Exclusive: Shelter dog caged for weeks without a walk voluntarily bites

A shelter dog who hadn’t been walked in nearly a month attacked a volunteer, leaving her with lifelong injuries, even though, as she told CBSLA, she blames Los Angeles Animal Services for not doing enough to control its population of strays.

“I wear this bracelet and it says, ‘Be the love,’ because I think dogs are pure love,” said volunteer Nancy Utovac.

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Tyson, seen here, hadn’t been walked in about three weeks when he bit Utovac, after she and another volunteer let him out of his kennel. He was then euthanized.

For five years, most days of the week, Utovac volunteered at the Los Angeles-run Harbor Animal Care Center, but she hasn’t returned since February. It was then that a dog named Tyson attacked her as she and another volunteer let him out of his cage.

The dog bit his hand so badly it severed an artery.

“He just cracked,” Utovac told CBSLA.

She feels Tyson was a victim of his environment, saying he had been at the shelter for over a year and hadn’t been walked in three weeks.

“Some dogs just can’t stand being locked up without human interaction for that amount of time,” Utovac said.

Steve Manyak, a veterinarian at Pine Animal Hospital, said that since dogs are pack animals, being isolated can make a tame dog aggressive.

“They need to interact, to be comfortable with the interaction. If that interaction is suppressed and they don’t interact with other animals or people, then any interaction after that is a source of harm. anxiety. Most of what we call aggression is a reaction to them feeling scared,” Manyak said.

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Volunteers had to carry a dog that hadn’t been taken out of its kennel in months.

Last week, CBSLA reported heartbreaking footage posted to social media by LA City animal shelter volunteers of dogs being left for weeks or even months at a time in their kennels without walking. Utovac said he saw dogs going crazy in cages.

RELATED: LA animal shelter dogs go weeks, months without walks

“Sometimes they just spin around in their cage. They bark. They jump around all the time. Sometimes they hurt themselves by rubbing their nose against the cage,” she explained.

Utovac said that was one of the reasons she went to see Tyson that day, as he was among the dogs who hadn’t been walked in weeks.

“It’s inhuman,” she said. “It’s inhumane to keep them locked up for so long.”

Tyson was euthanized after biting Utovac. Advocates say his case demonstrates why a ‘no killing’ policy without taking action to reduce our animal population is counterproductive.

“So the city is trying to implement this no-kill policy, and all it meant for this dog was that he sat in a crate for, it seems, two years and that he is euthanized anyway and someone has now been bitten,” Lisa Lange, senior vice president of PITA, said. “This policy is wrong. He shouldn’t be in that cage for as long as he has been.”

At the start of the week, the the city council held an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis at its overcrowded and understaffed shelters. Advocates said the volunteers had been sounding the alarm for years and that more time and money needed to be invested in enforcing the city’s spaying and sterilization ordinance.

“We need to reduce the numbers so that it’s a manageable number of homeless animals, so that there is a good home for every animal that needs it and that’s doable,” Lange said. at CBSLA.

LA Animal Services told CBSLA that even if a dog is not walked regularly, they benefit from other enrichment activities, which Utovac said was like blowing bubbles in their cages.

In a statement to CBSLA regarding Tyson’s case, LA Animal Services said:

“Tyson has exhibited behaviors that are of concern for the safety of people and animals. His owner delivered him to us for the same reasons. However, we cannot speculate, and neither can the volunteers, as to why a dog is displaying certain behaviors.