Sunday, March 21, 2010
Spork to be spared, but Spork's owners not so innocent.
In this episode:
Pet Joke of the Week: The Jealous Island Dog
Headline News/Personal Comment: Spork to be spared, but his owners are not so innocent.
Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:
In our last episode, we talked about Spork, the wiener dog who had bitten a veterinary technician in the face and as a result was facing possible euthanasia on the charge of being branded a vicious animal. In our headline news story tonight, I offer you a positive update on the case of Spork. A Lafayette Colorado judge ruled that Spork deserves a chance to prove that he is not a vicious animal, and his owners deserve a chance to prove that they will be responsible pet owners and take precautions to warn care givers of what Spork is capable of when he is scared. As such, Spork and his owners have a 6 month probationary period, during which Spork must not bite anyone else, and his life will be spared: very reasonable ruling from my perspective.
Also to come out of follow up monitoring of the Spork case, was the extent of the veterinary technician’s injuries. In the interest of avoiding copyright infringement, I cannot post the hospital photos of the tech’s injuries, but believe me when I tell you folks, they were quite graphic. Spork’s bite led to veterinary technician Allyson Stone losing one half inch of her upper lip, and one inch of her lower lip. She had plastic surgery to repair the defect, but will likely need additional procedures to manage the disfigurement.
I have also seen a number of different quotes from Spork's owners, Tim and Kelly Walker, since the incident originally made news, and they have offered me a more well rounded impression of this incident as a whole, one that leaves me convinced that the Walkers are not innocent in all this.
Kelly Walker claims that the technician put scissors in Spork's face that scared him and provoked him to attack. She also says that Spork merely bit the technician in the chin. Well, here are the real facts, as per the Lafayette municipal court.
The technician was not doing anything excessively threatening. Since Spork was being admitted into the hospital for dental work, she was merely placing a hospital identification band on the patient, which requires snipping off the excess tab with scissors. This is standard procedure in many veterinary hospitals. Allyson Stone was certainly not coming at Spork's head with scissors as Kelly Walker tried to lead us to believe. Spork did not simply bite Allyson Stone's chin as Ms. Walker also eluded to, but in fact latched on to her lips causing serious disfigurement.
Since the judges ruling of only 6 months probation for Spork, the Walkers are not satisfied with the fact that their dog will be spared provided he does not bite anymore people. They feel they are entitled to a formal apology from veterinary technician Allyson Stone, as well as from the hospital because of the emotional toll of the ordeal, as well as the fact that Spork's good name was besmirched, and all future care givers will be weary of him, as all will fully know about this incident.
All of this leaves me with the distinct impression that the Walkers are in denial about what their dog is capable of when scared, in denial about the injuries he inflicted on this veterinary technician, and as such, likely played some part in this whole unpleasant circumstance. For there is no way that in the 10 years the Walkers have had Spork, that he suddenly decided to act like this for the first time in his life. Fear biting of this magnitude does not come out of the blue. Mark my words, folks, Spork has fear snapped before whether the Walkers want to share that or not, and not coming to terms with the fact that their dog is a fear biter, is partially the reason that Allyson Stone got injured. The fact that they are most dismayed that future care givers will know about what Spork did, is clear evidence to that fact. A responsible pet owner would warn all future care givers to muzzle the dog before approaching him for safety's sake. They certainly would not want to conceal that fact. If this incident did not make national news, the Walkers would have taken Spork elsewhere without warning the new care givers that Spork is a fear biter, and someone else may have gotten hurt.
You see, I have now a clearer picture of the Walkers, as I see these types of owners all too often. They raise their little dog in an excessively pampered fashion, not requiring the dog to listen to them, with no discipline, and never being made to do anything that he does not want to do, like have his nails trimmed or his ears cleaned. They dote on his every whim, so that when he goes to be groomed or needs veterinary work done, he is a snappy little brat, with little tolerance for anyone invading his critical space.
To make matters worse, when he acts up, rather than point the blame at themselves or their dog, they point fingers at the care giver, assuming that there must be something amiss about the care giver's approach or demeanor, for their little precious would NEVER act up without just cause. To have seen Allyson Stone's bleeding defects where sections of her lips used to be because of the actions of their dog, and feel that they are owed an apology because their dog was given an unjust bad reputation, even distort the story to make their dog look better, is beyond denial, but actually, sick. Pet owners like the Walkers quite frankly get people hurt.
That said, I will still maintain the stance of my previous post, that Allyson broke standard pet handling protocol in allowing her face to be close enough to Spork to sustain that kind of injury, sharing some of the blame for what happened to her. A person who has 15 years experience in the field should know better.
I also continue to maintain that to press charges against a fear biting, bratty little dachshund as a vicious dog that should be euthanized, is ridiculous, since the danger of injury is an accepted risk of the veterinary profession, and that it is possible if not probable, that the dog is fine in other settings, where his every whim is appeased by his owners, and he is never made to do anything he does not want to do.
However, while I am glad Spork's life will be spared, I really have no love for his owners, and I hope that they are not made to be martyrs in this case. Their complete lack of compassion for what their dog did to Allyson Stone, their denial about how dangerous their dog can be when in unfamiliar circumstances, and their distortion of the facts of the case are nothing short of appalling. The truth is now clear, that all parties, including the Walkers, had a hand in the unfortunate events surrounding the case of Spork.
I was eventually able to find a stock image of Allyson Stone with her injuries. It of course did not make it into the broadcast, but I posted it here for those who are interested:
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.