Lessons from a Connecticut Chimp Attack

824699___evolution__Today’s post will focus on the Stamford, Connecticut Chimpanzee attack and the lessons dog owners can take away from the chimp mauling that left the victim, 55-year-old Charla Nash fighting for her life and severely disfigured when the chimp bit off her nose, eyes and jaw, and severely injured her hands.

Recognizing the Role of Instinct in Our Pets

Just 72 hours after the vicious chimp attack, we’re learning details of the chimp owner’s relationship with 14-year-old Travis the chimp. Sandra Herold dressed her pet chimp in clothing, he rode in the car daily, he ate dinner at the dinner table. Herold would even share a glass of wine with Travis the chimp every night before they retired to bed - together, with owner and chimp sleeping in the same bed.

I suspect Herold was beginning to forget the truly wild animal instinct that lurked just beneath the surface in her primate pet; the fact that she allowed a friend - the victim, Charla Nash - to attempt to assist with the agitated chimpanzee confirms this.  Had Herold fully acknowledged the potentially dangerous animal instinct that would emerge, then she would have isolated Travis the chimp from even herself.

I believe this was Herold’s primary mistake: she forgot that her chimp was a chimp, with needs different from a human’s needs. She dropped her guard and forgot about her chimpanzee’s wild instincts and unfortunately, her reality check ended with a chimpanzee attack on a human that ultimately led to Travis’ death.

Remembering Animal Instinct and It’s Role in Dog Behavior and Training

This sad and unfortunate situation involving the chimp attack in Connecticut highlights a very important lesson that many dog owners learn the hard way.

The lesson is this: You must always remember that your dog is a dog; he is not a human in furry clothing. Treating your dog like a human in a furry sweater may largely ignore the dog’s needs, leading to behavioral problems and the dog equivalent of mental illness.

It’s also important to remember that your dog has his own unique set of animal instincts that may very well override the dog’s training at some point in time. Many owners make the mistake of letting their guard down; dog owners look at their friendly, well-trained dog and they forget what that dog is physically capable of.

Each and every dog, if put in the right situation, can and will hurt or even kill a human, another dog, a cat or another pet.

Instinct cannot be trained away or loved away; your dog will always remain a dog to the core - something that’s very important to remember if we are to keep our dogs well-trained and mentally healthy.

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