Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Greyhound to Get Reprieve

UPDATE: Dog that bit child twice might not be put down after all

July 03, 2010 12:00 AM
LAKEVILLE — It appears a reprieve is in the works for Firewall, the greyhound ordered euthanized by the selectmen after it bit a 2-year-old boy on two occasions.
If Firewall can be placed with a rescue organization that would absolve the town of any liabilty if the dog bites again, officials would be agreeable to that.
"We have to put him down if I can't find a place for him in 15 days," Animal Control Officer David Frates said at midweek, noting that the dog is being kept at the Lakeville shelter.
However, Frates predicted "one of the rescue organizations will take him. ... They could re-home him with a place with no children.
"He'll probably go to the rescue in Middleboro. ... (It) has a good reputation for placing greyhounds. They'll have to sign a paper that they know he bit someone and, if he bites someone again, we're not responsible."
At Monday's hearing before selectmen, it was disclosed that the greyhound was staying with Jennifer Safford at her Kensington Court apartment.
Safford allowed a woman she knew to move in with her boyfriend and 2-year-old son and that is when the biting incidents took place.
Safford took the dog because her daughter, Samantha Lilley of Fall River, could not care for it when her husband was called to active military duty. The Lilleys have a 1-year-old daughter.
"No matter if he bit or not, the greyhound adoption agency would take a dog and keep it rather than have it put down," Lilley said.
Safford, who was evicted when the apartment management learned of the dog's presence there, is moving to Manchester, N.H. She has expressed an interest in adopting the dog and taking him with her if she can get the necessary clearance.
Safford said her daughter worked at Raynham Park, where the greyhound, now 5 years old, raced and found out about Firewall there.
Frates was not sure that Safford would be able to adopt the dog, adding that would be up to the rescue agency.
My initial thoughts were that the dog should be euthanized because it bit a human child; however, I stated that with the temperament of an APBT in mind. After reading up on the greyhound’s temperament, I found:
The Greyhound shines as a pet in a quiet household. He is sensitive, easily distracted, and somewhat distressed by noise and bustle. He's good with considerate children past the toddling stage, and he gets along well with other dogs. Cats, however, can be another story; he may consider them prey and chase them whenever the opportunity arises.
Unlike breeds that must be socialized as puppies to temper their dominant tendencies, the Greyhound needs early socialization to give it confidence and build self assurance. A Greyhound puppy that is not accustomed to noise and people at an early age can be excessively fearful of loud or persistent sounds and painfully timid with strangers.
The Greyhound's sensitive nature makes obedience training necessary and time-consuming. Training does build confidence and help forge a bond between dog and owner, but Greyhound owners must be extra patient and gentle to avoid unduly stressing the dog.
Like all sighthounds, Greyhounds must not be allowed to run free, for they may end up in the next state when they come to a halt. The drive to run and hunt is deeply ingrained, so fenced yards and leashes are a must.
Well, I know how two-year-olds can be so there is no telling what the child did that caused him to bite; in addition, there was a fight going on inside the home when one of the bites took place. This easily could have caused the dog to bite. I hope the rescue organization use good judgment when adopting Firewall out and don’t allow Safford to adopt him. Clearly, she isn’t capable of being a responsible owner.


  1. I'm curious as to why your logic couldn't also apply to an APBT. Granted, the "breed standard" temperament for a APBT indicates that the dog should have a solid, stable temperament and should be able to withstand poking and prodding by small children without a reaction. I can understand not wanting an APBT with a less solid, more docile or fearful temperament (similar to a Greyhound) to contribute to the gene pool. However, a fixed dog cannot do this and even if the dog was not fixed, sterilization would also solve the problem of him/her contributing to future generations.

    The idea behind euthanizing a dog for biting a humane should be that the dog is unable to reliably coexist with humans. I can't see a reason to euthanize an APBT when you wouldn't do the same to a Greyhound because a safe alternative option was available (in this case, rehoming to a place without children), unless your logic is that the possibility that the ABPT might bite another person and bring negative media attention down on the breed as a whole.

    In addition, a rescued racing Greyhound would probably have had very limited socialization with children and the stress from a track environment has been documented as leading to behavioral issues later in life. Some of these dogs make fabulous family pets, the same way some APBT bust dogs make fabulous family pets. Some don't. I think the logic that applies to the reasons WHY this situation occurred (i.e. high stress environment, poorly socialized dog, fight occurring, poor supervision) could be applied to an APBT as well. So I'm curious to know, why do you feel this dog should be granted a reprieve and not a APBT in a similar situation?

  2. Fortunately these stories are rare. Most Greys I know (and there are many) would run long before they would bite.

    I agree about Safford - better to start over...