or has bitten 157 schoolkids, knock yourself out.  Hey, I’m not judging.  But if you do buy a dog without knowing a thing about him, you are accepting the responsibility that comes along with that.  That is, every new situation – riding in the car, walking around the neighborhood, visiting the dog park, etc – requires you to use judgment and caution since the dog is a big question mark.  You are the known entity in this equation – the dog is the unknown – and in taking him on, you are promising to keep him and those around him safe from foreseeable mishaps.

Perhaps the number one foreseeable mishap to my mind would be properly introducing the dog to your kids and at some point, introducing him to other people’s kids.  This will require your supervision and judgment and will happen over time, as the dog learns what is expected of him and adjusts to his new life.  Specifically, you’d want to avoid situations such as this like the plague:

Shawna Innie, 12, was going inside her apartment to get a drink on Saturday when the pit bull that her family had just obtained lunged at her and grabbed her arm.

Moments later, neighbor Cameron Hallstrom, 7, entered the home, and the dog bit him on the face and ear.

“He just started attacking them,” said dog owner Nancy Innie. “It’s unbelievable.”

Nancy Innie said the family got the dog, Chico, on Friday. They picked the dog up in Nashua from an owner they know only by a first name. She said they were given no documentation about the animal regarding his shots or any other history.

“We didn’t even have him 24 hours yet, and he just totally went off the wall,” she said.

Personal responsibility fail.

May I paraphrase?:  We didn’t even have him 24 hours and I expected him to read my mind and to know exactly how and from whom I wanted him to defend our home and his personal space.  Further, I expected any worries or fears he may have which might cause him to react with his teeth to evaporate instantly just because.  Now that I set him up for failure and my efforts have been realized the only logical conclusion is that “[o]bviously, he had a couple loose screws”.  Cause it wouldn’t be my fault.  Obviously.

Both of the bite victims are on antibiotics, and Cameron needed 10 stitches to repair his wounds. For now, the dog is being held in quarantine at the Manchester Animal Shelter.

Since the rabies vaccine history is unknown, the dog has to be quarantined.  And of course the new owners didn’t have time to get him a shot because they had only gotten him less than 24 hours before the screws hit the wall.  I think it was highly rude of that dog to become unhinged so quickly like that.  Hopefully the family’s next dog will be that mind reading/fear evaporating kind.  They have those on Craigslist, don’t they?

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12 Comments

  1. selkie

     /  April 27, 2010

    While I of course feel sorry for the kids (not their fault they have incredibly stupid parents), that POOR dog. Taken from his familiar life, shoved into a chaotic (from the sounds of it, and if it is anything like my house with kids) situation, given no guidance, left to his own devices, and he TRIES to do what he thinks he is supposed to, which is PROTECT and he gets to get killed for it… nice. Stupid stupid people.

    Reply
  2. And the stupid people will never be punished for their stupidity. “You can’t outlaw stupidity” seems to apply here.

    Reply
    • Puppy

       /  May 3, 2010

      I’d say a dog bite, hospital bills, and having to deal with the poor child’s post-incident trauma are pretty punishing, actually.

      Reply
  3. jenniferJ

     /  April 27, 2010

    Whenever I bring a new foundling into foster, I practice “hope for the best, plan for the worst”

    Which means that if the dog has an unknown or vague history, I exercise caution.

    At first, they are effectively quarantined from my children and other dogs. They always have a collar on, and a leash too. I watch and assess the around e, my husband, then other dogs/people at a distance. They get worked with in a low key way so that they can settle in but also so that I can see if there are red flags that need better assessment.

    I have had two apparently solid dogs turn out to have some serious issues. Another with rage syndrome due to a brain lesion. And a couple who were dumped under the pretense of being aggressive or growly but who turned out to be A-OK and the incidents were likely manufactured to justify getting rid of the dog.

    Reply
    • I’m picturing the ones surrendered due to aggression which turned out not to be aggressive after all. You probably treated them with extra caution at first and they were probably thinking “Gee she’s a pretty bad worrier”.

      Reply
      • jenniferJ

         /  April 27, 2010

        Frankly, I think most of us get a pretty good sense of a dog in the first few minutes. But if they come in with a “history”, however suspect the source, it’s prudent to take some care.

        Unless they come from a known source, I take all info, good or bad, with a hearty grain of salt. :)

        But having three kids, I do take a bit of extra care until I get a good feel for a dog. I have had a couple who were just tough, smart, pushy brats who were used to bullying people. They would not have done well on a shelter temperament test! But turned out to be great dogs.

      • I have always admired people who can get a feel for a dog right away. I am not that way. That is, my insta-judgment may well turn out wrong in the end. I have an especially difficult time reading dogs who have the kind of fur that prevents you from seeing the eyes. In my next life, I want to be one of those people whom others refer to as having a “way with animals”.

      • jenniferJ

         /  April 27, 2010

        I have always felt very comfortable with dogs, horses and reptiles.

        Birds and cats? Nuh-uh. And I have tried. I HAVE birds and cats now, and feel ok with my own, but can’t get a bead on strange cats and WiLL get bit by pretty much any bird, including our own….

  4. I had a client who called me in to evaluate a dog that she’d recently adopted. Some guy, who was already the dog’s third home, dumped the poor girl off with a rescue group that was showing at a pet store. Then the rescue group turned around and adopted the dog, who was terrified and insecure, within about an hour to a family with kids and relatively little dog experience. From what I heard, they didn’t offer much advice either. It could have easily turned into another story like the one in the post.

    It’s lucky for everyone – the dog, the kids, and the rescue group – that the adopters were careful with their new dog (and that she turned out to be great with the kids). But, man, the rescue sure set that dog up to fail.

    Reply
  5. I’m good at the gut feeling thing but I have ten years of professional dog training experience. I get a gut feeling right away that tells me whether the dog is safe for me to handle or not – and I always listen to my gut.

    And while I don’t expect other people to be able to read dogs as well I do, I am still amazed at the signals many of them miss. I’ve seen people smile and rush up to dogs that may as well have been wearing an “I’m going to bite you” billboard with flashing neon lights on it.

    Reply
  6. Probably sampling error, but the fosters that have come to me with “aggression histories” towards humans have made it clear right away that the reported histories were bullshit.

    One delivered a highly inhibited bite in a circumstance under which every dog owner in the universe would want his dog to bite — but the state told the owners the dog had to go or the foster children would have to.

    One was dumped at the pound for “snarling.” He was a submissive grinner.

    Etcetera.

    Now, some of the ones that have come to me without a history, or flying on a carpet of lies woven by the relinquishing owner — some of them have been real pills at first.

    Reply

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