In a disturbing clip from “Cesar 911” uploaded to YouTube last week, Cesar Millan attempts to “rehabilitate” a dog with a past history of killing pigs. The clip, which came from a Feb. 26 episode of Millan’s program, shows a dog named Simon coming to Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center (DPC) to be trained to not attack pigs. The dog is greeted by a smiling Millan, who believes that he can “rehabilitate” the little dog who has already killed two pigs. In the clip, Cesar states:
I am going to use the fact that this is a new environment for Simon to my advantage… He has already killed two pigs in the past, but if I can give him a new positive memory with them, it will be a great foundation that can translate to a better behavior with all animals…”
Simon is taken on-leash into an enclosure with two unsuspecting pigs. Still on-leash, Cesar states to Simon’s owner, Sandy, “So you watch, okay?..We don’t want him to become alert or excited because we don’t want him to get in touch to his old memory. We want to create a brand-new memory.”
Sandy tells the camera that she lost her pet pig because of Simon, stating that she’s hopeful that Cesar can help her dog overcome his aggression to pigs, saying, “…because that means that my pig didn’t die in vain.” Sadly, it looks like Cesar’s experiment doesn’t reassure Sandy of that hope.
Simon initially only glances over at the pigs when he’s on-leash and Cesar states that he’s placing the dog near the pigs as part of his rehabilitation. But once Simon is off-leash, he presents behaviors that are clearly high arousal: his ears are up, his stance is rigid, and he’s very focused on the pigs. And when one of the pigs squeal, Simon lunges toward them, repeatedly biting them and drawing blood.
One of the pigs’ ears is bloody and torn, but Cesar tries to correct Simon, holding him by the collar. Simon appears to calm down and the camera pans over to Sandy, who looks visibly shaken and who was already traumatized when this same dog killed her own pig.
And then Simon goes for the pigs again. Cesar dives for the dog, but misses; Simon chases the terrified pigs as they scream and run. When Cesar tries to correct Simon by pushing on him, the dog looks like he’s going to bite him, and then runs off again; Cesar tells Sandy, “I’ve got it.”
The clip ends with Cesar holding the dog on his side while Sandy looks on. The worried expression on her face says it all. And she’s not the only one who’s unhappy with the situation.
Cesar Millan has long been a mercurial figure for animal lovers. Petitions have circulated in the past that have attempted to get him off the air, and now a new petition has sprung up, accusing the dog trainer of animal abuse. The petition states:
“Caesar Milan is GUILTY of allowing the ATTACK on defenseless Pigs on his show…He thought -THOUGHT – he could control [this] Dog with his commands. He was wrong. The Dog ran and ATTACKED SEVERAL PIGS – CAUSING INJURIES THAT WOULD REQUIRE VET ASSISTANCE. THERE WAS BLOOD ALL OVER THE PIGS. He could not get the Dog under control for a while and it kept attacking the Pigs.”
The petition states that Cesar should have kept the dog muzzled and that his actions “showed a lack of concern.” As of this writing, the petition has more than 6,100 signatures.
Signer Anne B. wrote: “Animal abuse is a crime in all 50 states. Televising it should be, too.” Signer Mona W. wrote: “This was abusive…the dog was not prepared with high level obedience.”
And it looks like they aren’t alone in believing that these actions were abusive. Animal behaviorist Jim Crosby wrote on Facebook: “Even if we let the first engagement slide as an accident, this documents several felony counts occurring in California at the ‘Dog Psychology Center’ as directed and permitted by the trainer. It may also qualify as ‘baiting’ under the various state and federal dog and animal fighting statutes.”
This isn’t the first time that Millan’s methods have come under fire. A petition created in 2014 received less than 5,000 signatures, but many of those who signed it were angered by his techniques. One signer wrote: “As a professional dog trainer I encounter numerous cases of benign behaviors which have, through the use of ‘what Cesar does on TV,’ become dangerous and pathological…”