Dog Labeled Dangerous, Euthanized for Defending Owner from Domestic Abuse

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A Minneapolis woman was forced to say goodbye to the dog that came to her rescue when the city chose to kill it on Saturday – despite a sanctuary’s offer to take it in.

Debra Peters said her pit bull, Putz, was only trying to defend her when it bit her ex-husband during a recent domestic dispute. The man spit in her face before kicking the dog. When he took a swing at Peters, Putz came to her defense, biting the abuser on the wrist and stopping him from attacking.

”(He) kicked Putz and I said, ‘What did you do that for?’ and he went to swing his arm at me and that is when Putz jumped up and got him on his wrist,” Peters said. “He was only protecting him and me.”

That selfless act of bravery would eventually cost Putz his life. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control was asked to assess the dog, and when they did so, they declared him dangerous and recommended that he not be returned to Peters. “What we see is that if it has bitten it has a great chance that it may bite again,” said Dan Niziolik with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control.

Minneapolis Animal Care and Control offered the following observations as justification for euthanization:

  • That Putz was territorial and guarded his cage.
  • That he didn’t sit on command.
  • That he didn’t respond to the vet’s touch. Ignored her patting.

Local media reports prompted two local animal groups to take interest in the case: one went so far as to offer Putz a permanent home at a sanctuary where he would never be offered for adoption, but the judge disregarded the offer and ordered that Putz be put to death.

On Saturday, that order was carried out, and the dog who gave everything he had to save Debra Peters drew his last breath.

Those involved in the case are furious, and believe that the city has made a mistake that will have lasting repercussions. “The dog had gone to protect his owner against an abusive situation and ended up at animal control,” said Colleen Meyer with Coalition for Animal Rights Education (CARE).

“What does this tell us about other women who are in abusive relationships?” asked Claudia Beckman. “Dogs are our best friends, and they can be protectors.”

30 thoughts on “Dog Labeled Dangerous, Euthanized for Defending Owner from Domestic Abuse”

  1. Im Sorry the woman lost her protector, maybe now she can get some real help and get out of the situation she is in… RIP Putz, what a good dog…

  2. we live in a throw away world… to some animals have no rights… this is so sad that they would kill a dog just becuase he was protecting her… makes me sick!!!

  3. Dear Life with Dogs, please name the judge who gave the order so he can be removed from office. Thank you.

  4. Putz had never bitten before the incident in question.
    Putz was originally the dog of Deb’s Father. He died of a heart attack while driving. Putz was in the car when the man was stricken and despite what must have been a terrifying situation for the dog, he did not bite let alone even growl when police and first responders were caring for his master, attempting to save his life.
    The dog was deemed ” potentially” dangerous NOT dangerous and this designation( potentially dangerous) was challenged in court by representatives of CARE. CARE argued that, under MPLS ordinances, Putz was exempted from being labelled ” potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” because the bite occurred while protecting his owner, Deb( daughter of original owner who took Putaz in after her father died), in the course of an assault on her.

    If the dog’s “potentially dangerous” designation had been removed he could have been taken in by a rescue group, one of the many working with MACC. When CARE was not successful in getting the “potentially dangerous ” designation removed, Putz was not available to be helped by any rescue group who adopted out their dogs. At that point the sanctuary offered to accept Putz and give him a permanent home where he would be safe and cared for for the rest of his life. However MACC declined to release Putz as the sanctuary had to complete their paperwork to become an ” approved rescue” to work with MACC and this would take a couple weeks. MACC did not feel they had the time to wait regarding the disposition of the dog.

    Putz was just 18 months old at the time of his execution and had been caged at MACC for 3 months when he died.

    RIP Putz.

  5. It was limited people involved in making that decision, including the unnamed vet, and the unnamed judge. I would guess that those people, not the shelter directors etc were the ones who are uneducated, bias and so on. The shelter may be a great place, but I highly doubt it was the dog at fault. From the video it appeared as though he was highly aroused (not sexually) and that state along with confusion can breed kennel guarding, but in the video clips he wasn’t actually guarding. I would guess the vet was already biased while keeping in mind that it was a VET. Not a behaviorist, not a trainer. There are some certain people very at fault here, but not the shelter, and not the dog.

