What to Know Before Adopting a Rescue Dog

These tips can help you keep your family safe if you should take in one of these canines.
4:07 | 08/07/14

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Transcript for What to Know Before Adopting a Rescue Dog
"Gma" investigates. This morning the risks of adopting a rescue dog taking one of these canines into your home is certainly a good deed but sometimes these animals turn out to be dangerous. ABC's Mara schiavocampo is here with what you need to know. Mara, good morning. Reporter: Amy, good morning. Adopting a dog with an unknown history can be a risk as one major league baseball family recently found out. Though those attacks are rare, there are things can you do to help keep your family safe. Such a good girl. Reporter: Tennessee, an 11-year-old pit bull mix is a good dog who had a bad life. Ah. Reporter: Spending her early years abused and neglected before being adopted by the Speciale family. I was nervous when I first came home. Reporter: The family worried how safe this dog would be with their two young boys. Luckily the family says this big dog turned out to be a big softy with the kids. They ride her. They hop on her. They roll over her. She is completely unfazed by it. Reporter: But "Gma" investigates learns stories like this don't always have a happy ending. This spring a rescue group placed this 1-year-old pit bull mix up for adoption. His records from the city-run shelter showing a history of aggression noting the dog, quote, attempts to bite and when approached hard stares and lip curls low growls and then charges the front of the kennel. After a volunteer noted progress in the dog's behavior, a family with two young children adopted the shelter dog but just one day later he attacked the two children. Both the adopting family and rescue group disagree on what information and how much was relayed about the dog at the time of the adoption. We see some isolated incidences of these kind of tragic situations but I think when you are adopting a dog without knowing where the dog came from it could be a little bit of a gamble but I think it's a gamble worth taking. Reporter: According to the aspca the overall retention rate is about 85% to 90% and last year of the nearly 1 million dogs adopted out, only 5% were returned to a shelter. But what do you need to know to make sure you're not bringing a potentially dangerous animal into your home? The aspca says most shelters conduct assessments like these to gauge a dog's temperament. In this case evaluating how this pup responds to hyper stimulation or how this pup reacts to having his lunch interrupted. It's a completely Normal behavior to guard your food. It's not usually a safe behavior in most homes. You don't want your kids sticking your hands in that bowl. Reporter: The key is talking to the shelter about the dog's evaluation. The behaviors that we see throughout the assessment are predictive of future behaviors. Reporter: Other tips, experts say only use reputable shelters and rescue groups. Be very specific about what you want. Don't go for looks. Adopt the right dog for your life, not the cutest one and always trust your gut. If something is making you feel a little bit funny it might be he's not a right match. Now, those children who were attacked that we told you about had to get stitches but are otherwise fine. The aspca says finding the perfect pet is like matchmaking so they've started using dating like questionnaires to help families to find pupally love. Here is my match. This is dolce from the Tony la russia rescue and I want a dog in a cat's body. If you had a cat on this set it would be a disaster. I wanted mellow and calm and this is -- she's a doll. She is so sweet. Unfazed by the lights. Liking you like so calm and sweet. We're a good match. I hope people don't see that and say they don't want to get a dog. It's very isolated, these problems. I've had rescue dogs my entire life and they've all been fantastic but it's a risk so you want to know what to be smart about. 5% is important. Absolutely. Or get a cat, an actual cat. There's always that. Thank you, Mara.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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