Local News

Dog's Bite Launches Debate

Posted August 31, 2000

— A dog is just hours away from death. The 180-pound Great Dane bit a 12-year-old Smithfield boy last week. The boy's parents want the animal euthanized, but Great Dane rescue groups from across the country are trying to get it called off.

Some want King Arthur dead, while others are trying to keep him alive. He is at the Clayton SPCA because he has bitten a 12-year-old boy, the son of a neighbor. The owner has to put him to sleep or turn him over for adoption. The SPCA director does not think King Arthur is adoptable.

"I don't think it would ever accept anyone but the owner," says Melinda Barefoot, the director of the Clayton SPCA . "It really hasn't accepted us in 10 days and usually they will. It's one of the few dogs I would ever say should be put to sleep."

The SPCA has gotten many calls from people who say King Arthur is young enough to be rehabilitated and there are people willing to take him.

"I have seen this in the past," says Wanda Hepler, a Great Dane fan. "I have taken dogs that have done just wonderful. Give them something to do, give them lots of attention, put them in obedience, get them neutered and also find out if there are any medical needs."

Melinda Barefoot wonders why all the attention on an animal with a checkered past. What about the other shelter animals?

Other dogs have come in, abandoned by their owners, left chained outside an empty house. Melinda thinks pure breed rescues do a good job, but who will be calling to save the lives of the mix breeds?

"That's the sad part," Barefoot says. "They focus on one animal. Just one, and we probably have a hundred back there."

"We come together with one common denominator and it happens to be danes, so we're just trying one dog at a time. It happens to be this particular dog at this shelter," Hepler says.

The SPCA director says the owner is coming in Friday to have the dog euthanized, but she has not signed any papers.

The rescue people say they are trying to talk her out of it.

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