When most people think of the dog stereotype, they think of a friendly, slightly goofy, super-sweet golden retriever or Labrador retriever: the quintessential American family dog that gets along with everyone and everything.
But the truth of the matter is that there are as many different kinds and temperaments of dogs as there are people, and not all dogs are made the same way or enjoy the same things — including other dogs.
Add to that the fact that most dog owners don’t know how to read dog body language, and you have the reason why dog parks can be the place of nightmares instead of a place for social dogs to have positive interactions.
Without proper training for staff, the same thing can happen at businesses that provide doggie daycare, occasionally with heartbreaking results. The Holliday family from Winnipeg, Canada, appears to have suffered such a blow earlier this month.
— Heather Wells (@HeatherWellsCBC) May 18, 2021
The Holliday family was in the process of selling their house, so they boarded their two pups — a Yorkshire terrier and a Yorkshire terrier/Maltese cross named Rocky and Tango — at “Pooches Playhouse.”
The two small dogs, both under five pounds each, stayed there for a few days, but hours before the family was set to pick them up on May 7, they got a horrifying phone call.
“We were going to pick them up on May 7/2021 in the evening, and just two hours before picking them up, at 6:32pm I got the call that Rocky had been attacked by another dog and that a staff member from there was taking him to a vet,” mom Andreina Holliday wrote in a Google review of the business.
“As we were on our way to meet up with Rocky, the daycare owner called me again saying that Tango (our other dog) had been attacked too and that he didn’t survive. She told my husband and I that Tango was taken (by a customer that supposedly had walked in when this happened) to a different vet clinic than Rocky, yet the owner could not answer the simple question of where it was that her customer had taken my dog Tango to.”
“At that point we were holding on to some hope that Rocky would make it, that he would be OK,” Andreina explained to CBC News.
It was a Siberian husky that had allegedly attacked the two dogs. Neither one ended up making it.
“Telling the kids was pretty traumatic and they couldn’t wrap their head around, just like we couldn’t,” Keith, the dad, added. “How did two dogs get killed at the same time?”
The co-owner of the business maintained that the dogs were supervised at all times and they’d never had such a terrible incident before. The dog who attacked the Holliday’s dogs has been labeled “dangerous” under the responsible pet ownership bylaw, as decided by the Animal Services Agency, and will be required to wear a muzzle and be under a handler’s complete control whenever it’s in public.
Winnipeg Humane Society’s Director of behavior and community support, Catherine McMillan, said that one good way to prevent such attacks is to separate dogs by size.
“Some small breeds in defence, rather than show their teeth, they will maybe yip or squeal, and that can actually cause a predatory behaviour in some dogs and that can cause some fatalities, unfortunately,” she said.
She also said that individual dogs have to be evaluated based on their individual traits, not breed stereotypes.
“It’s not about the breed,” she explained. “It’s more so the behaviour being displayed.”
“At the end of the day, they are animals and unfortunate things do happen, and it can never be too safe. And that’s, I think, the biggest thing. We have to remember the safety aspect here.”
The Hollidays feel an emptiness with their pups gone, and stress that they’re sharing their story to try to warn other owners to be vigilant when considering a place to keep their dogs.
“They were obviously a huge part of our family, a huge part of our day-to-day routine,” Andreina said. “The house feels very empty, very quiet.”
“You kind of always know at some point you will lose your pets, but never in such a way and so early in their lives.”
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