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Seattle adopter kills Texas rescue dog

A Houston rescue group contacted American Pit Bull Examiner to ask for help.

Anastasia was killed in Seattle by adopter
Al-One Rescue
Anastasia, killed by adopter
Al-One Dog Rescue

"An ex-adopter put to sleep our rescue (Anastasia) when she was supposed to return her to us as verbally agreed and signed months before in an adoption contract, the woman is a vet tech in a specialists clinic in Seattle area, WA.

Supposedly, because the dog was being protective to her and lunged to two people when they approached the woman in different circumstances, a co-worker and a relative. She went to the dog trainer and after trying to deal with the issue, she gave up and called me to return the dog. I agreed to take the dog back but asked her to hold Anastasia for a couple of weeks, then the weekend she was supposed to fly the dog back, she didn't and all she did was to referred me to her lawyer without any further explanation."

This group begged the 'ex-adopter' to return Anastasia to the Houston, Texas based rescue paid flight courtesy of the rescue group.

Shocked, the rescue next received a letter from an attorney with a terse note that Anastasia had been killed"

"I am writing further to our recent telephone conversation. I have attached an April 12, 2014 letter from Dr. Sung, DVM that outlines some of the history regarding Harper (the owners re-named her "Harper" after adopting her in December 2013). The letter is self-explanatory, and concludes with the clinical opinion that euthanasia was the recommended option. I confirm that Harper/Anastasia was euthanized several weeks ago.

I am not going to provide further documentation at this stage (much of it is confidential, and the documented history discloses personal matters regarding the effects that this entire episode had upon the owners as they tried to work through it toward a reasonably successful outcome), but we retain a sizable documented history with respect to this matter.

I confirm that the documented history includes the following:

1. Within 24 hours of receipt of Harper (Dec. 10, 2013), the owner observed her display "cage aggression" behaviour toward veterinary staff (this was during her initial post-adoption check-up);

2. In the following days Harper unexpectedly lunged at a veterinary staff member, but was pulled away by the owner;

3. On December 14, 2014, and after the owner continued to observe aggressive behaviour, Harper was diagnosed with "fear based aggression" by a board certified veterinarian behaviorist;

4. Approximately one week later Harper lunged at another veterinary staff member who had stopped to pet her;

5. Approximately one week after that Harper lunged at a man while being taken for a walk by her owner. The man was approximately five feet away, and had stopped to wave at an unidentified third party when Harper apparently took that as a visual cue to lunge;

6. A few weeks later Harper bit a hiker while out on a walk with her owner. The hiker was traveling in the opposite direction and did nothing else to draw Harper's attention (except to approach on the hiking path). Harper bit the hiker's but did not draw blood; fortunately the hiker declined to make a further issue of it;

7. Subsequent to that incident, Harper unexpectedly bit a male guest (thigh and groin area) while at the owner's home. The attack tore the guest's trousers, and photographs were taken to document the incident. The bite left bruising, but did not break the skin. Again, the owner was fortunate in that the guest did not report the incident to animal control;

8. On February 21, 2014 the owner took Harper for a follow-up session with the behaviorist. The treatment plan at that stage included medication, a muzzle (when necessary), and "halti" training;

9. Subsequent to that meeting Harper lunged at the owner's partner while playing in their backyard (and when a muzzle was not being used). Harper released when she apparently realized that she was attacking the owner's partner;

10. In the following weeks, and during the course of muzzle training Harper was observed on three separate occasions to attack/lunge at people. Harper did not respond at all positively to muzzle training;

11. On March 24, 2014 there was a particularly frightening episode when Harper was taken for a dermatology appointment. Harper attacked both the attending veterinarian and his supporting vet-techs, and although she was wearing a cloth muzzle she still had to be forcibly restrained by the owner before showing any signs of stopping (the owner ultimately pinned her against a wall while the others vacated the room);

12. There were subsequent episodes revealing progressive stages of aggression syndrome: For example, Harper tried to charge a hot tub repairman through a glass door of the home; she tried to attack me through a closed door; she began to threaten the owner and her partner with displays of aggression; she unexpectedly attacked (and injured) the owner's other dog (a frail, fifteen year old dachshund).

I could go on, but you surely get the point.... The owner consulted with her local police/animal control, various veterinarians and specialists (including my wife), and with me (regarding civil liability issues). Ultimately, and based upon both the April 12 clinical opinion, as well as the progressively worsening situation generally the owner made the difficult decision to euthanize Harper. This still did not occur until late May 2014, as the owner persisted in trying to find an alternative solution.

I regret that this story did not have a happier ending. Despite the outcome Harper was fortunate to have been adopted by our client; our client made a sincere, earnest, and diligent effort to remedy the situation, and most people would have given up long before expending the money, the time, the stress, and the grief that our client did. Unfortunately, a more favourable outcome was not possible (our client faced considerable liability issues going forward, with no reasonable expectation that any degree of training, medication, or socialization would resolve Harper's fear based aggression). Sadly, euthanization was the last option, but in this case it was the only viable option.

I trust that you will find the foregoing to be a clear, objective, and representative account of the history of this unfortunate adoption. It really is time for all parties to close the book on this story...


Paul Gill

Barristers and Solicitors
Attorneys at Law

In Canada:

The Marine Building
1000-355 Burrard St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6C 2G8

Tel: 1-604-662-8411


Safeco Plaza
1001 Fourth Ave.
Suite 3200
Seattle, WA

Tel: 1-206-684-9412

This story is filled with holes and alarming 'training' procedures. Muzzle training is frightening and has had disastrous results.


According to seasoned and qualified longtime behaviorists who've had successful results without using muzzles, "trainers that DO NOT understand true aggression or canine communication. Most of these professionals are reading from a book/internet, watching TV or going on advice that they do not understand. It bugs me and I feel the need for more education here."

Sadly, it's way too late for Anastasia, who was loving and quite adoptable before she ended up as 'Harper' and sent to the vet for behavior work and ultimately killed. Conventional vets administer pharmaceuticals and chemicals which can aggravate the system of an over-vaccinated pet.

See: Raspberry's Story

The devastated rescuer only has a letter from a lawyer to try and understand what went wrong and most probably could have been addressed in competent hands.

After the horrors of Spindletop, this rescuer has taken the sage advice of Reunion Rescue. No more out of state 'adoptions' where pleas to return the dog are met with death and a cold letter from a lawyer. What kind of person can't pick up the phone and immediately hires an expensive attorney with offices all over the world? That alone smacks of suspicion and raises questions about what happened to Anastasia? What really happened?

Please leave your comments below in the commentary section. A Facebook page for Anastasia will be created and added to this article so that concerned fellow animal lovers might organize an effort to seek real justice for Anastasia. On a sad and final note, the rescuer doesn't even know what was done with Anastasia's body after being destroyed. Perhaps that's how they handle things in Seattle with their lawyers, but those of us who love our dogs in Texas prefer to honor our pets differently.

Cindy Marabito of Reunion Rescue writes the American Pit Bull Examiner stories to save lives. Every click on a story donates to the animals.


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