‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan investigated for possible animal cruelty

"Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An online complaint of animal cruelty led authorities to “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan’sLos Angeles-area pet rehabilitation center Thursday, but Millan wasn’t there and they took no further action.

Footage on Millan’s television show “Cesar 911” of a French bulldog-terrier mix chasing a pot-bellied pig and nipping its ear until it bled prompted the complaint. Millan was trying to train the dog to be less aggressive.

Millan was cooperating fully with Los Angeles County animal control officers who were looking into the claims made in an online petition, said Chad Sandhas, a spokesman for National Geographic Channels, which air the show.

Millan, 46, is a self-taught dog trainer who became internationally known for his work on a prior show, the “Dog Whisperer,” which won him an Emmy nomination.

Calls and emails were not immediately returned by Los Angeles County Animal Control. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies accompanied animal control to Millan’s center in Santa Clarita, did confirm there were no arrests or animal seizures.

Millan was working with an aggressive dog named Simon, who was attacking his owner’s pet pot-bellied pigs. A teaser clip showed Simon chasing a pig and biting its ear.

Jill Breitner initiated a petition on Change.org, calling for Nat Geo WILD to take the show “Cesar 911” off air. Friday morning, the number of signatures was closing in on 10,000.

Sandhas said a second clip showed the full context of the encounter. In it, the pig is calm and is tied to Simon with a long leash, as if taking him on a walk.

The show aired Feb. 26.

“The pig that was nipped by Simon was tended to immediately afterward, healed quickly and showed no lasting signs of distress,” Sandhas said. “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.”

In her petition, Breitner called Millan’s methods “inhumane” and said his show should be taken off the air.

“This is not the first time (Millan) has used bait animals,” Breitner wrote in the petition. “This is wrong!”

Millan says the online petition is misguided because the pig was fine and the dog was rehabilitated.

The dog trainer told The Associated Press on Friday that he has used the same technique to help aggressive canines hundreds of times. The training involves getting the dog together with the animal it doesn’t like so the two can learn to get along.

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