We have all heard horror stories about dog bites. But why do dogs bite?
Believe it or not, it all starts with the dog’s owners. A dog whose care is almost wholly neglected and are left to their own devices is what often results in tragedy. All over the United States, dogs are being treated inhumanely, and then we wonder collectively why there are so many incidents of dog bites that require litigation.
When we learn that dogs are like children, products of their environment, we will learn the secret to stop dog bites before they start. Dogs that bite are not necessarily restricted to one breed. In the news, we often hear of biting pit bulls, but they aren’t the only dogs who bite. We’ve found that the majority of dogs who do bite come from neglectful owners.
We’ve taken the time to ask around and find out what makes for a great, non-biting dog and you know what we found? That mutts and rescued dogs were the dogs that not only didn’t bite, but were the ones with the least amount of health problems and disciplinary issues.
In our research, we found that these magnificent animals came from the most humble origins: a local shelter or rescue organization.
But don’t take our word for it, meet some canines who know how to keep their teeth to themselves and round out their respective human families.
Meet 9 heroic mutts that do NOT bite.
Josh and Katie K. from Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Currently Stationed in Lompoc, California – are a military family and pet parents to three rescued dogs, Riley, Ollie and Raven.
Katie told us about each of her three rescued dogs:
“Riley was the first mutt we adopted. He’s now 12 years old and we got him when he was just over a year. We adopted him from the Wisconsin Humane Society, and found out that he originally was from Indiana. But due to their overpopulation of dogs and incredibly crowded shelters, he was transported to the Wisconsin Humane Society. He was given the name “Bixby” at the shelter but as we were driving home we saw a “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” billboard, and that’s how Riley came about. He’s guessed to be a Treeing Walker Coonhound mix. He was the first dog I’ve ever had. He loves the lake and the water! He plays fetch with himself off the pier of the lake. He’s getting up there in age but he’s the best dog I’ve ever had. He lives with my mom in Wisconsin.”
“Ollie was the second mutt we adopted. He’s believed to be a pitbull and bulldog or Great Dane mix, we’re not sure. My brother had a friend who was taking care of him and the friend no longer could care for him. We got Ollie when he was 6 months old; he weighed 22 pounds, when he should have been weighing close to 40 pounds. He was skin and bones. Apparently the friend only fed him a cheeseburger once or twice a week. In December of 2013, we almost lost him. He had a pinched spinal cord in the middle of his spine which made his back legs, bladder, and tail completely useless. We had to carry his back legs outside so he could go pee for months. We did medication and rest. He had about a 10% chance of at most 20% mobility when we started this course of treatment. He’s at about 70% mobility now, he runs funny, and waddles more. He’s about 7 years old now, and he’s the most loving chunky pit bull mutt you could ever imagine. Extremely curious of other people and animals, but as never once bitten or killed an animal or human. He’s a big goofball. He also lives with my mom in Wisconsin.”
“Raven is my third mutt, and the dog Josh and I currently own. She just turned two in July 2015. She’s believed to be a border collie and Australian shepherd mix. She was found running along a street in the city we live in, by one of our friends. We put up fliers, contacted vets, and shelters and posted on Facebook groups. No one claimed her even though she had a collar on. It’s common in this city for dogs to get dumped in the hills of California when people don’t want them anymore. She was a bit underweight when she was found. But Josh and I fell in love with her at first sight, and we kept her after 3 weeks of no one claiming her. She’s obsessed with water, the shower, sprinklers and the ocean. She loves tennis balls. She was a huge challenge to work with when we first got her. She pooped in our shower every day for a week; she peed everywhere and was terrified of absolutely everything. We’ve had her just over a year now, and she knows almost 2 dozen commands, completely house broken, and no longer is afraid of the little things that scared her (like a leaf blowing in the wind). She’s a huge daddy’s girl for sure too. But she’s such a wonderful dog!”
