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Hello.

My fiance and I are in some desperate need for advice. We have a 4 year old rescue that we are unsure of what he is. It has be theorized he is a pit bull mix--however, unsure. He has a known history of aggression. He has bitten several people in the past, including myself. These bites appear to happen randomly and he appears immediately regretful. Since he and I first bite, I've never had any issues with him. He was taken to a trainer once years ago with no success. We are about to have a baby soon and are asking for advice. We have called two trainers who suggested that we consider giving him for adoption or euthanasia. My question to anyone on here is if adoption is selected, are there no kill shelters? Does anyone have any advice for us? We are unwilling to risk his behavior around a newborn. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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Yes, there are no kill shelters. You can do a search for your area. You can also check the Best Friends network partners for no kill options.
 

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There are no kill shelters but my advice, which will be unpopular, is to Euthanize this dog. No one wants the liability of a dog with a bite history just as you don't want that liability with your baby that is due.

Be kind. Take your dog to a qualified vet and stay with him until he peacefully passes.
 

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I disagree with the above advice to kill the dog.

Without knowing why this dog has bitten or under what circumstances I feel it is irresponsible to advise someone that they should kill the dog rather than let the dog go to someone who could work with the dog and potentially solve this problem.

Not all dogs who bite should be killed for it, as many can be changed with the right kind of training. It is also not necessarily true that no one wants a dog with a bite history. It all depends on so many factors and aspects of it. "Bite history" tells nothing about the dog or why there has been this problem, under what circumstances, or how bad, or what the dog's actual personality is. While some dogs who have bitten cannot be rehabilitated, many can, and there are people who will take some dogs who have bitten and work with them to change that behavior.

Having said that, I will agree that since you have had this dog for years and have not solved this problem it would not be a good idea for you to keep him with a baby coming. I second Toedtoes' advice to contact no-kill rescues.
 

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Unfortunately, there are a lot of no-kill shelters and rescues who won't take a dog with a bite history, or who will keep such a dog in their kennels indefinitely rather than rehoming. There can be legal liability issues for a rescue (or for you) if they rehome a dog with a known bite history who goes on to attack (or worse) someone else. I'm not a lawyer, so I can't offer any kind of detailed advice about how that works, but it does make rehoming or surrendering a dog with a bite history more complicated.

Absolutely talk to organizations in your area, but be honest with them about the bites, including details about each incident and how serious the bites were, and make sure you know what their approach would be if they're willing to accept your pup. If they can't or won't rehome your dog with his history, or it might take years to find the right home who can handle him safely, you have to consider whether being stuck in a facility for so long is in his best interest. Explore your options, you might find that there is an organization near you that has the ability and willingness to work with your boy and find him an experienced, appropriate home. But the sad truth is that sometimes euthanasia is the most humane and ethical choice for dogs with bite histories, especially multiple bites with no known trigger, and it can't be taken off the table entirely.
 

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@DaySleepers is right. Liability issues are a major issue with dogs that have bitten. But a good rescue will evaluate the dog before making a decision.

What you perceive as "bites with no warning" is very likely "we didn't see the signs". Add to that, there has been no professional trainer involved for "years" (which at 4 years old suggests not since he was a puppy). This is not an easy determination. But I agree with @Khecha Wacipi - The dog deserves the effort by experienced handlers before giving up on him as hopeless.
 
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Advice?
The dog needs to leave the home. Now.

Here's what I found when I searched "is stress harmvul during pregnancy"
"High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems, like high blood pressure and heart disease. During pregnancy, stress can increase the chances of having a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or a low-birthweight baby (weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces)."

You will soon be a mom. You need to start thinking and acting like one,

"No Kill Shelter" does not mean they never euthanize an animal.
I am reminded of a dog my wife and I fostered for a "No Kill" Humane organization. The dog was agressive toward me. When the dog was called back at the end of his "vacation" with us, I spoke to the head trainer and explained what had transpired The head trainer worked with the dog as did another trainer. The head veterinarian consulted. The dog was euthanized.

From just the little bit presented here, I epect this dog is a good candiate for euthanasia.

Foster
 

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I know my suggestion and Uncle Foster's suggestion are not well received. I get it. We love dogs. No one wants this solution, especially in a young dog. .

The issue is the bite history. I know of no shelters that will rehome a dog with a bite history (New York State, US). Most here won't take the dog at all.

