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Dogs and kids (again!)

I am sure many of you will have heard the terrible news of the four year old girl who was mauled to death by a recently adopted rescue dog in England earlier this week. Naturally there have been numerous discussions on various websites, and many people have sent us emails to ask us our opinion.

Well, firstly this was a horrific event and the family does have our sympathy. BUT….

We are really concerned that all refuge dogs will be tarred with the same brush. We don’t know the full story and probably never will, but there are some golden rules that we follow at the SPA.

We always ask if the family has any children. We know for a fact that some of our dogs are NOT good with children, and we tell people this quite clearly.

For the dogs who are abandoned, we ask their former owners to fill out a form to provide us as much information as possible. This includes if the dog has lived with children, and if so, was this trouble free. Puppies do “mouth”, and this should not be considered biting. It is perfectly normal puppy play, but should be discouraged as when the dog gets bigger, so do its teeth. Please don’t confuse it with aggression, though! We have had several puppies brought back as they “bite”. No they don’t, you just haven’t trained them!

For the majority of dogs we do not know how they are with children, as they have been found straying and we don’t know their history. However a couple of our employees and several of our volunteers have children of various ages, and so quite often we can “test” dogs. But as with the famous “cat test” it is easier to see if a dog is NOT all right with children than if he is.

For the dogs who are lucky enough to spend time with foster families before adoption things are much clearer.

However as a general rule, remember the following:
When you welcome any animal into your family, no matter where that dog came from, you take on a great responsibility. When you choose a dog, please think carefully about your lifestyle and how the dog will fit into your family. Of course rescue centres have the responsibility to tell you the truth about a dog and advise you accordingly. But once the decision is made it’s your responsibility, not the breeders, the refuge’s, the seller’s, it’s yours! Whether the dog is a pup, a rescue or a dog you got free from leboncoin (boo, hiss), from the minute these paws are over your doorstep it’s up to you to teach both the dog and your children to live in harmony. This can take work and a lot of time and effort. If you aren’t prepared for this you really should think long and hard before bringing a dog into your household because otherwise you are putting your children at risk. Children must be taught how to act safely around dogs and must be supervised at all time.

Please don’t give up on refuge dogs because of one tragic case.

Meanwhile back at the refuge, as expected, Obelix found his owners (a big thank you again to Martine for keeping him safe and warm at her house). Mozart was adopted too, just after I had finished writing all about him for the urgent appeal. I am happy really, honest!

Dougal, one of the Magic Roundabout puppies left too, and lovely Prue has been adopted after nearly 6 months at the refuge. She didn’t want to leave, which was quite upsetting for the staff, but at the same time it shows that she can’t have been too unhappy at the SPA. Oh, and Guessy, a young French bulldog left too. We hadn’t even bothered putting photos of her on our page; dogs of this breed are rehomed without any problems at all!

So all in all not too bad, despite the arrival of yet another pup and the return of Molly after 2 weeks. But we have great plans for her, so all should be well.

Fifteen year old Obelix is reunited with his owner!








Mozart leaves! He was just about to be my urgent appeal!








Prue leaves; I hope she won’t miss us too much!








And foster mum supreme, Lisa, says goodbye to Dougal
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About Darcey Dyson


  1. I completely agree with you. We had a request from a family with children for a young dog on our site. He was an urgent rehoming as his family didn’t want him any more. Why we wondered? So he was put into pension for three weeks to assess his behaviour with people, cats, other dogs and most importantly children. An expense? Yes! But worth it for peace of mind. He is now settling happily with his new family

  2. Fabulous idea. Fostering works well for that, too; get a dog relaxed and happy and see how he is outside the refuge walls!
    And we need to be a bit aware that people abandoning their animals will say almost anything to put the blame on the dog rather than on themselves, so when people tell us a dog has bitten a child, it is worth asking whether or not it is true, and also what the child did to the dog!!!!

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