Ipswich: Dog trainer visit prompts criticism

A WORLD-FAMOUS dog trainer who has been heavily criticised for his treatment of animals will have his show monitored by council bosses before appearing in the town’s theatre.

Known as ‘The Dog Whisperer’, Cesar Millan became a controversial character after appearing on the Alan Titchmarsh TV chat show during which it was claimed he uses “electric shocks and spikes on collars” in what Titchmarsh describes as “barbaric treatment” to train dogs.

Ahead of his performance at the Ipswich Regent next April, Ipswich Borough Council bosses have said they will monitor his show.

Speaking to a national newspaper, Mr Millan hit back at the widespread criticism. He said: “I am not brutal or cruel to animals. My mission has always been to save dogs - especially troubled and abandoned dogs. I’ve dedicated my life to this. My new TV series is all about saving shelter dogs and rehabilitating them so they can be adopted by good families.”

Mr Millan, who is reported to boast celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Oprah Winfrey and Charlize Theron among his clients, insists he only uses the more controversial techniques on what he calls “red-zone” animals – aggressive and abandoned dogs who could not be re-homed without training.

A letter from a concerned reader urged the council to reconsider allowing Mr Millan to perform next year.

It read: “I have serious concerns that inexperienced owners trying out the methods he [Millan] promotes will make a dog’s behaviour far worse resulting in people getting injured.

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“Do you really want to have someone promoting this type of training in your venue in Ipswich?

“Please, please take the time to reconsider. There are many dog trainers around who are really upset about this man and his training methods who are desperately trying to educate the public.

“Giving him the opportunity to perform in our county town is a retrograde step in my mind. Surely our dogs and their owners don’t need to be subject to this?”

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “This is part of a world tour and as a responsible authority we shall be monitoring the shows, particularly in the UK, before the scheduled date in Ipswich next spring.”

n What do you think of this story? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk