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Posts: 4

Hi Karatefox,

I am so sorry for what you are going through. Remember that you are a good person and loving pet owner. The aggression Nova has is an illness. Just because it can’t be seen like other illnesses does not mean it is not real. I am sorry for the decision that you are faced with. I know how hard it can be to love a pet so much and be faced with this decision. It is one of the hardest decisions to make and never taken lightly. No matter what you decide you did not fail Nova.

I can’t tell you what to do but I can share with you my story.

One month ago my wife and I had to put to sleep our 3-1/2 year old pit mix Zeus. We adopted him as an 8-week old puppy. He was so loving and cuddly from the start but at 6 months old we started to notice some aggression issues. The aggression issues grew and grew as he got older and we went to any trainer we could find that thought they could help us. He was always super sweet with my wife and I, however anyone or thing new sent him into the red zone. Over three years we went to 5 trainers, 1 dog psychic, and a behaviorist that prescribed Prozac. In those three years he seriously bit me, my wife (which we brushed off as redirected aggression), and 2 of our friends (which we rationalized as their fault). He lunged and snarled at countless people and animals. We muzzled him every time we went outside to keep everyone safe.

With all the training and skills we gained over 3 years we felt that we were able to handle Zeus but his aggression never went away. We became skilled at taking him for walks and watching out for other people and dogs. My wife would go to the corner before we got there and make sure it was all clear so we didn’t have issues. We would cross the street if there was any sign of someone coming. We would turn around if we found our selves in a bad situation. We avoided all parks and playgrounds and walked in industrial areas to limit interactions. We felt that we had some control of the situation.

We had a son in those 3 years and Zeus had positive interactions with him. My wife and I discussed it and decided that as long as Zeus showed no aggression towards our immediate family we could handle everything else.  Our son is 18 months old now and he loved Zeus. He wanted to flop on him and play with him. We always tried to keep the play safe and be sensitive towards Zeus so that everyone was safe. One weekend Zeus started to growl at our son when he walked by for no apparent reason. Both my wife and I were scared at the low growling. A few days later Zeus more than growled towards our son as he walked by. He did not hurt or bit him, but he was on the edge of his red zone. My wife and I made the decision that we could not trust Zeus’ illness (aggression) and even though we loved him so much we had to put him to sleep. We knew that we couldn’t re-home him due to his aggression; we knew a shelter would euthanize him if we dropped him off because of his aggression and that he would be alone and scared during the process. So we took two days off of work, gave him all our love, treats, and play we could, and sat on the floor with him when we said goodbye, his head resting in my wife’s lap.

My emotions are still raw from this happening a month ago. I cried/sobbed every day for the first 2 weeks. I still cry just not every day. My wife and I go out and walk where we used to walk with him and think of him all the time. I am glad you found this group. Everyone is welcoming and understanding. I felt so alone before I found this board and reading all the stories about similar situations has helped me tremendously.

 In regard to surrendering to a shelter: My wife and I researched this option but in our situation and with the level of aggression that Zeus had we knew the outcome. We wanted to be there for him when he passed so he could pass with love surrounding him. We knew that more attacks were in the future and could not pass him off to another family and put someone else at risk.

Zeus’ Dad


Posts: 104
I son’t Ha e the answer but feel for you and applied your heart for this dog. Every dog needs a hero like this.

Posts: 2
Thank you all who have shared your stories. I have a pitbull mix that we rescued 5 years ago. When we rescued her she had parvo, and as a result has never been properly socialized. I also have a senior dog (13). When Striker hit about 2 years old, she started becoming increasingly aggressive towards my older girl. The first time, I got between them and she bit me. Since then, we have probably had 10+ incidents. I've been bitten twice trying to stop it. Today, I came home to let them out and Striker just lost it. She was on my senior girl's back biting her head and wouldn't stop. I had to get a broom and beat her in the face until she finally released. My older girl had to have stitches and drains put in.

