Are pit bulls why more shelter dogs fail adoption test?

After the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center started testing pit bulls in 2013 for behavior instead of automatically labeling them as vicious, several shelter statistics rose.

The number of dogs failing the behavior test doubled. The number of dogs euthanized because of that failure rose by a third.

And 36 percent of dogs euthanized for failing the test were pit bulls — 232 of 644 dogs.

Reports that Dr. Vincent Morton, the shelter’s veterinarian, provoked aggression from dogs during the test, leading to an increase in the number of dogs failing, have prompted an investigation ordered by the Franklin County commissioners.

But some say that behavior testing of pit bulls, which came when a 2012 Ohio law removed the automatic label of “vicious” from pit bulls and made them eligible for adoption, also could explain why so many more dogs are failing the behavior test.

The test entails observing how a dog reacts to human contact, such as petting, an attempt to take away its food and other stimuli to see if it is suitable for adoption.

“Now that you’re testing (pit bulls), obviously there’s going to be an increase, because you weren’t testing them prior to that,” said Lisa Zimmerman, a pit-bull advocate who testified for the 2012 law.

Veterinarians and dog advocates agreed that pit bulls are not more prone to aggression toward humans. However, they are more likely than other breeds to be brought up in a violent situation, they said.

The increase in dogs failing that test is at least partly linked to the fact that a relatively large share of the dogs taken in by the shelter are pit bulls, said Susan Smith, the shelter’s spokeswoman. She did not provide numbers.

“Unfortunately, the breed is very popular with a segment of the population that doesn’t value them simply as pets,” Smith said. “A lot of the pit bulls that we see come into the facility are not prime candidates for adoption.”

The shelter does not keep data on how many pit bulls have been tested for behavior, Smith said.

Morton’s techniques during behavior tests have been questioned in incident reports filed by shelter employees.

One report says, “I’ve seen Dr. Morton approach frightened small dogs, leaning over them and staring at them, then marking the dog for euthanasia when the dog growls at him out of fear.”

Such actions as staring at or leaning over a dog can provoke aggression, but they also can be appropriate during a behavior test, said Dr. Meghan Herron, a behavioral specialist in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University.

“We do things in a behavior exam that are much more provocative than in a medical exam,” Herron said. “Within reason … we’re trying to act like an average person would with a dog.”

The goal of a behavior test is to simulate how a human adopter without veterinary training might act with a dog. That way, testers can see whether a dog should be put up for adoption, both Herron and Smith said.

Overall, 16 percent fewer dogs were euthanized in 2013 than in 2012, the year that Morton started at the clinic, and the number of dogs that failed the behavior test and then were sent to rescue groups or transferred to another shelter increased by 14 percent.

“They’re very interested in giving the dog every opportunity to succeed, and they’re not looking to fail the dog,” Smith said. “The folks that do the behavior test are hoping, obviously, for a good outcome.”

Original Story


Five recovering from dog attack in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. –

Five people are recovering after being attacked by a pit bull Wednesday night in an apartment complex in the 6800 block of North Atlantic.

The dog first bit his owner and then four others. After an hour trying to contain it police had no choice but to shoot and kill the dog.

According to neighbors the owner only had the dog for a few weeks and Wednesday evening one neighbor said the owner was playing a little too rough with the dog when it snapped.

“The young gentleman that lives there came running over with a couple bite marks on him, yelling that he needed help and to call 911, he had just been attacked by his dog,” neighbor James Betsinger said.

Betsinger was one of five people who were attacked by the pit bull.

“I have a slash mark, gaping hole in my leg, three stitches, my hand it completely torn up, stitch on the bottom of my wrist,” he said.

Betsinger said he ran next door to help the owner pull the dog off his mom. The door was left open and the dog ran outside.

“He ran across the street and started attacking a little Pomeranian. He just picked it up and shook it,” Betsinger said.

Once the pit bull put down the Pomeranian a woman driving by stopped and pepper sprayed the pit bull and “that made it even more crazy,” Betsinger said.

Betsinger said he then tried to corral the dog inside an apartment when it lunged at him.

