Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My First MD Pit Bull Euthanasia

It has been about three weeks since we learned of the new law affecting Marylanders who now must consider all pit bulls, or any dog who resembles a pit bull, as "inherently dangerous." This law is called Tracey v. Solesky.

This law has wide reaching impacts to everyone who loves dogs, works with dogs, rents homes to people with dogs, or has any business or interactions with dogs. It places responsibility into the hands of the land owners, citizens, and takes it off of the dog owners.

For the law as it was written please see the link below; http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2012/53a11.pdf

Today I euthanized Toby. Toby was a white male neutered middle-aged pit bull mix. He was shuffled around from shelters and foster homes. Toby was a timid, shy, and very mis-understood dog. He had no chance after MD law re-assigned him from "dog," to "dangerous." Because he has bitten twice (I would more accurately classify it as "snapped at") and because the rescue who had placed him in the foster home is unable to bear the responsibility and liability that he "inherently" (as labeled by the State of Maryland) possesses, he was euthanized.

Toby came to me in the back of a pick up truck, leash secured around his neck and dangling behind him. When we opened the door to get him he lowered his head and tentatively waited to be called. I am sure he was scared. Scared from a truck ride by himself and scared to be going to a new place once again. I tried my best to greet him as if he is still a citizen worthy of a compassionate death, but I am still not cold enough to condemn a pet without feeling as if my species is far more responsible for his fate than he ever could have been.

He willingly jumped out of the truck, was placed in a muzzle, and quickly given a very large dose of a sedative. We walked him to the back of the clinic and let him fall asleep quietly and without fear.

He died peacefully and unknowingly, muzzle still in place, to my apologies.

I think my primary objection to this law is that we are racially profiling. It isn't fair, it isn't right, and it will cost a lot more Toby's their lives.

Why aren't we holding the parents responsible? Why are these dogs so mis-understood and treated so badly?

I have a pit bull mix, Charleston. He is far gentler than my old cranky Beagle-mix, Savannah. Actually, my old Beagle-mix was always cranky, and age has nothing to do with it. (It's probably my fault, lol). But for three out of my three dogs, if you provoked them enough they would all bite. (OK, let me clarify, if you took Jekyl's chew toy away and Charleston was standing near he would snarl. He hates to think he has to share with Charleston). If you pinch Jekyl on his butt he snaps, (that's Joe's fault, he torments him). But Savannah, my old Beagle-mix is just snobby, and she just never did like everyone, (don't take it personally). With all of that said, my dogs are never out of my sight, and never mis-treated, (save Joe's teasing, which I do reprimand him for). I take full and complete responsibility for them. I don't ever put them in a situation where I have to worry about them being aggressive. They cower to every human being and they know they are outranked by any person who stands up right. My dogs are normal dogs. There aren't many, if any, dogs that will not be pushed to being self-protective. We all possess some ability to protect ourselves. Every living thing has some defense. To train a pet, or mis-treat a pet, so that this behavior comes to the surface rapidly and without provocation is truly the fault of the human that is responsible for that pet. Whether it is intentional neglect, cruelty, abandonment, being raised in a household with fear, abuse, and not being socialized, these are all the faults of the human owner. I say the quote often, "there is no such thing as a bad dog, only a bad owner."

As I have said before I understand that there are too many pets for the homes available, and I understand and genuinely believe that the rescues, shelters, and volunteers who dedicate their time to these animals are overwhelmed, but to just write off a breed, or a dog who resembles a breed, has far reaching devastating consequences.

I was unable to show much kindness to Toby, and I took his life today because he had no options left. But I feel terribly wrong and saddened about it.

I won't continue to practice medicine if the law tells me to profile and terminate. It isn't what I signed up for, and I can't live with my burdened soul.

May god have mercy on Toby's soul, and may he run with the wind, and snap at the stars, and wag his way to a place that understands and loves him, unconditionally.

For a good description of this law please see the next link;


  1. My heart breaks for Toby and all Bullies whose lives end over this! :'( May he Rest in Peace in Heaven!

    Breed Discrimination and BSL are absurd and ridiculous. Responsible Pit Bull owners raise their babies to be happy, fun, loving and loyal lifelong companions.

    My heart hurts for our Pit Bull babies. I proudly own one and will forever fight for his rights and will continue to provide for his medical needs regardless of emotional or financial loss. I love my Bully!

    1. thanks so much for reading, and I appreciate your comments. I love my pit bull too.

  2. Hi Y'all,

    I have posted on the dangerous breed list...many breeds besides the Pit appear...the list is shocking...but the Pit suffers the most.

    I am so sorry for the ordeal the Md law placed you through.

    BrownDog's Human

    1. Where did you post the list? I would like to include it in the blog.

      Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful long holiday weekend.

  3. That is just so wrong. It must be heartbreaking, being the one who ultimately has to carry out such law.

    1. It is wrong, I agree. And it is heartbreaking. I am trying to find the reason in how we got here and how we correct it? There are so many people who just don't deserve a dog, annd unfortunately the dogs always pay for it in the end. How do we hold the owners accountable? and how do we help these dogs that are already fearful?
      I guess my only answer is try to to figure out some way to license breeding? So we aren't allowing so many poorly raised pets enter the public.

  4. I love your blog! Toby's story is so sad & yet I see him as a lucky one in so much as he at least ended his life with a person who cared, this side of your job is heart wrenching & I feel for you, but please dont ever stop being a vet who cares as hard as it is the animals so need you & more like you!

    I run a page on Facebook called Take Action -Ban Animal Gas Chambers, I wonder what are your feelings about the use of these as a method of killing unwanted animals?

  5. Hi Y'all,

    In tomorrow's post I'm linking up with your articles on BSL in Md. and Pawcurious as well as Hero who is fighting the passage of it in Caledonia, Mn.

    Since we have a lot of information on the inhumanity of gas chambers, I wonder why we would choose that method to kill our animals, wanted or unwanted.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog