Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs


I got a call recently from a lady that has a two year old female Border Collie. Their problem is that she is very fear aggressive and has become increasingly worse since she was a pup. They have learned to deal with her problems by not having many strangers over to the house, but they just had a baby and no one seems to be able to help. I told them to get the dog out of their home immediately! Sounded to me like the kindest option was euthanasia. We CANNOT save every dog!! I reminded them that this dog is a liability, both emotionally, financially and legally!! Wouldn't you agree?


Well, I'm going to call you all to task and say that I, personally, would *never* recommend that someone euthanize their dog if I have not seen or evaluated the dog or had a direct report from a behaviorist that I trusted. I think it would be irresponsible of me to tell them to euthanize their dog if I didn't know what the problem was. I have gotten in *many* rescue dogs, that by all accounts of their owners, were mean, vicious, irreparable and hopeless dogs. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "No one seems to be able to help."

My next questions to them are usually - Who have you seen? and What did they do? The "incredibly vicious" dogs that come in to our rescue are 99 times out of 100, absolutely wonderful dogs. I was expecting Satan in fur and instead got personable, loving, and friendly Border Collies. These dogs were either in the wrong placement or needed some retraining but nothing that required extensive rehab. Now don't get me wrong - we do get in some nightmares (usually from people that mention "he has a slight barking problem") but I have learned that owners are not the best evaluators of the situation. They are caught up in the complex interactions and are certainly not neutral or indifferent parties. "No one was able to help" may mean that they couldn't solve it, none of their friends could, the vet didn't know what to do, nor did the local trainer at the obedience school. To me, that certainly doesn't mean that this dog is beyond hope. Those of us professionally trained or experienced in these problem areas may be able to come in and correct the problem post haste or discover that a change in environment is all that is necessary.

All I'm saying is let's be damn sure we know this dog is truly unsalvageable before we go off and recommend that folks take the easy way out and euthanize the dog. Euthanization should be the absolute last resort, after ALL other avenues are exhausted - not the first.

Now in this case, the best option may be euthanasia, but I don't know. And that's the entire point - I don't know.

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Page last updated April 1, 1997. All material Copyright 2004 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. and Dr. Nicholas B. Carter
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