By Charlene Little, Contributing Writer
This is the true story of a dog who I literally saved from the shelter. He was scheduled for execution due to being vicious, even though it was just fear aggression. Animal shelters could learn a lot from this little guy, and the lesson his story could teach, would save many, many furry lives across the United States.
I foster animals who are old, disabled, or in need of medical care. Many of the animals are old and are with me for comfort reasons because they are dying, or are going to be euthanized to protect them from the pain their disease or disability is going to cause them in the future. Unfortunately, this has been my call on a few situations. I judge when the medication is not working for them any longer, or when the disease has progressed to the point where their quality of life is too far diminished. Other dogs I get are post-surgical and are in need of having their stitches cleaned, medication being given to them, and maintaining a certain diet after surgery. However, this is the true story of a different type of dog. This story is of a dog that was incorrectly labeled, as many dogs in shelters are every day. Luckily, I was able to change his fate. However, many dogs in his situation are not saved, and are lead to their doom.
This dog was brought in as owner surrender. Animal control tried to work with this cute little guy but in the end, deemed him vicious. They had to use welder's gloves to get him into a dog carrier and were still scared of him. Mind you, this is an 8 month old Patterdale Terrier, and they were more afraid of this dog than they were a pit-bull that had attacked 3 people, killed another dog, and attacked a second dog on animal shelter property. They said this little guy was the most vicious animal they had ever come into contact with and he was the size of a purse. in return, they named him "Land Shark." I asked what was going to happen to him and they stated that he would be euthanized as soon as someone arrived to tranquilize him with a dart gun.
They took precautionary measures to keep him from "attacking." These measures included putting him in a kennel cage that had a trapdoor leading to another cage. In order to clean his cage, they had to bring out the pit-bull that was known for biting people and cage him outside. They then cleaned the pit-bull's cage and placed fresh food and water in it. They would open the trap door and allow the evil, ferocious little dog to run through and they closed the trap door. After they were done cleaning the cage, they allowed the pint size devil back into his cage with more food and water and brought the pit-bull back into his cage.
I asked why he was still wearing the leash that he had been brought in on and was given the response that if someone grabbed it, he would bite their hand off. I was shocked, this dog was about the size of a pack of hamburger meat and they were being this cautious and afraid.
I took a look at him and saw that he was shaking so bad that the bed he was on was shaking and the leash that was still attached to his collar was actually clinking. I went home and talked to my fiancé and my parents about the situation. We all agreed that this guy was worth a chance.
My fiancé and I went down to pick him up with a metal cage. This dog had prevented animal control from entering his cage for four days. He was so ferocious that you had to wear welders gloves to grab his leash that he refused to let anyone take off of him.
I signed the waiver stating that I was aware that he was a vicious animal and that they were not responsible for his actions and that I would not sue them if anything happened. Animal control loaded him into the cage where he bit, spit, and acted as a wild as a raccoon would if you picked him up out of your garbage can. We loaded him in the car where he snarled at anyone who tried to touch the cage.
My neighbor came over a soon as we pulled up to check out the commotion. He was scared of this little guy too and wished us luck.
We took the cage with him in it into the house and warned that no one should touch the cage. We let him watch us go about our normal lives for about an hour. Then he wanted out of the cage. He was whining and putting his nose through the bars of the cage and raising quite a ruckus. The cage was put in the computer room so that we could contain him, just in case. When we let him out, he was still scared and would lie next to your leg and not let you touch him. However, after about 20 minutes he decided that he wanted to be loved and petted and taken for a walk. That was the end of us thinking that he was a ferocious beast. He came around pretty quick. I figured it might take at least a week of being caged and fed before we would be able to think about petting him.
We then walked him over to my neighbor's house, the same one who was afraid of him. He was amazed by the turn around and the change in the dog. He was loving and wanted to be held and petted. He wanted to get in everyone's lap and be petted.
In all actuality we picked him up from the shelter at 2:30 PM and he was playing with my kids by 5:30 PM on the same day. Now the most vicious side of him is that he steals the kid's logos and runs off with their baby dolls when they turn their backs. He occasionally tackles one of them and you hear them screaming because the dog won't quit licking their face, or he wants the Lego's. Other times you hear them saying that they don't want to take him for a walk and arguing with him that going out in the back yard will do the same thing as walking him around the block on the leash.
It has been a year since Aztec left the shelter. To this day, we have not had a single problem out of him, other than the fact that he despises opossums and skunks. He is very well socialized and can go anywhere that we go. He loves the dog park, loves playing with other dogs and cats, and fears baby animals. He has passed all of his tests through trainers and is no longer deemed a vicious dog. Though he still holds a grudge against the people from animal control. I still foster for the shelter, but to this day, he refuses to allow my friends from animal control near him. Which proves that being at the shelter was a really horrible point in his life.
I don't recommend rescuing every animal from the shelter that is said to be vicious, but I do recommend that the animal shelters spend more time with the animals and give them a chance before they determine that they are vicious.
About the Author
Charlene Little is the mother of three wonderful boys and a volunteer foster mom for her local animal shelter. She enjoys working with various breeds of dogs and cats in learning social behavior, training, and how to be the successful member of a fur-ever family. She enjoys studying animals' behavior and finding solutions to behavior problems that the everyday person can handle. She covers topics from various forms of aggression and small problem behaviors. Every problem behavior has a solution, and the solution is never to give up on your pet! Love, kindness, and small adjustments could be just what you need.
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is the-ir top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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