How Not to Deal with a Biting Dog

If a dog bites you, I expect you to do whatever needs to be done in order to prevent the dog from doing any further damage.  Depending on the circumstances, this might include putting a leash on the dog to get control or placing the dog in another room.  Once the bite is over and you have control of the situation, there is no point in fetching your air gun, calling your dog over to you, holding him upside down by the tail and shooting him repeatedly in the face and testicles while he screams and you film the whole thing:

At the prompting of prosecuting attorney Barbara Lachmar. [Judge Thomas] Willmore viewed two videos before the sentencing and called the abuse terrible, noting the dog screeched and squealed while it was tortured repeatedly.

“It comes and sits right down at your feet and you pick it up again and shoot it in its testicles. It wasn’t even doing anything,” Willmore said. “You ought to be ashamed the way you treated that animal.”

Ought to be, but isn’t:

[The owner, Emilio Deshun] Hoy told Willmore on Tuesday that he was sorry but that he still questioned whether his behavior constituted animal cruelty. Hoy said he was only punishing the dog for aggressive behavior after he worked a 12-hour day at his job.  [emphasis added]

Mr. Hoy will get a break from his 12 hour shifts at work while he’s in the pokey:

On April 7, Hoy pleaded guilty to torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced Tuesday by Logan 1st District Court Judge Thomas Willmore to six months in jail and three years of probation. Hoy must also pay $1,000 to the state and another $1,000 to the Cache Humane Society.

The dog, Bean, has recovered from the physical injuries but is apparently still dealing with some emotional trauma:

Michael Bishop, director of the Cache Humane Society, said Bean was returned recently to the shelter in Logan because he is “showing some post-traumatic-type symptoms and characteristics.” In his sleep, Bean is whimpering and growling, and he sometimes awakens aggressively with a startle, he said.

What have those of you who have dealt with biting dogs done to get control of the situation in the heat of the moment?  What about dealing with the dog afterward?

11 thoughts on “How Not to Deal with a Biting Dog

  1. how funny to call whimpering and growling in his sleep ptsd. i call it “blowing bubbles” and i wait till mac is asleep so i can watch it. dogs do this. it’s adorable.

    to deal with the larger situation i don’t have an air gun, so i probably wouldn’t use it. (what is an AIR GUN!?) unfortunately, i have dealt with mac attacking another dog. i separated him, he chilled out immediately, and i dealt with the dog owner, and the other dog. i didn’t punish mac. i would be punishing him for chilling out immediately. i was frustrated with him, and myself for setting him up for failure. it’s my fault, not his, he was being a dog. a dog aggressive, prey driven dog, sure, but a dog. i didn’t want to look at him for awhile, sure, but i didn’t think hitting him with air guns was the answer.

  2. no.. it is not “blowing bubbles”.. it can be called rage syndrome .. and it is a serious problem.. dogs who sleep and then wake up “aggressively” are not “just dreaming”. They can and do bite.. PTS is not a disease in dogs.. dogs can readily forgive any type of treatment.. and do on many occasions.. it is US who make excuses for them.. “Oh he does not like… men.. women..people with hats.. people who smoke.. children.. whatever makes us Not train the dog and just make an excuse.. however rage is a disease.. and yes you can live with it but you must be aware at every moment..
    Six months “in the pokey” costs US.. the taxpayer thousands of dollars.. i prefer my money to be spent on other things.. what will this “sentence’ prove? and how will it HELP the person serving it? How does it help animals? Does it protect the populace from a dangerous person?
    While I am not defending his actions.. I am not.. i do think that jail time and felony charges are misguided and solve nothing

  3. Alice, seriously, a guy who VIDEOTAPES his revenge-beating of his fifteen-pound dog is not in any way dangerous?

    Lashing out in pain and whaling the shit out of a dog who JUST bit you — well that’s a human failing, anger, lack of impulse control, losing the struggle for self-mastery. A human who is probably redeemable, even if he’s not anyone I’d recommend as dating material.

    Going to get gun, loading gun, getting videorecorder, making sure that battery is all charged up and there’s tape in the camera — THEN picking the dog up by the tail and shooting him in the balls while making sure the camera gets this for posterity, or youtube, or barroom entertainment — that is one fucked-up sick piece of shit.

