Adopted Retriever Mix Kills Baby

CHARLESTON, S.C. –  Parental neglect led to the dismemberment and death of a 2-month old infant by a dog as the boy’s father slept nearby, a South Carolina coroner ruled Monday.  Aiden McGrew’s death was ruled a homicide and the infant died from blood loss after being mauled last week, Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nesbit said.

Sheriff L.C. Knight said no charges have been filed but he is meeting with the solicitor’s office and may have an announcement in a couple of days.

The child’s body was found in his rural home Friday morning after he was attacked and his leg severed by his family’s pet dog. Deputies said the infant was attacked by a retriever mix the family had adopted a few weeks earlier.

The baby was in a child’s swing while the child’s father was sleeping in an adjoining room with another child at the time, authorities said.

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As we have written about canine-human fatalities before, the large majority of them are done by newly acquired dogs (rehomed, rescued, shelter) and not by dogs that were bought as a puppy and raised by the family. Since the majority percentage of owned animals  are not from shelters, rescue, or rehomed (where the 3 categories only comprise perhaps 15% of owned dogs), it was not surprising to find that in canine fatalities,  the killings were substantially done by dogs which were from shelters, rescued, or rehomed. In other words, a much higher percentage of fatalities is done by the small percentage of recycled dogs.

This indicates that many people do not understand canine behavior and do not even realize that acquisition  of a rehomed or rescued dog can raise issues in a household, especially for children and babies.  In rescuing animals, we will not even adopt a dog out to novice dog owners that have kids which have no experience with dogs, or where the parents have not taught dog safety to the kids beforehand.  We have seen potential adopters reach out wildly to grab dogs and puppies without a thought of even asking to touch the dogs. We have seen parents allow their kids to do the same, with absolutely no regard for safety in trying to touch dogs they do not even know.

With more than approximately 70% of the potential adopters [that we met over many years] NOT appearing to  know common guidelines for being safe with animals, we would turn down these families for adoption. We would even tell potential adopters ahead of time (before attending adoption event), that we are looking for families which have done some research with dogs, and have some knowledge of how to be safe with dogs, especially those with children.  We also usually had puppies, and don’t want to see puppies ruined by bad owners who put no time into training.  Obviously the shelter/pound should be partnering with dog groups to give FREE safety classes and even one free training lesson. In all the years of rescuing that we have done, we have never seen this offered. It might be out there, but we haven’t seen it.

What most rescues seemed to be more concerned with, was the “home visit” to make sure they could see the potential owner’s home.  A well groomed home does not ensure a good owner.  It means they can either mow the lawn or pay a gardner. It will not ensure the kids know dog-safety, and it does not ensure the parents supervise the kids. The appearance of money does not necessarily mean a parent is doing a good job of parenting, nor does it necessarily indicate they know how to train a dog, nor does it indicate they care about training a dog.  A trained dog, even if later abandoned to a shelter, has a much higher chance of being adopted than one which was ignored in the household.

When realizing that children and dogs are not necessarily a good mix with parents that have no knowledge of dog safety, we even tried to put a dog-safety class into the local shelter. Remarkably, no one was even interested.  What we found with many rescues is a focus only on the animals themselves, rather than how the animal might compliment a family. Animal rights and some rescues will take worst case dogs on purpose, and try to place them without success. Yes, in CA, rescues are allowed to take dogs that FAIL temperament testing, IF there is a reasonable possibility for rehabilitation.

Unfortunately, AR rescuers don’t necessarily know what “reasonable” means, nor are most of them ‘professional’ behaviorists.  Instead,  some of them will take the animals with the worst problems and then use such animals for a pity party to gain hatred of people, but not get the dog a home.  By collecting a number of such dogs (which are called “special needs” animals) the rescue will just keep advertising them but not get a home for them.  Unless completely funded by donations alone, such rescues are just doing what HSUS does. Using animals so people can hate people. This is not animal rescue, we would call it hoarding.

One time we found a rescue which was showing dogs at a local venue in a shopping complex. We ended up notifying the complex corporate owner that this “rescue” was adopting out known biting dogs and other facts which would be detrimental to the public. We found about 3 months later that the rescue was shut down, which it should have been.  They had dogs which were placed 4 times and kept being returned, which indicates the dog is likely not suitable for placement, or the rescue has no idea on how to place animals.  In rescue, the fit for the animal is highly dependent upon many factors, and the animal itself is not the primary concern— the concern is properly matching such animal with situations and people that can be a compliment rather than a detriment.  Again, this is logical and most ARs are NOT logical.

AR rescuers which ignore this fact, find dogs will be rehomed 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x….  Dogs that are not stable, that have questionable temperament, and that have bad biting histories should not be placed into homes unless the owners are highly experienced, the dog’s issues are fully disclosed, and there are no children (usually under 10yr.)

When dogs are not supervised with children, it’s like asking for an accident.  No infant should ever be left alone in the room with any dog, even a proven family dog acquired as a puppy.  Although there are news stories that loose stray dogs kill children, it is quite uncommon.  Many children, if left unsupervised, will walk right up to a dog which is tethered.  Many children will directly try to touch animals they do not know.  We have seen it over and over, and even adults that do the same thing. Those wanting to adopt rescued dogs or rehomed dogs where the background of the animal is not proven should be very careful. Failure to disclose a dog’s propensities by the current owner, can result in liability.

Although ARs would have all of us believe that “adoption” is the answer to obtaining a dog, the fact is that buying a rescued dog is not something one should even consider, unless one has substantial experience with canines. The ability to assess the dog’s temperament and behavior is key to knowing your dog. Many owners have no idea of how to do this, especially if they have no experience with dogs.  Inexperienced owners can actually ruin a dog that has already encountered issues while living with people who don’t know the slightest thing about working with dogs. Therefore, research and learning about other people’s dogs is probably a good idea before deciding whether you are a candidate for owning a pooch.  Choosing the wrong breed can also be a disaster.  Education can save a lot of grief.


Dogs Bite, but Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous. by Janis Bradley. Highly acclaimed book that brings logic and rationality to counter the hype of a dog-biting crisis in our nation.

AVMA. What you should know about dog bite prevention

Kids and dogs, a common sense approach.
Understanding dog bites; how they occur and how how to prevent them 

Doggone safe. non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention

Bite Prevention Quiz

Dog Scouts – Dog Bite Prevention

Doberman and child encounter editorial by Margot Woods 

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Bibliography of articles on dog bites

Insurance Information Institute. Dog Bite Liability.


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