Rescue Sued for Biting Dog “Adoption”, Alleging Non Disclosure of Prior Biting

As can be seen by reading the article, if the facts are correct,  there is a lawsuit because the dog injured someone and the one who “adopted” the dog was purportedly misled, and non disclosure was alleged in failing to disclose a prior bite by the dog……… of course, this could happen with ANY dog that a rescue takes in, since many rescues don’t really know dogs as well as they believe they do. Consider the source here (Merritt Clifton formerly  of animal People online, former partner of Kim Bartlett, who is supposedly the inventor of the 12 Steps of Animal Rights?))– but nevertheless– this would be relevant in showing WHY mixed breed dogs can be ROUTINELY misrepresented by rescuers or shelters, either knowingly or even unknowingly…………… (unknowingly would be negligently and not fraudulently) as they do not know the backgrounds or temperaments of most of the animals.

Some AR rescuers are killed by dogs; in some instances there are 5 large mastiff sized dogs with one girl in one room (complete insanity) or in another completely preventable case, the rescuer took in a dog that was seriously health compromised, had tons of cysts or something close, the dog had been fence fighting, and rescuer alleged the dog was fine, it just needed healthcare and a whole lotta lovin’……….yeah right……..

The rescuer  takes this dog, which was not worth saving to begin with, and keeps it at her large boarding kennel. One day she is alone with the dog and it not only attacked her, it outright almost killed her, unprovoked.  Somehow she managed to call 911 and went to ER, damaged vocal cords, damaged throat, damaged leg, arms and more. The dog, of course, was killed ASAP. She did survive. We even know her as an AR rescuer and she’s a good person, but AR because she believes saving the worst of the worst is a good thing….. NOT TRUE.

WELL– since we have worked with rescued dogs for years, let us tell ya, many dogs that go to shelters have in fact, likely bitten someone at some time. Maybe nothing serious.

But many people who get puppies have no clue and don’t bother to research anything, so if the kids get nipped, that would never surprise us. Most dog bites are to family members, and are not reported, according to what we have seen and read.  Thus people are NOT inclined to admit their own dog bit them, regardless of why. Turning such dog into the shelter to supposedly spare its life, the owner may not want to lessen the dog’s chances.  Supposedly temperament testing is used in most places, but let’s be serious.

WHAT rescue is actually run which utilizes full time, an actual professional dog behaviorist? Answer, almost zero.

There may be a few but no law in California forces rescues to even have a behaviorist, or any other professional for that matter. Rescues are not required to have a 501(c)(3) status to pull from every shelter but some do require it. We doubt there is a law requiring rescues to obtain liability insurance for 1-2million.  Rescues are supposed to be able to claim that the dog they do “rehab” from a shelter has a reasonably good chance at being rehabilitated, and they are in charge of that result. Yet no one requires anything of any rescue in that regard. No proof, no certificate from anyone or any place, no testing, and no nothing.  Therefore, injury to a person by a rescued animal can possibly result in liability to the rescue.

California is a strict liability state subject to state law exceptions, depending on what facts are involved. So when we read about alleged “killer dogs” and the like, there is not one simple answer necessarily, as dangerous dog designation is not a one element factual determination in California.  It is possible an ordinary dog may not be dangerous but then due to error of the handler, negligence or of owner or keeper, or an intervening act or third party unforeseen action, the facts are scrambled creating a myriad of issues.

For example, let’s say a standard poodle escaped the yard because the dog broke open the fence and it ran down both a cat and caused a car to run into a child playing on driveway.  In some jurisdictions in CA the injury to the cat could cause a dangerous dog designation subject to rebutting; the rest of the harm is likely negligence covered by liability insurance of owner.  But let’s say it WASN’T  a POODLE but it was a hated breedtype such as pitbull, or similar, or a cane corso, or a 150lb mixed breed that looked mean. It is likely many people would have sympathy for the POODLE, or a RETRIEVER, or a LABRADOR ………. and people would clamor to try and save it.  Not so if the dog was pit, part pit, mastiff, had a flat head, etc. Less people would even care.

So, in the case mentioned above, because the shelter or rescue seems to have failed to disclose the prior bite of the dog, we think that may be highly relevant, since rescues or shelters  are not in the business of having biting dogs get adopted— or are they????  Herein lies one of the biggest problems perpetuated by ARs and rescues.  In an effort to gain donations, all animals they try and push onto people,  are often put on a platform to make them either (1) the emotional story of the century  (2)  the deserted, dumped, depressed dog of the century  (3) the sad,sorry, poor liddle doggie without a home  (4) the best, friendliest,worthwhile,loving dog in town.

Only in one GSD rescue, did we notice they CLEARLY stated—the dogs are taken from wherever, and they often know NOTHING about the dog; that such dogs cannot be expected to be pre-trained or have good manners, etc.  They do mention that they use fosters to evaluate such dogs over time.  What they actually do to evaluate the dogs BEFORE they take them is not disclosed.  Most rescues will not disclose this due to liability.  However, if MORE people started suing RESCUES for adopting out biting dogs, it would go a long way in the rescue world, because most rescues are mortified of being sued.  If any rescue attempts to subvert liability by having an owner waive their rights in the adoption contract, do not buy that dog from that rescue. The waiver would likely not be good anyway, depending on what facts transpired, even though the animal shelters run by the government are basically immune unless there are exceptional circumstances.

