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« Why would a shelter/rescue discourage adoptions? | Main | Weekly Roundup -- Week ending 12/18/11 »

December 17, 2011


Ted Moore

Care to elaborate?

Kim Wolf

I love how you mentioned the dog's transformation once he was let off the chain. I've heard some shelters/animal welfare organizations say they can't adopt out dogs that were chained because they're afraid of how the dog will behave. While not every dog will undergo the transformation shown above, this is a great reminder that shelters/rescues should evaluated each dog as an individual and observe their behavior in the present, rather than pre-judging them by what they experienced in the past.


Even as that dog was lunging, snarling and barking at the rescuer, his tail was soft and wagging; he only knew to defend himself, limited as he was on the chain but clearly wanted more the person approaching - yet didn't know any other way to react. I am re-posting this in hopes others will learn. I, too, don't mind tethering for a short time for safety but agree chaining for life is cruel, doing dogs harm. Thank you for sharing - and I thank Olympia for giving these dogs a chance.


This is Steve Markwell of Olympic Animal Sanctuary who helped us get Mario out of MAS alive (and is now his owner). Awesome video and I note: no chokepole, no dragging, no physical violence to the dog of any kind.


Totally amazing! I have been skeptical about tethering laws because they seem so unenforceable, but anyone with a dog on a chain should have to watch this transformation.


It's a great video, but I think there is a misstatement when he says "chained dogs are nearly three times as likely to bite adults, and almost five times as likely to bite children".

As far as I know, you could only make this statement if we know what percentage of dogs are tethered vs. not tethered. And even beyond that, how much time and access tethered dogs vs untethered dogs have to adults and kids.

This lack of a denominator makes the "likeliness" part of the statement impossible to verify. We may be able to say that X% of bites or fatal attacks involve chained dogs (maybe 3 out of 4 adults bitten by dogs are bitten by chained dogs?) but without the denominator we can not make statements about the likelihood.

Happy to be proven wrong if that information exists, I just haven't seen it.

However, that's not to say that your average chained dog does not pose more of a threat than your average tethered dog. I certainly believe it does, I just don't believe his claim can be made.

Again, happy to be proven wrong though.


Joel -- I tend to agree with you -- which is why I didn't focus a lot on the numbers. They did source the numbers as being from the CDC. If I recall, the CDC has some numbers like this but I feel like they're a little bit shaky in their accuracy. That said, I think anyone who has spent much time training dogs would say that at least the overall point is valid from an anecdotal standpoint -- so it does pass the sniff test; even if the actual number isn't accurate.


Brent, I'm not sure why you cannot see the problem with this statement of yours.

"Major dog bites/attacks are rare given the 78 million dogs in this country-- but when they happen, you can almost be assured that it is the actions of the people surrounding the animals that led to the attack."

You are basically removing from dogs any ability to be a causative agent in something negative. This is easy for you to do because dogs are: 1. not moral agents, 2. were domesticated by humans, 3. live in a human-dominated environment, and 4. must interact with a person to bite a person.

So, no matter what the circumstance, it is possible for someone like you to strain their eyes and see how a person could have prevented the attack. Is this clear thinking on your part? I dare say you do not know how to judge a thought process correctly, especially your own. You are framing this entire issue in a way that is guaranteed to support your preconceptions.

If you carry your reasoning out consistently, then you should believe that nothing good a dog does can be from itself either. Everything good a dog does must be because of their owner or the people around it. Are you willing to be consistent and write as if this were also true? No, it strikes you as intuitively wrong, I'd be willing to wager. The gut feeling you are experiencing is why your entire approach and framework is faulty.



Dogs do not have the ability to cognitively reason. They don't have a moral code, no ethics, no religion.

As such, their behaviors are tremendously shaped by the humans they interact with.

Yes, this also applies to many of the good behaviors. Dogs greet us at the door when we get home because we pet them -- and thus, reward the behavior. Come home every day for a month and kick your dog when you come in the door and see if it continues to come wagging every day -- likely not (ok, please DON'T try this).

The same is true for the good dogs that serve as therapy dogs, search and rescue, etc. While they have instincts that make them good at these tasks, it takes a human who trains and rewards certain behaviors that cause them to happen over and over again.

Dogs are tremendously adaptive to the enviroments we put them in, and yet, sometimes, although rarely, we create a a set of circumstances that causes them to react negatively.

