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Tethered Dogs Can Be Deadly Dogs

I just finished reading an article about 4 year old little Taylor Becker who was killed by dog. Being a mother and grandmother and for that matter just a caring human being … this is so very sad. The images in my head of what this must have been like for the child, the family and anyone there are horrifying.

What makes it more tragic is that Taylor’s death was preventable! She would be alive today if the dog had not been tied up and if the child had been supervised. Word has it that Taylor was left alone for just minutes, something that any parent might do. This doesn’t sound like a situation where the child was neglected or mistreated. What preceded the child’s death was a simple, normal every day life occurrence that goes on anywhere and everywhere and to anyone. It’s also a perfect example of how quickly a dog can move and how a few minutes can go from normal every day life to deadly in the blink of an eye or the turn of your back.

This article “Four Year Old Killed in Tragic Dog Mauling” talks of the dangers presented when people tie their dogs outside, especially for extended periods of time and particularly when a dog is doomed to live outside tied to a tree or some other immovable object. The Coalition to Unchain Dogs mentioned in the article is an organization that builds fences for dogs that otherwise would live their lives tethered rather than to be able to have freedom to be a dog. Just think of what your life would be like if you were tied to something and had no freedom to be yourself. To many people consider dogs to be property or like second class citizens without rights, without personalities. Dogs are living breathing things with feelings, personalities and behaviors that to many people don’t truly understand and instead take for granted. Tying up our dogs makes humans owners of potential killing machines.

No Dog is 100%! Safe to be Around – Not Even Yours!

People have mistakenly fallen into the believe that a pet dog who’s never shown any signs of aggression is 100% safe for people to be around and can be left alone with children. Big mistake. We must never forget the fact that dogs are animals first and there is no changing that. It’s the way it is and we all need to learn and respect this. It’s my understanding that this dog had never displayed an inkling of aggression so it would be quite easy for it’s family to believe the dog was perfectly safe. They may not even have given a minute of thought to the possibility that their dog would so much as snap at a person, let alone kill a child. Something like this happening was probably the farthest thing from their minds or they never would have allowed children in the yard with the dog. No matter what temperament a dog has shown it’s entire life, it should never be assumed to be 100% safe to be around. The moment you become complacent about dog safety is the moment you put your life and that of others in danger.

This tragedy is a perfect example what tying a dog to a fixed object can do to a dog. Tying out a dog, especially for lengthy periods of time causes a dog to become aggressive. My guess is the dog’s owners didn’t know what can happen to a dog’s personality when you tether a it and there are way to many dog-uneducated people just like this. I don’t know these people but I’m sure they’re absolutely devastated over this. They’d have to be inhuman not to be. I can only imagine how they must be feeling and I would not want to be them for even a second.

Let there be no misunderstanding … this article is not about making judgments or placing blame, it’s an attempt to help educate people which in turn I hope helps reduce the incidents of people getting hurt or killed by dogs. The total number of people seriously injured or killed by dogs in the United States each year is not large, but even one person is one to many … especially when most every incident could be prevented.

From what I understand, the dog’s leash gave it pretty much the entire back yard to roam which is a heck of a lot better than many dogs who have just the length of a 6 or 12 foot chain. The fact remains it was tied up and tied up is tied up, period. A dog doesn’t know that their chain is only X feet long, they only know the loneliness they feel being kept from people. In some severe cases, they know the pain of a chain that’s to tight around their neck, especially if the chain or collar has grown into the neck. Sadly, some dogs know nothing but pangs of hunger and the thirst of being left without water and that this is their life.

I’m not saying the dog that killed Taylor Becker was abused or neglected either! This is an example only and from the sounds of it, the dog was probably not a victim of severe abuse or neglect. If you think about it, a small child in a yard with a dog on a tether is not only dangerous from a bite standpoint but a child could be injured or die simply by accidentally getting tangled in the dog’s leash.

I don’t know if the dog was tied out to the point of living outside (or close to it) or just tied for a brief potty break. I doubt anyone will check into this or care for that matter because it won’t matter to most people. The only thought on their minds will be that the dog killed a child and they’ll be screaming to have the dog put down. It’s common to see dogs living outside on chains or leashes so to a large majority of people tying out a dog is unfortunately considered to be an an okay thing to do. It’s not! I can’t stress enough how not ok this is. Dogs need socialization and to be around people, places and things and that doesn’t mean from the end of a chain or tether of any kind.

What Should the Dog Owner Do?

The dog’s owner turned the dog over to the humane society and my information is they want the dog put down. I have no doubt whatsoever the last thing they ever want is to see their dog again. If one of my dogs had killed a child I don’t know if I could ever look at it again either. Why? Because I don’t know that I could handle the memories of what my beloved dog did to a child. I would hope I could get past this and keep my dog, but never having experienced something like this I can’t say for sure one way or another. I have no doubt I would be both horrified and devastated and I would be placing all the blame on myself.

Unless a pet dog is sick with something like Rage Syndrome, they don’t just attack without provocation. I’m not saying little Taylor intentionally provoked the dog, I don’t think a 4 year old child is capable of provoking a dog to attack … at least not in the human way of thinking. But we must remember that no matter how much we humanize our dogs they are not human! They see things much differently than humans do and this dog may have perceived something Taylor innocently did, something any child would do, as provocation or a threat.

