NEW ORLEANS - A family says the Jefferson Parish SPCA promised them a sweet and friendly dog but their experience with the animal was the complete opposite.
Ashley Prater posted on Facebook that she and her son went to the Pet Fest in Jefferson Parish Sunday to help her mom adopt a dog. The family spent three hours playing with a dog named Caesar. Prater says SPCA employees told her Caesar was a mastiff mix who would be great for the family.
Prater wrote on a now viral Facebook post a shelter employee said "she had taken Caesar home with her to foster him and he was very sweet. She said that if he didn’t get adopted that day she would take him back to her home because she refused to let such a sweet dog go back to the shelter."
Within two hours of bringing Caesar home Prater says the dog attacked her son unprovoked. The incident left her son in the hospital with stitches and bruises.
Prater says when Kenner Animal Control picked the dog up they told her that Caesar was not a Mastiff mix but instead a Pitbull mix. Prater wrote, "I am very disappointed in the East Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter for not disclosing this information."
The Louisiana SPCA is not affiliated with the Jefferson Parish SPCA, but say when classifying different dogs based on breeds, it's not always so simple.
"Pitbull is actually not a breed. It's a group of dogs with very similar features we kinda lumped into one, that's why we call them Pitbull mixes," Alicia Haefele with the LASPCA said.
Jefferson Parish released the following statement:
"“Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter (JPAS) rescues over 4,000 dogs per year and adopts out and releases to rescue groups over 2,700 dogs each year. There are many challenges in managing a public shelter and the JPAS takes pride in its efforts to avoid euthanizing rescued animals when possible. All dogs rescued are vetted and tested prior to being let out for adoption. We commend the administration and the staff of the JPAS for the work they do in returning these animals into society. We realize the inherent risks involved with any adoptable animal and our records will show this as in isolated incident. We pride ourselves on having a world-class facility and one of the largest intake shelters in the state. We also take a progressive approach to the adoption process with our knowledgeable and caring staff. We will continue to work to make the JPAS one of the finest facilities in the state.”
The LASPCA says they also do behavior tests on dogs before they approve them for adoption. They will also deny adoptions if they don't think it will be a good fit. For example, if the dog is aggressive towards other dogs they place that dog in single pet homes.
"It goes back to again knowing what kind of animal you're getting, knowing what those breed traits are and making sure it's a good fit for both," Haefele said.
The LASPCA says anytime you bring a new dog home, whether from a shelter or breeder, give the dog plenty of space and always supervise interactions between your kids and your pet.
"You have got to keep an eye on the interactions between children and a dog 24/7 even if you've had that pet for five years," Haefele said.
Keep in mind that any dog can bite.
"They're animals and sometimes animals can be unpredictable so do your due diligence to make sure your animal feels safe and comfortable and also that everyone in your home is safe," Haefele said.
The LASPCA has resources available on how to find the right dog for you and how to safely introduce a new pet to your family. You can find that information here.