There are dogs that don't make it as pets or in human society. Usually they are unstable and that instability is hard wired. Even dogs carefully selected for breeding will occasionally produce an unstable individual that has to be euthanized.

I have seen both. It is sad.

What is even sadder is when the dog is brought to a shelter with an unrevealed bite history and the dog is rehomed and then bites someone badly. Also what is sad is when a dog is taken to a shelter and must be euthanized due to a bite history so it dies in the hands of strangers.

Hard as it is, the best possible solution is your own vet and your own hands.

There are very few good trainers around willing to take such a dog and who might help that dog. With all the dogs available without a bite history there is no reason to take on this liability.
 

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The OP should contact the local rescue groups and let them evaluate the dog before deciding whether to euthanize. It is irresponsible for us on an internet forum, without ever having laid eyes on the dog, to say "euthanize it". The dog deserves a proper evaluation before choosing to end its life, not one based on just a short paragraph that simply says: He has a known history of aggression. He has bitten several people in the past, including myself. These bites appear to happen randomly and he appears immediately regretful.
 
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I agree with Toedtoes.
For any one of us to say "this dog is a good candidate for euthanasia" or other things of the sort is irresponsible. We do not know. We are not there. We have not evaluated the dog.

The only good advice for this person, as I see it, is that the dog needs to b e evaluated by a professional. And that the dog should not be in that home. Neither of those include necessarily killing the dog.

I am not saying no dog should ever be euthanized. But to pop off from having read a scant amount from someone and never having seen the dog, and state unequivocally that the dog should be or should probably be killed is not reasonable. Maybe this dog needs that. But none of us here are in any position to say one way or another. We do not even know the circumstances under which this dog has bitten!

I have several times gone into a home where someone said their dog was biting everyone and was aggressive, and found that the situation seen through my eyes was completely different. In some of those cases the dog actually was not aggressive at all. In most of those cases, the people needed to change their behavior. In others, the dog needed a different home. In all of those cases the dog needed to be managed and treated and trained differently.

It's not really all that often that a dog cannot be rehabilitated. In my experience it is rare. And, I know a few people who have biting dogs who have not been changed by training and serious effort on the part of the owner, and the owner keeps the dog anyway and manages the dog well so that no one gets bitten. One of these people is even in dog sports and competes with the dog successfully. (Not that this is something the vast majority of people could do, just saying this is possible).

It is, sadly, often the case that no one is willing to do what needs to be done for these dogs. In those cases often the result is death for the dog. That isn't the dog's fault. It rarely is, when a dog bites.

Note I am not saying this dog can be trained not to bite, nor am I saying the dog cannot.
Without close evaluation of the whole picture this is not possible to know.
 

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I agree to evaluation, if the resources are there to do so. Often they are not. Then there is follow up training which demands more resources.

My suggestion has not so much to do with why the dog is biting. It has to do with the liability of a bite history and a baby on the way creating a real time constraint (that human baby is going to take all the attention away from "fixing" the dog situation).

Years back people who used to have unruly dogs would be looking for a "farm where the dog can have room to run." As we know, that "farm" is a myth. As a former FT dairy farmer who had pets just "dropped off so they could enjoy the farm" I can tell you that some were taken to the shelter; others crawled off in terror and hid and their dessicated carcass was found months later; some were killed by accidents with livestock/machinery or by the resident animals. Very few (two that I recall in 20 years) "made it" to that idyllic farm life and both were cats.

Dogs with a bite history fall into this same category. In the case of a dog with a bite history we look for that idyllic trainer who will rehab the dog into a gentle and loving household pet. The problem is those trainers who are knowledgeable and talented are not very common and cost money, even if the outcome is unsuccessful. The owner must "buy into" paying the trainer and taking the time to work with both dog and trainer often learning to change their own behavior and misconceptions as owners. This takes both time and $$$.

Just like the extremely rare to welcome idyllic farm for unruly Fido there is the extremely rare to welcome idyllic trainer (and Owner!!) for biting Fido.

The bottom line is there are other dogs that do not bite and just need training. Once a dog has bitten several people the resources to save that dog run dry between liability and whether or not a reliable fix is possible and how long it will take.

The question will always remain with a bite history dog (even after training) will they bite again?
 

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The question will always remain with a non-bite history dog (even after training) will they bite?

Yes, there is a time constraint, but that doesn't mean you should just go with the ultimate choice. If a rescue can't be reached, then an evaluation by a vet should be had.

At the very least, an evaluation will help defer the guilt the OP would most likely feel with a decision to put down a 4 year old dog.
 

