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The Real Victim of Tara the Hero Cat's Story Is the Dog

When a neighbor's dog attacked a four-year-old boy, Tara the cat came to his rescue. Both are fine, but the dog faces euthanasia.

 |  May 21st 2014  |   282 Contributions


Updated with an interview with workers who have observed the dog in the shelter. Scroll down to see it.

By now we're all familiar with that viral video of a cat saving a little boy from what seems to be an entirely unprovoked and rather vicious dog attack. The video has caused the Internet to erupt in a cheer of favor for "Tara the Hero Cat" -- and the feline now has a Facebook page with sizable following and was even invited to throw out the first pitch at a local baseball game.

Jeremy, the four-year-old boy with mild autism who was spared from more severe wounds, is expected to make a full recovery. In interviews with the boy, the bond between Jeremy and Tara is clear and touching.

The dog, however -- incorrectly labeled as a Pit Bull in some reports when it was really a Labrador-Chow mix -- remains nameless.

And sentenced to death row.

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More details about the dog's situation have been revealed as the video has gained popularity. According to reports, the dog is an eight-month-old puppy who escaped from the neighbor's yard. The neighbors were present when the incident happened, managed to restrain the dog, and were even the ones to call 911. They voluntarily relinquished the dog to authorities, who are observing the dog before having it euthanized. Jeremy's family, the Triantafilos, will not be filing a lawsuit, and they even remain friends with their neighbors.

It's a sign of forgiveness and good will, and no one has spoken ill of the dog (except for Jeremy, who is, understandably, a little shaken by the "bad dog"). Everyone seems to have come out of the incident fairly unscathed -- the only real victim is the dog.

How did this happen and what, if anything, could anyone have done to prevent it?

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This is not the dog in the video, but an example of Labrador-Chow mix. Image via Flickr

Some Dogster readers have speculated that the dog was reacting to the wheels on Jeremy's toy bike; that, upon hearing them, the dog was driven into a frenzy. It could have been the result of past abuse by previous owners or poor socialization by the current owners. Eight months is still pretty young for a dog, but old enough to establish negative behavior -- especially if the dog was adopted from a shelter or a rescue with no clue about his history.

Yet other readers have confessed that sometimes dogs are just born "defective" -- with something off in their brain chemistry, possibly preventing them from ever being corrected.

This week is also Dog Bite Prevention Week, so we've created this infographic outlining dog body language. Understanding dog body language is key to preventing bites. Check out this article for more information on dog bites and how to prevent them.

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Two workers from the shelter where the dog is being held for observation before being euthanized spoke with FIRST LOOK host Scott Cox. During the interview, they talk about how the dog's aggressive behavior continues and how they don't know the dog's vaccination history. They also talk about they've received numerous calls from deeply compassionate but perhaps misguided people and organizations willing to adopt and rehabilitate the dog. They explain how irresponsible it would be to release the dog, and they wonder why people aren't redirecting their efforts toward dogs with no violent history who are languishing away in shelters.

Their assessment of the dog has me reevaluating some of my thoughts above. While Jeremy escaped the attack with his life, as the selter workers point out, it could have easily ended much more tragically. And if the dog truly is just a "bad apple" beyond salvation, is he really the victim? The video further elucidates the event, revealing that the dog also bit Jeremy's mother when she tried to prevent a second attack. So now I really don't know -- is the dog a victim? Is he really beyond hope? Should the folks calling in about the dog be focusing their energy on the other shelter inhabitants?

What do you think about all this? How do you feel about the dog being put down? About the shelter workers' thoughts? Let's talk in the comments.

Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

About Liz Acosta: Dogster's former Cuteness Correspondent, Liz still manages the site's daily "Awws," only now she also wrangles Dogster's social media. That's why she wants you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and -- her personal favorite -- Instagram. See ya there!

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