Cat Celebrated, Dog Euthanized: a Story Wrought With Mixed Emotions

Tara the cat is no doubt a hero after saving a toddler from a dog attack, but the Labrador-Chow who put the boy’s life at risk has paid with his own and I don’t know how I feel about any of it.

By | Posted: May 29, 2014, 9 a.m. PST

I went back and forth on whether or not to cover this story, finding it difficult to find the dog perspective in this sad tale. But I wanted to write about it now for the purposes of education and more importantly discussion. Because when something is confusing or sad, it’s often best just to talk it out. So let’s chat.

By now everyone has seen the viral video of a cat saving a little boy from a dog attack. The boy's father shared home security footage on YouTube of the cat thwarting the dog's attack in a video that now has well over 21 million views. If you haven’t seen it, here you go, be warned, I knew what the video was about and how it ended and I still found it difficult to watch.

Video surveillance caught footage of a Labrador-Chow puppy, Scrappy, who had escaped from his yard attacking a 4-year-old boy who was riding a bike in his own driveway.  The dog was chased-off by the boy’s best friend, Tara, a truly amazing and heroic cat.

News outlets pursued the story and the cat, Tara, rose to fame and soon garnered the title Hero Cat. She was invited to throw out the first pitch at a local minor league baseball game and our sister site Cat Fancy has contacted the cat's family for a feature in the magazine.

But in all the celebration of a truly amazing cat, what happened to the dog?

Scrappy’s owners, who were present at the incident, were able to catch and restrain him. He was then taken to the Animal Care Center in Bakersfield, Calif. and the 8-month-old dog was put down at the owner’s request after Scrappy was held in quarantine for the required 10 days. According to volunteers at the care center, Scrappy displayed aggressive behavior while in their care.  

Two shelter workers from Animal Care Center spoke with FIRST LOOK:

Animal activists and others petitioned to spare the dog from euthanasia while other animal lovers felt it was the right thing to do. The care center received numerous calls asking that the dog’s life be spared and offers to adopt the dog. Polarizing debates and comments can be found nearly anywhere this story was shared.

Tara Cat. Photo from ABC Bakersfield

But what makes this story so different? Or is it different at all? We recently shared a story about Mickey the Pit Bull, he attacked a 4-year-old boy after the boy picked up a bone in the dog’s yard. Animal activists and the internet came to his rescue and the dog was spared by a judge and sent to live in an animal sanctuary. In Mickey’s story, many came to the dog’s defense stating that it was the dog’s yard and the child should have been supervised and that the child and parents and owners were to blame.

Mickey the Pit Bull's Life Spared>>

But what about Scrappy? At 8 months old, he got loose and attacked a boy with no provocation. The boy’s mother was there and the owners of the dog were nearby enough to restrain the dog. There is no doubt that it was a surprise to hear that such a young dog displayed these aggressive behaviors, but without information about how Scrappy got out or what his life was like at home, we can only speculate on what happened here and whether or not the owner made the right choice in the end.

From an education and safety perspective I feel it’s important to share this article on dog bite prevention, it also has some great tips on what to do if you or a loved one are ever bit by a dog.

Dog Bite Safety and Prevention>>

From the discussion angle there are so many things to talk about. While I understand and respect the animal rights folks who tried to save this dog, with these situations I am often left wondering if those who offered to adopt this dog, adopted another instead? There are so many wonderful animals in shelters that while I am happy to see people come out to support any dog, I am saddened that these situations get so much interest and publicity for a single dog adoption while there are thousands of dogs who are euthanized at shelters daily.  

How do you feel about what happened here? Would you ever adopt a dog who had shown this type of aggressive behavior? As we strive for a no-kill nation in the rescue community, how do these types of cases fit in?

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Melian and Tiny   Etna, CA

6/5/2014 12:13:33 AM

I first saw this video a couple of weeks ago and have not followed up. I didn't know until now that the dog was a puppy. My first thought on seeing the video was that the dog was not trained properly and hadn't been socialized at all. His body language highly suggested that he wasn't "aggressive" as such but that he saw the boy as "prey". Much like the dogs we know and love see their toys as prey as they hunt them and then start "killing"
them.

The dog stopped as soon as the heroine of the story, Tara, came to the boy's rescue. If it had been a vicious attack he probably wouldn't have bitten the cat as
well.

The cat was amazing. I was quite impressed. However, after watching that video I felt so bad for the dog. He obviously didn't know any better! (And that was BEFORE I knew how young he
was.)

And now that I know he was a puppy I am outraged that he wasn't given to someone more knowledgeable to love and train.

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Nilah - 171576   Mesa, AZ

6/4/2014 1:56:21 AM

furthermore How did Scrappy get out? Where was the mother when this attack took place? Why did it take (as we couldn't see the length of time it took for the owners to restrain Scrappy) Why did it take the mother so long to come into the picture? Why did she leave her son right there? didn't pick him up to run him in the house something was wrong with that if you ask me. There are so many reasons dogs all breeeds will attack. Remember this small dogs inflict hardly any damage whatsoever, larger breeds bigger bite! just wondering if this had been a poodle or a Jack Russel would this be worth discussing?

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Nilah - 171576   Mesa, AZ

6/4/2014 1:39:37 AM

I am heartbroken the puppy had to die because the owners did NOT do their part in keeping their puppy safe! Im speculating the pup perhaps was not socialized properly! A dog is a reflection of the owner(s). Just as a child is the reflection of the parent! I agree with Carolyn of Nevada City, California100% there is more to this story than what the video shows. And there is NOTHING you can say that will make me changed my mind about the sicking outcome of this story!


A dog that is brought in to be euthanized especially that young is insane!! I know there was no type of investigation done in depth that is because it is ALWAYS easier for irresponsible owners to blame the dog...kill the dog because I (the owner) refuse to accept responsibility for NOT properly training, exercising, loving, etc etc my dog! I wish there were laws that would hold the owner responsible for being irresponsible when it comes to their pets. Dog dies owners are not penalized at all!! sicking...So sorry pup your human failed you...

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Suzanne   Denver, Colorado

6/3/2014 3:48:50 PM

The euthanizing seems wrong to me. I'm more than certain a rescue could have been found that would have worked with this 8 month old pup. I'm also pretty sure he was neglected by his "family". Why was he off leash? Why didn't the "parent" have some control over the family pet? I imagine this dog was never trained, was ignored and was unfairly put down.

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