Since Josh is in the military and will be shipping out soon, Katie said, “I’m huge into rescuing. As soon as Josh leaves on his next assignment, I’ll be volunteering at a shelter here for pit bulls and senior dogs that people give up.”
Laura A. of New Hampshire is the pet parent to her mutt Chewbacca. She told us about him:
“This is my mutt Chewbacca. He is a King Cavalier Charles Spaniel and a Shizuoka cross. I got him from a home breeder that breeds each breed separately and his litter was an accident. She was the friend of a vet tech I used to work with.”
“He is a fantastic dog, great with friends, people and animals. He can be shy at times but when he warms up he is as comfortable as can be. I am usually a big dog person and this little dog won my heart.”
“He was the perfect fit for my family because my husband wanted a Shizuoka and my daughter wanted a King Cavalier Charles Spaniel. We didn’t go searching for a designer breed. We had been searching shelter for months for a puppy – any cute puppy – and we finally found him through a friend and he was perfect. He may be a mutt but then so am I so we are a perfect match.”
TJ Gonzales and his wife Lisa Cortez Walden, Phd. of San Antonio, Texas are the pet parents to Larson and Lola. TJ shared this with us:
“My wife, Lisa and I foster dogs for several rescue groups. We have taken dogs from shelters, the street and once from a family looking to give their dog away at a playground. Our two dogs are rescues: one from the streets on the Southside of San Antonio the other adopted from West Side Dog Initiative. They are wonderful pups. They are forever loyal and obedient when it suits them. As for fostering, we have taken in entire litters at a time and nursed back to health bait dogs (used to get fighting dogs primed). The bait dogs were in such pain and so sweet when we took care of them. Each has been adopted out to wonderful homes (we are very diligent about checking out prospective families). Our record is 38 and 2 (two died from Parvo we could not get ahead of when we took in a couple of litters: Their names were Brando and Gidget). We have a cutie we rescued after a large storm that we are still searching for the owner.”
Lance D. of Rathrdum, Idaho has purebred Border Collies on his rural farm but volunteers at his local shelter. Lance is a mentor in the 4H program which helps young people learn how to care for animals. He shared a picture of his son CJ, with their Border Collie named Sadie who has won multiple titles in 4H.
Lance shared the tale of a mutt named Jack and the young lady he cares for, a young woman with Epilepsy by the name of Abbie.
“Jack was one of the dogs housed at the shelter I worked at. As soon as I saw him, I got a hold of one of the families I know who has a daughter, Abbie, who suffers from Epilepsy,” Lance said. “The one thing you have to remember is that Jack’s a mutt. He wasn’t initially trained as a service dog,” he continued. “Over time, he has become a great dog for her because has learned how to sense when she is about to have a seizure and alerts the entire family (along with anyone else nearby) to help keep Abbie safe.”
“Abbie and Jack became inseparable almost instantly, and to this day they’re still great together.”
Haley H. of St. George, Utah comes to us with the story of her “Emily Chicken Nugget.”
“I woke up on the morning of December 31, 2009 with the out-of-the-blue determination of adopting a dog. I had heard of the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and made a last minute choice to go there to find my dog.”“I walked into the shelter and talked with one of the volunteers about what I was looking for in a forever friend. I thought I wanted small, Chihuahua puppy. We determined that with my busy schedule, it would be wise to adopt an older dog who was already trained.”
“The first dog that was brought out into the large foyer was very shy and didn’t feel comfortable interacting with me. I felt sad. The volunteer said that there was another dog that was a little bit bigger than what I was looking for, but she thought the dog and I would be a good fit.”
“Out came a golden beauty with the longest legs ever. The volunteer dropped the lead, and the dog walked right over to me and sat in my lap. The dog turned and looked up at me with her big, brown soulful eyes. This was my girl. And with eyes like that, eyes that spoke poetry, her name would have to be Emily after Emily Dickinson.”