“At that point I shoved my hand in its mouth, locked him up in a head lock and rolled around until I got him down on the ground,” he said.

As he was on the ground with the dog, Betsinger said two more men came over to try and contain him when they were both bitten as well.

The dog eventually was freed and that’s when law enforcement and SCRAPS showed up.

“When the capture techniques require a certain lay of the land if you will, with a place to corner, corral, or trap the dog, so you can safely contain it and that just option was not available last night,” Nancy Hill with SCRAPS said.

After nearly an hour had past since the attack started police officers shot the dog. In Betsinger’s opinion they had exhausted all options.

“I love dogs and I love pit bulls, and I hold no animosity towards this dog, and not even its owners that just got the dog. I blame the people that have abused these animals and treat them the wrong way,” Betsinger said.

The incident is being investigated by SCRAPS. The dog has been sent to a lab for rabies testing. No charges have been filed against the owner.

Original Story

Elderly Woman Attacked By Pit Bull

UNION CITY, Tenn.- An elderly woman is home recovering after Union City police said she was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull Wednesday.

“He was on top of me an jerked me over this way and that way,” recalls Lillie Williams, 78.

Williams’ hand and arm are in bandages, she claims the dog was off its leash when it jumped on top of her.

“The dog came from behind me and I tried to make him go away,” Williams said. “I tried to get my little dog back to the house.”

Williams claimed she was on the ground for several minutes before help arrived.

“She was hollering for help and saying it had been wallowing all over her,” said Becky Jackson, who happened to drive by and witness the dog on top of her.

“Her hand, the skin on her right hand was all torn off,” Jackson remembers.

Williams was treated at a local hospital for the cuts. She told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News the dog never bit her, but its claws did the damage. 

Jackson claimed the dog was never aggressive towards her when they pulled it off of Williams, but does fear what could have happened.

“What if we hadn’t come along?” Jackson questioned. 

The dog’s owner, Betty Spurlock, was cited for harboring a vicious animal. She will appear in court on April 28. WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News went to Spurlock’s residence and knocked on her door, but got no response.

Union City police said the dog is under quarantine.

Original Story

UPDATE: Dog That Attacked 8-Year-Old Girl Deemed Dangerous By SCRAPS

SCRAPS and the Spokane Police Department are investigating a dog attack
SCRAPS and the Spokane Police Department investigate a dog attack on a child.

SPOKANE, Wash. –The dog that attacked an 8-year-old last week in north Spokane has been deemed dangerous by SCRAPS. 

“Girl,” the brown pitbull that attacked the little girl and two other people trying to help her, was deemed as a dangerous dog, while the other dog involved in the attack, a black lab/pitbull mix named “Demon” was deemed as a potentially dangerous dog. The owner has signed an owner release for “Girl,” but both dogs are currently in the custody of SCRAPS. “Girl” will be put to sleep, and “Demon” will be returned after a 10 day waiting period. 

The owner, 45-year-old Kathy Southern, was also served with criminal misdemeanor charges for having a dog with vicious propensities and civil infractions for a dog at large, a dog with aggressive threatening behavior and a dog with no license. The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum penalty of $1,000 fine and 90 days confinement. The civil infractions are a monetary penalty only. 

The little girl who was attacked was released from the hospital and is expected to recover. 


Original Story

Lawmakers discuss vicious dog laws in Ohio


Quorum court addresses vicious dogs in county

One woman’s attempt to ban pit bulls within Randolph County drew a large crowd at the quorum court meeting Thursday night but those in attendance were in favor of the breed. Many spoke out for their dogs and let justice of the peace know how they felt.
Dozens of Randolph County residents showed up at Thursday night’s quorum court meeting and many expressed their concerns over one woman’s attempt to ban pit bulls in the county.
“Any dog has the ability to be vicious,” Shelly Newell said to justices of the peace.
Not long into the public comments, Judge David Jansen explained that the issue had been blown out of proportion.
“Somebody’s started something that just went like wildfire. This court, these quorum court members, not one time last month, that I remember, said that they were going after pit bulls. We had a citizen make a complaint about pit bulls but these quorum court members never said they were going after a specific breed.”

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