Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Marley’s Story

Yesterday and today have been very difficult for me, tomorrow will be as well.  This is one of those job hazards that come with the veterinary technician territory.  You hope to avoid it, but it is inevitable and more so than it needs to be.

We have a dog at school named Marley.  He is a fantastic dog around humans; very loving, gentle, well-behaved.  When around other dogs, however, he becomes uncontrollably aggressive and dangerous.  The only way to describe him is out for blood.  I don’t believe he would ever willingly attack a human, but if a person came in between him and another dog, that human would be fair game in Marley’s world.

Yesterday, due to negligence, Marley was allowed out of his kennel with another (dog aggressive) dog.  As second-year students (with only 5 days until graduation), we knew not to allow him around other dogs due to his rage and viciousness.  Most, if not all, of the first year students were aware of this rule, too.  Marley unfortunately ended up on the losing side of the battle (what did he expect taking on a dog 30 pounds heavier).  We washed Marley’s wounds and stitched four (of numerous) puncture wounds.  Marley did not walk away from this battle unharmed as his foe ended up with a nasty ear laceration.  It was a brutal battle and the students involved were lucky they were not injured.

Sadly, this was not Marley’s first incident.  As I said earlier, we knew he had issues the day we took him into our care.  He cannot go in the kennels with the other dogs, his prey drive makes him too dangerous to get in and out of the kennel.  I wanted to believe that his beating yesterday would be a lesson.  It was silly to want that because dogs have no concept of reasoning or lessons.  But I hoped nonetheless.

Today, I was walking Marley.  I needed to give him a second chance before I did what I knew I would have to do.  I love that dog.  He is awesome around me.  He sits and stays, he’s great on a leash.  However, another dog entered the room unexpectedly and that loving dog that was licking my face not two second prior nearly took me out in his desire to attack.

Today, I voiced my opinion about Marley.  I love that dog and I am all about second chances, but I don’t believe that Marley can have that option.  I advocated euthanasia for Marley.  I was a very difficult decision that I did not take lightly.  If I had thought that there was any other way for Marley to go about his life, I would never have mentioned it.

If Marley were to be adopted to anyone: a student, an adult, someone with experience with aggressive dogs; Marley would still be an incredible liability.  It only takes a split second for a dog to bolt out an open door, with Marley’s prey drive and desire to destroy, it could be a disaster.  His options would be to spend his life, another 12 years, in a basement or a single room with little human and no animal contact.  His owner could have no other pets, no small children, no walks in the park with Marley, for 12 years.  It is not fair to that owner and it certainly is not fair to Marley.

I’m so torn by this case because there is no happy ending either way. I love this dog, but he can’t leave here. Everything about him changes in the presence of another dog. I never understood what it meant when people said “he looked through me” until Marley. He will kill a human in the event they tried to stop Marley from killing a pet.  God forbid that person be a child.  It is painful to know this because Marley is so loving and caring one minute but then shockingly and terrifyingly different the next.

Tomorrow, Marley will be humanely euthanized.  I know it is in his best interest, I even advocated that this be the course of action.  He can’t live his life in a basement because of his aggression.  He could get out of a house and be shot while attacking an animal or human.  Or, he can be humanely euthanized while I pet him and tell him I love him and none of this is his fault.

Either way, Marley loses and it’s not fair.



  1. I’m very sorry to hear about Marley, but sometimes (and through no fault of there own, but because of how some human trained or abused them) so animals can’t be saved.

    1. That is very true, Robi. I am all too familiar with these animals as a veterinary technician. I’ve seen more than my fair share of animals euthanized for less than what Marley was convicted of doing. It is not always easy, but sometimes, it is the only way we can help.

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