Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Owning a powerful breed

I’ve done some reporting this week on the case of an Akita attacking a 5-year-old child in Addison Township. (Click here to see the blotter item we published earlier, second item down. Full story here)
One of the officials I spoke with said the photos of the mauled boy are “brutal.”
Should we consider including Akitas in breed bans? Or huskies too, because they were responsible for the death of a small toddler a few years ago in Waterford Township?
I think the resounding answer from people would be a very strong no.
While I am not entirely sure what makes an attack by Akita or a husky or mutt somehow less offensive than a pit bull attack, I do know one thing — anyone who decides to own a powerful breed dog needs to be a special person.
If I were interviewing someone who wanted to buy a powerful breed puppy from me, I’d be looking for people with these traits:
Experienced, knowledgeable, active and vigilant.
I’ve heard that the owners of this dog have made the decision to euthanize her (the Akita is a 6- or 7-year-old female). It’s the right decision, I feel.
I don’t intend to say the owners didn’t have any of the characteristics I listed above. Accidents can and do happen.
However, I ask everyone who wants or is considering bringing an Akita or Husky into their lives, or who currently owns one of these breeds, to be aware of these breeds’ high energy and high prey drive.
Children with quick, jerky movements can trigger that prey drive in a snap.
I don’t know what happened out in Addison Township. I won’t speculate.
But if you own an Akita or Husky or plan to own one, please be prepared to provide up to an hour of vigorous exercise, preferably running, per day. Be vigilant around children and provide plenty of other outlets for the dog to expend energy and satisfy its predatory drives.
With the right owner, dogs of these breeds can make great companions.

Learn more Akitas and Siberian Huskies from the American Kennel Club.


  1. I think there should be a licensing process. We all agree that all dogs can be trained to be great family pets. However, to get a dog to a level of being a family pet, it takes a lot of work and know how. There are three general ways to take care of a dog: Proper training and control, Tie them up to the doghouse in the back yard, and put them into a ring to fight to the death. The Detroit area sees all three regularly. Going back to my first point, in the interest of the family, dog, and public; there should be a formal training certification / license to own certain breeds of dogs to ensure that everyone is safe. I think the qualities you look for in people looking to acquire a dog from you is the exact thing a responsible and caring citizen should do. With the recent cut backs on animal control - both local and state - we are going to see more and more dogs suffering because the wrong people are responsible for them.

  2. You make many excellent points in your blog, Karen. My father was on a walk when a Yorkshire Terrier blasted out his owner's front door and bit my dad on the ankle. The bite drew blood. When I was about 12, our neighbor's cocker spaniel grabbed me by the thigh, and I still have the puncture wounds.
    Sometimes, a dog can be unpredictable, no matter the breed.

  3. I've often thought that a licensing process isn't a bad idea. I wouldn't want to see something incredibly overbearing, and I'm always hesitant to support more laws (because seriously, we have more than enough already, right?) but having said that, I think a lot of people go out and get a dog without having the ability to care for it properly and with no good and useful knowledge to get them started. I wouldn't be opposed to having to take a dog ownership course, maybe one three hour class similar to ATV classes, or something of that nature.