Aug 1, 2014 - Animals and Culture    8 Comments

Dog Attacks in a World Without Common Sense or Accountability

Recent dog attacks, one that left a jogger dead and a second that resulted in a child being mauled by three dogs highlight issues that we have been studying for a long time: enforcement of animal control laws, and rescue gone wild.

In the case of the jogger’s tragic death, one of the dogs involved had been in a prior attack, with the victim suing the owners, making one wonder how these dogs could still be running free. Could the jogger’s death have been averted by enforcing the law? According to our resident legal expert and NAIA board member, Julian Prager, “Based on the reported information, proper reporting and enforcement of existing Michigan law could have prevented more attacks.”

But as the woman who sued for being bitten in 2012 pointed out, the owners still have not even put up a fence around the yard, as was stipulated in her lawsuit. Had the owner been forced to comply with just that one small measure, we wouldn’t be talking about this story today.

As for the young boy, he was mauled by three vicious dogs that had escaped from a nearby rescue. Thankfully, he survived and is recovering. But disturbingly, his family states:

At least one of the dogs that attacked Colby had been surrendered to animal control by its owners, because of its “dangerous and vicious nature.”

If it is true that animal control knew the dog was vicious, but still released it to the rescue, we must take a moment to weep for the death of common sense. Do incidents like these need to become commonplace before something is actually done?



  • You hit the NAIL squarely on the HEAD!! We don’t need more laws. We need the laws currently on the books to be enforced!! Very Good article & I will be sharing & sharing & sharing.

  • Exactly! Enforce the laws that are already WRITTEN!

  • Most assuredly incidents of dog bites and attacks could be avoided if the animals surrendered to shelters, especially “no kill” shelters could be reliably temperament tested. Dogs of questionable temperament may respond successfully to training and rehabilitation. But there is absolutely no guarantee that a dog who has demonstrated aggressive behavior in the past will not under the right circumstances revert to earlier aggressive or dangerous behaviors.

    There are no certainties in this world when dealing with animals.
    As a long time trainer and behaviorist, I choose to err on the side of caution. I would rather see an animal humanely euthanized for demonstrating aggressive or dangerous behaviors than have even one child suffer an animal attack regardless of the circumstances. In my world, people are still more valuable than an animal.

    • thank you Dr. Stuart– until we stop trying to ‘save’ everything, these tragedies will continue.

  • I just had three miniature horses killed by the neighbors dogs. These people are in total denial and refuse to contain their dogs, saying that since they only have 9 acres so they want to let their dogs roam free without supervision. This lack of responsibility seems to be the norm where I live in SC with few people really looking after their dogs’ welfare. Very frustrating because in the end, the owners aren’t the ones getting hurt, other people, livestock and especially the dogs are

  • The new mantra of trying to save them all, no matter the cost in personal safety and public health, has been on the upswing for too many years. We can hope the pendulum will swing back as people realize that these dogs are not little humans.

  • Our Culture of Rescue has resulted in 3 dangerous myths becoming firmly held beliefs. 1) We can save the all; 2) All they need is love; 3) The life of any animal is equal to or more valuable than any person.

    We do not need more laws, we need more enforcement and appropriate consequences. Rescue is like the Wild West these days. Troll any rescue social media page and you will read – ad nauseum – an eye for an eye, or even death threats for any case of ALLEGED animal neglect or abuse.

  • We have a dog at our rescue that had bitten someone at an animal control. He was in quarantine for 10 days and then was going to be euthanized 2 days after coming off quarantine. Somehow, the animal control got my number, and since we run a rescue/sanctuary/hospice whereby we do not adopt dogs out because we take in the dogs with “issues”, I agreed to take him.
    I met with a volunteer that had driven him up 6 hours my direction and I dove down 4 hours from where we are. I had to read out loud and sign a release of liability, and then the volunteer who clearly loved this dog told me about his quirks and such.
    I’ve had “H” over 2 years now and he is absolutely wonderful and has never offered any aggression toward me, ever. However, I was raised around dogs, cats, exotics, etc, and know how to “read” dogs very well. I never let anyone approach him in his kennel, and when he goes places with me, he is never left unattended, and when out of the vehicle, he is always on a leash in public. I am very diligent on watching him when people are around, and as long as I am there, he has never shown signs of aggression toward people when on the leash. However, he is not a dog I would expect someone other than my husband would take care of if I were out of town or something because with dogs like him, there is almost always a “trigger” that could re-surface if he is not approached or interacted with in the right way.

    So although any dog has the capacity to bite given certain circumstance, some dogs with more of a history of erratic or triggered behavior are probably best not being adopted out… his case, that animal control went out of there way to secure a home for “H” and I am happy he found his way to me.

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