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Mom Stunned When Teen Daughter Says She’d Pick Family Dog Over Brother With Down Syndrome

Avi Richards/Unsplash

We all know someone who was let off with a warning constantly with their parents.

Their behavior tends to be super annoying as a result, but sometimes it even causes problems for other people, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor OnlyAt4AM didn’t appreciate always having to watch her brother more closely when he misbehaved, rather than him being taught about consequences.

But when it became potentially dangerous for the family dog, the Original Poster (OP) was done putting up with the situation.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my mom I’d pick the family dog over my brother with Down Syndrome?”

The OP struggled living with her brother.

“I (18 female) love my brother (13 male) but he’s difficult to live with.”

“I did not sign a contract when I was 5 agreeing to be responsible for him all the time, but that’s essentially what my parents think.”

“He has trouble listening to directions and I get that, he has Down syndrome, and he takes a bit longer to learn but the issue is neither of my parents actually punish him, so he’s learned that he can just do whatever he wants and at most will get TV taken away for a day.”

“And that brings me to the current issue: my family got a puppy and he will let her out without telling anyone.”

The brother’s behavior around the family dog was concerning.

“It didn’t use to be that much of a problem. He’d let her out of her crate and she’d roam the house, maybe pee on something she wasn’t supposed to, but it was manageable.”

“But then he’d start locking her in the laundry room when he got annoyed by her.”

“I brought this up to my mom because the escalation worried me, I was certain that if this wasn’t addressed now, he’d let her out of the house and she’d get lost or hurt.”

“We live right by a highway, she could get killed. I was ignored and according to my mom, I was overreacting.”

“Well, I wasn’t overreacting. Yesterday my brother let the puppy out of the house without her collar on or anything that would identify her. Due to pure chance, my neighbors recognized her and brought her back.”

“I knew this would happen and I’m certain it will happen again if my parents don’t do something about it.”

The OP’s solution ideas did not match her parents’ ideas.

“Now here’s where I might be TA. I once again brought this up to my mom.”

“She’s upset with my brother but her solution is to make sure my sister or I is watching my brother at all times.”

“Not going to lie, I blew up at her a bit. Almost every long-term solution to his bad behaviors has to do with everyone else in the family changing their schedule and lifestyle rather than teaching him not to do the bad behaviors.”

“I told my mom that if he let the dog out again and she gets lost or killed, I am never speaking a kind word to my brother again, and I will never ever forgive him.”

“My mom told me it sounded like I was picking the dog over my brother and I told her that I probably would pick the dog over my brother.”

“The dog doesn’t yell and scream at me, destroy my personal items, spread feces all over the shared bathroom, eat all the snacks, and call me sexual names.”

“The dog fricking loves me cause she’s a dog, and I love her too, so if she died because my brother lets her out, it will be the last straw.”

“I know what I said was harsh but it’s true and I don’t entirely regret it.”

“My mom says I need to apologize and stop being so dramatic, but I think she needs to step up and parent her son.”

“So Reddit, AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said it was not the OP’s responsibility to help out with her brother.

“NTA. Honestly, it’s their responsibility to care for your brother and that’s their long-term job, not yours! It may be time for a bit of a wake-up call for your parents, because what’s going to happen when you go to college and want to get married and have a family of your own, if that’s the route you choose?”

“For all you know, you can decide, screw this, move to another country, and stay single forever, and it would still not be your responsibility for long-term care for your brother.” – Zel_lost_it

“NTA. You are not responsible for your sibling and you shouldn’t be parentified and forced to take care of someone else’s kid.” – _triangle_

“Your sibling needs a PCA (Personal Care Assistant). You shouldn’t have said what you said, but it’s understandable because you are being given the responsibility of being your sibling’s caretaker and you are not qualified the same way a trained PCA is.”

“Until someone teaches your brother to not put the dog in danger like he has been doing, that dog is as good as dead.” – rollapoid

“NTA – you are his sibling, not his parent. If your parents can’t handle him, that’s not your problem. They enable him. Being disabled doesn’t mean you can abuse people, nor should your parents shove their responsibilities onto you.” – Sarphadonyx

“Your brother is the child of your parents. Not your child. It is their responsibility to see to it that his needs (which sound too big for an untrained individual like yourself to take on with full confidence) are met. They are basically palming off one of their biggest responsibilities upon you.”

“Telling them you would pick the dog over him is a little bit much, but hey, whatever gets the point made.”

“Quite frankly, your parents are abusive. You are NTA.” – Baphometinsteel

Others were concerned about the OP’s brother’s behavior. 

“NTA. I know a few people with Down Syndrome. They are very intelligent and capable of learning.”

