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Cesar Millan Crosses the Line
Prompting Investigation for Animal Cruelty

Our colleague, Mark Derr’s “Dog’s Best Friend” blog looks at an alarming program from Cesar 911 (National Geographic Wild). Seems as if the controversy surrounding Cesar Millan lives on, but this time his total disregard of how his misguided and irresponsible “beliefs” about animal behavior and dog training have resulted in other animals being harmed. It is truly unconscionable that National Geographic, that purports to be a family oriented network, would allow this animal abuse to happen and then to actually televise it. Trying to get a dog to be a “friend” to pet pigs by leashing them together and then the dog running amuck injuring the pigs certainly should not be considered to be suitable or entertaining programming. As for Millan, as dog lovers should be aware of by now, just about every animal behaviorist and veterinarians worldwide have denounced his methods and teachings. National Geographic needs to hear from us about this latest abusive behavior. There is a Change petition that is being circulated. 

LATEST NEWS: Cesar Millan is now being investigated for possible animal abuse on this matter. 

Here is Mark Derr's post:

[Note: The video clip of the Cesar 911 episode to which this posting refers appears to have been removed from public viewing on YouTube.  A partial clip and commentary can be found here(link is external).]

On March 7, staff writer Christian Cotroneo reported for The Dodo, the website devoted to “the love of animals” on Cesar Millan’s “worst dog-training idea, ever,”  that is, a particularly demented plan to reform a pig-killing French bulldog by giving him a “positivememory” with pigs upon which he can build a less lethal relationship with all other life forms.  Millan, the self-proclaimed dog whisperer who has attained cult status by showing hapless dog owners how to become “pack leaders” by giving their animals “discipline” before “affection,” has raised the hackles of serious animal behaviorists and dog trainers even before his program first aired on the National Geographic channel in 2003.  Since then he has become a one-man conglomerate, with spin-off television programs, a magazine, best-selling books, and a hugely successful website. 

But all along, he has had his critics, including me, as most readers of this blog know.  In 2006, I wrote an op-ed for The New York Times criticizing Millan’s approach to training and his antiquated view of dominance hierarchies.  Other critiques have followed, including a number of essays by my fellow Psychology Today blogger Marc Bekoff and protests from the leading animal behaviorists in the country. Criticism of Millan routinely draws vitriolic, sometimes threatening, responses from his followers.

The current controversy surrounding Milllan focuses on an episode from his new program Cesar 911, in which he addresses problem cases. The clip was posted on You Tube on February 25 and has raised a ruckus in social media said Cotroneo in his response to the show. (A noted above, the clips have largely been removed from public view.) In the episode, Millan puts a pig-killing French bulldog into a fenced training area stocked with pigs with the intent that he will learn not to attack but to love pigs.  While on a long line—an extended lead—held by Millan, the dog seems fine, but when his human companion unlooses him on Millan’s order, Simon turns demonic.  He rips one pig’s ear.  He escapes Millan’s desperate lunges—“I’ve got it,” the dog whisperer says at one point.  At another, as Millan tumbles to the ground gasping for air, he mutters, “This is teaching.”

But what is taught and what is learned?  Certainly the best learning outcome would be for National Geographic to take a stand for dogs, pigs, and other animals and remove Cesar Millan from the air until he reforms his act.

Used with permission of Mark Derr.

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Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.

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