    As for crying in his sleep and awakening with a startle — it is neither PTSD nor rage syndrome. It’s a dog being a dog. I probably wouldn’t place the dog in a home with little kids, but if he is otherwise salvageable, then by all means, he should be salvaged.

    1. It could simply be that he hasn’t had an owner who deals with him properly or any number of other explanations. I hope he gets into a home with the right (for him) owner.

  4. Alicee:
    My beagle whimpers and growls in her sleep from time to time. It is not rage syndrome she’s dreaming. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body. Although it is possible this dog is doing it for other reasons, for you to state this behavior is ‘rage syndrome’ without ever meeting the dog or knowing his regular routine and behaviors is absurd. You can’t just diagnose every dog as having ‘rage syndrome’ for making noises in their sleep. Are you serious?
    I can’t believe you think this guy does not deserve jail time for this crime! This was in no way acceptable ‘punishment’. It was vindictive and extreme cruelty. You’re damn straight you are not trying to defend his actions because they are indefensible !

  5. question: WHY did the dog bite him in the first place? From the sounds of things, perhaps he had good cause! Second, a bite is not a planned behaviour on the part of a dog; it is a reaction – either of anger, fright, triggered by something or a protective measure. You first control the dog – by a leash is the best, then isolate him, let him chill out – THAT IS the punishment – the reality is that you come back later, the dog is NOT going to understand why you’re pointing to your hand, your leg or wherever he bit you – he will be totally confused about it.

    What the owner does is figure out the TRIGGER for the biting, in order to exercise caution around a similar situation. Hyper awareness is a good thing in this case, and reading your dog’s body language!

    Anyways, Ill keep you posted. I have a biter – I won’t say how many times. Took him as a rescue 8 months ago, have been working intensively with him and not making much progress. I am actually at a seminar this weekend and the trainer called me and has asked me to bring him so I”m keeping my fingers crossed he can give me pointers.

    I knew what I was getting – it was me as a last chance or the needle, which is why I took him in the first place.

    This dog has OBVIOUSLY been abused; certain reactions, certain behaviours – the way he acts in certain situations, body language etc tells me this dog was BADLY beaten at some point so he most likely is a biter for a reason.

  6. There is such a thing as post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs. I work with a rescue organization. Last year we handled a large number of dogs seized from a woman later convicted of felony animal abuse. One of the dogs was fostered by a professional psychologist who frequently treats humans with PTSD. She told me that it was beyond question that her foster dog suffered from PTSD.

    PTSD is not about forgiving the abuser. It is a biochemical change in the nervous system in response to stress. Some of the markers do not apply to dogs, but by analogy, many do. It is quite clear that some dogs meet the criteria for PTSD.

    I have no idea whether the dog in question suffers from PTSD. Neither does anyone else based solely on the information publicly available. But it is possible.

    Bad dreams are one marker for PTSD. But as several people noted, some dogs do growl and bark in their sleep. It is difficult to ascertain whether a particular dog’s dreams meet the criterion for PTSD. But if the dog has other markers and the bad dreams seem unusually disturbing to the dog, then that suggests that the dog does have PTSD and that the dog’s dreams to meet the criterion. Again, no one can say one way or the other about the dog in question based solely on publicly available information.

    So it’s possible the dog has PTSD. It’s also possible the dog is just a little terror. Even if he is, that does not justify, excuse, or mitigate the torture. Six months in the pokey and a felony rap seem perfectly appropriate.

  7. alice- i think you bring up a philosophical question- what *does* jail time solve? does our penal system work? generally, i would argue no, it doesn’t. but when animal cruelty is successfully charged and prosecuted and jail time and probation is actually carried out it’s a HUGE win for animal welfare. it is so rare that it happens and sets a precedent that animal cruelty is a crime, too.

    i have never heard that “blowing bubbles” (i’m still gonna call it that) is a symptom of rage syndrome. i have seen many MANY dogs twitch, run, growl in their sleep- i’ve never met a dog with confirmed rage syndrome. i’ve also met many dogs who startle when they wake up, and none with ptsd. we do a lot of anthropomorphizing- grahund’s thoughts are well taken, though. i didn’t know of that work.

    i’m going to sleep with one eye open tonight.

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