  6. So, for every dog that bites to protect their owner we should put them down? The end result being a policy that all courageous dogs that don’t show submission to a stranger or affection to to the touch from a vet are euthanized? This smells of stupid people who don’t know canine behavior. My dogs would give their life to protect me and yet in my presence when there is not perceived threat are well behaved companions that have all excelled in advanced level obedience. Not all dogs are submissive with strangers. This does not mean we should eliminate them from existence. I love my dogs for their courage, their intelligence and their undying devotion to our family.

    This dog was wrongly euthanized by stupid, ignorant officials that due to their uneducated knowledge

    • (submitted by mistake before done with comment)

      This dog was wrongly euthanized by stupid, ignorant officials that have no training in canine behavior and this needs to change. We need to change the law such that only individuals certified in canine behavior and after consensus of a committee, meaning more than one person, should decide whether a dog is really “dangerous” or merely acting like a normal canine given the strangers present and the unfamiliar surrounding. At least behaviorists now recognize and agree that many of the dogs who were said to be aggressive or dangerous were only exhibiting normal canine behavior under stressful and unfamiliar circumstances. This pervasive and egregious policy to quickly euthanize any dog that shows confidence when pressured by strangers to submit has got to stop! They deserve to be given an “authentic” evaluation by only those who are trained in doing so.

      Otherwise, any one of us could lose our dogs to this rush to judgement mentality simply because our canine companions did not roll over and expose their underbelly to a stranger.

      • All veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians ARE trained in animal behavior. It is one of the many things we help owners out with their pets!! So don’t go putting down all of us veterinarians and technicians!! The judge is the one that made the decision in the end. He is the one that is not educated and should have goteen more professional opinions. However, I do agree with how Putz looked in the video. He seemed happy, anxious and wanting to come out. He may have ignored the vet but he DIDN’T bite the vet! That should say a lot about how he is. He was just protecting his Owner. If my dog did the same thing (and he is a Doberman) he WOULD NOT be out down. They would have to catch me first!!

        • I have seen many instances of vets and vet techs making the wrong calls on animal behavior. Even though they are trained, they are not evaluating the pets based on the far less than ideal circumstances the pet is in. A pet in a shelter is not going to act the same as at home.

          The vet is partially to blame here, too.

        • Vets are taught the rudimentaries about behavior. They are not taught details, the subtleties of a submissive-scared anxious dog versus an aggressive-prone anxious dog. They DO NOT know the details, the why, the likelihood of rehabilitation. I have known many vets who still cling to that ancient dog versus human dominance theory which has been disproven by SCIENCE many moons ago. If there are vets out there who really do read dogs perfectly, then awesome, and I’m happy. But calling on a vet to make the behavioral decision for life or death? Absolutely ridiculous! You wouldn’t ask your pediatric doctor to conduct a psychiatric evaluation on your child. They might have a sense of what to expect, but you should never depend on their OPINION. Because that’s all it is, an OPINION. You would go to someone with the qualifications, someone who focused on that in school not skimmed it for a half semester just to get the basics. Besides, vets are all different people. This vet was clearly void of all common sense as well as completely ignorant in the area of dog behavior AND dog language. So don’t get on us for criticizing a vet, I am friends with vets and vet techs, some know dog behavior well, some not a clue. It’s not the main focus of the profession, it’s not what they are tested on to become veterinarians. The fact is this vet ignorantly professed himself an expert in a field he knew nothing about, and caused the destruction of a beautiful animal, instead of admitting maybe he didn’t know enough to make the call and stepped down. Okay?

  7. I hope the judge finds himself of herself in need of assistance one day and I hope that no one animal or human will help them. The vet is an idiot. I hate that the poor dog was put down for defending his owner. Well the vet and the judge deserve all the nightmares that they should have for killing the innocent.


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