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Euthanizing an Aggressive Dog and Dealing with the Guilt: How to Move Forward

Dog Loss By Meg Marrs 8 min read January 6, 2023 86 Comments

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feeling guilty after euthanizing aggressive dog

There’s no debating it: Euthanasia is the most difficult decision we may face as dog owners.

Behavioral euthanasia? Even more difficult and traumatic.

No one wants to have to consider behavioral euthanasia, and it’s natural to feel guilty or depressed when confronted with such a situation, no matter how dangerous or aggressive a dog may be. 

After all, even an extremely aggressive and dangerous dog is still your precious pet. And of course, we know even the most aggressive dogs aren’t horror shows 24/7 – they can be absolute angels in certain settings.

Euthanizing an aggressive dog isn’t an easy subject to discuss, but we’ll tackle it with you below. We’ll discuss why it is sometimes necessary and share ways you can cope with this agonizing decision. 

Euthanizing a Dog and Dealing with the Guilt: Key Takeaways

  • In some cases, euthanasia is the best decision for owners dealing with aggressive dogs. Making the decision about whether or not to euthanize an aggressive dog depends on many factors, including safety risks as well as the dog’s quality of life.
  • If you have to euthanize an aggressive dog, allow yourself to grieve and try to make peace with your decision. Remind yourself that you’ve done everything you could and that you’ve made the best decision you can on behalf of you and your pet. Owners who haven’t dealt with aggressive behaviors won’t understand the agony of your decision. Do not let others shame you for your choice.

Is Behavioral Euthanasia Warranted for Aggressive Dogs?

Behavioral euthanasia (BE) refers specifically to euthanizing an animal due to behavior reasons (rather than medical issues or as a hospice option).

Behavioral euthanasia is a very contentious topic, as some parties may argue that behavior-based euthanasia should never be an option.

But make no mistake, behavioral euthanasia is – in some cases – truly the best option for everyone.

It’s important to remember that every case of dog aggression is unique and should be treated as such, since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment for it. 

Aggression can be caused by any number of factors, including:

  • Traumatic experiences
  • Genetics
  • Poor socialization
  • Extreme fear
  • Other factors that aren’t always under your control. 

Ultimately, some cases can be treated, while others cannot.

Behavioral euthanasia is generally reserved for the most extreme cases of aggression in dogs, meaning that the dog is a severe risk to you, other people, other animals, or even themselves. 

Euthanasia Should Be a Last Resort

Behavioral euthanasia shouldn’t be considered until every alternative avenue has been explored, and only after a thorough vet check and a consultation with a certified dog behavior consultant (NOT just a standard dog trainer).

Make sure to read our full guide on how to decide when an aggressive dog should be euthanized to ensure you’ve explored all alternatives and have done what’s required to help your dog as best you can.

All owners of aggressive dogs have to come to the best decision possible for their specific situation.

You Had to Euthanize Your Aggressive Dog: Coping with the Decision

Euthanasia is never an easy decision, and it may weigh heavily on you long after the event passes. 

Just remember that no outside party really knows your situation with your dog.

guilt over dog euthanasia

Ignore Any Critics – They’ll Never Know the Pain You’ve Gone Through

Ultimately, unless someone has owned a dog with serious behavior issues before, outside parties simply can’t understand the physical and emotional toll living with an aggressive dog can take.

It’s very easy for owners of “normal” dogs to point fingers. Unfortunately, you may hear from critics who will claim you should have tried harder, been more patient, and done more.

Let me be clear here, no one is in a place to judge you.

No one else has seen the tears, the sleepless hours, and the money spent on behaviorists. No one else knows the pain and agony you’ve gone through. No one else knows the tremendous work and effort you’ve put into trying to help your dog, and the emotional torture you’ve navigated coming to this decision.

Whether or not other have witnessed it, you’ve likely explored a long list of alternatives to behavioral euthanasia (and if this is still a decision you are grappling with, make sure to check out our full guide to how to decide when an aggressive dog should be euthanized).

Even for owners who have had problem dogs before, every situation in unique.

Experiences vary tremendously, and every dog is unique. Just because one owner was able to make a situation work with their aggressive dog does not mean that you could have with your own dog.

Let Yourself Mourn

Don’t forget to let yourself mourn for your pet who has passed.

I think for some people, mourning a pet you’ve chosen to put down can feel like an odd emotional juxtaposition. If you chose to put the pet down, why should you feel sad, since this was your choice?

It’s normal to feel sad. To feel heartbroken. No matter how the result came about, you’ve still lost a beloved family member and dear friend. You have as much a right to mourn as anyone who has had to put down a dog for illness or disease.

grieving dog

So, go ahead and mourn. Get a piece of pet memorial jewelry made, create a digital canine memorial page, or make a photo book celebrating the good times with your dog. Let yourself grieve.

If you’re struggling with grief, consider reaching out to a counselor. Voice what you’re feeling and work through your struggles for as long as it may take. Your feelings are valid and deserve time and attention to process, too. 

Losing a dog is always hard, and you’re allowed to grieve. Your situation is nothing to be ashamed of, and this result is not the sign of you being a failure as a pet owner. If anything, you’re incredibly strong and responsible in protecting your dog and others from further harm and suffering.

It’s OK to Feel Relieved

Many owners who have had to put down dogs due to behavioral euthanasia may find themselves struggling with an additional, difference sense of guilt; guilt for the feeling of relief they’ve experienced.

Do not be ashamed of this.

No one can deny that living with an aggressive dog is enormously stressful. It can have a huge impact on your quality of life and can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Living with and managing a difficult dog is a ton of work, physically and emotionally. It’s natural and normal to feel some degree of relief once this hardship is released.

These feelings of relief do not mean you don’t love or miss your dog who has passed. It just means you’re a normal human with varying and complex emotions.

Trust Your Decision

There may be some days where you find yourself second-guessing your decision. But ultimately, exercises in ruminating on the “what-if’s” will not be fruitful. Remember that you have gone through all your options, and you’ve tried all management and behavior modification techniques that were at your disposal.

Behavioral euthanasia was your last option, and it had to be done.

Trust that the choice was the best one for all parties involved

behavioral euthanasia loss

Imagine if your dog had gone on to seriously injure (or perhaps even kill) someone. The guilt from that would be far worse than the guilt you feel from euthanizing your dog. And that doesn’t even include the potential ramifications you may suffer, like a lawsuit or criminal charges.

While the dog’s life was meaningful and valuable, so is yours.

So are the lives of those who were at risk from your dog. 

Part of responsible dog ownership is ensuring your dog doesn’t hurt others, and if this isn’t possible, euthanasia is the best solution. Many times, aggressive dogs spend years bouncing from home to home or alone in a kennel. That’s a cruel existence that does no favors for the dog.  

Also keep in mind that each pet owner’s situation can vary throughout their life.

It’s possible that – years later – you do obtain the financial resources that would have allowed more thorough and ongoing work with a certified dog behavior expert, or you end up living in a household situation that would have been more conducive to your problem dog. In the end, you did not have these options when you had to consider euthanasia, so they end up irrelevant. Don’t beat yourself up for factors outside of your control.

Consider Finding a Support Group

You aren’t the first owner that’s had to cope with the gut-wrenching decision to euthanize your dog, and you don’t have to go through this alone.

In fact, there are several helpful support groups and similar resources available to owners going through these kinds of difficult situations.

Some of the most notable include:

Also, please understand that dog loss is a subject very close to our hearts here at K9 of Mine, and we’ve tried to provide a number of resources for owners dealing with this kind of pain.

For example, you may find it helpful to memorialize your pet or read about how I coped with the loss of a beloved family pet.

We also encourage readers to share any other resources they may have found in the comments below.

My Experience Owning an Aggressive Dog

My rescue dog Remy has a lot of behavioral issues involving reactivity and aggression. We’re at a place now where his behavior is manageable – but it wasn’t always like this.

For the first six months I had Remy, living with him was absolute torture. And I really don’t consider that an exaggeration. He would bite, bark, and nip at me several times a day, every day, and I couldn’t figure out why. It was physically painful but – even more – emotionally scarring. I felt abused and betrayed by this dog I was trying to help and had opened my home to.

As I read every article I could find relating to Remy’s problems, and even as I brought in professional trainers to help us, I was in agony. I started drinking and crying every night, I had to double my anxiety medication dosage, and couldn’t leave my bed at all some days.

Eventually Remy and I got through it, and his behavior has gotten much better as a result of a ton of hard work and focused effort.

But I often think about those days where I did have to at least consider behavioral euthanasia. I knew I could not continue to live my life in that state. If I hadn’t begun to see improvements in Remy’s behavior, euthanasia would have been a possibility I would have had to really contend with.

That period when Remy was at his worst was the hardest time of my life. I say that while also acknowledging I had the financial resources, emotional support, time, and interest to basically make working with Remy my full-time job.

I honestly think there are very few people who could have made the situation I was in with Remy work. And I am sure there are many other dogs out there like him.

