Today I attended a bbq at my husband's aunt and uncle's house. They have a little chihuahua pup that Dex gets along with quite well, so we brought him along with us. I'd forgotten that their son has a little maltese cross thing that was also going to be there(never met this dog before, neither has Dex). Turns out my husband's sister had also brought their dog along (heeler rescue).
We arrived to swearing and shouting, people in tears and the son tearing off in the car yelling profanities as he left. Needless to say, this was a rather awkward time to arrive.
This is what had happened just before we arrived:
The heeler was tied up under the verandah. The chihuahua(male pup) and maltese(also male, and met each other many times before) were contained up on the verandah apparently barking and getting revved up playing and carrying on. Owner of the heeler went down and took the heeler off the chain to play ball with her for a bit. The other 2 were closed in on the verandah with gates. My husband's uncle came through the gate to cook some sausages on the bbq, another person followed him out but left the verandah gate open. The maltese got out through the open gate off the verandah and the heeler ran up to it and bit it. His ear's torn and apparently there's blood everywhere over half the dogs face. I don't really know any more details about what happened since I wasn't there, so no idea on dog's body language or anything.
The owner of the maltese has obviously freaked right out 'cause their dog is covered in blood and been attacked. The owner of the heeler has freaked out 'cause their dog has attacked someone else's, and there's a bit of heated opinions and finger pointing between the families as to who's dog's at fault and so on as the owner of the maltese is leaving to rush the dog off to the vet and is rather pissed off. This is when we arrived.
After some people storming out and other people in tears. I spoke to my husband's sister(owner of the heeler) and established that the heeler has never met the maltese before.
I've met the heeler plenty of times, she's a very timid dog. She's a rescue and it's pretty clear she was abused as a young dog. She's taken years to come out of her shell and even approach people for pats. She's very responsive to being told where to go and leave people alone etc if she's being a bit too pushy for pats or ball throwing. She's never attacked a person or dog before or shows any sign of aggression normally. She can be very excitable and is pretty ball obsessed and has a tonne of energy.
I tried explaining to my husband's sister (she was pretty distraught and in tears because she never expected her dog to do anything like that) that these dogs had never met before, they were both in a state of high arousal and it was just a bad situation for both dogs to meet. She said she thinks she wants to have her dog put down because of it. I told her not to do that, but I don't know what she's going to decide once she's had time to calm down and think about it.
I want to say to her if she's going to get her put down, that I'll take the dog because I don't believe she should be put down for that. She's not known to have dog aggression and gets along well with other dogs normally and it wasn't a fair situation to judge her on. Some people in the other family are saying the maltese didn't put itself in her mouth and don't defend the heeler for what it did.
What are your thoughts? Should this dog be put down, should I take her if they want to do that? Am I putting my own dog at risk if I do?
I went down to see the heeler after a while and she was looking pretty miserable (I'm guessing she got a pretty big telling off) and I gave her a hug and she was beside herself that someone had come to give her attention. I'd feel sad if they put her down, she's a sweet dog and I am certain that if those dogs were introduced under better circumstances, the outcome would've been different.
I suspect my husband's sister is considering euthanasia because she has young children, she's shocked, she's upset over the whole thing, she feels terrible that a relative's dog has been hurt because of hers and there's obviously been a bit of disruption and heat between the families over it at the time so I can understand why that's probably an immediate conclusion for her. I suppose I just see it as more of an accident and she shouldn't have to lose her life because of it.