Devil Dog or Poetic Justice?

Most sensible people would dismiss the notion that bull breeds, Rotties and whatever the fashionable bad dog of the moment is are “devil dogs”, but would many realise that it is more than bad handling and breeding that might cause a dog to be a killer?

Last March a Staffie killed its owner by crushing his larynx in front of a BBC documentary crew. The incident wasn’t filmed. An inquest has just been held into the owner’s death where it emerged that the dog had probably ingested crack cocaine.

Drug addicts will stop at nothing to get their fix – just look at the number of smokers desperate to light up as soon as they get off the tube or sucking down as much of their carcinogens as possible before they get to work (whilst forcing anyone passing to partake). A quick internet search will reveal that dogs have been deliberately maimed so that people addicted to Tramadol can get a veterinary prescription. Some feed drugs to their dogs so that they are not discovered if they think that they will be raided. Some think it funny to watch the suffering of their dog as the drugs take hold – this includes people who give their dogs alcohol. Some people discard drugs in public places so that dogs die when they inhale or ingest them. I have personally known of two dogs die horrible deaths in this way.

Behaviourist Patricia McConnell describes in her excellent book The Other End of the Leash how one of the most frightening dogs that she has ever come across behaves when given toys. Yes, that’s not a typo: when given toys. The dog’s terrifying, out of control aggression provoked by objects that should evoke joy was caused by his previous owner force feeding him drugs. His new owner had done everything that she could to rehabilitate him but he was beyond help and had to be euthanised.

Major, the poor dog that killed his owner, will suffer the same fate as his neurological damage is probably far too great to make him safe.

Some may say that his owner received poetic justice, but I can find no poetry in this horrific tale and the hundreds like it. Humans take drugs of their own free will. Dogs never do.

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