Despite being in a good situation with Remy now, I’ve sworn to never judge anyone who has had to go through the kind of agony I went through with Remy. There is no easy way out of a situation like that, and every decision is a hard one.

Please know you are not a bad person if you had to put down your dog for behavior issues. You did not “fail” your dog. You did not make the decision lightly. You did your best with a dog whose genetics and/or past trauma made it very difficult for them to lead a normal, happy life. You gave them all the love and support they could ask for. Sadly, sometimes that’s just not enough.

For all those who had to make this excruciating choice – we support you. You are not alone.

***

Dog aggression is an incredibly complicated issue, and many of the variables at play are out of our hands. 

Some dogs, due to genetics, may have aggression and imbalances ingrained in them. While some can be rehabilitated using hours of hard, consistent work and training over several years, that isn’t always the case. 

Attempting to do so requires managing a dangerous animal all the while, which takes an extreme amount of time, money, risk, and patience. It’s reasonable to not feel emotionally or physically up for committing years of your life to fix or manage a dog with serious issues when in extreme cases, the behavior never improves, and everyone suffers.

We’re so sorry that this is even a topic that must be discussed, but we hope you find peace in your decision, whatever it may be. Euthanizing an aggressive dog is never easy. Please share your experience in the comments if you think it may benefit others going through this difficult time. 

dog growling at me
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Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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Emily

I know the time has come for my 8 year old boston. She is severely dog aggressive, has attacked and bitten several people, and now growls at our 1 year old and has tried to bite her. Not only this but she cannot be around our other 2 dogs. We crate and rotate the dogs constantly and my husband and I are suffering tremendously due to this. No one has a good quality of life , the dogs or us. My Boston cannot even be downstairs with us at all anymore during the day because of our child. My dog has debilitating anxiety and tried to attack my husband for an entire year after moving in with him. I’ve had her since she was 9 weeks old and she has always had something wrong with her mentally. We’ve tried everything we can but how long must we suffer for a dog? I am heartbroken and confused.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Emily. We’re so sorry to hear about the struggles with your pooch.
Eight years is a long time to deal with these kinds of problems, and it is completely understandable that you’re at the end of your rope.

Euthanasia may very well be the only solution at this point, but you may want to consider rehoming her. An adult (or adult couple) with no children or other dogs may be willing to take on the challenge, though that is obviously a bit of a long shot.

Either way, we certainly sympathize and wish you the best with whatever decision you make.

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Garreth

I’m an hour away from having to do this for our pitty/staffy mix. Obi-Wan. He’s the most gorgeous and energetic dog, we’ve loved him. He has a dark side though. He almost killed my other two dogs, lunged at my wife, bit my landlord and tries to kill the cats. We fear he might turn on our 2 toddlers any day now. The hard part is seeing him run amuck without the faintest clue that he’s not going to be around soon. It’s painful for us. Our worry is that he goes to a new home and bites someone else or kills another animal? What if he’s abused? What if he’s used for dog fights? What if he’s kicked onto the street? As our dog, we’ve had to make this decision for our kids, our other animals, and for any other unfortunate person this may end up having happened to. I hate this, but he’s dominated and won, there’s no coming back from this. Our hearts are shattered.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Garreth. We’re so sorry to hear about the problems with your pooch. 🙁

We would gently encourage you to reframe this a bit though — he hasn’t “dominated and won.” That’s just not how dogs work.

Definitely do whatever you think is best for your family and your four-footer, but you may want to at least consider reaching out to a certified dog behavior consultant before making any permanent decisions.

We wish you the best during this difficult time.

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Kurse

I am absolutely wracked with guilt over the decision to euthanize our 3 year old hound. We have 4 dogs and he has been living away from our goldens for almost 2 years and only is able to play and be around his sister. He is so adorable most times but we are all scared of him as he’s so very unpredictable. He snaps and growls at familiar and unfamiliar people, he cannot be around other dogs hence is unable to hunt which is in his breed characteristic. We don’t have any rhyme or reason to his behaviour. His vet thinks he may have a neurological issue. We’ve exhausted local options and live in a small town with few resources. I’m broken and don’t know how to cope with taking his life away

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Ben Team

Hey there, Kurse.
We’re so sorry to hear about your pooch. It’s never easy to make these kinds of decisions, but it’s often even more difficult when there doesn’t seem to be a reason for the behavioral issues.
We wish you the very best of luck coping and encourage you to check out some of our pet loss resources.

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Enrica

I am writing this post three weeks after putting our beloved poodle mix Finley down at 4 1/2 years old. I am grateful for this article and in particular found the posts from other dog owners really helpful. For the first time since we lost Finley, I do not feel entirely alone. He was such a big part of our lives and we are heartbroken without him!
My story started when Finley came to us from a rescue in the south. We noticed on his papers that he was transported at only 7 weeks old- this was a red flag for us as most states do not even allow transport until the puppy is at least 8 weeks old, given the significant physical and emotional importance of staying with their mom and litter mates. We would later learn that this early separation and genetics would have a material impact on him.
Within days of his arrival we took him to our vet. She tried to warn us that he was going to have behavioral problems. We brushed her comments off and naively though we are experienced dog owners, and we are more that equipped to handle him- besides he was already part of our family!
In the years that followed we began to notice Finley’s increasing anxiety which eventually evolved into significant resource guarding, incessant barking, and growling at other dogs. We made a mental note of all of his triggers (lovingly called “Finley’s Quirks”) in an attempt to reduce his stress level. For two years we consulted with our vet, tried 2 different medications and engaged several personal dog trainers to help us to learn how to better manage his growing issues. In his last year, he had attacked our daughter’s dog and several other dogs while out on his morning walk, snapped at our grandchildren and lunged at my husband’s arm . What is so hard for us is that between his increasing number of aggressive incidences, he was an amazing, curious and loving companion. He was super intelligent and a pleasure to be around We adored him and were committed to seeing him through this.
When Finley snapped however, his behavior changes were completely unpredictable. One evening I went to pet him and he attempted to bite my arm. I luckily pulled away quickly and began to back away from him. He then jumped off the couch and lunged at me biting me twice in the leg . I knew then that we had come to a point where we may not be able to get him through this.
We consulted 2 vets , and with their guidance we determined that putting him down was the most humane and respectful last thing we could do for him. In our mind we knew that this was the best choice, but in our hearts we still have trouble with it. With all the dogs we’ve had over our 45+ years of marriage, we were closest to Finley, even though his time with us was so short.
My heart goes out to you all who have gone through this. We are not alone!

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Ben Team

Hey there, Enrica. We’re so sorry to hear about Finley, but we’re glad the article and comments from other readers have helped in some small part.
We appreciate you sharing your story with everyone.

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Virginia

We have made the painful decision to euthanize our 10 year old terrier when we took him to an overdue vet appointment (because of her prior bad experience) when he violently turned on the vet tech and ripped his shirt. Even after muzzling him, he was slamming his head against the wall. He has always been hyperactive and territorial but I can no longer justify his behavior even though he’s only 20 pounds. I feel extremely guilty because this is precipitated by the fact we are going on vacation and I needed him updated on his shots, hence the med appointment. I cannot have someone come to the house nor can I board him in the state he is in as it is not safe for anyone. I feel guilty. I let it get this far out of hand, but I can no longer be in denial. I’m glad that the new vet witnessed this behavior, so when I bring him back (with prescribes tranquilizers), she will understand and agree with my decision.

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Ben Team

That sounds like a really heart-breaking situation, Virginia. 🙁
Just be sure to explore all the possible options with your vet before making a final decision.

We wish you the best of luck during this difficult time.

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roberta

Virginia, I just euthanized our 13 year old 18 lb Terrier mix today for behavior issues he’s had since joining the family in 2011. I know he was not properly socialized and abused in his previous home. His temperament was protection over the family in the form of barking and lunging at anyone who came near us. I was the dog walker, and he lunged at other dogs, or at any person who came too close. Family members and friends could not stay at the house without me keeping him by my side on a leash, and he had to be gated or crated from contractors coming in to do work. A few years ago, a woman in the community did not take no for an answer when I begged her not to come into our space on a walk. He bit her leg hard. Her son was an attorney. Luckily they got enough from insurance that they did not sue us personally, but it resulted in him having a bite history with the county. Living with him was incredibly stressful, but when he was just with my parents and I he was the sweetest dog in the world. Recently my father passed away, and my mom has to be moved to assisted living. I am in limbo, and realized I cannot take him to an apartment or another living situation where I will be out working all day and he will be alone. My parents were retired. He always had company. I could not take the risk he would bite someone again if I moved with him. After a long discussion with his vet, we decided that behavior euthanasia was the most humane choice. It was painful saying goodbye, telling him how much I love him and to go be with my father, and his best buddy Sasha, our Lab who passed in 2019. I am broken over this decision. I miss him so much. He brought me comfort and purpose. I feel so alone. I don’t wish this decision on anyone.

