No charges for ‘dog whisperer’ Cesar Millan after animal cruelty investigation
Los Angeles County animal control officials wrapped up their probe into allegations of animal cruelty involving “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan after a pot-bellied pig was attacked by a French bulldog mix during an episode of his TV show, authorities said Monday.
The decision not to charge Millan brings a nearly month-long investigation over the pig’s attack to an end. National Geographic Wild, which airs “Cesar 911,” never disputed that the French bulldog mix, named Simon, attacked the pig during training. The dog reportedly bit the pig in the ear, drawing blood.
Later in the episode, the same pig appears to be leashed to the dog on a walk around a pen in an attempt to train it to co-exist with pigs.
A clip from Nat Geo Wild’s “Cesar 911" shows host Cesar Millan teaching Simon, an aggressive French bulldog/terrier mix, how to get along with his owner’s pot-bellied pigs. One pig, which Simon nipped, is later shown taking the dog for a walk.
“The clip caused some concern for viewers who did not see or understand the full context of the encounter,” National Geographic Wild said in a statement. “The pig that was nipped by Simon was tended to immediately afterward, healed quickly and showed no lasting signs of distress.”
Investigators had asked for the names of everyone who appeared on the Feb. 26 episode of the show and wanted to see the pig, officials said.
“After a comprehensive investigation by our officers, we presented a very thorough and complete report to the District Attorney’s office and they were unable to find anything to charge Mr. Millan with,” said Aaron Reyes, deputy director for animal care and control. “It’s a fair decision.”
Reyes said investigators watched the full video “several times” and the footage -- paired with interviews with the people involved in the episode and veterinary reports -- showed no intent to harm the animal or any neglect.
“You can tell that it was not intentional and [Millan’s] reactions were swift and effective,” Reyes said. “The injuries to the pig looked worse than they really were, and they got immediate veterinary care.”
“There is no evidence that the pig was used as bait, and all parties who witnessed the incident felt it was an accident,” the evaluation said. “Although in the video the pig is seen bleeding, the dog’s act was merely a nip and did not tear or bite the skin off.”
Throughout the investigation, Millan maintained that no crime occurred. In a statement, the trainer said he was pleased, but not surprised, that there would be no charges.
“My team and I are 100% dedicated to the proper care of all animals, including the farm pig in this case,” he said. “I am continuing my work rescuing and rehabilitating even the most difficult problem dogs, which has saved the lives of thousands of animals that otherwise would have been euthanized.”
There’s no history of animal cruelty complaints tied to the property where the February incident took place – a 45-acre dog-training ranch in Santa Clarita, Reyes said.
The dog ultimately did not have to be euthanized or separated from his owner, according to National Geographic Wild.
Last year, Millan was sued by a woman who claims she was attacked by a pit bull that had been prematurely released by the training center.
For more local and breaking news, follow me on Twitter: @sarahparvini
Times staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.
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