Your Will my vet put down my aggressive dog? Let’s Explore

What Kind of Legal Liability Am I Willing to Take On?

It’s important to know that owning a dangerous dog may not be legal where you live, especially if you’re in an apartment or renting a home.

If your dog has a bite history or has been legally deemed a dangerous dog, you may be bound by the court to uphold certain living conditions. For example, in New York, you may be required to carry a liability insurance policy and muzzle your dog at all times in public.

In other cases, the dog may even be seized and euthanized without your consent.

An aggressive dog can also make finding and keeping homeowner’s insurance difficult. And if you find coverage, you will likely pay a premium rate if your dog has a bite history. Neverlie on these forms, as tempting as it might be to save a few bucks.

In addition to the claim being denied if your dog bites someone, you might face legal trouble for falsifying insurance forms.

Alternatives to Euthanizing an Aggressive Dog: What Else Can You Try?

Your Will my vet put down my aggressive dog?

In some instances, there are alternatives to euthanizing an aggressive dog.

These alternatives aren’t always appropriate, and dog aggression is an incredibly nuanced issue that should always involve a certified dog behavior expert. But, you may find one of the following solutions will allow you to avoid behavioral euthanasia if your dog’s aggression is manageable or if a change in environment could be a major factor.

It’s best to exhaust all options before you consider the possibility of euthanasia. Some of the best alternatives to euthanasia include:

Signs and Behaviors That Dog Euthanasia May Be Warranted

Every dog and every situation will differ, and the decision to euthanize an aggressive dog will ultimately come down to the severity and danger level of the situation.

When considering euthanasia, you’ll want to think about the following four things:

When to Put A Dog Down or Rehome for AGGRESSION? (w/ expert Michael Shikashio)

I’ve provided some thoughts below from my years of experience dealing with this issue both personally and with many clients. Hopefully, these thoughts might make your process a little easier.

There are two basic reasons that are considerations for euthanizing a dog. One is for behavioral reasons and the other is for physical issues.

There is primarily only one reason dog owners consider euthanizing their dog for behavior issues. That issue is moderate to severe human aggression. There are other behavioral instances where euthanasia is a consideration, but human aggression is the most common.

It’s one thing for dogs to aggress to other dogs, but it’s another thing entirely when their aggression is turned toward humans. Moderate to severe human directed aggression can involve human safety, liability issues and even criminal considerations for the owners.

It’s not as simple as just determining if a dog is human aggressive when considering euthanasia. There are important variables to consider such as type of human aggression, intensity of aggression, how long the dog has been presenting with the behavior, size of the dog, human bite history and whether there are treatment options with a realistic positive prognosis. This can be a complicated decision process. For more information about types of dog aggression, see Did you know there are 7 major types of dog aggression?

Dog owners frequently forget that dogs who are significantly aggressive are also fearful and anxious too. Their quality of life may not be particularly good as a result.

The number of dogs being euthanized for behavioral issues is much larger than most people realize – this is especially true in animal shelters. In addition to aggression, dogs are euthanized for separation anxiety, resource guarding and even just unruly behaviors. Many of these less serious behavior issues can often be addressed with the help of a competent certified dog behavior specialist or animal behaviorist.

To learn more about realistic treatment options for human aggressive dogs, see The 2 Options for Owners of Moderately-Severely Aggressive Dogs.

Physical reasons are the number one reason dogs are euthanized. Illness, old age and pain are just some of the considerations that fit in this category. After working with many families during this difficult time, I have learned the following.

It might be time to put a dog to rest when allowing the dog to live any longer is unfair to the owner and/or to the dog itself. When the hardship for the owner becomes almost unbearable and/or when the dog’s suffering is almost unbearable, it may be time.

I’ve read all the books and taken all the seminars on this subject and have found that the fairness consideration noted above is by far the best guide in making this difficult decision.

My personal experience is that I have waited too long to euthanize my dogs when their physical illnesses became overwhelming for them. I had one dog in particular, a German Shepherd dog named Clipper who was very seriously ill. A veterinarian talked me out of putting him to sleep and the next two months of his life were absolutely miserable for him. He sadly died in severe pain in the emergency room of a pet hospital.

I was right. I should have let him go two months earlier. I knew my dog better than anyone else – certainly better than the veterinarian did in that instance.

If you ever have to euthanize a dog (and most long-term dog owners ultimately have to), please know that you will go through a period of guilt, grieving and loss. It’s normal and to be expected. Ensure you have someone who understands what it’s like to lose a dog and can hold your hand through the process.

If you are currently dealing with a decision about euthanizing your dog, God bless you. No one can possibly understand the pain this brings. It’s really tough.