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Ben Team

We’re so sorry to hear about your pup, Roberta.
Please consider checking out some of our pet loss resources.

They’ve proven helpful for some of our other readers in similar situations.

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Deanna S

I just stumbled upon this article after having to euthanize my 99% sweet boy…it was the 1% that was bad, very bad. For two years, I’ve tried medication and behavioral therapy. And then recently, he got worse, biting both my grandson and then myself within two weeks. And then 3 days ago, he attacked me (both face and hands). And even then I struggled with the decision. I know it’s for the best but I’m so very heartbroken. He was only 4.

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Ben Team

We are so sorry to hear that, Deanna. But we’re glad you found the article and hope it gave you some comfort.
Be sure to check out our dog loss resources too.

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Hope

Thank you for this article. My family is walking through this right now.

We got our Boston Terrier as a puppy…choosing the breed because of the family/kid friendly aspect. Most of the time he is the perfect dog for our family. He is anxious around strangers and other dogs, so it hasn’t been ideal, but it has been manageable. He has begun resource guarding one of our kids and her room (she is his person) and it has escalated more than we realized.

Within the past month he has bitten two of my children. The last incidents were last week. He attempted to bite the 8 year old and she managed to get into the bathroom away from him. Two days later he went after her again and bit her pretty severelt– required 6 staples to close the wound. I am thankful it was just on her leg. There was no provocation (other than walking by him in the hallway) and no warning. From 0 to biting immediately.

We are heartbroken. A puppy was supposed to be an good thing for our family. I feel like I’ve failed the dog and my kids.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Hope. We’re glad you found the article helpful, but please understand — you didn’t fail anyone. Sometimes, these things just happen.
We wish you the best moving forward and hope your kiddo has a speedy recovery.

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Kathy

Thank you so much for this article. I am walking this difficult road now and it was so helpful to me.

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Ben Team

We’re glad you found it helpful, Kathy. Best of luck with your pooch.

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Julie W

We have made the heartbreaking, gut wrenching decision to BE our blue heeler this week. She attacked and killed our 5 lb chorkie, who she has grown up with, slept with, walked with, sun bathed with for the past 2 years since Heeler was 8 weeks old. It was a traumatic 30 second ordeal. There was no acknowledgement of commands or our physical restraint. She has increasingly became more aggressive over the past 2 months. It came to the point that she had to be sedated to go to her vet. She went to obedience and agility training weekly and the trainers haven’t been able to hands on assist with her any longer. I am angry. I am guilt ridden. I am bitter. I am heartbroken. I am numb. I failed both of my dogs. I was their peace. Their safe haven. Their leader.
She is my daughters best friend, companion, partner in crime, selfie partner. She loves to smell daffodils. She is afraid of the dark and loud noises. She is the best girl in our eyes. Sadly our vet, the behaviorist and trainers have said this is the kindest thing we can do. Why does it have to hurt so bad? I am praying really hard to forgive her so that when I look in her eyes as she drifts to sleep for the last time she truly senses nothing but love.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Julie. We’re so sorry to hear about your pooch, but please understand that you didn’t fail — these things just happen sometimes.
That probably won’t lessen the pain much right now, but it is important that we’re not harder on ourselves than need be during these times.

Please check out some of our resources about dog loss — they’ve proven helpful for many of our other readers.

We wish you the very best of luck and thank you for sharing your story with our other readers.

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Kathy

I’m so so sorry. Praying for your comfort.

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Emma

Today I had my 18 month old American pocket bully put to sleep.
After a great family weekend and bbq he bit and tore my brother’s arm open, in a unprovoked attack,! It was terrifying for the whole family! I loved this dog with my whole heart and have not been apart from him since he came to live with us at six weeks old,!
I’m completely broken!!! Run free Angus

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Ben Team

We’re so sorry to hear about Angus, Emma.
Please consider checking out some of our dog loss resources.
We’re sending positive vibes your direction.

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Amanda May Triggs

Hi, I am currently reading the comments after this great article & snuggling with my Rita, cattle dog/pittie mix. I have made the decision to have her euthanized this week. A couple weeks ago she attacked and killed a 9lb poodle that walked into our yard. To say the incident was traumatic would be an understatement. She was fixated, locked on to the jugular/face & nothing would break her away. To top it off, I am 37 weeks pregnant. I fell down on the ground and tried pulling her off the dog. Because it happened in our yard, my dog was not cited. However, this was not the first aggressive behavior I’ve witnessed. She bit my friend on the arm, bit a boxer larger than her and is generally so very reactive on leash.

We have not had her for an entire year yet. She came up to Washington from Texas with nine puppies in toe and a broken back leg, they say from a car running her over. She was a foster and we took her on last summer. The hardest part is that she is so incredibly loving to me and my partner, and she is bonded with our other dog. this whole situation is so heartbreaking. I am so glad that no people or children were hurt in the incident recently.

My fear is that this young girl, not even two years old yet, will be bounced around from one home to another, kenneled, harshly, disciplined, and live a depressing life. I think this is the best decision that I can make for her. I appreciate this article, this community, and the Awareness that we can hold several conflicting feelings about a situation all together at the same time. It’s confusing and heartbreaking.

Sincerely,
Amanda May

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Megan Marrs

It’s such a terrible decision to have to make Amanda. Know that you are not alone and comfort yourself knowing you are making the best, safest choice for everyone, including your pup. We’re thinking of you in our hearts here at K9 of Mine.

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BE

It’s very difficult. I am sitting here bawling right now and have been for the past 10 minutes. I tried training with a professional that takes in dogs from all over the world. She rehomes dogs and everything. He went there for 2 montha. Came back and seemed fine as i kept up with all he needed. He started doing better. Then attacked thw alpha male in my house, my husband, unprovoked. Had already bit both my kids in the face and from the one it looked like he was trying to rip his nose off. As a puppy bit another kid in the face. He attacked the people he loved. Would wake up and literally choose violence. He never hurt me. But since he would wake up and be startled out of nowhere and attack like he only saw red and didnt even know what he was doing. But sometimes he was perfectly loving and it was so weird it was like something would just switch in his brain. It was literally the worst and so scary. Had to lock him up in a room whenever anyone would come over and stress to everyone to not open the door. My husband couldnt come in my room and neither could my kids. Even when i wasnt in the room he would do unprovoked attacks. Outside he would attack. He was almost the size of a doberman. The vet said to me to never forget this story. He had a guy come in with his dog stating that it was getting aggressive to his daughter and explained more behavioral issues, not sure if this guy sent it away for training before this or not but a week or two later he brought the dog in and said that he should have listened to him. The dog ripped up his daughters face and he brought the dog in and said he should have listened to the dr. Anyway, back to my story. The professional trainer said that i would have to keep this dog on a chain, cage or locked in a kennel at all times for the rest of his life forever. He had run 5 acres, complete freedom, a comfy bed and could go under the covers wirh me. He knew nothing but pure love and joy. No abuse, no neglect, no abandonment. I had to pray about what to do. Then i got confirmation after confirmation. The trainer online (another professional trainer i hired and spent a lot of money on) but its not about the money i wouldve spent more, the breeder even agreed. If i would have sent him back to her she would have had to jist put him down alone and without his momma. I loved that dog more than any other dog in the entire world. This is ripping me apart. Anyway. The vet, the trainer, another trianer, no fosters wanted him. He was deemed to go to the animal shelter and with his history they would have just put him down. Even if someone did end up getting him he would have had the same thing happen and someone would have had some life altering injuries and trauma. People needed to be protected. People get too tied up in being obsessed about a dog instead of people! but might have been tied to a tree and neglected for the rest of his life out in the cold and abandoned. He could have been dumped and forever been searching for me. Freezing starving and dying. They told me that he needs to be kept on a chain at my side at all times or a kennel or cage. No more freedom. He would literally make the scariest sound like an absolute wild animal and jump up to try to get their faces. I was told that for him to make it his life quality was going to be gone. Locked up and chained up for the rest of his life. No more freedom. They said no one will be able to meet his needs. It still hurts so much. I cry all the time. I miss him so much. My mom and sister judged me. My mom even said i chose to forgive you and move on so i came over. I mean, they wouldnt even let me tell them what was going on. I lost my mom (relationship) because of this. Then she saw an article and said you might have made the right decision but then went back to but then you put him down, like saying you did the right thing i think, but you should have done more. What more could have i done? I am sure people will attack me from this comment too but i need to truly let it out. No one knows what it is like to have done everything and feel so heartbroken. I now can have people come in my room i can have people over without fear. I can leave my teenage kids at home without worrying. They would say oh look hes being nice now. And then not understand to keep away from him. Please, if anyone has a negative comment, keep it to yourself. I suppose i could habe kept him in a cage in my room for the rest of his life without having freedom again. Dogs can’t reason or understand when thwy are doing wrong. My conclusion with this instance is that soemthing was off in his literal brain. There was nothing that could be done. I mean throwing him in a cage and locking away the key? For what? So i could just stare at him

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Ben Team

Hey there, BE. We’re so sorry to hear about the situation with your pooch.
We hope that sharing his story here will help in some small way, but we’d also encourage you to check out some of our dog loss resources — they’ve helped some of our other readers in similar situations.

