Sometimes We Cant Save Them – The Story of Taho 04/27/2023 By Kerry S At Pet Haven, we believe in transparency. We believe that we need to start talking openly about tough choices that sometimes have to be made. Taho – a 7-month-old pup was one of those very difficult decisions no one wants to have to make. As rescuers and animal welfare advocates, we try desperately to fight mistreatment with good. To offer safety where there was fear. To show love where there was despair. To build trust where there was none. Our mission is to provide a safe haven. Pet Haven. And as rescuers, we sometimes have to endure the heartbreak of not being able to change outcomes the way we hoped. Taho was one of those heartbreaks. Taho came to us confused. Broken. Discarded. He was in severe physical and emotional distress. We know more about his background now and we know from a young puppy he was terribly abused. We know the person who threw him out of a moving truck had multiple animal cruelty charges in her past. We know he could not get past the trauma and mistreatment he experienced. We did our best to help him make the extremely difficult decision to let him go in peace and euthanize him while sedated for an MRI to see if a possible traumatic brain injury or tumor was causing his increasingly aggressive behavior. We found nothing. We consulted veterinary specialists and behavioral veterinary professionals. Given his increased bit inhibition and increasing attempts to bite along with his increasing anxiety, we believed Taho needed to be released from the inner trauma he was living. On April 14th Taho was peacefully let go. Many tears were shed. After being in care with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for a month and several Ramsey County employees’ foster homes, Pet Haven was asked by Ramsey County and The Humane Society of the United States if we could take him into our behavioral rehabilitation program. We said yes. After all he had endured, we wanted to give him that chance. He was given the time and space to decompress, to feel safe and loved, to trust, and to just simply be. But it wasn’t enough to erase the things done to him in his past and we had to say goodbye. Goodbye to this beautiful soul who had been living his life in constant fear, anxiety, and severe trauma. A tortured existence. Taho experienced severe trauma and abuse from his original owner, a woman that had previous animal cruelty charges, who was using fentanyl, and who threw him out of a truck during a high-speed chase with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department. We know that this is extremely devastating news. As challenging as this decision was, we knew it had to be made. We want to be transparent about Taho’s history and behaviors in full, as well as why behavioral euthanasia was the only option for him. January 30th: Taho was tossed out of a moving truck going upwards of 80 miles an hour and struck by a vehicle. January 31st: Ramsey County sent out a search party for Taho and found him in a ditch where he had dug a hole in the snow to stay warm. Injured with a broken femur and other surface wounds he was taken to BluePearl Pet Hospital. February 1st: Taho was released from the hospital, given go-home medications including trazodone for recovery, and went to his first foster home. He became increasingly uncomfortable with the resident dogs and there was a redirected bite incident. February 7th: Taho had surgery to repair his broken femur and was released two days later to his second foster home. This became the point of Taho’s second bite incident. He reacted to the resident dogs by redirecting on the male foster biting him on both legs and a thigh. February 10th: With no indicators or triggers seen, Taho bit his male foster’s arm and would not let go. Arrangements were made to transfer him to foster home number three. At that foster home, while transferring him to a kennel, Taho bit the husband on the abdominal side and upper thigh and the wife on the upper thigh. February 11th: Taho was transported to the Animal Humane Society to undergo a “bite hold” for a rabies quarantine required by the county. He attempted to bite his handler when she was removing his leash but he was muzzled at the time. February 14th: Taho bit an Animal Humane Society employee and attempted to bite another. He was scheduled for euthanasia. February 21st: HSUS and Ramsey County asked Pet Haven’s Executive Director to give Taho a chance and bring him into our Behavioral Rehabilitation Program. His 10-day hold would be up with the Animal Humane Society on Feb 23rd. February 28th: After working hard for several days to get Taho released from AHS, he was finally under Pet Haven’s care in a Follow Me Dogs trainer’s home. Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department felt strongly, despite the bite incidents, that Taho deserved a fighting chance. We are grateful they did. We gave him the chance he would not have had otherwise. With the extreme amount of trauma Taho endured in his short 7-month-old life, the severity of his behavior was something we had to take seriously as the bite attempts continued to escalate to higher parts of the body (where bites don’t normally occur). Taho received a very controlled decompression, yet he was increasingly anxious and the only time he seemed to remain calm was in his crate. Due to his broken femur surgery, he had to be on crate rest for proper healing and those were the only seven days where Taho experienced no bite attempts. Those “bite-free” days were spent almost exclusively in the safety of his crate with bathroom breaks throughout the day to help the femur heal properly. That is no way to live. In order to safely handle him, he had to be in a muzzle at all times unless outside in a safely secured area and leashed at all times to control bite attempts. Even getting his muzzle off and on while he was in his kennel was not safe and required a very experienced handler. Taho’s triggers were seemingly everything and nothing all at the same time. There was no way of knowing when the next was coming. Because we take behavioral euthanasia so seriously we went so far as to do an MRI to make absolutely sure there was no brain injury or tumor causing his extreme behavior. The MRI did not show any damage that would attribute to his behavioral concerns and thus was not treatable. Taho was constantly in an unhealthy state of mind where he was either very fearful or in an extremely intense drive to bite someone or get to something. Taho was not a candidate for a sanctuary. He was not a candidate for another home. He was a serious risk to the community. And we could not, in good conscience, let him continue to suffer in this state of daily anxiety and trauma. We want to be clear that behavioral euthanasia is not a first-choice decision. Ever. It is looking at an animal’s quality of life as a whole and then exhausting all options to make it better. It can be much harder to see from the outside than a very sick-looking dog, for example. Thank you to Ramsey County and Follow Me Dogs for advocating so strongly for Taho and to our community for understanding how challenging this situation is and for supporting our work. You can trust that we did everything we could for Taho and, although he didn’t feel it for most of his life, you can be sure he left this world feeling loved. Run free and rest easy, Taho. Pieces of our hearts will be with you always. It’s important we share why Taho deserved a chance after his prior bite attempts. Taho had undergone extreme trauma and high stress, the most recent in an incredibly short amount of time. We knew that we were providing him a home environment with an experienced trainer. We wanted to give him an opportunity to truly decompress and heal to see if he could rehabilitate under careful watch. We also wanted to create a loving space for him to be let go in. Not one of fear and trauma. We were able to provide that. The shelter environment does not have the ability to offer that given its limitations. He deserved kindness in the end after all he had been through. We gave him kindness, compassion, and love. Rescue work is not easy and we deeply appreciate the trust and support we receive from our community. Thank you.