I cannot tell the owners what to do with their dog. I can only say that I would not have the dog put down unless it was medically determined that it was suffering from an illness (such as Rage Syndrome) which can directly and without a doubt be determined to have been what caused this to happen. The chances of that are very slim because Rage Syndrome is very rare. At this point (and again I’m still researching the available information) it sounds to me as though this dog was simply being a dog and doing what animals do and that the dog’s aggressive behavior was probably brought on by the fact it was tethered – especially if the tethering was long term. If that’s the case then euthanizing this dog is making it pay the ultimate price for doing something it’s not responsible for having done. Euthanizing it would be like sending an innocent man to the gas chamber to pay for a crime it didn’t commit. Think about the stories you’ve heard of new DNA and other testing that has proven without a doubt that some people in prison truly are innocent of the crimes they were convicted of.

If I could not bring myself to have this dog in my home again I would rehome it. There are capable people out there who are educated in dog behavior that would take this dog and give it a home. People that don’t have contact with children and have the time to devote to spending time with the dog. If this dog has in fact been tied up all it’s life, it needs socialization, training and rehabilitation. It should have a chance at having a good life. There are people that would do this in a heartbeat. The dog does not have to die but unfortunately that’s probably the sentence that humans will impose on it and what will be it’s fate.

What Happened is Not Breed Related!

Up until this point I haven’t mentioned the dog’s breed. Why not? Because it doesn’t matter what the breed is. What happened to Taylor Becker involved dog behavior and it sounds like this dog’s behavior and personality may have been altered by having been tied. The specific circumstances surrounding Taylor’s death will probably never be known because it seems as though there were no witnesses to what happened just prior to the dog doing what it did. In my mind at least one thing I feel sure of is that something brought this dog to the point that it felt little Taylor was a threat.

Even if someone had seen what happened from the beginning our human brain would probably perceive things completely differently than the dog did and so even a direct witness would probably not understand what set the dog off unless they were very well trained in dog behavior. Because dogs can’t tell us what’s in their heads, even the best dog behaviorist would not know with 100% certainty. Their determination would be nothing more than their very best guess based on their education, training and experience. The very best behaviorist would probably get it right, but I believe there would be at least a 1% chance that they could still be wrong. Humans are not capable of processing thoughts the same way a dog does as a dog is not capable of processing their thoughts they way humans do.

The dog is a Boxer but what happened is not breed specific. Taylor did not die because the dog is a Boxer and the dog didn’t kill Taylor because it’s a Boxer. There will be people slandering the Boxer breed, spreading word that Boxers are vicious killers and should not be allowed around children. They’ll talk about and categorize Boxers like they do Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and all breeds that have been mis-labeled as being vicious and aggressive. They will damn the breed because of what happened with just one member of it. Boxers are known to be good with children, but they also have a protective side to them like any other dog. Some breed’s protective instincts are stronger than other breeds. Some dogs within their breed will have stronger protective instincts than other breed members. But it’s not known if this dog that hurt Taylor was in protect-mode or what else may have provoked him to kill this child. I’m not familiar enough with the Boxer breed to know where they stand in that area as a general rule so I’m not going to speculate. I would welcome experienced Boxer owners willing to provide us with some general Boxer behavior by leaving us some comments.

The Bottom Line as I See It

This is truly a devastating tragedy and in my mind a little girl died due to nothing but an innocent progression of events unintentionally brought on by humans who felt how and did what normal people do and don’t do every day. There is nothing unusual that I can see that the adult people involved did that intentionally caused Taylor’s death. It sounds like Taylor Becker is the only one that would be able to tell us all what really happened and she can’t do that.

From what I know at this moment, bringing criminal charges against the dog owner or anyone else involved is not something that should be pursued. The hell they will live in in their hearts and minds every day for the rest of their lives is more punishment than the pain of any sentence passed down could ever cause. There is nothing to be gained by pressing criminal charges. Taylor’s Mother I have no doubt is blaming herself for leaving her child unattended for a matter of just moments, which is something every good parent does. We cannot watch our children 24 x 7. This is not humanly possible. Should she or anyone leave any child alone with any dog present? No, not ever. My guess is that because this was a family friend, Taylor had previous contact with the dog and that the dog never gave any reason for there to be concern about Taylor being in it’s presence. It sounds like the dog’s owners are guilty of nothing more than being human and uneducated as to what can happen when you tie up a dog.

One good thing that I wish would come of this would be if more dog owners took the time to study dog behavior so they could see potential dangers that so many just don’t see and take steps to prevent human injury and tragedies like this from happening. As dog owners we need to be responsible. To many people don’t take dogs or dog ownership seriously enough. They may have been raised with dogs and never had a single dog-related incident that caused them alarm. That doesn’t mean they truly know nor understand dogs and how to live with them safely and responsibly. Humans take to much for granted when it comes to dogs and that’s when things like Taylor Becker’s death happen.

Our Message to Taylor

Sweetie, we are so sorry for what happened to you. The fact that you will never go to school, grow up and get married, have your of own children or know the joys of life is heartbreaking. We saw your picture in the newspaper and it made us cry to know that you are gone. Our hearts are very sad for you, your Mommy and Daddy, your other family members and friends. We hope that you are safe and happy where you are now and that you are playing and dancing with other children who were just as unfortunate as you to have left this world so young. We didn’t know you personally but because we love children we love you, too. Please accept a hug from us and know that we are thinking of you.

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