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Chloe Howard

The other day I made the awful decision to put my best friend down. He was collie cross terrier named Jenga. From the moment we got him he had a big personality, followed me everywhere, slept with me and was there through a hard time in my life. I treated him like he was my child, did everything for him and took him everywhere- which is why I think I’m struggling so much because there’s no where he hasn’t been.
He showed signs of aggression early on particularly over food and possessions which we tried training out of him but it would change from food to a piece of tissue or a stone that he had found on the floor. But we could live with that and training did work some what.
As time went on he started to bite hands and fingers but they weren’t too bad and he often showed warning signs in the beginning which myself and my partner acknowledged to prevent further attacks. As more time went on his attacks started to become irrational sometimes it was because he felt tricked or he didn’t want to do something or he was getting proccessive over me.
After multiple bites and giving second chances we thought having him castriated would help control some of his attitude or hormone levels – maybe he had too much energy? But that made it 10x worse.
He would constantly have zoomies, grab things to trigger attacks. He would jump on the sofa for cuddles and then as you stoked him would decided he wanted to rip your hands off instead. For my partner he became increasingly scared, he no longer wanted to stroke him but I still had faith.
After a really bad incident at Christmas time things just went downhill, my sweet boy was no longer there instead the collie side of him looked like it took over, his eyes changed, the way he walked changed. He became paranoid of the outside and loud noises. He started hiding under the bed and tables and despite my best efforts to calm him down and be with him he looked terrified of himself. He no longer came to me when I shouted him and on walks which he loved more than anything I’d find him walking behind me wanting to go back home. It broke me so much because I didn’t know what to do to make him better.
With this change he become worse and biting seemed like a planned exercise. He bit me so hard and so violently that I became terrified of him. And then as I was leaving for work he did it again, he pinned me up in a corner looked me up and down and then lunged at me biting as hard as he could. My partner pulled him off and it was at that point I knew that my boy was no longer there and we couldn’t risk this happening again. We took him to his favourite walk, we were there for hours going through so many solutions but there simply wasn’t one. We rang rehoming centres, trainers, vets – who we had previously been talking to over his behaviour. No rehoming centres would take him because of his breed. Apparently two breeds like that should never be bred together. The risk of him hurting people and his own mental state made the decision seem clear. I’m totally heartbroken and unsure how I’m going to move on. I loved him more than anything. I just keep thinking was there something more I could have done.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Chloe. We’re so sorry to hear about your pup and the decision you had to make. But it sounds like he was really struggling with some serious issues.
Please consider checking out some of our pet loss resources and give yourself plenty of time to heal.

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Sarah

I put my sweet boy down yesterday. He was warm and gentle with family, but aggressive toward kids, strangers, and strange dogs. Since he was so large and strong, the potential for serious injury was real.

But I still feel guilty and horrible for ending my friend’s life when he was mostly good. He wasn’t abused or abandoned. He was loved and he only started showing signs of aggression when he turned one and his breed (Anatolian/Pitt) kicked into high gear.

I worked with him and was able to manage the behavior and minimize the risks to others through muzzling and a large fence, but every time we encountered others he needed to be calmed, refocused, and redirected. This was exhausting but I was willing to do it.

In the end, what made my decision was the realization that if my management efforts ever failed – if he escaped or was let out of the yard without his muzzle, for example, he would be an immediate danger to the kids and dogs in the neighborhood.

So I chose to have his life story be a short one filled with love and ending peacefully rather than waiting for something awful to happen.

But I feel guilty because he only had one bite (another dog) on his record, and so I wonder if I could have worked harder and saved him. I think the aggression towards kids would not have gone away, though. It felt as if it was not an issue of obedience or temperament but of instinct.

I still feel like a murderer who killed my best friend because he was inconvenient. This is so hard to process because the relief I fee is very real, and that has me feeling so guilty!

I appreciate this article so much! I wish more people understood what it’s like to love a dog who is so different at home than when in the presence of outsiders.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Sarah. We’re so sorry to hear about your pup.
One of my dogs is very gentle with family, yet extremely reactive around other dogs (and strangers, to a lesser extent). So, I can certainly understand some of what you’re feeling.

Please take care of yourself during this difficult time and be sure to check out some of our dog-loss resources — they’ve helped a number of our other readers in similar situations.

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E

I can totally relate to this. I wish people werent so quick to judge. It makes it harder for the healing and they just want to point fingers and what ifs and torture us morw i mean this is enough torture for us alreadya nd all we do is sit and try to heal and feel right about it then back to sadness. Does it ever go away?

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bee

this means a lot. this saturday we have to put down our sweet pit bull mix Mia. i’ve been sobbing nonstop and my brothers are taking it hard as well as my parents. this dog got us through covid but she’s so mean to people that aren’t us. we’ve done everything, we sent her to training consistenly and kept her locked away but my parents decided last night that we’re putting her down. every article has been about euthanizing sick dogs and not behavioral euthanization. we’re all devastated and are dreading this weekend. i just don’t want to forget her.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Bee. We’re so sorry to hear about Mia.
Please consider checking out some of our resources about coping with pet loss.

And don’t worry — you definitely won’t forget her. Dogs leave an indelible mark on their people.
We wish you the best of luck getting past this difficult time.

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Phillip

Thank you for this post and opportunity to comment. We are euthanizing one of our dogs in a couple days and my parents are unfortunately focusing on alternatives instead of supporting us. Our dog is a beautiful, often loving and very lovable male who was rescued from severe abuse around 9 months old. We spent years working with and getting him from being extremely aggressive (multiple bites with multiple people) in most situations to a place in which he trusted us, loved people and could be taken most places. He’s 9 now and we’ve loved the majority of our time with him.

Unfortunately, before the pandemic our ability to provide the structure key to that reality changed drastically. We became caregivers to a my MIL with dementia and ALS in our very small home. A month after she moved in, the pandemic started. After she died peacefully with us we finally became pregnant after years of trying. It’s been a wild few years.

Ultimately our ability to walk him and keep him stimulated enough faded. The poor guy needed it and understandably fell back to habits of his youth. We had developed boundaries as our daughter grew but our dog reacted out of nowhere one night and bit her in the head enough to draw blood. I reacted just in time to stop a second attack on her. I knew immediately we were facing horrible choices. I deal with ADHD and struggle with discipline & the type of focus needed for functional training wasn’t something I could deliver while also being a stay at home dad to a growing toddler. And our little girl’s safety is our unquestionable priority.

We’ve spent the last few months researching, calling and applying to professional rescue shelters that felt appropriate to surrender with all the while muzzling him inside. I refuse to re-home him outside a professional setting for many reasons. But it was quickly clear he had bitten too many people too be safely and ethically rescued. And those places that might have taken him were full from pandemic surrenders dogs that could be helped and rehomed.

I’m devastated and grieving but know it’s the right & kind choice.

And it’s so hurtful and painful to carry that burden without the support of my parents. And it’s not just the lack of support but the palpable disgust they communicate each time it comes up. I fear this is all too common an experience.

So thank you for leading a conversation with compassion and nuance. It’s a hard enough decision and journey already. We all need the type of support from our communities that y’all are role modeling here.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Phillip.
We’re so sorry to hear about your struggles with the pup, but we’re glad you found the article helpful.

And you bring up an excellent point — owners finding themselves in these kinds of situations often face backlash from friends and family. And that certainly doesn’t make things any easier.

We wish you the best of luck and thank you for your comments.

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Allison

I am so fortunate to have found this article. We had to put down our 3 year old, Jasper (Blue Heeler), today. My husband and I are absolutely crushed as he was our first dog and our first “baby”. His behavior issues began when we got a new puppy. He became aggressive with our other dog who was a very small puppy. Then he started all the neighborhood dogs. I couldn’t take him on a walk without an altercation happening. Then he got out and killed all of our neighbors chickens and then our own. We were at a loss. We didn’t know what to do. We talked to trainers and no one wanted to take him on. Then we looked into re-homing as an option and all fell through because of his aggression towards other animals. My husband and I have many nieces and nephews who were all terrified of him due to jumping, growling, barking, showing his teeth and quite frankly, it scared us too. But he never turned on us like that. He was so sweet when it was just the three of us. We didn’t know what else to do, we are both struggling with the decision we made and are both feeling so much guilt. Reading this article made me feel somewhat better. Grief has no timeline though so we still have some healing to do in the next coming days, weeks and months.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Allison.
We’re so sorry to hear about Jasper.

And while you’re right that grief has no timeline, it does usually have a direction, and it will, eventually, fade.

In the meantime, please consider checking out some of our dog loss resources.

We wish you and your husband the best of luck.

