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Pitbull that defended his guardian from ex-husband's assault put to death

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | January 24, 2012 | Comments (81)

PutzIn a shocking and tragic turn of events, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control put down Putz, the pitbull of Debra Peters, who was seized by the office on October 6, 2011 after the dog bit her ex-husband while defending her during a domestic dispute.

Peters said Putz was only trying to defend her and himself. Her ex-husband had spat in her face before kicking the dog. When he took a swing at Peters, Putz came to her defense, biting the abuser on the wrist and stopping him from attacking.

”(He) kicked Putz and I said, ‘What did you do that for?’ and he went to swing his arm at me and that is when Putz jumped up and got him on his wrist,” Peters said. "He was only protecting him and me.” Her ex's injuries were confined to that one wrist.

The Coalition for Animal Rights Education (CARE) group stepped in to help Peters, convinced the dog meant only to grab the man before he could strike. ”If that dog had been angry or aggressive enough to want to do that guy in for his actions he wouldn't have had one bite and release with no puncture wound,” said Collen Meyer of CARE. "That dog probably was capable of doing far more in a short period of time."

The dog's brave act would eventually cost Putz his life. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control was asked to assess the dog, and when they did so, they declared him dangerous and recommended that he not be returned to Peters. "What we see is that if it has bitten it has a great chance that it may bite again," said Dan Niziolik with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control provided the following observations as justification for PUtz's euthanization:
•    That Putz was territorial and guarded his cage.
•    That he didn’t sit on command.
•    That he didn't respond to the vet’s touch. Ignored her patting.

Given the length of time Putz was separated from Peters, and isolated in a shelter, it would seem natural that any dog would be stressed by such surroundings and not react in a social or "happy" way. "After being locked up for so long, of course any dog is going to be jumping around, sniffing, playing with the dog toys,” Peters said.

The vet's note also stated that when a dog with bite history is "large, has great strength and no particular interest in pleasing people, it is my opinion he is not an acceptable pet."

”Who says that dog has to be nice to her?” Meyer said. “There are people who would give her the same reaction and she wouldn't put them on death row.”

Ironically, the past history of the ex-husband did not appear to have bearing on Putz's case. Police records showed a number of domestic calls at the home. Once, Debra's ex-husband was arrested after she told police he threatened to cut the throat of her previous dog while holding a large knife.

There is also another unsubstantiated report where her ex husband claims she told Putz to attack him and that he bit him in the face. Peters denies that. But the city also used this unverified incident for their case. They also decided Peter's could not own a dog over 20 lbs because she has a felony on her record.

”I just think if he were a human and intervenes for this abused woman he would be called a hero not a biter,” Meyer said.

Peters had paid kennel fees and done whatever the city asked in the past three months (she paid to have him neutered and microchipped) in the hopes they would spare him, even if they gave him to someone else, which appeared to have been an option at one point, but it fell through. In a last ditch effort animal welfare groups offered Putz a permanent home at a sanctuary where he would never be offered for adoption. But in the end it did not matter. The judge in the case disregarded the offer and ordered that Putz be put to death.

On Saturday, that order was carried out, and the dog who gave everything he had to save Debra Peters drew his last breath, and the dog she had bottle fed as a baby was gone.

Many involved in the case are justifiably furious, and believe that the city has made a tremendous mistake that will have serious repercussions in the future. “The dog had gone to protect his owner against an abusive situation and ended up at animal control,” said Meyer. Worse that that, he ended up dead. It would seem that the system failed both Peters and Putz in this case.