If dogs were the causal agent in these attacks, and inherently aggressive, then major attacks would be pretty common. But they're not. Heck, there's a reason they always make the news and yet the vast majority of car accidents don't. Dog attacks are rare, auto accidents are not -- and rare = newsworthy.


You're relatively slick, Brent. First, dogs CERTAINLY are able to reason. This is unless you define reason in a way that only humans can have it. If you do that, then you'll have to just pick a more appropriate word to use that means basically the same thing.

Because they do not reason as well as some humans (however I believe my dog is smarter than you are Brent), this does NOT imply that their behavior is more plastic as a result. If anything, it might imply the contrary.

Again, you are making dogs sound very predictable and a veritable blank slate. If dogs have instincts, aren't blank slates, and aren't totally predictable, and nature and nurture both have an influence (all of which you must accept or be a total fool); then it is obvious that dogs can be a causative factor in an attack. Notice I said "a causative factor" as in one of many.

Given that this is obviously the case, what you are doing is transparent. You are taking every situation and straining your eyes to dump from the dog any shred of causation and using emotional language steeped in blame.

You either don't see that you are doing this, you can't ever admit you are wrong, or you are just manipulating language to be a PR man. That is your job right? With a bit of perspective, it is obvious what you are doing here and that your views are warped.


First off, they don't reason. A dog cannot look at a completely unknown situation and create a cause and effect solution to that situation. They can learn from past experiences, but they cannot visualize cause/effect of unknown situations. They just can't.

And yes, of course dogs have instincts. However, those instincts do not include the desire, or likelihood, of killing people. If that was a natural canine instinct, with 78 million dogs living in homes, hundreds, if not thousands of canine related fatalities every year. But there aren't.

So, because of the numbers, you absolutely HAVE to rule out human aggression as a natural canine instinct. The data overwhelmingly supports this. So if a dog's natural tendency is not to attack and kill humans (which, there is no way you can support, or, that humans would voluntarily bring them in en masse into their homes) then there must be human activity that creates the undesirable behavior.


Brent, your last post was a horrible example of word smithing, sophistry, and logic chopping. You aren't even wrong, but instead are hopelessly unclear and mistaking how you can spin words with the reality they represent.

1. It's obvious that human reasoning is different from dog reasoning. You are capitalizing on this and simply implicitly defining reasoning, thinking, etc. to be something only humans can do. You are relying on the difficulty in the terms and that you are not explicitly defining them. You could easily argue that dogs do not have emotions using the same technique. That is you would just imbue the term emotion with some woo-woo factors that necessarily make it unique to humans. I think the problem here is that you are relying upon the dog whisperer-esque dog trainers/behaviorists that have their own little hypotheses outside of the mainstream of science (and whose paychecks rely upon people believing that dogs are absolutely trainable and predictable). Simply read scholarly articles related to animals reasoning, thinking, counting, etc. Here's one:

2. A dog does not need to have the specific instinct to kill people in order for another instinct to cause them to hurt someone. Even if the path from instinct to action is indirect, it still exists. Let's say no humans want to wreck their car, but they do want to get to work quickly. Hopefully that example makes it obvious why an instinct to be aggressive towards other dogs (which fighting breeds are more likely to have) or another instinct can cause reactions that result in human injury. Also, you are speaking of dog instinct as a monolith. Are you referring to average instinct for all dogs? Is it not possible that individual dogs do have the natural inclination to be human aggressive? Now, because it is obviously true that dogs are not bloodthirsty killers of human as a natural and common response to being around people, you infer that anytime a dog hurts someone it must be human caused. I must ask, are you seriously making that argument? That makes absolutely no sense, and I doubt it does for you either. I'll just finish by stating that you conveniently only speak of human deaths by dogs and not the thousands of people admitted to hospitals each year or the many more that need medical attention for a bite. You also ignore all dog attacks on non-human animals. It is convenient for you to focus on the most rare outcomes of dog violence (human death).

Simply put, you are trying to come off as some hardcore realist about dogs when in reality what you are doing is having a Disney-like mentality that anything bad a dog does must be because of some human. It is thinly veiled misanthropy. You could make the same bad arguments and assert that everything a child does is the fault of their parents. People actually do argue in that way, and it is disgusting and only survives in a PC environment. Face it, some times a dog does something negative and no human can reasonably be blamed. Your need to always explain away a negative dog action is the same impulse that causes people to come up with silly superstitions. If you believe that you opening an umbrella in your house caused that heart attack, then it gives you an illusory sense of control.