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Samantha

This article means a lot. Yesterday I had to put down my almost 3 year old blue nosed pit. My husband and I got him at 8 weeks old. He is so beautiful but there was something wrong with his head. We took him everywhere, vacations, dog parks, hikes ect. He went everywhere with us. Slowly things that were fine with him yesterday were a trigger the next day. He use to sleep on my chest while I pet his head to sleep. Suddenly one day he’s growling at me for petting him. Then it became I can’t touch him at all. Then I can’t sit on the couch with him without him growling and charging at me. We realized he had issues with resource guarding and decided he can’t be on elevated surfaces. He went from my sweet puppy to being held hostage in my own home. I was sitting on the couch and he jumped up and started licking my face. As I gently told him to get down I pet his head and he locked eyes with me and started snarling in my face while I turned away. I got a big bruise on my arm from where he scratched me. I was so terrified I quickly asked if he wanted a treat and slowly moved off the couch to throw treats in the corner to escape. I was trembling the rest of the night. There was a part of his brain that would switch and there would be no warning. We tried everything. Got him fixed, Consulted over 6 trainers. Paid over 2k for one trainer who seemed promising. Money we still haven’t paid off our credit card. Got him on antidepressants, tried muzzle training and took him on walks every night after 11 pm to avoid any people or dogs. After many sleepless nights and tears trying to figure out how to help him we decided he needed to leave our home. I called every shelter in Florida trying to find a no kill to take him for life. I eventually found a no kill sanctuary that will keep dogs if they can’t be rehomed. When I met with their trainer he was very aggressive to him and my husband. He has no loyalty to anyone. They said they would take him if he becomes less reactive and is muzzle trained. We got to the point where only my husband could handle him and he spent most of his time in his crate due to needing to be watched closely by my husband any time he was out. To make matters worse we adopted another dog (he needed our help) and had to keep them separated 24/7. It was a huge stress and worry that if we make one mistake he could escape and kill our other dog. The final straw was we were eating and my husband gently pulled him down from putting his paws on our table he bit my husband and made him bleed. That moment I knew even if the sanctuary accepted him it’s unfair to burden anyone else with this dangerous dog. Yesterday we took him to the vet to get his shots so he can be boarded at the only place we have ever been able to trust with our dog. While there he was so nasty and aggressive the vet said she didn’t feel comfortable allowing him to be boarded there anymore. After hearing that news and seeing how he was acting we came to terms with the fact that he needed to be put down. If they can’t watch him we would never be able to leave our house for more than a few hours at a time. He won’t allow us to bathe him, touch him, get him medical care. He is being neglected because of his level of aggression. If we can’t take care of him properly what kind of quality of life is that. I have cried so many times over this scenario. We did absolutely everything in our power to save him. My husband and I are devastated. Even though his life was short, I think he was supposed to be with us. I don’t think anyone else would have done this much for him. When he was mentally healthier he had a fantastic, loving, and adventurous life. We love you so much Devildog. I hope you know that.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Samantha. We’re so sorry to hear about Devildog. 🙁
For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like you had many other options, and quality of life is always important to think about when making these kinds of decisions.

Understand that the pain does fade with time, so hang in there. Check out some of our resources about pet loss and be sure to focus on the good times you shared together.
We’re sending good vibes in your direction.

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Natalie

Currently heartbroken and guilt ridden after putting down my dog Odin (8). He had a laundry list of bites under his belt from the time he was a puppy. Another male from his litter had also been put down for aggression. All his bites were from being startled, which is something we couldn’t fix. I now have 4 children and trying to protect him just became too much for me to mentally handle. I tried rehoming a few years ago and it fell through. My whole life revolved around keeping him safe and now I feel so lost without him here. He was the most loving dog and I will miss him forever.

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Ben Team

We’re so sorry to hear about Odin, Natalie.
But it sounds like you probably didn’t have any choice — especially with young kiddos running around.

When and if you feel up to it, you may want to consider reaching out to the breeder to let him or her know about the problems. Given that Odin had a brother who also had bite issues, it’d likely behoove the breeder (as well as any future puppies and owners) to look into the problem.

We wish you the best of luck and encourage you to check out our dog loss resources.

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Natalie

Thank you for the recommendation. Unfortunately he was a Dixie dog rescue so I’m not sure I could do much.

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michelle Cory

loosing lu lu is not an option. There are 100 and one rules, and they kicked me out for expressing my opinions and fears.

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Elizabeth

I wasn’t sure whether to write this because I’ve never been in this position, in fact never even had a a dog that was at all “reactive” or had problems (which is 1% skill and 99% luck). I just want to say that I think you folks are incredibly loving and responsible to make that decision knowing how much it would hurt yourselves. I wish breeders and rescues would be more responsible ŵhen they send dogs to homes. Life at all costs is not right in such a crowded world. Living in a permanent state of fear and overarousal is ruddy miserable and its own sort of torture and euthansia stops that pain for the dog and you and your families. Maybe in the future we will be able to prevent or treat these issues but right now preventing further suffering is a loving thing to do.

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Ben Team

Thanks for the kind words, Elizabeth.

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Rosana

So blessed, I came across this article while googling about feeling guilty putting down our beloved Mila (Mix Sheperd) because behavior. We adopted Mila form our local shelter after our beloved 12-year-old Princess passed away because of cancer. We have another small mix bulldog rescue and because he seems depressed, we decided to adopt another dog. They started to get along very well but then I noticed when he was with me, she started to be aggressive towards him. Another time, it was so bad they got into a fight and Mila bit him on the face. Also, we noticed, every time we walked her, she will launch toward other dogs and Men’s. I called the shelter to asked if they can give me any feedback on her behavior and her background. They told me she was found on the streets with puppies and when she came to the shelter only was care by female staff. It makes sense and I can see her protective behavior from being a mom. I tried training programs but those had last only a few months and then she goes back to her old behavior. The reason, I have to take the nerve raking the decision to put her to sleep, today we were on a walk and she started to chew on her collard because she saw another dog and with her sharp teeth was able to break (don’t mind, I special leach supposed heavy duty anti chew) I ran after her and my neighbor kid and I broke the fight but the kid got hurt Praise the Lord only scratched but that was a big awaking, what if next time wasn’t scratches. My daughter and I felt like we fail her but reading this article and other people experience give me a peace of mind that I’m not along on this journey and will take time for our family to heal and just remind us that we didn’t do this because we didn’t love Mila it was for the safety and peace of mind of our family and Mila. Since, I will have her for two more day. I’m spoiling her so much and give a lot of TLC. Mila always will be in our hearts.

My apologies for my grammatical errors English is not my first language.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Rosana.
We’re so sorry to hear about your struggles with Mila. But we’re glad no one has been seriously injured, and we’re pleased that this article (and the comments from other readers) have helped give you some peace.

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Geraldine

My heart is breaking I bought a 16 month old patterdale on Monday there and when we got in the car he started going for my husband we just thought it was because we where new took him home let him explore the house so my husband went to change his lead he came with to another lead to go a wee walk and the dog was showing his teeth and growling at him anytime he was going near his neck went a walk around the block got home and my kids came home from school and they where so happy about the new dog went to pat him and he went for them and bite my husbands hand at this point we tryed to speak to a vet to see what to do couldn’t get through so went to pets at home where we where told to put a muzzle on him and alot of anxity things to help calm him down and also so he didn’t bite the girls so got home tryed to put muzzle on and he kept going for us I manged to after 2 hours of trying gained a same amount of trust to get it on him thank god we did as my 3 year old had came in to speak to me and the dog went for her face neck area nocked her over and kept trying to get to her I got my daughter and he started going for me so we foned the dog warden who told us to call police and police came and took him away he was held in a police dog kennel for 3 days as vets where refusing to put him down and no rescue place would take him it has been a roller coaster since Monday one police officer found a place for him to go and stay but they couldn’t pick him up till next Thursday so police called this morning and demanded that we make a decison we either take the dog back or take him to pdsa where they said due to police being present they would put the dog down I felt so quilty as it was the case of we have the dog in the van he’s either going to u or pdsa witch then I was told he wasn’t aloud near my home due to the kids so today at 1 o’clock he got put to sleep we asked the periods owner to take him back and was told no I said he will get put to sleep if u don’t to be told maybe its for the best I’m feel so guilty I know he attacked but he was only 16months old

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Ben Team

We’re so sorry to hear that, Geraldine! Especially since it sounds like these troubles started the moment you tried bringing him home.
We appreciate you sharing your story though, and we wish you the best of luck moving past this difficult situation.

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MP

Thank you. This is 100% accurate. Thank you. I don’t hate myself right now because of reading this

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Ben Team

Sorry you’re obviously dealing with a hard situation, MP, but we’re glad the article helped somewhat.
Best of luck moving forward.

