Dog bite leads to debate over whether to euthanize Rottweiler

A family is trying to persuade authorities that a Rottweiler dog should be put down after it bit a child's face.
Autumn Mauws, 7, is seen here four days after she was bitten by a Rottweiler her family had adopted from the Estevan Humane Society. ((Submitted by the Mauws family))
 A family is trying to persuade authorities that a Rottweiler dog should be put down after it bit a child's face.

The full-grown Rottweiler named Max had been adopted by the Mauws family of Oxbow, a town of 1,000 in southeast Saskatchewan. On the same day he was brought home from the nearby Estevan Humane Society, Max bit seven-year-old Autumn Mauws on the face.

The family said the attack was unexpected and unprovoked.

"I was walking past the dog and then he turned around and bit me," the girl recalled in an interview with CBC News.

"He didn't growl, [his] hair wasn't up. Nothing," said Michelle Mauws, the girl's mother, who said she was unable to move quickly enough to stop the attack. "[Max] looked at her when she got off the chair and then ... he turned around with his head and grabbed her."

Autumn required 22 stitches to close the gashes on her face, lips and the inside of her mouth.

Since the Feb. 23 incident, her parents have been trying to have the dog put down, but the humane society has refused to destroy Max.

Max, a full-grown Rottweiler, is at the centre of a controversy. A judge could order him euthanized, or give him a second chance. ((CBC))
 Officials with the Estevan Humane Society have expressed sympathy saying they believe Max is a gentle dog who acted out of character, and deserves a second chance to prove himself.

"Sure we feel bad about the little girl, but maybe the parents should have been more responsible too," Marlene Moore, president of the society, told CBC News. "I think the animal should have had more time to adjust to his new surroundings before he was in the room with a couple of small children and another dog."

Mauws said when Max was brought home he was introduced gradually. For a while he was in a kennel, and then he was on a leash.

She said the family is comfortable with large dogs and had positive experiences with other Rottweilers. She maintains that biting a child is a sign of aggression.

But the humane society would like to find Max another home.

"I've been around this animal," Moore said, "and he's very gentle. He's really just a big baby."

Mauws said she doesn't think it is worth risking another attack.

Moore said there is a rural couple, with no children around, that has expressed an interest in adopting Max.

"He could have a perfectly happy life somewhere," Moore said.

The final word on the matter may come from a judge.

Local police are investigating and it is possible that a dangerous dog hearing could be convened.

If that happens, a judge could order that Max be euthanized or face certain restrictions, such as wearing muzzle in public.