ANIMAL WATCH-Cesar Millan, the self-proclaimed “Dog Whisperer” has joined Chris Brown and Best Friends Animal Society in the ranks of recent filings of lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court for attacks by Pit Bulls and other dangerous dogs on people who entrusted them with their safety.
The Complaint against Cesar Millan states that he is a world-famous dog trainer and star of the television show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, and it alleges he knew his Pit Bull, Junior, had attacked both humans and other dogs.
It states that “Mr. Millan knew that Junior was violent. Junior had bitten several people and mauled several dogs prior to biting Lidia Matiss, adding that singer Queen Latifah (Dana Owens) brought two of her dogs to Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center and “Junior mauled one of her dogs to death.” It further alleges that, “Mr. Millan covered up Junior’s violence by instructing his staff to tell Ms. Owens and others that a car killed her dog.”
The Complaint also states, “Pit Bull owners, and especially an owner as sophisticated as Mr. Millan, should take special care with their dogs. Although Pit Bulls make up just 6 percent of the dog population, they are responsible for 68 percent of dog attacks and 52 percent of dog-related deaths. On average, one person is killed by a Pit Bull every two weeks, two people are injured by a Pit Bull every day, and young children are especially at risk of injury.” (Sources are cited.)
The case of Lidia Matiss vs. Cesar Millan, Cesar’s Way, Inc., dba Cesar’s World (21STCV00285) states that in 2017, when the attack by Cesar’s Pit Bull, named Junior, on Lidia Matiss occurred, she was a minor and a star gymnast who was Level 10—the highest level in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics Program. “She was actively being recruited by universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. After the attack Ms. Matiss has not been the same—she had to quit gymnastics due to the extreme pain she suffered and limitations she continues to have.”
Plaintiff Lidia Matiss is now a 19-year-old college student. Cesar Millan owns Junior, a Pit Bull dog, the Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita, CA, and is the Chief Executive Officer of Cesar’s Way, Inc.
The Complaint filed on behalf of then-minor Lidia Matiss (Plaintiff), states that her mother, Lisa Matiss, worked for Mr. Millan, and on or about August 14, 2017, Plaintiff went to her mother’s office building in Van Nuys, CA (owned by Cesar Millan), where she regularly went, and “Junior attacked…and bit her repeatedly on the legs, including her left calf. She suffered extensive wounds to her left leg and bites, lacerations, and injuries, and was taken to a nearby hospital’s emergency room for treatment.”
It describes that, “as a direct and proximate result of the acts and conduct of Defendant, Plaintiff suffered severe bodily injury, severe emotional disturbance and emotional distress, and required and continues to require medical treatment.”
The stated causes of action are for “the substantial injuries she sustained; strict liability, assault and battery; negligence, negligent hiring, training, supervision, and retention, premises liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Despite objections by Cesar Millan’s attorneys, the judge has ordered this case to go forward. Both sides are asking for a jury trial. The trial date is set for July 5, 2022.
(The filings and arguments in the case and the judge’s rulings thus far are available on the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles website.)
PRIOR LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST CESAR MILAN
In 2015, the Dogington Post reported, “A critical care nurse from Florida is suing dog trainer, author, and star of tv’s “The Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Millan after a dog that was trained at, and released from, his Dog Psychology Center attacked and permanently disfigured her.”
This very alarming report describes that the dog owner was “allegedly attacked by Gus, the dog, just 6 days after he was released from the Center. Claiming she suffered “disfiguring open wounds, deep muscle and tendon lacerations and bone fractures” and seeking punitive damages for negligent release of a dangerous dog Millan’s Dog Psychology Center had agreed to rehabilitate, but later asserted that the attack “was beyond their control.”
And, in 2006, Millan was sued after a dog suffocated while being forced to wear a choke collar and run on a treadmill at the Center.
Best Friends also has been the subject of controversy among animal welfare proponents over the use of shock collars to control dogs.
ETHICS AND VALUES
Isn’t there something intrinsically awry in the ethics of a nation whose heroes value the lives of dogs that maim and kill over that of human and animal victims, and which measures its humaneness by pouring money into the bank accounts of those who promise repeated dangerous behavior can be “managed?”
From the statistics, this experiment is a failure; and repeating it, expecting different results, according to Albert Einstein, is the “definition of insanity.”
Before donating to any non-profit organization or ”no kill” entity or contracting for services to train an animal that has demonstrated aggression, donors/clients may want to review media reports and court records on how often they are defending and/or settling lawsuits. This could provide an additional perspective on how your money is being spent and on the reality of slogans and promises too good to be true.
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of Los Angeles employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.