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Ryan

Thank you so much for this article. My wife and I had to go through this difficult decision with our 3.5 year old American Staffordshire mix Brutus. Most times he was the sweetest boy but had really bad territorial aggression. This past Sunday my wife was cuddling with him on the couch when he tried to attack our ten month old baby- he had shown no signs of aggression before to our baby. His ‘flip’ had switched and he now viewed our baby as an enemy. Thankfully my wife was able to grab him before anything terrible happened. We were left with no other choice but to go with behavioural euthanasia as all shelters were full and he was a danger to our baby. That didn’t make it easy to do. At the vet I laid on his dog bed while they sedated him then he went to sleep. I cried hysterically. I can’t believe it happened. Brutus and I would go on walks at 6 am every day and after work. I don’t know what to do with myself now. I know it was the right thing to do and I’m glad I was there with him while he went to sleep so he was comfortable. I just wish he didn’t have that ‘flip’ switch of aggression. I tried so hard for him to help him but I could only do so much. You will never be forgotten Brutus!

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Ben Team

Hey there, Ryan.
We’re so sorry to hear about Brutus.

Please consider checking out some of our resources for coping with the loss of a pet.

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Deborah

Our beautiful 22 month old Vizsla, that we have had since 8 weeks went back to his breeder two days ago. This is our attempt to give him another chance at life. But the news yesterday was not good and now, knowing Sascha the way I do, I feel we should have compassionately euthanized him here at home, where he is happy and loved and in his safe place. The breeder is a kind and knowing man but Sascha is anxious and sensitive and being in a new strange environment, he has become distressed and has already bitten the breeder and fought with one of the other dogs. The breeder Philip, will phone us today with an update. We can only hope that things will get better for Sascha but in my heart I am doubtful and I am an opportmistic person.

My husband and I spent 3-5 hours everyday running Sascha, off leash and on. He loves people and dogs and could play and run for hours. We went through obedience classes and daily training, agility and one on one sessions with a trainer which helped us with many of Saschas difficulties. He started resource guarding crates and car seats when he was a year and that is when the bites and aggression started, though puppy hood was a huge challenge as well. We worked through a lot and made huge progress but every few months something would trigger Sascha and it was usually when he was pushed to do something he didn’t want to do.

That dog is deep in my heart and soul. I connected with him like no other dog and every day was a joy but also we learnt to always watch his demeanour and were very careful.

Sascha wouldn’t growl or snap but rather lunge and it felt like an attack. And then he would be sad. He is/was a true Velcro dog loving nothing better than cuddling so how could he have this small part of him that was destructive.

After the last bite we contacted the Vizsla society in Ontario and were told a relative of Saschas was in his sixth foster home after a bite in each home. He is on his last chance. VSO stated Sascha could not be rehomed because of his bite history so we contacted the breeder and Philip has taken him back but Sascha is in a kennel and traumatized and unhappy. I fear for him and feel like we have let him down. Saschas brother was also returned to the breeder for aggression so Philip is looking at genetics of Saschas line but this does not help us or Sascha.

I await a phone call today. I am trying to send peace to Sascha, trying in my mind to tell him not to worry, trying to send him comfort.
If Philip feels he should be euthanized I may drive the five hours to be with him at the end. I just want him to be at peace. My pain is awful. I know my husband hurts too. But Sascha is confused and hurting and this is what hurts the most.

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Ben Team

What a sad story, Deborah. We’re so sorry to hear about your struggles with Sascha.
🙁
It definitely sounds like there is at least a predisposition for behavioral challenges in Sascha’s family tree, given the bites and aggression his relatives have demonstrated.

But you’ve clearly done everything you possibly could for him, and we’re sure he’d thank you for all of that love and effort if he could.

We wish you, your husband, and Sascha all of the best. Please consider checking out some of our resources about pet loss, if you think they may help.

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L.J.

I’m so sorry you’re going through this traumatic situation. I had to put down my little 16 pound Chihuahua, Oliver. If love alone could have saved him…I tried everything. Two behaviorist, three dog trainers and two vets, meds, and nothing eased his anxiety. I loved him with all my heart and putting a physically healthy but mentally disturbed dog down was truly agonizing. I’m thinking of you and hope you find peace with whatever happens.

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Carlos

I don’t know where to begin… My heart hurts and I feel like I’m falling down a deep dark hole with the decision I am being forced to make. My wife and I picked out our English bulldog at 7 weeks old and it was love at first sight. We were inseparable from day one. I took him to work with me every day and carried him around no matter where we were going. As he grew older month to month we noticed he had a very alpha dog mentality with both us and other pets. We chose not to neuter him for whatever reason and the as more time passed by the more macho he became. Eventually we had to deal with our first incident which involved him pining and borderline attacking our other dog that we’ve also had since a puppy over a bowl of food that he felt was his and only his. We thought nothing of it and figured it was normal dog behavior to correct each other and set boundaries. Not too long after that he was hiding underneath our bed and wouldn’t come out when called and my wife decided to reach underneath the bed with her hands to grab him and his toy to get him to go to bed in his crate. He was merely a year old at this time and thats when we experienced our first bite encounter with our pup. He tore right thru her palm and left a eye opening slash between her thumb and index finger. We were so afraid that they were going to take him from us once we went to the hospital so we lied and said he missed his toy and accidently got her hand…. My wife was really shaken up by the whole ordeal and was understandably weary around the big guy. A good amount of time went by incident free thankfully and we moved from California to Florida with our little fur family but left our oldest dog behind with my mother who she was really attached to. In the process of us settling into our new home we started to experience some more of his alpha dog issues. He didn’t seem to respect my wife the way he does me and would let off warning growls from time to time randomly when she would try to get close to him. It eventually lead to our second bite incident which thankfully wasn’t as gruesome as the first time but she was shaken non the less. We talked to a few dog experts and were advised to neuter him to kill his production of testosterone. We even decided to get another pup so that he would have someone to play with at home and not be so lonely. Well… that didn’t help for long. My wife was laying on the couch and he decided to join her and by this time she had regained trust because of how much time had past by without any incidents. She moved her legs to stretch and that was enough for him to get worked up and pounce on her. He didn’t bite this time but when she attempted to run off the couch he decided to chase after her in full attack mode. It didn’t matter how loud I yelled at him to stop and gain control he continued his chase. We then hired a behavior expert which was insanely expensive but we felt like we had control of the situation once again. And like before my wife being the trooper that she is gave him yet another chance and regained trust. We learned that one of his triggers was our feet. He hated being stepped on, tripped on, or being nudged by not just our but anyone’s feet. And we learned that lesson by at least 5 more biting incidents that included friends and family. Again we let it go since they were just nips and only one of the bites lead to actual puncture wounds. I kept excusing his behavior to just “oh he’s just a dog” “he doesn’t know better” “he is getting better” etc. He is a little over 4 years old now and just yesterday morning we were going through our normal morning routines. My wife gets up, opens their kennels, they get some morning love and butt scratches and then they come barreling through our bedroom door to say good morning to me. They went outside to pee and came back inside to receive some more loving. At that point my wife leaned over to kiss me good morning and in the middle of us going over our days schedule she looked down at the floor and started backing away immediately in fear. We didn’t hear any warning growls, no barking, not one warning sign period. He lunged at her with his mouth wide open and caught her by the hand and pinned her against the wall. I was confused as to what was happening being all groggy still from waking up until I heard her screaming and then realized how severe the situation was. I attempted to jump out of bed and pull her towards me onto the bed since he cant jump high enough to reach her but in that process he lunged at her a second time grabbing her arm this time. Her screams are something that will haunt me for the rest of my life… I finally was able to get a hold of him and try to subdue him giving her a chance to escape but our bulldog is 55lbs of muscle and he managed to escape my grip to bite her one last time on her butt cheek before I was finally able to hold him down. We spent the whole day in the hospital ER waiting for her to get stiches on both her hand and arm. She hasn’t stopped shaking from the whole experience and to be honest neither have I. Looking at her wounds and seeing the fear in her eyes I “easily” made the decision in my head that I had to put him down. That this was just too far. It was unfair for her or us for that matter to live in fear of our own dog anymore. I wanted to come home and he be gone already. I didn’t feel like I had the courage to see him… My baby boy, my best friend… I know there is nothing I could do to save him this time. He crossed the line and there isn’t a lie or excuse out there anymore that I could use to keep him around my life. In Florida there is a 10 day quarantine before you could put your pet down after a bite incident. I can’t stress to you guys enough how detrimental this is to my mental state. All day today I’ve struggled to look at him as he waits there as if nothing happened wagging his tail waiting for my love and attention. I feel so guilty like I failed him as his owner and father. I don’t want to send him to a pound to live his last days in a cold kennel alone and afraid. I don’t want to send him off to some no kill sanctuary ranch that says they deal with aggressive dogs and find forever homes for them. I’m terrified that he will be adopted to early and he will bite someone else. I don’t want him to be passed around peoples homes never finding comfort again. He doesn’t deserve that… He is a good boy 90% of the time. I can’t find it in my heart to let him sit in an outdoor kennel abandoned and barked at by 100 other dogs. But I also feel tremendous guilt with ending his life over this. My wife comes first and if this were to happen to anyone else in the future I would never let that guilt go either. So here I am typing a short version of my dogs story as I wait with him in his last days with him not knowing why I am crying. Why I cant look him in the eyes without a lip quiver. It’s day 1 of 10 and I just don’t know if I have it in me to do what is expected of me. I love him so much… why did he do this to us. Why did he put me in this position. We’ve given him nothing but love his whole short life.