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Yes. It must be remembered that ANY dog can bite. Many do not. Even those taught to bite for sport/police typically do not randomly bite (many are actually very social).

A dog with a described random bite history is the issue.

Too bad that the very first time it happened the dog was not evaluated etc. Every time a bite happens it is reinforced.. and typically escalates over time. So the more times a dog bites the more likely it is to bite again and bite harder.
 

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No offense to the OP, but we really only have their word that these bites were "random". The dog may very well have been giving signals that were ignored or not understood. That's why an evaluation is so important before making a decision. The bites themselves are subject to interpretation also. What one person declares a "bite", another person will declare "a warning snap".

We just really don't know anything except the owners have not attempted to work through the issue until they hit a wall (the upcoming birth) that won't let them ignore the problem anymore.
 
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No offense to the OP, but we really only have their word that these bites were "random". The dog may very well have been giving signals that were ignored or not understood. That's why an evaluation is so important before making a decision. The bites themselves are subject to interpretation also. What one person declares a "bite", another person will declare "a warning snap".

We just really don't know anything except the owners have not attempted to work through the issue until they hit a wall (the upcoming birth) that won't let them ignore the problem anymore.
This has been my point all along.
We have no way to know what this situation really is. The dog may be psychotic and nothing will help him. Or, he may be a perfectly nice dog who has been in a situation where well meaning owners have simply made mistakes with the dog, not realized they were making those mistakes, failed to recognize the warning signals the dog gave off because they don't know dog language well, and the dog was pressed into a situation in which he snapped.

In the first case, nothing can be done, but in the second case all it would take is someone who understands dogs and reads them well to come along and suss out the situation. It might be extremely simple to understand this dog and what he needs and to change the behavior altogether.

As we all know, bites are never "random". There is always a reason, and 99% of the time there have been warnings, and from the dog's perspective there's a good reason for it. It's not the owner's fault if they don't see all that, but it's also not the dog's fault. there are also many interpretations of the word "bite". We have no details from the OP in this case.

If the dog really is a serious biter, then you are right 3GSD41 that to find someone to rehabilitate the dog would be very challenging. But at this point no one knows that.
I am only saying that for any one here to say the dog should be euthanized is wrong.
 

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I'm not gonna weigh in on whether or not OP should rehome or euthanize their dog since that is an extremely personal decision, and a single paragraph on a public forum does not paint the entire picture. But I will weigh in about behavior euthanasia and "no-kill" in general. My job is in animal welfare (specifically the behavior dept) and training. Part of my job is to counsel owners when they are at that crossroad. And it's also part of my job to work with and determine outcomes for dogs that arrives at my shelter for aggression issues. I've been on the phone, in the room with aggressive dogs, worked on behavior modification plans with families, and on the floor when a dog is being euthanized.

A personal opinion I will share is that if I am ever at the cusp of making such a heavy decision, I would choose euthanasia over "no-kill" (sanctuary, shelter, rescue, etc). Every time. There is no sanctuary on this planet that I would place an at-risk dog in. And I've been to Best Friends for a week long behavior conference, though I won't say more about them here except that I was impressed by a lot of what they do. I completely understand why a family would choose that option and I would never shame them for it. It is not wrong to hope for a happy outcome and to live the rest of one's days with the memory that they gave their beloved dog another chance. However, having seen the mental state of those dogs I personally believe the lives they live are no longer representative of the human-dog bond that makes our relationships so special. They are just animals being kept alive. For some people, knowing their dog is alive is enough. For me, it's not. I'd rather know that my dog died peacefully in my home, than to live the rest of my life wondering what if - what if they mentally degrade, what if they bite a staff member or volunteer, what if they are sent out into the world and harm someone else's pet or family member... And I am not being dramatic. This stuff happens - all the time. But again, the value of a dog's life and the impact of their death, making the decision to euthanize, is deeply personal and NO ONE can claim to know what the right answer is.

