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« Denmark Breed Ban is failing (and why the solution is not more banning) | Main | No Kill Conference 2011 -- how to follow along »

July 26, 2011


Lori S.

It's extra ridiculous since Dusty and three other dogs are WANTED by a rescue who is willing to continue their training and find them good homes, and yet three have been deemed too dangerous to live. This shelter and evaluator are looking for reasons to fail this dog so that no one can get mad at them for following Michigan law regarding automatic killing of "fighting" dogs.


Thank you for posting this Brent. I have shared Dusty's story as well in hopes of bringing more attention to her plight.

Jennifer Brighton

First, let me say I am so proud of my local shelter. If Dusty is an indication of a dog Dr. Houpt deems aggressive then my boy would not be living happily in my home and going out on off leash trail hikes 3 x a week with 8 or 9 other dogs (w/ a licensed/bonded company), frequenting dog-friendly restaurants and traveling and staying with us at dog-friendly establishments. I am appalled!

My female therapy dog would have found all that commotion confusing. Just the noise in the background is enough to make the calmest dog cautious. And Dusty did NOTHING to indicate aggression. He seemed eager and a bit excited and cautious of the doll. I can't believe she recommended killing him. What an atrocity. I'll definitely be signing the petition.


If I didn't know better I would think this was a video of a sweet dog who needs a little training auditioning for a new home. Aggression, please.


Is the dog submissively grinning? Especially when the doll was approaching, it looked like Dusty might have wrinkled her muzzle into a "smile". There are people who mistake that for a snarl, even among animal professionals... or people wanting to see what they expect to see.

Brenda Forden

I am a bit confused because in the story this dog is is called "he" and "him", yet the dog in the video is clearly a female? Is it possible that the dog in the video is not the dog that is being recommended for euthanasia? I agree that temperament testing in this environment is completely useless in determining how the dog behaves. It really appalls me that during the entire video that dog did not get one pat on the head or any kind of acknowledgement. What's with these people?????


Brenda - I think I may have mistyped -- and assumed "Dusty" was a boy that is probably my bad.

Jen -- The dog clearly play bows with the doll at first - -in a very submissive pose. It was only when the doll persisted that it began doing the avoidence motions...but I don't think anyone worth their salt can mistake those actions as aggressive in any way -- unless they're looking for a reason to fail a dog because of perceptions heading in.

Sandra Beardsley

It looked as though they were going to poke and prod that dog until she showed aggression, and they failed, even with the din of barking going on and all their really rude acts. Put in that situation I'd bite someone, the dog was much nicer than me.

Debbie Tucker

That is horrifying! That pup is very sweet and submissive, those ears pinned back in a submissive, willing-to-please manner throughout. It sickens me that this dog was then listed for killing. Of COURSE they are trying to make excuses, those awful animal-haters!! Get rid of them!!


Absolutely appalling. That little dog was friendly, playful, and when a little stressed was extremely appropriate. She backed off, did calming signals, and as soon as the pressure was let up came out and investigated the stressful object quite nicely. I'd take her home in a heartbeat. Did you see that tail? Dang that is one VERY SWEET, so willing to please dog. Just disgusting.... :-(


My most excellent local pound would be proud and happy to put that dog up for adoption, and I'd adopt her in a heartbeat if I could. Based on the video, "Dr." Haupt is a blind, dog-hating idiot. Also: that phony "hand" thing should be burned and banned. Can't express how upsetting this is. That stupid, stupid, stupid woman.


Luisa -- I suppose I did miss an opportunity to rage against the ridiculous "phony hand thing"...but in spite of the ridiculous use of it, there was no reason, at all, to fail that dog and sentence her to death.


There is nothing in that video indicating a dangerous animal. That dog does everything absolutely right with few exceptions (she jumps on the adult and might get overstimulated in some circumstances). The dog avoids, even when cornered, and better yet, she uses humans as shields indicating a dog willing to let her human handler "do the talking", so to speak.

I don't need to be a behaviorist to see how solid that dog is in such an overstimulated, novel environment. She's a little rockstar and would make a great adoption candidate. I'm baffled by the veterinarian's clear inability to see what are all very friendly, attention-seeking behaviors and the dog's avoidance behaviors are something to be proud of. You always want a dog to either engage positively or disengage positively. A dog who avoids, especially behind their person, is a dog who can easily be desensitized and taught to "watch me" or "sit" or "play dead" or "beg" in lieu of hiding behind a person. It's the dogs who react immediately and harshly with teeth or the dogs who pancake petrified you need to either be worried about or expect to put in a lot more work to adjust...this dog needs practically nothing!

Molly LaMountain

I understand we can't send toddlers in to be tested with strange dogs but as far as I'm concerned those dolls are about as dumb as the hands. Give dogs a little credit. Surely they know that's not a real child or a real hand. And she didn't avoid the doll until she was being chased around the room with it either.

What stood out for me as well is the woman never even touches that dog. Dusty would have been giving her kisses if she so much as petted her head for 2 minutes. Wouldn't want that to happen, would we?


I'm a trainer who does a lot of work with aggressive dogs and I am horrified by that video.

The people conducting the test all looked uncomfortable with the dog from the start even though its body language looked remarkably loose and soft for a chaotic shelter environment.

