Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Pit bull attacks 3 y.o in Jonesboro, AK when mother lies on adoption papers

When one adopts a pit bull type dog from an animal shelter due diligence is often Pit-bull2necessary, particularly because the dog’s distant behavioral history may not be known.  Obviously, this becomes important if the adopted dog has a history of aggressive behavior towards people or other animals.

In lieu of the behavioral history, animal shelters in the United States frequently use behavioral evaluation procedures to determine if a dog is adoptable.  In addition, if children are present in the home, some shelters also require a perspective on her to complete a questionnaire.  Questionnaires provide information to the shelter personnel about the owner’s experience with dogs, how the dog will be housed, and if children will be present with the dog.

In the current instance, which happened in April 2012, the director of the Jonesboro Humane Society stated that the adopter was allowed to adopt a pit bull mix dog on the assumption that she had no children in the household, which was based on what she stated on her completed adoption application. The Jonesboro Humane Society had the policy of forbidding a pit bull to be placed in a home where children lived. Within a week after the dog arrived in the home of the owner, a moderately severe attack on the three-year-old happened.

This case exemplifies what is well known by animal shelters and humane organizations: Perspective owners frequently provide inaccurate information on their adoption applications.  It is possible that a problem like this could be circumvented by insisting that a home inspection be done before finalizing adoption, but limited resources probably do not make this feasible in most cases.


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