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JoAnna Lou
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Should a Biter Be Rehabilitated?
Calls come in to rescue an internet sensation
Tara the cat body slamming the attacking dog.
Tara the cat body slamming the attacking dog.

Earlier this month Tara the cat became an internet sensation after a video of her body slamming a child biting dog went viral. The kitty has been famous ever since and was even invited to "throw" the first pitch at a minor league ballgame. But Tara wasn't the only one who garnered attention from the security camera footage.

The Labrador-Chow mix that bit the 4-year old boy was put down this weekend, but not before a rush of concerned animal lovers expressed interest in saving the pup. An online petition and several web sites popped up advocating to get the dog off death row. The shelter was also flooded with calls from potential adopters and rescue organizations pledging to reform the dog's behavior.

Julie Johnson, the Director of the Bakersfield Animal Care Control, was concerned that the shelter fielded so many calls for one dog when they have 200 other homeless pups that haven't bit anyone.

I do believe it is possible to change aggressive behavior, but spending resources on this dog means less time and money for several other animals, without behavioral challenges. In a perfect world, we'd rehabilitate the Labrador-Chow mix, but the reality is that we have limited space in our shelters, coupled with an overpopulation problem.

Although it feels wrong to make decisions on which dogs should be given a second chance, it seems only responsible to prioritize the strategy that will save the most animals.

What's your take?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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