Ann Casper, a lifetime animal advocate, dog behaviorist and owner/founder of "Calming K9s" talks about her life long love of animals, Pit Bulls, and her upcoming role in the documentary film "Tony's Tale, Tragedy in Arizona."
Denise: How long have you been working with and training dogs?
Ann: I have beeen trainig dogs formally for almost two years. However, I have spent my whole life around dogs. The last 15 years have been spent volunteering at animal shelters, assisting rescue groups and owning and operating my own pet sitting business. All of this experience has helped make me an expert at reading or assessing a dog within the first few minutes of meeting them. It enable me to successfully assess a dog's energy.
Denise: Where did you receive your training?
Ann: I received my training from many brilliant and talented behavior based trainers. One of the most highly recognized ones being Cesar Milan, "The Dog Whisperer." I worked with and learned from Cesar and his team of trainers at his dog psychology center in California as well as here in Florida. Cesar has educated many people on the fact that Pit Bulls are not born aggressive, that behavior is created by people.
Denise: Have you worked with many Pit Bulls?
Ann: I have worked with probably 3 or 4 Pit Bulls. None of them were aggression cases. They were all issues common to many dogs that I work with such as leash pulling, jumping, going on furniture, excitability. Overall, as a breed I find them to be very compliant and submissive to the humans they want to please which is why they are so easy to train as fighters. They are extremely loyal and protective of the people they love. The truth of the matter is; no dog is born aggressive. That behavior is brought out of the dog by creating fear, stressing a dog by using unspeakable methods of intimidation and cruelty until they have no choice but to lash out. The dog is not the problem, the breed is not the problem, the human is the problem. Why punish everyone that owns a Pit Bull by banning a breed? This is happening right here in Dade County, Florida. We should be targeting the people that are abusing an animal and breaking the law. It makes no sense.
Denise: What role has the media played in turning the public against this breed?
Ann: The media has played a big part in getting this breed in front of the public. It has been good and bad. Good in the sense that recently people like Michael Vick were exposed and those dogs were able to be rescued and spared a horrible life and a horrible death. Bad in that not enough emphasis has been placed on educating about the practice of cruelty to animals and the outcome of such cruelty. I also want to speak about the cases we hear about where children and people are mauled by Pit Bulls. In many cases the dogs involved were not properly socialized within the family. Often, they have not been neutered or spayed which contributes to dominat behavior. You rarely hear of aggression associated with little dogs because the damage that small dogs inflict is not as severe.
Denise: You will be making an appearance in the upcoming documentary film "Tony's Tale, Tragedy in Arizona" about a Pit Bull that was wrongfully accused of killing a small dog and euthanized in Clifton, Arizona based on his breed. How do you feel about this particular case?
Ann: In my opinion there was no case, There was no physical evidence linking Tony to the crime. According to witnesses he was seen along with two other dogs standing by a neighbor's dead dog barking. Dogs bark to alert people of situations. If Tony or either of the other dogs were acting as prey animals they probably would have run off with the little dog and eaten it. Their barking probably scared off whatever predator did kill the dog and prevented it from being carried away never to be seen again. The owner of the small dog should have been grateful to Tony for this and not demand he be charged with the crime and executed.
Denise: Do you feel the case against Tony was handled justly?
Ann: No, there was no physical evidence that Tony killed the dog. It was two days after the dog was killed that Animal Control came to the house and seized Tony and the other two dogs from their owner Michelle Dozier. Any chance Michelle may have had to take pictures of her dogs on the day of the incident were lost. Then Animal Control took her dogs and had them impounded for two days before telling her why. Now a total of 4 days had passed since the incident. By the time the case made it in front of the Justice of the Peace Grace Nabors it was all circumstantial evidence and there were no eye witnesses to the actual killing. There really was no case. Tony was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The fact that he looked to be part Pit Bull was just an excuse to make him a scapegoat. Tony was an innocent bystander in an unjust system. Fear, the need to blame, and a lack of education has been the root of many terrible injustices perpetrated on man and animals throughout history.
Denise: Do you think the day will come when the Pit Bull loses its negative stigma?
Ann: I wish that could say that this breed will somehow lose the stigma it has been saddled with, but I don't think it will. People with low self worth will continue to fight animals as a way to feel powerful. That coupled with the huge sums of money being made from dog fighting will keep this activity alive unless and until our laws target the abuse perpetrated on those sweet dogs. Also, the education of our children as it pertains to the proper care and treatment of a dog needs to become a priority. This abuse and prejudice will continue to be handed down to future generations of young men in our society by their elders.
Denise: Any further comment for our readers?
Ann: I really want to thank you Denise for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this very important film. I am sure after seeing the film people will think differently about the Pit Bull as a breed. Tony will forever live on due to this documentary and the tireless work that the Pit Bull protection groups are doing every hour of everyday across the country.
Visit Ann's website www.calmingk9s.com to learn how Ann can help you with your dog's behavioral issues. They specialize in Dog Behavior Therapy. Calming K9s services the greater Palm Beach, Florida and Broward County areas of Florida. You can also email Ann at [email protected]