I am so thankful I ran into this page. I have been feeling so alone about this and as horrible as it sounds it makes me happy to know that there are others out there who have dealt with or are currently dealing with this trauma. Your words and the words on the comments don’t make my decision any easier but I no longer feel alone or isolated and for that I am thankful. I wish nothing but peace to everyone who has to even search for this topic. I hope I get some peace next week as well… I love you brisket the bulldog… I always will

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Ben Team

Hey there, Carlos. What a sad story. 🙁

We’re sorry about the issues with Brisket, and we hope your wife recovers from her injuries rapidly. These kinds of situations are absolutely brutal, and you’re right — there’s not much more we can say to help.
Except that you are also right that many owners have had to navigate the same waters you are, so you certainly aren’t “alone” in this.

We hope that you’ll find some peace and that Brisket’s final days go as smoothly as possible.
Please consider checking out some of our resources about pet loss — they’ve helped some of our other readers.

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Giselle

Thank you for your testimony. I will take my 2 year old tomorrow for her euthanasia. It is the “adult” and correct decision but I’ve been crying like a kid… it is an awful situation to be in.

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L.J.

Carlos, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m crying as I read your story and I feel your pain. It had to be done, but I understand by my own experience with an aggressive dog, the guilt and pain associated with this decision. I hope you find some peace.

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Joseph

I appreciate the words of advice and reading other people’s testimonies from your website on BE. It has helped me recover from my loss of Sully. Sully was a beautiful party colored Tibetan Spaniel that had a white marking on his forehead. We said that marking was his Buddha blessing. We had Sully for over five years and played and walked with him every day. I learned how to used positive reinforcement training to get him to focus on me and I used a crate, gates, harness and muzzle to control situations where he needed to be restrained. I kept a journal of bite reports to help me understand his triggers and determine the best type of prevention. I took Sully to my veterinary to euthanize him after he attacked my wife while she was sleeping next to me on the couch. We had settled down in front of the TV and I had let Sully lick my bowl that I had ice cream in. He looked up at her while she slept and started raising his lip and immediately lashed out on her left arm. He bit her three times before I had a chance to sweep him off of her and bit the back of my hand too. I had never seen him bite without warning before this. I lost my trust in him that night. I feared that he was going to hurt me, my wife or the public without any provocation.

We got Sully from a rescue when he was two years old. We fell in love with a dog we found on the internet. The rescue told us that he was a fear biter and needed a secured yard with no small children in the house. Sully could be picked up using a towel over his head and he just needed some training and regular walks to adjust to his new home. When we took him home from the rescue, he jumped out of the car and I had to retrieve him. This happened about three times and on the third time he bit hard into my left hand and tore open my palm. I should have refused him then but I was determined to reform this dog. We took two dogs home from the rescue thinking that the two could work out their issues better than just having one. The second dog, Princess, was a pup that constantly wanted to play with Sully. In three weeks, she quickly out grew Sully in size and wore Sully out to the point that we had to hospitalize Sully for pneumonia. I returned Princess to the rescue. As I worked with Sully, I observed that he lunged and threaten people. He liked other dogs and got along with them on our walks and ignored the dog owner. I had to caution dog owners not to engage with Sully. I stopped my beer drinking habit with Sully because I needed to keep a clear head. When I was venerable, Sully would bite me. He initially liked to play bite the hands and I taught him not to bite so hard by telling him it hurt. I gave him rawhide to work out some of that aggression. He tore up his toys, we went through about eight toy bunnies and three lamb chops. He like to play tug-a-lug with the toys and he did not give them back to throw. Maybe I should have stopped with the tug-a-lug but that was the only way he liked to play. Sully would get excited and worked up in the backyard when he heard the neighbors on the other side of the fence, or a creature in the trees. When I called or approached him, I could not get him to stop barking and come back to the house. If I touched him or pulled his leash, he would bite me. Sometimes he would stop for a treat but not always. If the neighbors try to engage with him, he goes crazy. If someone knocked on the front door, I could not open it. I went out another door and out a side gate to talk them. I had to crate Sully if someone came into our house. I learned early that he had to sleep in a crate at night and not in our bed because we had too many biting issues.

In the last year we noticed his left eye was getting cloudy. After examination by an eye specialist, it was recommended to remove a cataract in the eye. After the proposed surgery, Sully would need eye drops applied three times a day for a month. To put eye drops into his eye, we were shown a towel restraint technique where a towel was put around his neck and the head was pull back to put in the eye drops. We were instructed to practice this technique before scheduling the surgery. We tried to do this at home and it was stressful. Sully was difficult to decoy. We had to be quick about it and not choke him. He would try to get out of the towel and we did not know if he would start biting if he did. After it was done, he was calm. This procedure made him more on edge and we decided to postpone the surgery for now. We thought that the warmer weather was making him more agitated and he might allow us to do the towel restraint during the winter. We noticed that the blindness in his eye made him bite if something was near that he could not see. We also believe that he was less aware of sounds. I noted in my journal that there were about six to eight bite events per year that puncture the skin, typically our hands and fingers. There were fewer biting events from December to May. I made my decision based on the fact that the biting events were not going down and that the last one was unprovoked with serious multiple bites. We also feared that his loss of sight and hearing would make him unmanageable.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Joseph. We’re so sorry to hear about Sully, but we’re glad the article and comments from readers have helped in some small way.

It certainly sounds like you and your wife did everything in your power to help Sully adjust and live a normal life. Honestly, I don’t think many owners would have put in a fraction of the work you did.

We’re sorry that you had to make such a difficult decision, but you certainly did *everything* humanly possible.

Thank you for sharing Sully’s story.

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Abbey

I keep coming back to this article and want to share my story. My pit/lab rescue that I found outside walking the streets with his brother, was in my life for 5 years. I finally put him down because I got pregnant. He bit 2 kids, several adults, and many dogs. He never bit me. I felt like he was only loyal to me, so it was the hardest decision I had to make. Yet knowing his bite history with other children, I knew it wasn’t an option to keep him, and the way he reacted to other dogs/bikes on walks, it would be too difficult to walk him while pregnant. He was very strong. I loved him with all my heart, but I had almost been to court over one of the bites, and I tried to train him a couple times with no success in his behavior changing. Walking him was always a nightmare because of how aggressive he was. He would bark and spin to try and get out of his leash so he could attack. I could have put more time into training him, but the risk on my child’s life in the meantime was not acceptable. It would have also taken a lot of money that I did not have and still don’t. I was able to train him one time with a great trainer because I had no rent while living with parents for a few months. The risk he was toward other people and their children and dogs was not acceptable either. I miss him very much. I feel so guilty to this day but I know I had no other choice.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Abbey.
We’re sorry to hear about your pooch — reactive dogs can certainly be very challenging to manage.

We hope that you heal from this as quickly as possible and potentially find another four-footer to share your life with in the future.

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Pepper

I wanted to thank you for writing this too. We euthanized our sweet five year old dog because of extreme animal aggression. We have been working with her for her whole life and were never able to change her reaction. She would attack any dog she had even the slightest opportunity to get to. She was under constant management and we all lived in fear of making a mistake and having another tragedy happen. She was an angel to humans though. I’ve never met a dog I loved more than her and all I want is to feel her here with me. The guilt and second guessing myself is really hard.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Pepper.
We’re glad you found the article helpful, but we’re really sorry to hear about the struggles with your pooch.
Be sure to check out some of our other resources about dog loss — they may provide additional comfort.

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Gayatri Berg

Hi Pepper
I’m currently on my way to put down my 6 year old pit/Chihuahua mix and it’s the most agonizing decision I’ve ever faced. He is so sweet and loyal to my partner and I, and would never harm us. But our 2 other dogs and cat have been attacked by him so many times, I felt one day he might kill them. He has also bitten children and adults and we just made this decision to protect our other pets and people. I cannot tell you how much it tears me apart, but I take some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one.i wish you all the best and I hope you and your family are coping well. I pray that we can get through this as well.

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G

My wife and I have recently come to the decision to euthanize our dog, and I just want to thank the author of this article for mapping out the complex web of emotions that we find ourselves in. This is one of hardest periods of our lives. We love our dog dearly, but the risks are too great. Best of luck to anyone else facing this decision.

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Ben Team

Hey there, G.
We’re so sorry to hear you find yourself in such a difficult situation, but we’re glad the article help in some small way.
We wish you and your wife the very best.