That said, if reputable animal professionals are recommending behavior euthanasia, they are likely not saying "this dog cannot improve". They are saying that the amount of effort required to keep this dog safe - from it's family, from itself, from it's community - is monumental. Statistically, a dog that has bitten will likely do so again. Statistically, management will fail at some point. And so, an organization is not held liable for future damage and also being responsible when they suggest euthanasia, rather than suggesting training or rehoming as an option. It doesn't mean that rehoming or training aren't worth it - those are very viable options! But I think behavior euthanasia is an equally viable option for any aggression cases, even in situations where a dog has not bitten yet but whose current behaviors suggest a future bite is imminent. Please note that I am NOT saying that any dog who has shown aggression should be euthanized. I am saying, if a family is dealing with an aggression issue I would never question their decision to euthanize. It is so easy to say things like 'I've had a troubled dog and I've rehabbed it!' or 'The RIGHT home situation or the RIGHT family can give this dog a great life!' or 'The right training plan can make this dog better!' But I feel those are extremely judgmental viewpoints that can sometimes bring more uncertainty than answers to the situation. Like unless a person passing judgment is the person saving the family from despair and taking the dog, rehabbing it, whatever... No one can understand the situation a family is in with their aggressive dog, except the family themselves. Sometimes I've had the privilege of receiving glimpses. I've personally placed 'risky' dogs and over the years I've gotten to hear the 'ever afters' from the very owners I placed these dogs with. Anecdotes easily sway emotions so instead I've personally run the numbers on the success rate of placing challenging dogs from my very own shelter. And, all of this done with a heavy emphasis on transparency, adoption matching and counsels, and post-adoption support (ex. free unlimited training with certified trainers, free behavior helpline services). I won't share exact numbers here, but let's just say my viewpoints have changed significantly over the years. There are successes, for sure! But once upon a time I thought training and placement were the solutions. AND I live in one of the most rural states in the country so rural placements are possible. Just put the kid-aggressive dog in a childfree home, away from a populated area. It sounds so simple and we can all go to sleep at night with no worries. The owners of that dog sometimes live a different reality. Because... life doesn't happen in a bubble, accidents happen.

OP I am sorry that you are at the cusp of making a difficult decision. Keeping an aggressive dog is difficult. Rehoming an aggressive dog is difficult. Euthanizing a dog is difficult. The resources I'd recommend are:
- The Facebook page "Losing Lulu". It consists of owners who have made the choice to euthanize their dogs for behavior reasons. I know you have not made a decision yet but hearing stories from other owners who have had to live in fear and make these impossible decisions is very humbling. And it can help you feel less alone about being at the edge of this decision making process.

- Consider what it would REALLY take to make sure a bite never happens again. This would mostly comprise of management - gates, pens, muzzles, separation, etc. Is it possible for you? If so, it doesn't mean you are obligated to walk that path. If it's not possible for you, what makes it possible and fair for the next family to take on?

- If, understandably, this dog is not the right fit for you, sending it back to its original rescue is better in many ways than sending it to a different one. A part of me believes organizations that place dogs should be responsible when a placement doesn't work out. No-kill or not. This is the only thing that will lead to impactful change over time and prevent situations like yours from happening again. My shelter's policies changed after years of following up with our placements and seeing how those dogs and families are doing. Will this rescue change? And change does not necessarily mean 'euthanize all the risky dogs'. For example, after learning that some fearful puppies we placed grew up to be adult dogs who had anxiety and aggression issues, we bolstered our socialization program and follow-up support for litters of fearful puppies and their adopters.

Anyways, sorry for writing a novel. This is a topic I'm very passionate about and something my work revolves around.
 

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I'm not gonna weigh in on whether or not OP should rehome or euthanize their dog since that is an extremely personal decision, and a single paragraph on a public forum does not paint the entire picture. But I will weigh in about behavior euthanasia and "no-kill" in general. My job is in animal welfare (specifically the behavior dept) and training. Part of my job is to counsel owners when they are at that crossroad. And it's also part of my job to work with and determine outcomes for dogs that arrives at my shelter for aggression issues. I've been on the phone, in the room with aggressive dogs, worked on behavior modification plans with families, and on the floor when a dog is being euthanized.

A personal opinion I will share is that if I am ever at the cusp of making such a heavy decision, I would choose euthanasia over "no-kill" (sanctuary, shelter, rescue, etc). Every time. There is no sanctuary on this planet that I would place an at-risk dog in. And I've been to Best Friends for a week long behavior conference, though I won't say more about them here except that I was impressed by a lot of what they do. I completely understand why a family would choose that option and I would never shame them for it. It is not wrong to hope for a happy outcome and to live the rest of one's days with the memory that they gave their beloved dog another chance. However, having seen the mental state of those dogs I personally believe the lives they live are no longer representative of the human-dog bond that makes our relationships so special. They are just animals being kept alive. For some people, knowing their dog is alive is enough. For me, it's not. I'd rather know that my dog died peacefully in my home, than to live the rest of my life wondering what if - what if they mentally degrade, what if they bite a staff member or volunteer, what if they are sent out into the world and harm someone else's pet or family member... And I am not being dramatic. This stuff happens - all the time. But again, the value of a dog's life and the impact of their death, making the decision to euthanize, is deeply personal and NO ONE can claim to know what the right answer is.