“His behaviors are dangerous and are not acceptable. This isn’t a Down Syndrome issue. It’s a pack of effort from the parents issue.” – Mackymcmcmac

“Oh, you poor dear. I am so sorry. I can feel the pain radiating from this post.”

“You are NTA.”

“You said it perfectly: they need to step up and do some parenting. You are not responsible for your siblings.”

“I think you were emotional and angry when you said those things, and no one is their best self when they’re like that.”

“Some of his behaviors (spreading feces, calling you sexual names) are absolutely inexcusable and need to be addressed.”

“If your parents won’t do anything, maybe speak to a school counselor or other relative you trust.”

“That behavior is not caused by Down syndrome and it should not be excused/attributed as such – those are behavior problems, which any child can have, and need to be dealt with before he becomes a completely out of control adult.”

“The parentification going on here is wrong. You and an innocent dog being forced to deal with this is wrong. NTA NTA NTA.” – gratefulnothateful11

“NTA. Down Syndrome does not excuse animal mistreatment, and I would have trouble forgiving both my brother and my mom in this situation.”

“Your brother is being s**tty, but it sounds like he was genuinely not taught. Your mom is the big a**hole here.” – DaydreamerFly


“You are not obligated to care about your family.”

“Maybe that’s harsh, but you’re not. you’re not obligated to care about your brother, your sister, your parents, especially since you’ve been put in the position of being a carer for your brother, who does not need a sibling, He Needs A Parent.”

“He needs someone who is capable of helping him change his behaviors. that means, even more than a parent, a combination of parents and professional help. you are neither of those things.”

“Your parents need to look into nearby down syndrome associations. Your brother is acting out because he hasn’t had any real help in learning less destructive behaviors, but he can still fix that.”

“As for the dog… make absolutely sure he’s not alone with her for the near future, and if something, god forbid, does happen to her, don’t feel bad about whatever you feel towards your family.” – reyballesta

“Cruel sexual names. Teenage boys can be very scary, teenage boys with raging hormones and nearly the strength of a man but the mind of a four-year-old that’s never been told ‘no’ even more can be downright terrifying.”

“OP needs to report what she’s told us to a trusted adult. CPS needs to be involved.”

“Oddly enough, the parents aren’t just abusing the sisters; they’re not getting their son the care he needs to be as functional as possible either.”

“NTA, OP. Please talk to a trusted adult.” – OreoVegan

Some tried to help by giving suggestions for safety proofing for the dog.

“I suggest that you train the dog to not go out the front door. Look up some training videos to see what would work for you and the dog. Otherwise, you are right, that your brother will continue to leave the door open and allow the dog to escape.” – wind-river7

“Teaching a puppy might be challenging but it’s actually easy when they get the hang of it. And you could also teach him not to go near the road or to stay in a designated area.”

“Just a suggestion, if you start looking for training methods online there are actually really bad training that some people might suggest. It works by traumatizing the dog.”

“Basically, you open the door and when the dog starts walking towards it you quickly close it, blocking the dog’s head in the door. This surely works because the dog stops putting his head there due to pain and fear. Just be careful around those videos.” – micianera2

“Hey OP, my parents taught my childhood dog not to step on the road. We lived near a busy road too and he was always wandering outside (rural).”

“Sounds like teaching your dog would be easier than teaching your parents/brother.” – theBirbsandtheBees

“NTA, I only see 2 choices here, your parents’ fence in the yard to keep it safe, or remove the dog.”

“Realistically, your parents are not going to do anything about your brother, so until you are financially independent, you might just as well stop wasting your energy barking up that particular tree.”

“BUT, you say they are generous, so maybe, if you’re persuasive enough, you might be able to plead, for the sake of your peace of mind, and the safety of the dog, whom they love too, that maybe it would be possible to put up a fence of some sort.”

“Stop framing it as a brother problem, because that’s just putting them on the defensive and causing them to shut down the lines of communication, but if you come to them as an ‘I’d like to suggest this solution, just in case, because doggo has gotten out and I’m worried it will happen again.'”

“No blaming, not a hint of the attitude that you, their child, know more about parenting than they do, just a ‘this would bring me peace of mind while I’m away at college.'”

“You get a lot more butterflies with honey than you do with vinegar, just keep that in mind. If you come to them with it as a complaint it automatically puts them on the defensive.” – randomusername71175

While the subReddit could admit that what she said was potentially harsh, that wasn’t to say that they didn’t totally understand where she was coming from.

Letting an animal out for any reason can be potentially dangerous, and when it involves a kid who isn’t being taught about consequences for his actions, the victim of the situation might end up being a furry one who surely didn’t deserve it.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.