Longtime critics of Cesar Millan’s dog-training methods cheered last night when news outlets reported that L.A. County Animal Care & Control was investigating at his Dog Psychology Center. The TV personality was out of town, but investigators left behind a 24-hour notice for him to make contact.
Investigators want to talk with Millan about the Feb. 26 episode of his show, Cesar 911, in which a French Bulldog–Boston Terrier mix who had previously killed two pet pigs was put into a yard with Millan’s own pigs for a training session. Millan took the leash off the dog, named Simon, who then proceeded to repeatedly chase, attack, and bloody one of the pigs.
Those who oppose what they call Millan’s outdated and dangerous dog-training methods had rallied anew against him after the network that airs his show, National Geographic Channel, posted a teaser, titled “Tiny Pig Slayer,” for the episode on YouTube. The clip has since been removed, but you can watch the entire episode on the network’s website. His opponents created petitions calling for the show to be cancelled, including this one by Dog Decoder creator and trainer Jill Breitner, and flooded the network and L.A. authorities with emails and phone calls.
Dogster resident trainer Annie Phenix weighed in on the episode and controversy yesterday, pointing out how the dangers Simon himself faced during the session with the pigs:
Millan put this dog in a slip-lead leash – his first dangerous decision as brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs can have a hard time breathing and a slip lead puts pressure on the dog’s neck and airways. Simon should have been in a harness to keep pressure off his neck.
After Millan catches Simon, Phenix points out:
If I had been watching in person, I would have dialed 911 after Millan grabbed the dog several times and forced him onto his side. The dog was already panting heavily, and putting a panting brachycephalic dog on his side and clamping down on his neck could have stopped the dog from breathing.
Millan has yet to comment publicly on the controversy surrounding the episode or the investigation, but National Geographic Channel released this statement yesterday:
Cesar Millan has dedicated his life to helping dogs and to showing how even the most difficult “problem dog” can be rescued and rehabilitated. In a recent episode of the Nat Geo WILD series “Cesar 911,” Cesar works with an aggressive French bulldog/terrier mix named Simon, who has a history of attacking other animals, including his owner’s pet potbellied pigs. A short clip from the episode was shared online and showed Simon chasing a pig and nipping its ear, causing the ear to bleed. The clip caused some concern for viewers who did not see or understand the full context of the encounter.
We have included an additional clip from the same episode to provide missing context. Cesar has created a safe and controlled environment at his Dog Psychology Center (DPC) in California in which to rehabilitate some of the most extreme — or “red zone” — cases of dog aggression, such as Simon’s. It is important to clarify that Cesar took precautions, such as putting Simon on a long lead to assess his behavior, before making initial corrections and removing the leash. The pig that was nipped by Simon was tended to immediately afterward, healed quickly and showed no lasting signs of distress. As the additional clip reveals, Cesar and his animal pack effectively helped Simon to overcome his aggressive behavior toward other animals; as a result, Simon did not have to be separated from his owner or euthanized.
Cesar Millan is and will continue to fully cooperate with authorities in any investigation. He is confident that the investigation will show there was no wrong doing.
The network provided the clip mentioned above to NBC 4:
We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds. Please share your opinions about Millan’s training methods in the comments.
UPDATE: In an interview with TheWrap, Chris Albert, SVP, Communications & Talent Relations for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD, said about Cesar Millan, “Why would we punish him? He didn’t do anything wrong.” He also told the website that the network stands behind the episode and will not pull it from the air.
UPDATE: Cesar Millan shared a video from Simon’s owner on his Facebook and Twitter.
UPDATE: The American Humane Association released a Message to Nat Geo Reality Show: Abuse is Never Acceptable.