Too often certain dog breeds are automatically pegged as “aggressive” when their bark really is just worse than their bite. As a result, large, tough-looking dogs are frequently treated unkindly because many people assume they will otherwise be violent. While some dog breeds can have a tendency to play rough, any extremely aggressive behavior is generally a result of abuse. In one instance, when a careless employee felt the German shepherd he was grooming wasn’t behaving as she should, he severely abused her to the point of breaking her tail.
Groomer Brutally Abuses a German Shepherd
On February 6, a man took his German shepherd, TT, to her appointment at Groomingdales Pet Spa in Florida. When he picked her up afterward, she wouldn’t respond to commands and was acting very uneasy. He took her to the emergency hospital where he found her tail was broken and needed to be amputated.
The Brevard County Sheriff investigated the situation and found horrific security camera footage of the incident. The video showed James Suthann, a Groomingdales employee, trying to force TT to sit still during her grooming. When she wouldn’t comply, Suthann grabbed her by the tail and, as TT tried to twist away, broke it. The video also revealed Suthann tying TT down and even hitting her over the head with the shower nozzle. (1, 2)
Legal Action and Recovery
When asked about the occurrence the Sheriff said, “Trust me when I tell you that it is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to watch in my 39 years of Law Enforcement because of the horrific and cruel way the pet was treated.” He was so enraged about the animal’s mistreatment that he escorted Suthann to the county jail himself. Suthann was fired from Groomingdales and given a $200,000 bond. (1)
TT is a service dog for a veteran with PTSD, and her injuries were traumatic for both of them. But the 8-year-old German shepherd is recovering surprisingly well from the incident. She can run around and play like she used to, and is much more herself. Even with her pet cone keeping her from licking the injuries, she still keeps a watchful eye out for her best friend. (2)
How to Care for Abused Dogs
Luckily, TT was reunited with her caring owner and is well on the way to recovery. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. More often than not abused dogs are abandoned or taken to animal shelters. Then, because of the years of mistreatment, their violent behaviors keep them from finding a safe, new home. The world needs more caring people who are willing to adopt, rehabilitate, and care for abused dogs.
Caring for an abused dog may seem like a difficult task. But there are lots of things you can do to help them feel calm, safe, and keep their aggression at bay.
Tips for Keeping Aggression at Bay
- Patience. To care for abused dogs, you need lots of patience. Because your dog needs emotional healing, helping him feel safe and loved will take time.
- Create a safe space. It’s important that your dog has a quiet and comfortable space he can call his own – somewhere he can go that’s calm and away from the busyness of the house.
- Smile. Dogs are skillful at picking up on nonverbal communication. Smiling at your dog as often as you can will alert him that you are affectionate and trustworthy.
- Slow movements. Your dog will be more inclined to let you near him without acting out if you approach him slowly.
- Establish a routine. Giving your dog something to count on every day may help him feel grounded and safe.
- Don’t yell. Always speak to your dog in a soft voice, even when giving firm commands. Shouting often reinforces a dog’s fears and invites violence.
- Educate others. Make sure anyone who comes near your dog understands that he may be aggressive and needs extra care. Teach them how to treat your dog lovingly and without harshness or fear.
- Positive reinforcement. The best way to care for abused dogs is to offer lots of treats and praise. This is much more effective than punishment, which can lead to violent retaliation.
- Hire a professional trainer. At-home training is crucial in the care of abused dogs. But hiring a professional to help with rehabilitation can give your dog the support he needs along the way. (3, 4)
Find The Loving Pup Behind the Teeth
So many dogs show aggression simply because they don’t know what it is to be loved. If you are in a place to care for an abused dog, please take the time to do so. You might just find that with training, patience, and lots of love, behind those bared teeth is a lifelong friend.