JoAnna Lou
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Should a Biter Be Rehabilitated?
Calls come in to rescue an internet sensation
Tara the cat body slamming the attacking dog.
Tara the cat body slamming the attacking dog.

Earlier this month Tara the cat became an internet sensation after a video of her body slamming a child biting dog went viral. The kitty has been famous ever since and was even invited to "throw" the first pitch at a minor league ballgame. But Tara wasn't the only one who garnered attention from the security camera footage.

The Labrador-Chow mix that bit the 4-year old boy was put down this weekend, but not before a rush of concerned animal lovers expressed interest in saving the pup. An online petition and several web sites popped up advocating to get the dog off death row. The shelter was also flooded with calls from potential adopters and rescue organizations pledging to reform the dog's behavior.

Julie Johnson, the Director of the Bakersfield Animal Care Control, was concerned that the shelter fielded so many calls for one dog when they have 200 other homeless pups that haven't bit anyone.

I do believe it is possible to change aggressive behavior, but spending resources on this dog means less time and money for several other animals, without behavioral challenges. In a perfect world, we'd rehabilitate the Labrador-Chow mix, but the reality is that we have limited space in our shelters, coupled with an overpopulation problem.

Although it feels wrong to make decisions on which dogs should be given a second chance, it seems only responsible to prioritize the strategy that will save the most animals.

What's your take?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anna Jagna | May 29 2014 |

Young and mellow dogs that have never bit before and that are friendly towards kids, people in general and other dogs should be the first to find homes.
I do not understand why so many people would like to adopt aggresive dogs.
It seems that many do not understand how big responsability it is, not mentioning the cost of rehabilitating the dog. If we had empty shelters I would be all for rehabilitation.

Submitted by robin | June 1 2014 |

I think the point is being missed here...while this particular shelter felt they could not invest the time in one life vs spreading that time among several others, there appear to have been numerous others willing to take on the challenge and devote their efforts either a group or shelter or individual. To take the life of this pup without even giving him/her a chance is unconscionable. Especially when others made themselves known. What kind of mentality is this? What kind of message...be bad and you'll die? Is this how we humans opt to solve problems? I haven't even read if this was a isolated episode or not.

Submitted by Mary | June 3 2014 |

I agree. It's not an either-or situation; the person who thinks they can rehabilitate is not the same person who's looking for a cuddly family puppy. We need both kinds of adopters, and God bless anybody who's providing a safe haven to a dog.

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