Paws up to Bakersfield Animal Care Center Director Julie Johnson for not backing down. Her statement May 16 that the dog that bit 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo in an unprovoked attack earlier in the week will not be turned over to any of the rescue centers promising to rehabilitate him is the correct one.
There are many factors that can contribute to a dog's aggression. While the majority of aggression problems often occur because of owner ignorance and/or irresponsibility and can be brought under control thru training and education, what's usually not considered is sometimes a dog bites because it is genetically predisposed to do so. Not because of its breed, but because of its breeding.
During a career spanning more than 40 years, 17 1/2 of which were devoted exclusively to instruction and training in the handling of aggressive dogs, I've had the opportunity to work with dogs with every type of aggression, and many things immediately jumped out at me after several viewings of this "puppy's" attack on a child.
Most alarming was the intent behind this dog's attack, a pure predatory response, triggered as if a switch had been thrown, with no hesitation before a full-on strike. There were no nips or pinches to worry or intimidate this dog's prey; he bit full-mouthed to take possession of it. And remember, this was a puppy, not a mature adult dog possessing fully developed jaws and teeth.
After watching this video, it occurred to me that it wouldn't be long before many misguided dog lovers and any number of the self-proclaimed doggie "gurus/messiahs" surfaced, preaching redemption through rehabilitation. But to what end?
The dog will always be considered a liability. This dog, according to Johnson, continued "to fight and bite workers who are bringing food and water to his kennel." At the same time, dogs that haven't bitten anyone, would make great family pets and are only guilty of being unwanted are euthanized in shelters every day.
Breed of the week: The German Shepherd Dog
No. 2 in AKC registrations does not even begin to describe the popularity of this beloved breed of dog. Originally a member of the Working Group, in 1983, despite a great deal of controversy, they were transferred to the Herding Group. Beloved worldwide, they have served as assistants for the disabled, therapy dogs, search and rescue, home guardians, protectors of livestock as well as partners to police officers and soldiers.
Size: The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade is 24-26 inches, and for females, 22-24 inches. Coat: Double coat of medium length.
Breed temperament: According to the GSD standard, the most important attribute of the breed is its character. GSDs are distinguished by their loyalty, courage and ability to assimilate and retain training for an amazing number of specialized services. They should be of even disposition, poised and unexcitable, with restrained and composed confidence. Dogs must not be timid, shrink behind their handler, show nervousness or anxiety. Lack of confidence is not typical of good character and shyness is considered a serious fault.
Important factors to consider before getting a GSD:
They must be well-socialized.
These are large, powerful dogs.
They shed year-round.
They do not do well confined to a backyard or isolated from their family.
These dogs were bred to work. A German Shepherd Dog without "meaningful employment" as an outlet for its intelligence and energy will develop its own job description, which can include problematic behaviors such as barking, environmental destruction, self-mutilation and barrier frustration.
Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/ owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@ yahoo.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.