New Brunswick

'Shook him like a rag doll': Hearts of the North dog kills family pet

A family from Saint John said they were misled by Hearts of the North, a dog rescue organization, about one dog's aggressive behaviour which ended in it killing another dog.

WARNING: This article contains graphic images

Fitz's history was unknown when Kailey Rasch adopted him. Fitz has since been moved to Nova Scotia. (Kailey Rasch/Submitted)

A family from Saint John claims a New Brunswick dog rescue organization misled them about the aggressive behaviour of a dog they adopted — and that dog ended up killing another family pet.

Kailey Rasch discovered Spunk, a one-year-old male pharoah hound mix, through Hearts of the North, and figured he would make a great addition to her family.

But as Rasch's mother watched the dogs on day in November — the adopted dog who had been renamed Fitz — suddenly turned on her mother's Pomeranian, Champ, without any apparent warning.

Fitz was advertised as a good, 'kid-friendly' dog. (Kailey Rasch/Submitted)

"Fitz just ran at him and picked Champ up and shook him like a rag doll, like he was a dog toy," said Rasch, weeping.

Champ was rushed to the local veterinarian and received 50 stitches but didn't survive the attack.

Previous problems

Hearts of the North did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

The organization, located in Saint John, rescues dogs from the southern U.S. and brings them to Atlantic Canada for adoption.

Champ, a pomeranian also owned by the Rasch family, was killed in an attack by Fitz.

Since 2016, there have been at least three reports of violent dog attacks connected to the rescue organization.

One woman was attacked by her friend's rescue dog, Cooper. The dog lunged at her face, tearing her bottom lip.

Another woman's Siberian Husky was attacked by a mixed breed dog from Hearts of the North.

And earlier this year, Alicia Scoville's beagle hound was attacked by a bull terrier mix she got from the organization, and after trying to help the beagle, she was also attacked.

The warning signs

Rasch was taken by the adoption ad for Fitz, which described the dog as a "quirky guy" who "is very friendly and loves people."

"He's house trained and kid-friendly," the adoption ad said.

But when she adopted him, Rasch said he was covered in scars and the woman she dealt with told her little was known about the dog's history.

Champ received 50 stitches after he was shaken violently by Fitz in an apparently unprovoked attack. (Kailey Rasch/Submitted)

In July, Fitz got into a fight with a dog owned by Rasch's aunt and uncle. He was treated for several wounds, but "seemed fine."

"He didn't show signs of it even affecting him at all," said Rasch.

A little later on in the year, the dog lunged toward a child Rasch was holding in her lap.

"All of a sudden he lunged at the baby's face," she said. "He would have done a lot of damage to her face."

Rasch said they knew at that point Fritz had some major limitations when it came to children.
Champ required 50 stitches after being attacked by a rescue dog from Hearts of the North named Fitz. (Kailey Rasch/Submitted)

Blamed and insulted

Rasch contacted the person who co-ordinated Fitz's adoption and asked if she could return the dog.

But she said the volunteer insulted her and her family and blamed her for the attack. 

According to the organization's Facebook page, "dogs are fully vetted, which means these dogs are spayed/neutered, heart and worm tested, vaccinated [some are microchipped] and have the health certificate required for interstate travel."

About the Author

Nathalie Sturgeon is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate from the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She is from Blackville.