I'm heartbroken. I love pitbulls and have always believed in their inherent goodness. I still don't believe this is because she's a bully breed. I have worked with a behavior specialist. I have tried to keep them apart but it's not always possible. After today's incident I've realized that I can't keep this up. If I don't do something, she's going to kill my older dog. I have been crying all day and reading advice and at this point I think that putting her down is the only option. Rehoming pitbulls is challenging enough, but rehoming a dog aggressive pitbull is near impossible. I would never be able to owner surrender to ACS because I know she'd be put down and would never be able to live with myself for letting her go scared and alone. I'm going to talk to my vet on Monday when I take my older girl back to have her drain checked. I feel like I have failed as a a dog owner and as a pitbull advocate. I'm worried about how my kids will feel. I feel like I'm going to be sick.

Posts: 4
Hi Em1026,

I am so sorry for what you are going through. My family has been struggling through the same thing for a month now. I understand the guilt that comes along with this decision. Please remember that you did not fail and this is not your fault. Aggression is an illness. Just because you can't see or test for the illness does not mean it isn't real.

I love pitbulls too and always defend the breed even through everything we have experienced. As far as being a pitbull advocate, I believe that the decision my family had to make made us even bigger advocates for the breed. We made hard decision. We did not make our decision for or because of other people, but we will never have to fear for our safety, our child's safety, or for the safety of any people or animals that we cross. We will not be the next news article about a pitbull that attacked his family. Our baby is safe and at peace now.

Its been a month now and I still tear up regularly. I remember the horrible day too vividly still. I am able to keep going when I remember a few things.

1) It was not our fault
2) There was no cure. If love, money, and training would have fixed our issues, he would have been cured a long time ago.
3) aggression is truly an illness.
4) Our baby loved us and we loved him. We made the right decision for him. He is no longer struggling with the demons he had and he is waiting for us at the bridge.
5) We gave him the best goodbye possible. We loved on him, gave him treats and ice cream, played as much as possible and in the end we sat by his side to comfort his passing. He did not feel stress, anxiety, or fear. He felt love.

Nothing makes this any easier. I find comfort in reading peoples stories and knowing that I am not alone. While I may not be crying all day long any more, my heart always feels heavy. I see him at the foot of the bed or sleeping under the table. I dream about him. I kiss his picture goodnight before bed. This has been one of the hardest decisions in my life, but I know that with time it will get easier and I know I made the right decision.

Posts: 1
I to am writing this to help ease the extreme pain I am feeling. Less than 24 hours ago, I made the decision to euthanize my beautiful bichon boy. He was 3 1/2 years old and truly brought the greatest joy and happiness. We bought our boy from a breeder and had waited weeks for his birth and to go bring our baby home. Talk about love at first sight. It is true. Frasier was an excellent puppy no issues . I worked part time and had a dog walker come in once during the 4 to 5 hour absence to take him out. He was never crated, he stayed In gated area where he could play and have more room. Jumping forward to a year and half later, we were have repair work done at our house and I had greeted the repairman introduced him to Frasier who was petted and seemed fine. The guy was coming up from the basement with Frasier trotting behind and out of nowhere Frasier lunged and bit the guy in the back of the legs. I was beyond shocked. Luckily, the skin was not broken but there was definitely bruising and pain inflicted on this person. I apologized profusely offered medical assistance but none was taken. After that I was leary about Frasier meeting new people without being on a leash. We moved to SC when Frasier was 2. The day we moved in he bit the moving guy. Again, no blood broken but bruising. I had taken Frasier to "meet" the movers and he was petted and seemed fine. I still had him on lease when he lunged at the legs of the mover and bit him. Again, I was apologetic and offered to help in way I could. No medical attention was taken. We are now totally fearful of him meeting new men that come to the house. Every time he meets a new male figure he try's to jump on them and I believe would probably bite if we were not on the other end of the lease. He calms once the people are in the house and even sits on their laps and sleeps. Crazy behavior. Walking with Frasier has been a challenge. He barks aggressively at anyone, dog or thing that goes by. It's like a vivacious bark that scares everyone and me too. He has broken free of the lease a couple of times and has chased people down the street on their bikes or carts. I believe that if they were not able to outrun him they too would have been bitten. I could deal with and have changed our walks to minimize contact with others. So that is manageable. My daughter and boyfriend came to visit and I did not have Frasier on the lease. My error. I was so excited to see her I just ran out to greet them. Frasier knows my daughter but had not been introduced to her boyfiriend. He was bit 3 to 4 times. Again , no broken skin but severe bruising .
I blamed myself and said it was my fault. Yesterday was a very bad day. I was recovering from foot surgery and my husband took Frasier out for a walk. My new neighbors dropped by with a plant and well wishes. They came in and we took a short tour of our home. We were in the office when my husband came home and took Frasier off his harness and leash. My husband is so distraught because he saw the car and usually lets Frasier in and I took all his gear off. It was just a mistake that he will regret for a long time Frasier ran into the office where I was with the husband and wife. He immediately lunged at the man and bit him in the back of his thigh. We pulled Frasier away and put him the laundry room. This time the skin was broken, with bleeding and the mans clothing was ripped. I was shaking beyond control. It happened in a split second. I know we could have avoided this if he was on his lease and we could have restrained him as we had been doing. But accidents are going to happen. Doors are going to get left open We are human and make errors. The couple left and I'm not sure if they got medical care or not. I told them send any bills if there were any. I have emailed them to see how the man is doing but have not heard back yet. I called my vet and explained the whole situation of what we were dealing with. She said we could test Frasier and put him on Prozac and get a behaviorist to come in and work with us. That being said she advised we keep Frasier in gated area or room when we had company because there are no guarantees. The other option was to euthanize my beautiful boy. His home was with us, I would never rehome him and let someone deal with this issue. I am his mom and I needed to take responsibility for my boy. Regardless of what he's done. My husband and I talked and cried most of the day. Then we made the decision to send my boy to heaven. Where there is no Prozac, no leashes or contained areas. We made our decision based on the safety of others. I never again wanted to feel that fear of him hurting someone. These were incidents that took up less than a hour of otherwise totally loving life. Unfortunately, as I witnessed it took seconds to bite and cause injury. I will have to live with this decision for the rest of my life. My heart is broken and I don't know how I will ever get my joy back. The only thing that helps some it that I know for sure there will be no more injuries. Trust me sitting here today without my boy beside me I wish I could change my mind. I loved Frasier and always will remember all our wonderful times. Thank you for reading this. Judge me if you want but trust me no one will be harder on me than myself.