Can't help but laugh at the accusation of word-smithing and the irony of the post that followed.

According to most studies, dogs have the cognitive ability of a 2 year old.

Two year olds clearly have emotions, instincts and reason -- but it's not nearly as developed as that in humans. And unfortunately, two year olds do horrible things all the time...and you don't have to look far to find the cases:


Now, do we assume that the 2 year old was evil? or had an instinct to kill? or that a parent was negligent in the supervision of their child who didn't have the ability understand the circumstances of their actions?

The answer seems obvious (note, I'm still talking about very young children, not older and teenage children).

So while we would never rationally put the circumstances of a case like this squarely on the 2 year old child, who clearly lacks the reason and ability to determine cause/effect to understand their actions, it seems equally ridiculous to treat canines as if they would be different.

It doesn't make rational sense, nor would any expert in the world of canine behavior endorse such a reckless notion...and instead, experts would agree that dog owners are responsible for the training, care, and containment of their canines. Focusing on anything different only leads to the ignorance that leads to most of these attacks in the first place.


And BTW, watch the video again, and then note what a HUGE difference there is in the dog's behavior based solely on how the humans involved either a) contained and neglected the animal or b) cared for it.

The animal on the chain for sure would have attacked a child that would have ventured up to it and not yielded to its warnings (as it was clearly warning the approaching rescuer).

Meanwhile, the animal that was off the chain for 24 hours would have been much less likely to be involved in such an attack -- based solely on its containment and surroundings. Ignoring this reality is irresponsible and negligent.


My dog has been on a tie out for his whole life before we got him from someone else...and he is nothing but a baby...we had him in a kennel and because he kept escaping which is what american bullys have a problem doing....we had to tie out him by our house...he has not bite noone...he tries to act tough but once they get near him he starts licking them to death...the only way a tie out dog or chained dog is aggressive to someone is if they are neglected, or abused, or never have food or water or shelter....then they will become aggressive...but I keep water, food and shelter for my boy, and I play with him everytime I go outside...rather its jus a pat on the head or a rope in my hand to his mouth...he is never neglected or abused...but like most dogs tho...he is protective...and Im glad he is like that...people like this needs to tell the truth.., not jus half the truth, tell others what i jus said about the chained out deal....I swear people get me, about this pet and kids animals are my kids. even my chickens are my kids, but they are in a chicken pen....Kids use the toilet, babies poop and pee in a diaper, kids are inside not outside, kids are not animals, they are human beings, no I would not tie out my child...but dogs yes they are part of the family, but outside dogs will wonder in the road, kids dont have to have a fence in go out there with your kids and play, dogs, have to have a fenced in yard, or some type of something to keep them in your yard...dogs dont use the toilet, I treat my dogs like my kids, but not t totally like it...Iwould never tie out my child because that wrong...and kids will not go in the road or in other peoples yard and poop on their lawn or mark their territory on people...because kids dont do that they go inside and use the toilet...also the rd business, you have to teach them and kids learn 10 times faster than dogs....dogs are stubborn and take more time to train...this is my opinion...all it is...jus sayin

Shawn Hardin

This sir isnt the truth...That was owner neglect,not to mention a stranger coming into his space,no wonder he was somewhat agressive (I say somwhat,because he was reacting out of fear,not agression..if so he would have biten)And of course once you get him away from an irresposible owner and out of his element he will return to a normal dog..There is a such thing as reposible owners who have chained dogs,and are well socialized dogs..Ive had APBT for 10+ yrs..And never once had a human agressive one! Thats why they were so easy for dog thiefs to steal...


Shawn -- that was the point of the video -- that yes, leaving a dog chained and unsocialized is neglect. And yes, a dog left in this situation will react out of fear (fear-based aggression is the most common form of aggression) because they have no ability for flight because of the restraint. While it is possible for someone to chain as a primary form of containment AND socialize their dogs -- it is far less common than the opposite.


So I know this is an old blog entry but seeing as how this poor dog ended up at the awful and now defunct OAS, anyone know his whereabouts???

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