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Would you keep a dog you could not trust around your children?

Recently, a friend of mine and I were discussing an event that happened last year to one of my students (I'm a kindergarten teacher).

One morning, he came in with a bite mark on his arm. It didn't look like a human bite mark so I asked him what happened and he said that their dog bit him. I called his mother, who was very haughty about it. She said that her five year old boy accidentally stepped on their American Staffordshire Terrier and the dog reared up and bit the child. "He was just defending himself," she told me in a haughty voice, like 'how dare you accuse my dog of anything less than perfection'. I told her that the bite needed to be looked at by a doctor and she insisted that the child was "milking it". The principle called DFACS but they didn't do anything but insist on seeing the dog's rabies records. They told them to take the child to a doctor, who cleaned and bandaged the wound.

About a month later, the child showed me a bite on his hand, once again from the dog. No skin was broken but there was a bruise and some bite marks. I called the parents and the mother got huffy again. I politely told her that she shouldn't have a dog around that was aggressive around children. "Who are you to tell me what to do? Do you hate dogs?" I told her that I have dogs and I have children and I would never have a dog that I couldn't trust with my kids. "The dog was here first. I had him long before I had a child." I was floored! I couldn't believe that she was letting her dog hurt her child because the dog was there first! I called DFACS again and they didn't even go out to the house because the skin wasn't broken and they already checked the records. They called animal control but, aside from suggesting they keep him locked up, they couldn't forcibly take the dog. I don't know if that is actually the law or they just didn't want to do anything.

A few weeks later, three days before the end of the school year, he limped into class crying. He lifted up his shirt and showed me a huge bite on his side, bruised black and STILL FREAKING BLEEDING! He had been trying to avoid the dog but his mother was sick and she insisted that he feed him. He was holding the dog bowl full of food and was trying to sat it down. The dog was jumping on him and he couldn't get to wherever the dog bowl was supposed to go. The dog finally got frustrated and bit the hell out of his side. He showed his mother and she refused to do anything about it. She just said that he should have fed the dog faster. That was it. I called DFACS and told them what was going on. A social worker came and got him a took him to the hospital. Later I get an irate phone call from the mother, basically telling me I was a heartless bitch that needed to mind my own business. I am a mandated reporter so it is my business and the child was hurt. It is abusive to let that dog continue to hurt that child. The child had to have five stitches.

They took the child into foster care and one of the things the parents had to do to get him back was get rid of the dog. They let him stay with a friend until they got the child back and then brought the freaking dog back home. DFACS found out that the dog was still there after an unannounced visit. They tried to convince them that it was a different dog but, since he was chipped and DFACS had the ID number from his chip, a call to animal control confirmed it was the same dog so they took the child again.

I understand loving your dog. I have four dogs that I love very much, but I would never have a dog that I could not trust around a child. That has been a policy in my family since long before my grandmother was even born. Even before I had children, I had a younger sister and nieces and nephews around all the time and we even had a dog put down when I was a teenager because he bit my cousin's son. I understand a provoked attack on an adult (like if the adult is hurting the dog or the family). My collie once bit a man that was trying to break into our neighbor's house and she and my coonhound ran him up a tree and held him until the police got there. They didn't even insist she be quarantined because she had had her shots. That is one thing but an unprovoked attack on a child is where I would draw the line.

I bring this up because the friend I was talking to about this incident's German Shepherd bit her eleven year old last night and she is debating what to do. It was an unprovoked attack by a dog who has become increasingly aggressive the older he gets. I told her that, if she didn't want to put him to sleep, then she needed to find him another home with people that had no children (and disclose his history) but, I wouldn't be able to even trust that, if it were my dog. No rescue will take him and no shelter will rehome him if he has a history of aggression. I understand loving your dog but I could never keep my dog at the expense of my child's safety.

Am I wrong? Am I the only one that feels this way?

Answer Question
 
Razzle_Dazzle1

Asked by Razzle_Dazzle1 at 8:15 AM on Jun. 6, 2013 in Pets

Level 18 (5,775 Credits)
Answers (23)
  • If my child was deliberately doing something to annoy or provoke the dog, and the dog nipped at him, I'd let it go. Once. I'd tell my child what he did that caused it and that he shouldn't do it again. I'd also make sure the dog knew he was wrong. But if it happened a second time, whether my kid provoked it or not, the dog would have to go. Not necessarily because the dog is aggressive (if my kid is provoking it, my kid is in the wrong), but because it's obvious that this could continue to happen and I have a responsibility to protect not only my children, but the dog and anyone else that comes around.

    I'm actually having to consider giving up my dog. He's considered a vicious breed, and though he's never hurt anyone, he's developing a habit of trying to get out of his kennel. He digs, and he's big and strong enough that he can actually bend the gate. My concern is that if he escapes when I'm not home...con't
    wendythewriter

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:27 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • No. You aren't the only one. Dogs should never be chosen over children. Some dogs are jealous of children, especially if the animal was there first. There have been some cases where dogs have killed infants. Sounds like you handled the situation well.
    NannyB.

    Answer by NannyB. at 8:29 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • I can't stop him. And the more I do to keep him contained (reinforcing the gate, etc.), if he does get out and hurt someone, they might claim that I had to do all that to keep him from hurting others. I don't want to give him up, it kills me to even think about it, but I also don't want to risk him getting out and either hurting someone or coming across someone who takes one look and assumes he's a threat. As I told my kids, if he gets out and he hurts someone, the county will put him down. He won't get a second chance. And I can't let that happen to him, any more than I can knowingly let him hurt someone else.

    So I could understand someone having trouble with the idea of letting go of their dog, but to me, no matter how much I love my dog, my kids are more important. If the dog hurt one of them, unprovoked, the dog would be out of here.
    wendythewriter

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:32 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • For me, that's a no-brainer. If you can't trust the dog, at the very least, keep him outdoors and don't let your children near him. Take care of him yourself. The child's mother in the OP clearly didn't have a clue

    Some countries take biting dogs seriously, for instance, punishment for a owning a dog that bites in the UK can run to a £5000 fine, imprisonment and the dog may be put down.
    winterglow

    Answer by winterglow at 8:43 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • Hell no. My kids will come first always. That mother is an idiot.
    LostSoul88

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 8:50 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • I have a German Shepherd so there is Zero room for a one time nip even if my child is terrorizing her. The first sign of her getting annoyed I remove the dog to either outside or her kennel and explain to the 6yr old why he is not being nice or what is annoying but I also fully expect my dog to sit there and take whatever ear/tail pulling my 1yr old does without complaint from the dog. And she does, she just sits there until shes done with it then gets up and walks away.

    No matter how much I love my animals, my kids always come first and the first bite she would be removed from our family.
    cassie_kellison

    Answer by cassie_kellison at 9:06 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • My kids always come first. We don't have a dog yet because I wanted my kids to be old enough to understand how to gently treat a dog (my youngest is 2). My brother and sil gave their dog away when he snapped at one if their young kids, first sign ever of aggression in typically a non aggressive breed but they didn't take any chances.
    missanc

    Answer by missanc at 9:10 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • This is why I don't have dogs. I don't like them and freely admit that. Face it though dogs are animals and can/will resort to doing what comes naturally. If they have a mouth with teeth they CAN bite even if they haven't in the past. A running child can be perceived as prey and they will hunt. Teach your children to be safe around animals. No you are not wrong. The child needs to be protected. The animal needs a new home. And the mom needs a bitch slap upside the head and jail time. She should NEVER be allowed to get her son back.
    2autisticsmom

    Answer by 2autisticsmom at 9:27 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • No, I would not keep a dog that was agressive with humans like that, especially children. Humans first, then animals. The little boy is lucky that policy dictates that the state is called. His mother doesn't seem to give two shits about her son. I'm sure he would be easier to rehome than the dog, and that would be a win / win for both child and mother.
    QuinnMae

    Answer by QuinnMae at 9:35 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

  • the dog is the least of the child's worries
    feralxat

    Answer by feralxat at 9:44 AM on Jun. 6, 2013

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