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"No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

  • 1.  "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 09-09-2021 12:05 PM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    I've been a shelter director for 6 years and never, fortunately, encountered this until recently. We are a private non-profit no-kill shelter.
    To make a long story short, One dog attacked an adopter as he was getting in their car. The woman had to have plastic surgery on her face. He was returned to the county shelter for quarantine and assessment. Yesterday one of our dogs attacked a staff member unprovoked.  She required stitches in her stomach and arm. He has also shown aggression in other incidences but was in his kennel.  We have a policy to have an assessment by a trainer and vet before any decisions are made for his future. 
    What is your policy for this type of situation? I would appreciate your advice. We are frustrated..
    #Behavior,TrainingandEnrichment


  • 2.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-09-2021 12:55 PM
    This level of human injury may be cause for euthanasia even in a No Kill shelter. We currently use a pretty imperfect system but Dunbar bites 4 and above, unless there is a very good reason, were generally a reason for euth at the NK shelter where I worked last. However, you may consider (with full disclosure and if you believe exceptional circumstances were in play) pleading to you volunteers before you euthanize so they have a chance to find a viable solution.

    ------------------------------
    Kristen Hassen
    American Pets Alive!
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 09-09-2021 06:25 PM
    Hi,

    I agree with what Kristen said.  I'd be happy to provide feedback on them if you want to share detailed info and you think my input might help. However, without any info its very unlikely that i'd be recommending adoption of any dog with a level 4 bite history (which sounds like both these dogs have).  Note that this comment doesn't meant there is NO chance that the adoption successful, but means  i wouldn't be willing to assume the risk of putting a dog out with a history of a bite of that severity.

    Sheila

    ------------------------------
    Sheila Segurson, DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Maddie's Fund
    9258608284
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 02:07 PM
    Hi there,
    While I agree with a lot  of what's been said so far, I do not agree with the "fear and anxiety" comments as they risk misleading people.  To assume that fear was the cause of a high level bite is really missing the bigger picture.  Many times, dogs, including dogs with no bite history, bite because they are cornered or otherwise feel threatened and their earlier signs of feeling threatened/trying to create space are not noticed or ignored. These kinds of bites are typically a self-defense response (survival instinct based, which we all have) to a stimulus that appeared or was threatening.  Instead of viewing behavior as caused by "fear" or "anxiety" we need to consider antecedents and consequences in addition to the other factors (e.g., artificial selection, learning history, current conditions, etc).  One of the biggest misconceptions I work to get people to avoid implying is that fear "causes" aggression.   While there are always going to be a few exceptions (e.g., dog has brain tumor that affects his behavior, dog has a habit of aggressing to remove competition rather than threat), it's very important to avoid implying that fear causes bites as this is imprecise.  Instead,  generally we understand behavior from the perspective of antecedents, consequences, and motivation/function/prediction.    I'm not saying that the bites are okay; I'm saying to be careful how we speak about situations so that we don't accidentally lead people to view fearful and anxious dogs as automatically not adoptable or worse just because they are "fearful" or "anxious."  It would also be great if people who handle and own dogs developed more behavioral literacy and anti-aversives skills.  This would greatly reduce bites too.  
    --
    Rain Jordan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP
    Fearful Dogs Specialist
     

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email communication contains confidential information that is legally privileged. Any disclosure, copying, dissemination, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of this email except its direct delivery to the intended recipient is strictly prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that your receipt of this email and/or any included attachments was not intended by the sender and that your possession, use, and/or sharing of this information is prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately by telephone at (831)239-9417 and destroy all copies of the email and any attachments.

     





  • 5.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-13-2021 11:48 AM
    I agree with Kristen as well and would be more than willing to provide some feedback and assistance in reviewing the case as well as providing some checklist and documents that we have used at Austin Pets Alive! to assess these types of situations. Feel free to reach out to me at aaron.caldwell@amerianpetsalive.org and hopefully we can set up a time to talk virtually.

    ------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell
    American Pets Alive
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-09-2021 07:18 PM
    Hello Anonymous-

    These situations are tough. Both bites show poor bite inhibition by the level of trauma to the human. These are dogs that I would be very uncomfortable releasing out into the community. I don't have all the information but it sounds like these dogs may have a high level of anxiety and fear driving their behavior. I am assuming their stress level is high in the current environment. Foster may be an option but it would take a very special foster for these dogs.  Unfortunately, since these dogs have already defaulted to biting and caused damage. They are likely to do it again in the future.  I do think an examination by the veterinarian is important to look for underlying medical causes especially pain. I am not sure a trainer assessment will provide much more information. These dogs have mental disease and not training issues. I guess it would depend on the skill set of your trainers and their credentials.

    ------------------------------
    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
    www.caldervbs.com

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 08:59 AM
    Good morning @Kristen Hassen
    Can you recommend a euthanasia policy for a no-kill shelter? When I started we were "told" the dog needed to be assessed by a vet and a trainer. What are the most common procedures? I would appreciate any help you can offer. 
    PS I saw you speak in Austin. I thought you were great. I even told you so! :)


    ------------------------------
    Sherry Mansfield
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-09-2021 01:07 PM
    Thank you, Kristen. 
    Trying to find a behavior foster or volunteer worries me that he will do it again. I want to always give the dog the benefit of the doubt but at what point do we draw the line. We can get training maybe? I am not sure.

    ------------------------------
    Sherry Mansfield
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-09-2021 06:49 PM
    I will be in touch very soon 

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Sep 9, 2021, at 9:27 PM, Sheila Segurson via Maddie's Pet Forum <Mail@maddiesfund.org> wrote:

    
    Hi, I agree with what Kristen said.  I'd be happy to provide feedback on them if you want to share detailed info and you think my input might...
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    Sheila Segurson
    Sep 9, 2021 6:25 PM
    Sheila Segurson
    Hi,

    I agree with what Kristen said.  I'd be happy to provide feedback on them if you want to share detailed info and you think my input might help. However, without any info its very unlikely that i'd be recommending adoption of any dog with a level 4 bite history (which sounds like both these dogs have).  Note that this comment doesn't meant there is NO chance that the adoption successful, but means  i wouldn't be willing to assume the risk of putting a dog out with a history of a bite of that severity.

    Sheila

    ------------------------------
    Sheila Segurson, DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Maddie's Fund
    9258608284
    ------------------------------
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    Original Message:
    Sent: 9/9/2021 9:25:00 PM
    From: Sheila Segurson
    Subject: RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Hi,

    I agree with what Kristen said.  I'd be happy to provide feedback on them if you want to share detailed info and you think my input might help. However, without any info its very unlikely that i'd be recommending adoption of any dog with a level 4 bite history (which sounds like both these dogs have).  Note that this comment doesn't meant there is NO chance that the adoption successful, but means  i wouldn't be willing to assume the risk of putting a dog out with a history of a bite of that severity.

    Sheila

    ------------------------------
    Sheila Segurson, DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Maddie's Fund
    9258608284
    ------------------------------


  • 10.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 03:12 PM
    Hello Rain,

    I agree in that aggression can be a normal response and any dog has the potential to bite, if a perceived threat is present however, with the degree of human injury described in this situation, it would appear the response from each dog was abnormal indicating a  dysregulation in the emotional response with excessive arousal.  These dogs did not feel safe for whatever reason and the response appears to be disproportionate to the actual threat. Yes- as humans we do tend to be deficient in our ability to recognize and respond to the body language cues which I agree needs to be addressed but in these particular situations the level of aggression and poor bite inhibition would be indicative of a medical condition or primary mental disorder (behavior problem). The primary behavior problem being anxiety, excessive fear for his or her personal safety or resources.

    ------------------------------
    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
    www.caldervbs.com

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 04:18 PM
    Hi Christine!

    Thanks for responding! I agree with you on the main issue (BI).  Where I have concern  is 1) with the idea that only a certain level of fear/anxiety is acceptable;  since we know that pet dogs are under our control as essentially captive animals with little choice or real freedom, including freedom to escape threats/danger, and they don't necessarily understand what is happening to them via us, I don't  think that we are properly judging what is a mental disorder for a dog.  It would be more fair to allow them a wider range of emotional variation from individual to individual. I would encourage us to reconsider the idea of "dysregulation" in emotional response before applying/when related to animals who are not free, especially since habitats (environment) and handling play a large part in how they feel and respond, and 2) I believe there is a difference between fear/anxiety (i.e., reduction in feeling safe & the self-defense response) and the guarding of resources (implies concern about competition for things that generally have nothing to do with the urgency that feeling unsafe/in danger involves).  Also, I think we need to update our terms and definitions as we learn more, which we all are always doing!  I think ethological considerations are as important as applied behavior considerations.  Thus, the terms and definitions on which I rely take from each field (and will probably evolve as the field of canine cognition grows too) :  Fear-based behavior (the 4Fs) is directed toward avoiding or removing an incoming threat whereas aggression is behavior directed toward elimination of competition from an opponent (paraphrasing/borrowing from Abrantes).  In the case of the dog in car, for example, were any behavior professionals present who witnessed the incident, who could therefore provide important data to ensure the incident is interpreted with as much accuracy as possible?  I / we should gather that data first in order to fairly assess it.  Was someone pulling on leash or collar to try to get dog in or move dog, for example?  Learning history (e.g., a history of painful leash corrections) combined with the current condition would be important to consider if so, as that situation can be much different than a dog who bit for no actual reason ( e.g., a brain tumor as an affecting medical condition) or who bit because there was a treat on the floor (resource guarding possibility).  (I know you know this; I'm mainly elaborating for the sake of those who don't.)  In my view, these are very different.  Of course it doesn't address bite level and there I agree with you and others; regarding bite inhibition (i.e., level of bite, not willingness to bite).  Even if it is a human's error that resulted in a bite, the reality remains that a dog who bites at level four or higher is likely to be a risk living with most humans, since we are all fallible and living with dogs comes with all sorts of opportunity for misinterpretation of our and their behavior, which then can lead to responses.  It's an unfortunate situation that is just our reality as a pet culture, but on the other hand, it is for that very reason I encourage everyone to reconsider textbook/standard definitions that we currently apply to pets and captive animals in general, and choose instead to adjust ourselves, our behavior/responses, and our T&Ds to more properly fit the subject.  Thanks so much for the exchange!

    --
    Rain Jordan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP
    Fearful Dogs Specialist
     

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email communication contains confidential information that is legally privileged. Any disclosure, copying, dissemination, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of this email except its direct delivery to the intended recipient is strictly prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that your receipt of this email and/or any included attachments was not intended by the sender and that your possession, use, and/or sharing of this information is prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately by telephone at (831)239-9417 and destroy all copies of the email and any attachments.

     





  • 12.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 04:50 PM
    This is also why obtaining as much behavioral history as possible upon surrender is important along with previous medical records.

    This information can help us with pathway planning and informed outcome decisions.

    ------------------------------
    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
    www.caldervbs.com

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-10-2021 05:26 PM
    Absolutely.  


    --
    Rain Jordan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP  
    Fearful Dogs Specialist


     

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email communication contains confidential information that is legally privileged. Any disclosure, copying, dissemination, distribution, or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents of this email except its direct delivery to the intended recipient is strictly prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that your receipt of this email and/or any included attachments was not intended by the sender and that your possession, use, and/or sharing of this information is prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately by telephone at (831)239-9417 and destroy all copies of the email and any attachments.

     





  • 14.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-13-2021 01:32 PM
    Unfortunately , he was transferred from another shelter and they don't always divulge all the information.

    ------------------------------
    Sherry Mansfield
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 09-14-2021 10:51 AM
    Aaron,
    Could you share the checklist and documents here in the forum so others can access them too?

    ------------------------------
    Kim Domerofski (she/her)
    Community Manager
    Maddie's Fund
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 09-14-2021 11:12 AM
    Hi Aaron,

    Would be willing to share those documents and checklists you mentioned? This is something our organization struggles with as well.
    Thanks,
    Emily 


    ------------------------------
    emily spurgeon
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 28 days ago
    Outcome Rubric- https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dQU5ld3s1ZmyZ8hcpH3cZFlzYZO-kOZmVkKQ0BKhZxI/edit

    Canine Lifesaving Checklist- https://docs.google.com/file/d/15soQT9Z4y4ZFkSOwBosQVeib485vPIkL/edit?usp=docslist_api&filetype=msword

    Here are two documents that we created at Austin Pets Alive! to help guide our decision making process. If you have any questions about either of these please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I hope that this is helpful!

    Sincerely,

    Aaron Caldwell

    ---------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell

    American Pets Alive
    ---------------------------------





  • 18.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 27 days ago
    Hello-

    I am unable to access these documents.  Can you check the settings please? 

    Thank you!

    Jean

    ------------------------------
    Jean Gibowski
    Kitsap Humane Societey
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 26 days ago
    We would love to see them too Aaro,n but it appears we all have to be invited to view docs in that google folder. Can you attach them instead of sending links?

