Rusty Redux: Dallas Pets Alive! adds event policies after biting incident


THE COLONY -- Green or red?

It's usually not too hard to understand, right?

That's why it makes so much sense for Dallas Pets Alive! and their adoptable pets.

"We’re actually evaluating our animals based on their behavior and personality and coding them green, yellow, orange, and red," said Dallas Pets Alive! Asst. Dir. of Adoption Events Liesl Hlavacek. "Green is they’re friendly with everybody, and then it goes to the extreme of red. That, we would not recommend them be at an event based on their behavior and personality."

Following the saga of DPA's Rusty , the animal rescue realized it needed to make some changes. Color coding is one of those. Right now, the coding system is just internal, allowing all volunteers to easily know who's in and who's out when it's time for an event. They're considering even adding tags to the animals at events as an added precaution.

When Rusty bit a two-year-old in December at a Dallas Pets Alive! adoption event just like the one DPA hosted Saturday, he was on his leash and being restrained by his foster.

It wasn't good enough.

Even though it was the first bad bite in more than 250 DPA events, even one is too many, and they know it. That's why they reassessed their procedures and came back with new restrictions.

"We actually have a volunteer that’s dedicated to keeping an eye on the general public, so if they see kids running around approaching the dogs, having a conversation with the adult to say, ‘Please keep an eye on your children,’ or that they need to ask to approach the dog," Hlavacek said.

The new rule states that any kids 12-and-under must have an adult within arm's length, and they want to use adoption events as a chance to teach kids about how to handle dogs carefully and confidently.

Dallas Pets alive! is still fighting for Rusty, and his euthanasia appeal is scheduled for Friday, January 26, but they have a responsibility to the rest of their animals and the public too. With more than 3,000 adoptions in just five years of existence, they're hoping new rules mean renewed trust from the community.