That said, if reputable animal professionals are recommending behavior euthanasia, they are likely not saying "this dog cannot improve". They are saying that the amount of effort required to keep this dog safe - from it's family, from itself, from it's community - is monumental. Statistically, a dog that has bitten will likely do so again. Statistically, management will fail at some point. And so, an organization is not held liable for future damage and also being responsible when they suggest euthanasia, rather than suggesting training or rehoming as an option. It doesn't mean that rehoming or training aren't worth it - those are very viable options! But I think behavior euthanasia is an equally viable option for any aggression cases, even in situations where a dog has not bitten yet but whose current behaviors suggest a future bite is imminent. Please note that I am NOT saying that any dog who has shown aggression should be euthanized. I am saying, if a family is dealing with an aggression issue I would never question their decision to euthanize. It is so easy to say things like 'I've had a troubled dog and I've rehabbed it!' or 'The RIGHT home situation or the RIGHT family can give this dog a great life!' or 'The right training plan can make this dog better!' But I feel those are extremely judgmental viewpoints that can sometimes bring more uncertainty than answers to the situation. Like unless a person passing judgment is the person saving the family from despair and taking the dog, rehabbing it, whatever... No one can understand the situation a family is in with their aggressive dog, except the family themselves. Sometimes I've had the privilege of receiving glimpses. I've personally placed 'risky' dogs and over the years I've gotten to hear the 'ever afters' from the very owners I placed these dogs with. Anecdotes easily sway emotions so instead I've personally run the numbers on the success rate of placing challenging dogs from my very own shelter. And, all of this done with a heavy emphasis on transparency, adoption matching and counsels, and post-adoption support (ex. free unlimited training with certified trainers, free behavior helpline services). I won't share exact numbers here, but let's just say my viewpoints have changed significantly over the years. There are successes, for sure! But once upon a time I thought training and placement were the solutions. AND I live in one of the most rural states in the country so rural placements are possible. Just put the kid-aggressive dog in a childfree home, away from a populated area. It sounds so simple and we can all go to sleep at night with no worries. The owners of that dog sometimes live a different reality. Because... life doesn't happen in a bubble, accidents happen.

OP I am sorry that you are at the cusp of making a difficult decision. Keeping an aggressive dog is difficult. Rehoming an aggressive dog is difficult. Euthanizing a dog is difficult. The resources I'd recommend are:
- The Facebook page "Losing Lulu". It consists of owners who have made the choice to euthanize their dogs for behavior reasons. I know you have not made a decision yet but hearing stories from other owners who have had to live in fear and make these impossible decisions is very humbling. And it can help you feel less alone about being at the edge of this decision making process.

- Consider what it would REALLY take to make sure a bite never happens again. This would mostly comprise of management - gates, pens, muzzles, separation, etc. Is it possible for you? If so, it doesn't mean you are obligated to walk that path. If it's not possible for you, what makes it possible and fair for the next family to take on?

- If, understandably, this dog is not the right fit for you, sending it back to its original rescue is better in many ways than sending it to a different one. A part of me believes organizations that place dogs should be responsible when a placement doesn't work out. No-kill or not. This is the only thing that will lead to impactful change over time and prevent situations like yours from happening again. My shelter's policies changed after years of following up with our placements and seeing how those dogs and families are doing. Will this rescue change? And change does not necessarily mean 'euthanize all the risky dogs'. For example, after learning that some fearful puppies we placed grew up to be adult dogs who had anxiety and aggression issues, we bolstered our socialization program and follow-up support for litters of fearful puppies and their adopters.

Anyways, sorry for writing a novel. This is a topic I'm very passionate about and something my work revolves around.
Thank you for writing such an informative and insightful post on this topic. I feel better informed on this subject and will remember what you have said here.
 

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@Canyx - I agree with you. I think this is why it is so important to have the dog evaluated in person. It is a very difficult decision to make and having someone with knowledge of those difficulties, as well as knowledge on what the dog will need if not euthanized, etc, can put the owner at ease in their decision.
 
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