“In that moment, Emily became my best friend. Her story was sad: she was abandoned in a foreclosed house. Because of her past, I made a promise to her never to let her feel unwanted. In return, she gave me her loyalty.”
“She was described as being an Italian Greyhound and Chihuahua mix, but there might be other variants in the mix as well. She is extremely agile and is easy to train. Fetch is her favorite game and she would play all day if we would let her. Her nickname, Chicken Nugget, comes from her golden color and the shape of her body. I often have people ask about her breed when they see how fast she runs or how expertly she catches a ball. I tell them she is a one of a kind breed!”
“I am rewarded every day with Emily in my life. Her presence, her excitement and her engagement gives me a life experience I never knew was possible. I am her person and she is my best friend. The responsibility that also comes with having a dog in one’s life has also kept me in line when life seems to want to drag me down.”
Finally, we wrap up with tales from Sheri P. in Las Vegas, NV who shared with us the inspiring stories of Lucky the rescued Dalmatian and Zoe, a rescued Jack Russell terrier.
“The story of Lucky the Dalmatian is one of tragedy that turned into triumph,” Sheri said. “He was adopted from a shelter in Fort Hood, Texas. He was rescued from a dog fighting ring. Lucky was the dog that the other dogs were learning how to kill on.” She continued, “When they found him, he was badly mangled with a broken leg and in a horrid state of malnutrition.”
“When the vet initially looked at him after his rescue, the doctor only gave Lucky five years, at most, to live,” she said. But the tale takes a turn for the better, as a U.S. Military veteran walked in the door of the shelter looking to adopt a dog. Rob E. was searching for a companion to help with his combat-related PTSD when the veterinarian stepped in and told him that he had a very special dog that needed someone; little did he know that he was going to give a very loving home to a fellow battle-traumatized soul. “When Rob and Lucky met, it was love at first sight,” Sheri said. “Those two were inseparable. If something was wrong, Lucky alerted Rob, and when Rob wasn’t feeling well, Lucky was right there for him.”
Even though the veterinarian only gave Lucky five years to live due to his injuries, the love that army vet gave that dog resulted in Lucky living to the ripe age of 11 until Lucky died of complications from advanced arthritis and cancer.
“Lucky was my very first canine pal,” Sheri told us. “When I would study for school, he would hop up on the couch next to me and lay on me while I read.” “It was a sad day when we lost him, but I will carry the knowledge that what you put into a rescue dog is what you get out, and if you give them an unlimited supply of love, they will return it one hundred fold.”
“It was about two years after Lucky died that I got introduced to my latest canine friend, a black Jack Russell terrier by the name of Zoe,” Sheri said. “Zoe is actually my sister’s dog, however since my parents are retired and I take care of them; and because Zoe stays with my parents during the day while my sister is at work, Zoe has become the family dog. Actually, truth be told, the four of us humans belong to that little dog.” Sheri continued, “After being around Zoe for a while, I learned something interesting about small dogs: they aren’t a member of a human family, instead, the humans are effectively turned into the little pup’s ‘pack’. And, man, that dog rules over us all. We’re all canine whipped: whatever the dog wants, the dog gets.”
Zoe was rescued from a local animal shelter seven years ago, and she’s still going strong. Sheri told us that Zoe has never once bitten anyone. She said, “Dogs, by nature, aren’t bad. It’s the people who adopt dogs, only to neglect them, is what turns a dog ‘bad’.”
Have you ever noticed that the more loving home a dog has, the less likely he is to bite?
There are animals all over the country in need of loving forever homes. When considering a pet, make sure that you have ample time for walks, activities and plenty of room in your life for a four-legged family member. You and your endless supply of love can make the difference in a neglected dog’s life.
We’d like to thank Josh, Katie, Laura, TJ, Lisa, Lance, Haley and Sheri for sharing their heartwarming stories with us.
Remember: The safest breed of dog is one that is well loved and properly cared for.