The intent of the test truly seemed to be 'poke it till it at least kinda sort looks like it reacts in a vaguely bitey way so we can fail it'.

It's a lynch mob, not a temperament test.

Mary Haight

I agree with Janeen - lynch mob. Temperament tests have been abused to the point where many see them as tools to justify killing, as in this video. Great test, huh? It reminds of the way ultra sound machines have been used in India and China - to get rid of female babies. Where there's a will, the nuts will find a way. Over the top? Maybe, but maybe it's a fair point.


I too am a dog trainer, and I have also volunteered in shelters and worked with them as a trainer. The temperament test they use is basically meant to see what it would take for a dog to be aggressive: How long or hard do you have to poke at the dog before it reacts in an "aggressive" way? How much mental pressure can you put on the dog until they snap, literally? It's BS testing and the grading for it is really gray and how a tester is supposed to interpret it, according to the literature that comes with the test kit, is also VERY gray. I've seen/read the literature on it and I was just appalled. They also do it within the first 24 hours of the dog being at that facility. Sure, look to see how the dog does in this instantly stressful situation, but give it a week, maybe a little less, and reevaluate the dog then, once he/she has had time to figure out what's up with that place. Maybe even give the dog some training lessons and see how he/she retests. Most shelters don't have or won't make that time, so the dogs are judged based on what they present when dumped into the deep end, as it were. Sink or swim, Sparky.
What also gets MY dander up is that this is a behaviorist who is performing this test. By the very fact that she went to grad school for this knowledge set and gets to put Dr. on her name tag (yay for her *sarcasm*,) she should KNOW that most types of aggression can be worked on to be eliminated. I think Janeen and I know this first hand because we have both worked to help aggressive cases who have come before us (going on what she wrote, as I do not know her personally.)
I have people coming in all the time who want help with their dog jumping on people. It's one of the most often stated behavior problems, I dare say. It's so easily fixable in one training session, maybe two. I certainly do NOT tell those people they should euthanize their dog because of the jumping. I tell them how we can work together to fix it.
I must say though, the evaluator is not supposed to praise to the dog during the testing, just objective interaction and observation. In these evaluations, you are not trying to make friends, but rather see what the dog does in certain key situations. So people on here railing about her not petting the dog, in that I have to disagree. Evaluate first, then come back later and make friends with the dog.
I too think the dog is savvy as to the difference between a live human child and an [ugly/creepy] doll. Dusty gave wonderfully CLEAR avoidance and calming signals to that doll. A dog like that, being so easy to read in body language, would be such a boon to my social skills rehabilitation group as one of the stable dogs who would demonstrate, though doing, good communication skills to the other dogs.
I am signing that petition. And that particular temperament test (which is actually doesn't claim to be, believe it or not...and again, that's according to the literature on that testing) needs to be eliminated. The tester failed her own test, by the way. She was too aggressive (read: pushy) with that doll. By the interpretations of that testing, that's considered aggressive.


If you can stand it, one more dog trainer and shelter evaluator here. I would pass that dog in a hot second all it needs are some manners, a week or two of training ought to take care of the jumping on people. A little more doggie socialization would take care of the enthusiastic and slightly rude greeting. I saw absolutely nothing in that video that set off any red flags. Nothing. Who is the hack who says this dog has no value and has to die?

Riikka from Finland

Dusty is dangerous?? Hello!!! This dog is abrolutely fabulous! Didn't show any agressive signals in any situation!! How dare they can judge Dusty to die???? Shame on you so called "Doctor" Katherine Houpt, your diagnos is so out of mind and this century and you are making yourselve ridiculous!!

Susan Houser

One thing I noticed about this "test" is that the person who was apparently supposed to be a scary witch had on a coat. I think the dog jumped on her because it saw the coat as a signal that the woman might take the dog outside, for a walk. I can imagine how excited that poor dog would be to get outside, away from the chaos. Also, her previous owner might have encouraged the dog to get excited when going for a walk -- many owners do.


I read somewhere that thus test was done as part of a court case. What are the circumstances surrounding that case? Is there a prior incidence of Dusty being chanrged with violating the dangerous dog ordinance or previous biting incident?

I agree the temperament test is flawed but leaving out all the details leaves more questions then answers?


Confused -- here's the back story on the dogs from the Buster Foundation:

Essentially the dogs were seized as part of a drug raid, potentially suspected dog fighting opperation -- so the dogs have not violated anything, just been owned by some unsavory folks.


After reading what she wrote in her evaluation, I would like to declare that she also has a "lack of any useful purpose." Because really - if you're going to write that the dog "bit" the hand and "snarled" at the doll ... you don't get to play dog evaluator anymore. The dog was PLAYING with the hand (dogs play with their mouths because they don't have hands, but apparently she is unaware of that) and was AFRAID of the doll. So Rusty will need some socializing with children, probably. Killing her is really, really, REALLY not the answer. Good gravy.

Eric Sproul

This is ridiculous! I would gladly give him a home here with me.


How could they possibly deem that dog vicious!!! There was nothing in the tapes showing this dog to be anything but happy & wanting a some attention. My dog has passed her CGC & I don't think she would have done as well as that dog did. I think she would have barked at the stupid doll for sure. I want to see a dog that did pass. What would it have had to do to pass? Just not be a Pit Bull?

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