Monday, May 14, 2012


The nation is divided over the fate of a baby killer. Onion, a 120 lbs mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, killed a baby on the baby’s first birthday celebration. He had been a much loved gentle giant until that tragic day. Something in Onion snapped. As a mother, my heart breaks just trying to imagine the grief and pain endured by this family. The baby’s grandmother credits having Onion constantly by her side as she battled cancer as a major reason for her recovery. She never dreamed of the heartbreak she would experience caused by the animal that played such a positive role in her life. I know the importance of animal assisted therapy first hand. I wrote a book, Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog, about the miraculous effect of a Scottish terrier therapy dog on my life and the lives of the sick, elderly, and disabled. Until the baby came along, Onion was the pride and joy of the family. He was especially loved and cherished by the grandmother. The baby’s father said Onion had never shown any signs of aggression toward the baby or anyone in the six years he owned him. I believe Onion felt puzzled and confused after the baby arrived. He was no longer the center of attention. We can only imagine how the grandmother doted on her grandson. I believe Onion reacted out of resentment and jealousy of the baby. I don’t believe it was out of viciousness. Should Onion be euthanized? That is the subject of divisive and bitter debate. Personally, I don’t think Onion should be killed. He’s not a vicious animal and with proper supervision unlikely to be in the same circumstances. If one of Michael Vick’s pit bulls was rehabilitated and turned into a therapy dog, there is hope for Onion. Many people disagree. A move to save his life has been taken to court. The nation will have to wait and see the outcome.