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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 3018
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian; BS (Physiology) Michigan State Univ
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I just adopted a dog off the street. He was in a very bad

Customer Question

I just adopted a dog off the street. He was in a very bad situation being chained up in a small space and not eating. We took him and brought him to the vet. They found he had heartworms and we have been treating him for that. He's the sweetest boy ever. No aggression. Because of the heartworms we couldn't get him neutered. He just attacked my girlfriend and I in an elevator. There was another dog in the elevator being held that was growling at him. He startrd growling and my girlfriend tries to calm him down but he wouldn't. I moved in to assist and he went crazy. He wouldn't stop biting and luckily only got our hands. He's slept in ghe bed with us and is fine with my other dog. He's been on heartworm treatment and i dont know if that has something to do with it. We brought him to a shelter but I feel terrible and don't know what to do
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
We also do found a dead tick in his crate. Could it be aggression from that or maybe he has Lyme disease
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 9 months ago.

There's a very good chance that this was redirected aggression. A vast number of dogs that have been chained have no idea how to react around other dogs. If you wish to keep him, you're going to need to work very closely with a behaviorist in determining what sets him off and how to handle it.

To start: The absolute last thing to do when a dog is growling is to try to comfort them, especially with touch, because many dogs do escalate and you can easily become injured when this happens. In fact, it happens quite often. Consider when you're riled up and wanting to fight--the last thing you want someone to make physical contact with you. It's the absolute same with dogs.

That being said, a dog not feeling well can also be a precursor to aggressive behavior. Heart worms, underlying tick borne diseases, etc. could certainly add fuel to the fire, so to speak.

If you need help finding someone in your area that can evaluate him, please let me know and I'll be happy to get to work finding someone. Be advised that you will need to reach out to the shelter soon because many have protocols after bites to euthanize and test an animal for rabies.

The real question here is this: How much effort are you willing to put into this dog? If your answer is "a lot", then moving forward is wise. If not, allowing the shelter to put him to sleep would be more suitable. There's no guarantee that you (or your other dog) won't be attacked again. Thus is the story with behavioral cases like his.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
We brought him to a no kill shelter but are on the fence because it wasn't a bite. It was an attack
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 9 months ago.

Be advised that "no kill" does not mean that they don't euthanize. Even no kill shelters have policies for dogs that have attacked people in the people. It is a liability to allow a dog like this to be adopted, which means even no-kill shelters will euthanize them. This, again, is why I recommend reaching out to them if you are even the least bit ambivalent. Essentially "no kill" applies to not killing any healthy, adoptable animal. Once you have an animal that has bitten anyone (or worse, attacked) they no longer become a prime candidate for adoption. Unless they are also a sanctuary where an animal might live out their life, the potential remains for euthanasia.

I use the term 'bite' loosely there because its what we most commonly see in legal jargon. It can be anything from a single bite to a full on attack.

Would you like help finding someone who can analyze his behavior? If so, please post back your city, state and zip code.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 9 months ago.

Be advised that "no kill" does not mean that they don't euthanize. Even no kill shelters have policies for dogs that have attacked people in the past. It is a liability to allow a dog like this to be adopted, which means even no-kill shelters will euthanize them. This, again, is why I recommend reaching out to them if you are even the least bit ambivalent. Essentially "no kill" applies to not killing any healthy, adoptable animal. Once you have an animal that has bitten anyone (or worse, attacked) they no longer become a prime candidate for adoption. Unless they are also a sanctuary where an animal might live out their life, the potential remains for euthanasia.

I use the term 'bite' loosely there because its what we most commonly see in legal jargon. It can be anything from a single bite to a full on attack.

Would you like help finding someone who can analyze his behavior? If so, please post back your city, state and zip code.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I just don't have the money for that. I assume it's very expensive
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 9 months ago.

Long-term, it very well could be. However, a behavioral analysis to start is likely not going to cost a great deal. The idea here being that you learn his triggers and how to avoid them and then work to modify his behavior.

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