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Cindy

Thank you
This article has truly helped with the very difficult decision we are making this week.
We have given all we can to our beloved Leo, sadly the ideal rehabilitation homes have a 6 month waiting list.
This is thanks to the irresponsible breeding and puppy mania here in the UK during the pandemic.
We gave exhausted every option for our lad, but feel that this is the ultimate kindness for him. We are giving him a few wonderful days with us rather than putting him through the stress of shelter which, even if they took him which is doubtful the criteria is so strict as they are so over run, would only lead to the inevitable.
This way he goes out absolutely clueless aside from picking up on our wrecked emotions.
I feel for you all that are in this heartbreaking position.
Nobody knows your dog like you do, my heart goes out to you all and wish you strength and courage as you face carrying out this ultimate kindness.
Thank you again for this wise and comforting page.
X

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Ben Team

Hey there, Cindy.
We’re glad you found the article helpful. Best of luck moving forward.

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RC

Thank you for this. We just went through a year-long process of trying to work with our beloved dog, only to come around to the realization that euthanasia was the only option that made sense. I’m heartbroken with no idea where to turn to handle the guilt and grief, so thank you for these resources.

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AdminLogin

I’m so sorry for your loss.

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Debi

Thank you for this article. I was looking on line as we just euthanized our two year old lab mix for multiple attacks to our family members. We’ve counted and he attacked us about 15 times. A lot of those times should have warranted stitches but we didn’t want to get him in trouble so we just bandaged up and moved along. A lot of the time we thought he was protecting me, but sadly these were just excuses. The last two times he bit us it was my husband in April and me in June. He bit my husbands hand so bad that the tendon was showing and he needed stitches in and out. In June, I was sitting on the couch and he wanted me to pet him. I was and the next thing I knew, he was attacking me and my left hand was badly injured. I needed stitches in both hands and the worst part, is my 16 year old daughter witnessed it.

When he attacked us, there was no growl, no warning, just an attack. To clarify, he was about 110 pounds and pure muscle so it was very scary. His bites included my hands, my husbands hands, arms, and legs (he was attacked the most, my older daughters stomach and foot, and my younger daughters face, right by her eye, and her hand as well. We lived in a house of fear but we lived him so much. We had trainers, behaviorists, medications, board and train, you name it, we did it. Nothing seemed to help.

I am thankful that we did have the money to try these things but in the end, we simply couldn’t live like this anymore, just waiting for him to attack.

After he bit me, we decided that was the end. My daughters and I were all on the same page, but my husband was not. It was very hard to make that decision in the house when there’s a person against you. In all honestly, there was NO alternative. He could not be rehomed. No sanctuary would take him. And then it was explained to me what they do in sanctuaries with aggressive dogs. He would be in a pen, a little run with a tiny little “hut”. He would have little to no human contact. How could I do that to him? He wouldn’t be happy.

In our state, we had to wait 10 days from the day he bit someone to euthanize. That was horrible!! I could have lied but my hands told the story. I had a wonderful vet come to my home and take care of it. My daughters and I were with him and he didn’t have to be more stressed by going to the Vet in his muzzle looking like a killer.

There is so much guilt that I feel and I wish I didn’t have to do what I did, but my children and I lived in fear. In the end, I know that we did what was right for him and us.

It’s nice to know that others have been in the same situation and understand.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Debi.
We’re so sorry to hear about your experiences. For whatever it’s worth, it definitely sounds like you did the right thing, and we applaud you for doing everything you possibly could before resorting to euthanasia.
Thank you for sharing your story — hopefully, it will help some other owner in a similar situation.
We wish you and your family the best of luck moving forward.

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Nicole

This article is so timely. We are facing the difficult decision of putting our our pooch. He has become so aggressive unprovoked. He has always been moody, but it is escalated to the point that he bit a pizza delivery person (did not break skin) and also slipped out the front door, ran down a walker and bit her. We have spent a lot of money on trainers/animal behavioralists, we broke his reactivity to the front door, but mistakes happen, like slipping out the door, and I cannot live with the guilt of anything worse happening. It is so unfair to have to do this, but I have anxiety that he will bite a child, and I cannot live with that. Thank you for your kind words.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Nicole.
We’re terribly sorry to hear about the situation with your pupper — especially given the fact that it sounds like you and your family have tried really hard to address his issues.
But if you’ve exhausted all your options, there simply may not be anything else you can do.

We wish you the very best of luck in this difficult time. Be sure to take a look at some of our resources about dog loss — they may help too.

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Olivia S

This definitely made me feel not so alone after you described absolutely everything Ive been going through. I moved away from my dog and I was horrified everything would get worse. Then one day I got a call & it did. He had never bitten like this before, but he sent my mom’s friend to the hospital. I was devastated. I still am. And struggling with the guilty feelings & what ifs don’t make anything easier. Im getting back into therapy soon but thank you for this article in the meantime ❤️ It is very comforting knowing other people have been through very similar, horrible situations. Thank you!!

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Ben Team

Hey there, Olivia.
We’re so sorry to hear about the struggles with your pooch and the injuries your mom’s friend suffered. But we’re really glad you found the article helpful, and we hope the therapy (and time) help you feel better.
We’re sending good vibes your way.

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Jess F

Thank you for such a thoughtful article, and especially for acknowledging the conflicting emotions of loss and relief. I’ve been grieving the loss of my dog and spend a lot of time reliving her final moments, contemplating solutions we may have missed. We tried the medication, training, mediation, and CBDs. She had simply become inconsolable since the passing of her previous owner, a family member. I’ve been told that this is not uncommon, but euthanizing her felt like the ultimate betrayal of her previous owner. I’ve felt like I have no right to mourn though, since it was ultimately me, her sole advocate, who made the call to end her life. It’s hard to explain my sadness to people who knew of her aggression. To everyone else, even our family, the choice was obvious. For me though, it feels wrong. I still keep a jar of her bedtime treats just in case she comes back.

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AdminLogin

We all can only do our best with our current situation, and it sounds like you did the best you could to help her. It is undeniably a confusing situation to be in, but you do have the right to mourn. You’ve lost someone you cared deeply for, regardless of the scenario.

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Michelle Cory

I reallyappreciate your article. I had a dog that I put down because of BE. I always ruminate, that i didnt do enough. Suffering from mental illness myself and having so much improvement on Prozac, how could I not try it on my rescue. Her vet said it wouldn’t work for her. But i’ve read so many stories about people who tried it and it did work. I was exhausted. The dog I had before her i raised from a puppy, and she developed cds. She bit me multiple times every night for 4 monts. She was small so i allowed it. I finally euthanized her. I was tramatized and still am, Because I asked the shelter for any dog except one that bites, but it’s my fault, Because i knew and i wanted to save her. I couldnt leave her in jail the rest of her life.

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Ben Team

Hey, Michelle.
We’re glad the article helped, but we’re sorry you needed to read it in the first place.
It’s never easy to euthanize a pet, so please be sure that you take care of yourself during the mourning process.
You may want to check out our article about coping with the loss of a pet and see if that provides any more help.
Best of luck!

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Pogoria

Last night was one of the hardest nights I’ve ever had as a pet owner. My staffy mix (from the streets of Chicago) was so loving to us, but kept getting into fights with my other dog & was aggressive on leash to any other animals.
Last night, she & my other dog got into another “tizzy”, one that I’ve done my best to prevent (any aggression triggers are an aggressive dog owners worst fear & constant worry. Behavioral books, vets, specialists, all give you the know how, but not everything is full proof.) however my 3 year old had a French fry, and this tizzy went from a 2 on the aggression scale, to my staffy completely “switching” into survival kill mode. My husband broke them apart, getting badly bitten in the process- and if he had been 5 or 10 seconds too late our other dog would have been killed.
(Our other dog ended up with staples in her head, 10 stitches in her mouth, 8 stitches on her leg, with multiple other bites that were dressed & cared for. She’s currently home & healing, but is in rough shape).
When my beloved staffy “switched” back, it was too late. We had already seen something that we couldn’t ignore, and all of this happened a foot away from my toddler (with another baby on the way).
She was constantly in shelters & had multiple incurable health issues. We promised her she’d always have a home with us. We loved her so much.
I feel so much guilt, because we opted for euthanasia. We wanted her to know she was loved and cared for right to the end, instead of being put in another cage & unloved only to be euthanized anyway.
I’m heartbroken. My head & heart are at a constant battle, wondering if I made the right choice.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Pogoria.
We’re so sorry to hear about your pup and the decision you had to make. We’re also sorry to hear about your other dog’s injuries and wish her a speedy recovery.

We obviously can’t tell you if you made the “right” decision as there is no objectively “right” decision to be made in these circumstances. You simply have to make the best decision you can for all parties involved. But I can tell you that it certainly sounds like you tried your best to do exactly that, and that’s all any of us can ever do in these situations.

We wish you the best of luck moving forward and would encourage you to check out some of our resources about dog loss — they’ve proven helpful for other readers in similar situations.

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