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Some Dog Bites are Not Dog Bites

I just got off the phone with one of the New Jersey animal rescue organizations that Spirit Animal Sanctuary, has helped in the past. They called me to ask how their two girls we have are enjoying the snow so far and to talk about a dog they recently pulled that was on the euth list. The dog they were talking about is a happy-go-lucky leash grabber, during walks. In this particular instance, a less than knowledgeable volunteer was walking the dog when the dog  jumped up to grab the leash and inadvertently grabbed the volunteers hand as well. This freaked the volunteer out who immediately returned the dog to shelter staff, saying he bit me. Because of the dogs playful exuberance there was scraps that did break the skin, so the dog was put into mandatory quarantine for observation before being put to sleep.

We have a couple of dogs here at the sanctuary, that in all probability have bite records against them because  nobody ever taught them how to use their mouth gently during play. This is one area were we should take the time to teach those less experienced individuals (even though they think they have a lot of dog experience), the difference between to rough play bites and real bites. And it’s real easy to tell the difference. Does the dog have a happy face and eye’s, when he grabs you or not. It really is that easy and hopefully you can accurately tell the difference, between play and not play.

Here’s to hoping more people get it, so less dogs are euthanized.


The Spirit Dog

Spirit Animal Sanctuary
2539 East Road
Boonville, New York 13309

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9 Responses

  1. I’m so happy to hear that.

  2. Hi Donna,

    This is a tough one, because you need somebody 100% confident with their ability to understand animals and how to relax or calm down that animal in a short amount of time.
    What I do is, Welders or bite gloves, tug of war and play fight with the dogs. How to use their mouth gently during play is something that many dogs never learn how to do on their own, because
    they just didn’t have the opportunity to learn from other dogs or their human family when they were puppies or juvenile dogs.

  3. Al, you would not believe how much Quincy has improved. He has gained 5 lbs., his retic count is up, his urine looks normal, his jaundice has subsided. He has finished his medicine, so now we wait….

  4. Hi Donna,

    I don’t know if that shelter has a categorizing process for the dogs and the volunteers. But if they do hopefully it’s not one of those less experienced than they should be people, evaluating the dogs and the volunteers.
    That would kind of defeat the purpose.

    Hope Quincy’s feeling better.

  5. Al, how DO you teach an adult dog to use their mouth more gently? We have a few at the shelter that need a lot of work. I’m afraid for them to be in a home because their behavior will be misinterpreted and misconstrued.

  6. Well, that’s good news! Thanks, Al.


  7. Sad. So sad. Happens too often. There needs to be more of a process to ‘categorizing’ the dogs, but even more so, the training of the volunteers. Sounds like that volunteer should not have been handling that dog…at least not alone.

  8. Hey Bob,
    The rescue saved the dog and one of their volunteers adopted him. This guy got lucky.

  9. I hate hearing stories like that. Especially when it involves a volunteer. They should at least know the basics of dog behavior and body language.

    I’ve gone home with various “tooth scratches” (I don’t call them bites) from big boy Dino where another person might freak out and say the dog “bit” them. He’s gotten much better but he is VERY excited when I come over. He temporarily loses his mind!

    But, we know that’s how he is and prepare accordingly as well as not let him do that to other people.

    There’s so much involved in a dog bite incident that, unless someone is even moderately knowledgeable about dogs, the dog never gets a fair shake.

    Al, did they wind up putting the dog down?


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