AUSTIN - Can you really rehabilitate a dog that's bitten three times? That's what non-profit Austin Pets Alive! Is going to try to do.
Austin Pets Alive! is a resource shelter that works to eliminate the killing of animals, which is why they are used to animals coming in from all types of situations from all over the city, state and even country. Mike Kaviani is the director of life-saving operations for the shelter and said people oftentimes reach out to them to see if they are able to take or are interested in taking certain animals.
"We focus on being a safety net for dogs and cats that require extra behavioral or medical care," Kaviani said. "In this situation, we were connected by a representative in Dallas about the case."
The case Kaviani is referring to involves a dog by the name of "Lambie" or "Lamb of God" as his owner called him. The path that brought this Labrador mix to Austin is a long and winding one.
"There's a lot of nuance to it," Kaviani said. "We're going to really take our time because we want to be able to balance both the chance she deserves to live a long, happy life but also balance that with the safety of our community."
Lambie comes from the Deep Ellum community in Dallas and from an owner who let his neighbors pay to take photos with her. That came to a halt when she bit a 13-year-old boy. That was the dog's third biting incident in one year, according to court records.
"The question we are asking, 'Is that an isolated incident?'" Kaviani said. "'What is the likelihood of that behavior occurring again?'"
A judge ordered Lambie to be put down, but the people of Deep Ellum claimed the owner -- Sean Baugh -- is to blame. They said abuse from Baugh is what led her to bite. So this group of people ended up collecting more than 130,000 signatures to save Lambie's life and almost $10,000 to pay for the dog's care should the execution order be lifted.
Some of the top Dallas legal minds took on this case, as Baugh decided to defend himself. After hours of debate in the courtroom, the judge reversed the decision and ordered the dog to go to a shelter. That shelter ended up being Austin Pets Alive!
"We really felt like Lambie deserves a chance at life," Kaviani said. "We're going to be spending a lot of time getting her into various situations that might simulate what she'll experience in a home or out on a walk."
The Austin Pets Alive! team will now spend a lengthy amount of time with Lambie, eventually making the decision if she is suitable to go up for adoption again.
"We're only going to do that if we feel like she's demonstrating that she's going to be a safe member of our community," Kaviani said. "Dogs don't have to be perfect. None of us are perfect. But we want to make sure we're not finding a dog who is consistently or unpredictably aggressive to humans."
Mike Kaviani also said he knows how much time and effort was put into keeping this animal alive, so he wants to make sure his team makes the right decision in the end.
"We know that there's a community in Dallas that fought really hard to give Lambie this opportunity and we just want to make sure we're honoring that," Kaviani said.
Right now, Lambie is living with the expert behavior team at Austin Pets Alive! Once they get to know her, they will start to put her in situations with other humans and dogs -- a process Kaviani said they will not rush.
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