Posts: 2
@zeus_goose thank you for your kind words. I take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone. I feel like it's because I love her so much that I have to do this. I am going to speak with the vet on Monday when I take my other girl in to have her stitches checked. I think I have found peace with my decision though I hate it and I hate myself for failing her. I have been taking my senior dog to my parents house when I'm not home because I'm scared that the gates will fail and I'll come home to her dead. When she goes there her whole demeanor changes, she's happy and looks relaxed. The last few months she's lost weight and her hair has been falling out, and now I'm convinced it's from the stress of living with the other dog. This is not a decision I make lightly and I'm thankful for those of you that have shared your stories. You give me hope that I'm doing the right thing and that it is the only option.

Posts: 1
I feel like I can’t breathe right now. I’ve had my boy Blackjack, a catahoula for 7 years, since he was 6 weeks old. As a puppy he showed a bit of aggression toward a couple of people, and I would just put him in the other room when they would visit. Then there was an incident that he bit me on the ear and split my ear. I was playing with him, and did my best to chalk it up to I was aggravating him. Then smaller issues, he would be sleeping on the couch and if I let him or would bend down to kiss him he’d growl at me. I knew then, I knew when he bit my ear. Since then, he still growls at me at random. Today he went outside to do his business, and immediately when I let him back in he pooped in the floor. He knows better, and never does that. Of course I yelled at him to go outside, what are you doing, etc.. as I got to the door holding it open, he would not go out, continued to poop on the floor there, and started showing teeth and growling.. scared, I backed away, and he kept coming toward me.. I really thought he was going to full on attack me, I have never hit him. He sleeps with me, with his head on my shoulder. I am so torn up right now.. I put him in the shed outside because I can’t look at him right now. I say I don’t know what to do.. but I do.. it just seems like there is something else.. he is also aggressive with other animals, and can’t be trusted with children. This has all gotten worse as the years have went. I am so totally heartbroken right now... that’s my boy... my love.. and I live alone, just me and him... I have a horrible pain in my heart right now...

Posts: 2
I found a really good trainer and have made great progress with my dog. Your dog doesn't respect you. I am not sure where you are located but Chris fraize from canine solutions training can help you
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