We can think of quite a few scenarios where people who adopt are not novice dog owners, and can probably tell what to do with a dog and how to read the dog’s behavior. However, a truly demented dog may not show the behavior except at certain times. Temperament testing is not 100% foolproof. It is not possible, so if the test or tester can’t  find anything wrong, and fails to tell new owner the dog has bitten 10 times in past and been rehomed 8 times, then that rescuer is in trouble.

We once were unknowingly given a demented dog to rescue,  which had a sordid history of severe biting, but the dog was probably 12lbs. We were never told of his background, his biting, or that he had been placed into a professional behavior clinic at the well known university.  He exited the program and was still biting.  The owner then simply gave him away (to us as a rescue) without disclosing ANY OF THE PRIOR FACTS.  After observing the dog for several weeks, it became apparent that the dog was not only dangerous, he was psycho.  For no reason, he would turn into a nutcase, and start biting and attacking anything and everything.

We actually had two dogs like that and had them both killed for good reason.  Dogs like that should not be saved while taking all the time/effort/money from dogs that have no issues. And, the female that GAVE us that dog, is now an AR VET mind you. Yes, that’s the truth.  We only got all the data on the dog because she finally admitted his background after we questioned her.  NOW, imagine if the crazy dog never exhibited any questionable behavior after 3 weeks. Imagine if we had put him into foster home,  and they never saw anything. Imagine if dog got adopted out and then took out a kid’s eye, blinding him. How many parent wouldn’t want to sue the rescue?  Probably zero.  And then the rescue would have to sue the former owner who is now a vet.

This is why we tell people to buy a dog as a puppy from a non AR source.  And if you’re contemplating large breed, aggressive breeds, guardian dogs, or fighting type dogs, just beware of your liability. Now while we certainly do not agree with the belief that all bully dogs are bad, there is always a possibility in any breed, that you will get a dangerous dog. That being said, NORMALLY owning a puppy from the get-go allows the experienced dog owner to assess the dog’s temperament over time. According to the dog bite site of C. Lynn, [and we don’t particularly like her] — one mauling death of a toddler was due to 2 pits owned from puppyhood; owner of dogs was babysitter to the toddler.  Allegedly one day, while carrying the toddler, the owner was attacked, knocked down and the dogs attacked the toddler. While the owner was also attacked, she managed to take the toddler inside but he ended up dying in the end.

See on C. Lynn’s site,  “Anywhere the average person turns, false myths about pit bulls prevail. For instance, within the top five funded humane groups, Best Friends Animal Society claims that pit bulls are “just like any other dogs, but they’ve been given a bad rap.” The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) admits the dog-aggression heritage of the breed, but holds to thefalse claim that pit bulls were “nursemaid” dogs, a myth that kills innocent children every year.
The largest humane group, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is bitterly fighting the Tracey v. Solesky ruling, which declared pit bulls “inherently dangerous,” and attached strict liability when the breed attacks (See: HSUS related fact sheet and the deconstruction of it). The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is just as deceitful: “the owner’s behavior as the underlying causal factor,” states the group about severe and fatal attacks on its website.12″

Now, HSUS used to be completely against all bull dogs, whatever type. That later changed when HSUS realized that BSL was not all that popular in general. HSUS then used Vick to pimp off their pathetic inner city propaganda programs; pathetic simply because HSUS could care less about inner city kids, same as they didn’t care about Katrina rip off in Louisiana.   In today’s current fatalities by breed (even assuming that the dog breeds were not necessarily generic pitbulls or any other type)– the media reports claim that the clear majority of deaths involves bully type dogs. Not that the media can actually PROVE the exact breed, breed types or anything else.

We mention it only because in this ONE case, supposedly the 2 dogs owned by the babysitter that attacked child/owner, were obtained as puppies. We do not know the owner, the dogs, or how they were trained or anything else. All we know is the dogs killed the kid and mauled the owner.  That is not normal behavior for dogs that are raised from puppies for sure.  Of course, the devastating loss to the child’s parents is enormous. Of course, they will forever hate any and all dogs that might be able to kill anything or anyone and they started their own site,                                      which we did look at.  Thankfully, it didn’t propose to immediately outlaw every dog in sight with a blocky head.  We noted, the parent (the Dad) said he had bought into the AR mantra that “it’s all in how you raise the dog” which, for the most part, can be true; however, taking into account the unknown genetics of the 2 dogs raised from puppyhood, it is likely we simply don’t know the background of the parent dogs; and whether or not the parent dogs had aggressive tendencies, whether they had ever been involved with harming people, etc.

After looking at what grieving parents must go through, we caution people the same as before.  Never obtain any canine where you do not know the background of the dogs (shelter, rescue,etc.)  It is much safer for families with kids to simply buy a small breed puppy which could not kill anything no matter how hard it might try.  Since all ARs claim to hate the “sale” of any animal, but promote the purported adoption of animals, despite the adoption not being FREE– we always promote the SALE of animals because this is the United States, and we can buy animals whether AR wing nuts like it or not. We don’t tell anyone what animal to buy. The ARs have that market covered.