View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

It should have been the other way around !
So, when she is murdered by her ANIMAL of an ex-husband, then I suppose "it will all go away". You expect incompetence from government officials. I would expect a vet to be compassionate and caring. I hope he goes out of business and STAYS out of business. He has no right touching animals.
It is ashamed how the system has let a ex-wife in an abusive relationship down and now the dog for protecting someone who was doing what he is supposed to do. Sad story.
This is just assinine! What else would one expect after the dog being Kicked?......I used to live in Minneapolis...doesn't surprise me.....These people have their priorities sooo screwed it pathetic!
The dog protected his owner from being hurt by her ex....isn't that what they are to do...protect us when we need it???? why would anyone put this animal down for this???? oh because it was a pit that is why....if it was a lab or another dog then it would have been find....but becasue it was a pit it is a bad dog..... when are people gonna stop being stupid and realize it is not the breed of dog it is the owner of the dog and how the dog is raised...hell we don't kill murders of people, child molesters, etc but we sure as hell will kill a pit every chance we get....U people make me sick...u are all cowards, a pit will no more hurt u than a lab, great dane, shepard, poodle....u have more change of getting bit by a small dog than a large one....but we aren't murdering them.... So this poor dog was murdered for protecting its master.....against being attacked....but if her ex husband murdered her he would go to jail and live....not be murdered....seems the rules and laws need to be drastically changed because they are just STUPID!!
When? When are these idiots in charge of animal care for municipalities going to be required to have training in canine behavior? Not all dogs behave like labradoodles? Not all dogs love strangers. Not all humans want a breed that is a pushover particularly with a stranger. Oooh big surprise. Some dogs are loyal to one owner and don't follow the commands of a stranger. That DOES NOT mean they are dangerous. Most people don't want their dogs to follow the command of a stranger. I know I don't! What if someone wanted to steal my dog out of my yard? If he followed a stranger's commands he would be at risk of being taken. These are draconian laws being used by untrained, uneducated people who think they can apply the same rules for all dogs. New flash! NOT ALL DOGS ARE THE SAME.
That judge and vet need to be put down, after being locked in a cage for three months. *&^$#@+ GRRRRR...
wow. now this Judge must be an idiot! A dog cannot protect their owner now? The dog was to stand there and watch his person get abused? what is wrong with people?
I'm horrified at this. No animal should be destroyed for 'rightly' protecting it's owner. Here in the uk a woman was stabbed while out walking her GS. The dog attacked the attacker and saved the woman's life. The police were able to find the attacker from the dna left in the dogs mouth. The dog was a hero. I would have fought this decision all the way. It was wrong and the vet should be charged and stripped of his license.
That is just awful and I am so pissed off! What can we do th keep this nonsense from happening? I will gladly sign up!
Iam guessing the vet is paid by the city,the abusive husband is the one who needed the temperment test,then locked in a small cage.I think you know were I am going with this.thanks for leaving email address
www.animalshelter.org/shelters/​Minneapolis_​Animal_​Control. Send all of your love letters to the appropriate place, find out who the vet is there and lets get her/him fired for incompetence. They probably got their Vet license at Kmart....
Horrible!! RIP Putz, and know that you DID do the right thing even though it cost you your life! This dog is a HERO, not a threat - but how can you expect ignorant people to understand this? So, so sorry Debra that you had to lose your baby, I hope you sue the ever lovin shit out of those rat bastards!!
Really shocking and unbelievable ..I think we must watch the people including that vet who judged this order to put this doggie's death like the same way what they have watched to this poor dog cos something is totally wrong with them.
Really shocking and unbelievable ..I think we must watch the people including that vet who judged this order to put this doggie's death like the same way what they have watched to this poor dog cos something is totally wrong with them.
Wow. So if I grab a human child from their home and lock them in a cement room with bars, and prevent their family from access, if that child doesn't respond well to commands and seems unfriendly... put 'em down! These people had made up their minds before the 'testing'. You cannot traumatize a dog by removing him/her from their home and expect them to be happy about it.
That Putz was territorial and guarded his cage. • That he didn’t sit on command. • That he didn't respond to the vet’s touch. Ignored her patting. Oh my! It only shows how little vets know about canine behaviour! My dogs would give this lady EXACTLY the same treatment. Dogs bond with their pack and have no business pleasing random people showing up. Seems to me the vet is a follower of the recent fad that says dogs are not pack animals. You can see how this unfounded pseudo-theory takes its deadly toll.
The dog did the right thing. Animal Control are obviously uneducated people if they do not know that most dogs would behave in exactly the same way if their owner's life was threatened. The people responsible for euthanising this brave dog are obviously an abomination to humankind. Why would you expect a dog to stand and watch a man assaulting a woman? I remember a case in my home country where a woman was attacked in the park and her dog viciously attacked the offender and did much more harm than this poor pit. Guess what? The police PRAISED the dog. There is a difference between a dog lunging at people for no reason and a dog recognising a VALID threat and protecting the owner. I honestly cannot believe this is too complicated for some to understand.
This is disgusting. This is a free country and I am proud to live in a stand your ground state. She feared for her life and her dog did the right thing. It's because of this unwelcome meddling that a lot of people are mistrusting any city or government official or employee. Rest in peace amigo. You did the right thing. That vet was cowardly in not trying to make an educated decision. He took the easy way out. I would not want to do any business with a vet like that. Identify that vet and give him the business he deserves. NONE...
But nothing the vet can ensure that the law has determined
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