    ------------------------------
    Alexis Pugh
    Director, Memphis Animal Services
    www.memphisanimalservices.com

    Organizational Management
    & Pet Support Services Specialist
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 25 days ago
    I believe these documents should be viewable now by anyone with the link! Please let me know if this does not work.

    Aaron

    ---------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell

    American Pets Alive
    ---------------------------------





  • 21.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 25 days ago
    Yep- I can see them now. Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Alexis Pugh
    Director, Memphis Animal Services
    www.memphisanimalservices.com

    Organizational Management
    & Pet Support Services Specialist
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Posted 25 days ago
    Thanks so much!

    On Tue, Sep 21, 2021 at 5:11 PM Aaron Caldwell via Maddie's Pet Forum <Mail@maddiesfund.org> wrote:
    I believe these documents should be viewable now by anyone with the link! Please let me know if this does not work. Aaron --------------------... -posted to the "Animal Welfare Professionals Community" community/group
    Maddie's Pet Forum

    Animal Welfare Professionals

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    Re: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs
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    Aaron Caldwell
    Sep 21, 2021 2:09 PM
    Aaron Caldwell
    I believe these documents should be viewable now by anyone with the link! Please let me know if this does not work.

    Aaron

    ---------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell

    American Pets Alive
    ---------------------------------


      Reply to Discussion   Reply to Discussion via Email   Reply Privately to Author   Reply Privately to Author via Email   View Thread   Like   Forward   Flag as Inappropriate  




     
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    Original Message:
    Sent: 9/21/2021 5:09:00 PM
    From: Aaron Caldwell
    Subject: RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    I believe these documents should be viewable now by anyone with the link! Please let me know if this does not work.

    Aaron

    ---------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell

    American Pets Alive
    ---------------------------------



    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-20-2021
    From: Alexis Pugh
    Subject: RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    We would love to see them too Aaro,n but it appears we all have to be invited to view docs in that google folder. Can you attach them instead of sending links?

    ------------------------------
    Alexis Pugh
    Director, Memphis Animal Services
    www.memphisanimalservices.com

    Organizational Management
    & Pet Support Services Specialist
    ------------------------------

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-18-2021 03:42 AM
    From: Aaron Caldwell
    Subject: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Outcome Rubric- https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dQU5ld3s1ZmyZ8hcpH3cZFlzYZO-kOZmVkKQ0BKhZxI/edit

    Canine Lifesaving Checklist- https://docs.google.com/file/d/15soQT9Z4y4ZFkSOwBosQVeib485vPIkL/edit?usp=docslist_api&filetype=msword

    Here are two documents that we created at Austin Pets Alive! to help guide our decision making process. If you have any questions about either of these please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I hope that this is helpful!

    Sincerely,

    Aaron Caldwell

    ---------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell

    American Pets Alive

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-14-2021
    From: emily spurgeon
    Subject: RE: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    Hi Aaron,

    Would be willing to share those documents and checklists you mentioned? This is something our organization struggles with as well.
    Thanks,
    Emily 


    ------------------------------
    emily spurgeon

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-13-2021 11:48 AM
    From: Aaron Caldwell
    Subject: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    I agree with Kristen as well and would be more than willing to provide some feedback and assistance in reviewing the case as well as providing some checklist and documents that we have used at Austin Pets Alive! to assess these types of situations. Feel free to reach out to me at aaron.caldwell@amerianpetsalive.org and hopefully we can set up a time to talk virtually.

    ------------------------------
    Aaron Caldwell
    American Pets Alive

    Original Message:
    Sent: 09-09-2021 11:35 AM
    From: Anonymous Member
    Subject: "No-Kill" Shelters Handling Unprovoked Biting Dogs

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    I've been a shelter director for 6 years and never, fortunately, encountered this until recently. We are a private non-profit no-kill shelter.
    To make a long story short, One dog attacked an adopter as he was getting in their car. The woman had to have plastic surgery on her face. He was returned to the county shelter for quarantine and assessment. Yesterday one of our dogs attacked a staff member unprovoked.  She required stitches in her stomach and arm. He has also shown aggression in other incidences but was in his kennel.  We have a policy to have an assessment by a trainer and vet before any decisions are made for his future. 
    What is your policy for this type of situation? I would appreciate your advice. We are frustrated..
    #Behavior,TrainingandEnrichment