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April 18, 2014 at 1:07 PMComments: 26 Faves: 1

Gus The Pit Bull: Can A Dog That's Attacked REALLY Reform? - January 8, 2015 UPDATE!

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

We’ve come a long way from old beliefs regarding canine aggression through the years. Most people now understand that bad dog behavior comes from poorly or inadequately trained dogs. Aggression is not in-born or destined just because a dog happens to be a certain breed. In fact, there are countless campaigns on behalf of so called “bully breeds” spreading just this message - ads shared across social networks, coalitions spreading awareness, there’s even a Nation Pit Bull Awareness DAY now.

Things get tricky however, because as much like to champion equality saying “all dogs are the same”, the genetic history of certain dogs does predispose them in a way that means they’ll need more work to keep their protective instincts under control than another dog might. For example, even though both are fully capable of being wonderful, safe, and loving pets, Pit Bulls are going to need more work than Golden Retrievers. Without any bias, that’s just the fact of the matter. While we might like to pretend this doesn’t exist, to do so would be irresponsible.

Still, when we hear a story about a Pit Bull attack, it stinks. “Owners either need to rise to the challenge of raising these dogs correctly or leave that job to someone else!” we think. When we know it’s not really their fault, our sense of injustice rightly flares hearing a dog might lose its life. I mean, do they deserve to die for their owner’s failure?? But then again, what else can be done at that point?

Even given extensive training, could it ever be safe to let a dog that has attacked back in a home?

Would you take a dog with this history into your home?

As much as we might like the idea of a second chance for a dog we know wasn’t really given a fair chance to begin with, is the chance of a repeat incident honestly worth the risk?

Apparently, at least TV’s the “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan seems to think so.

Gus The Pit Bull


Over a year after Gus the Pit Bull was first admitted into Montgomery County animal shelter awaiting final judgment, he’s been slated for release to the care of Cesar Millan on the terms of an out-of-court settlement. Gus had been living as a foster dog last February when, as volunteer home owner Amber Rickles told reporters, his kennel door accidentally closed on his toe and a 20 minute struggle ensued. He tore into her arm, bit into her left breast, and attacked another dog before it was over.

The photos of the injuries are shocking and incontrovertible. They truly could have been fatal without prompt medical care. However, the situation leading up to the attack has been questioned - namely by Jennifer Romano, former student of Cesar Millan, and owner of MaggiesHouse Rescue which placed Gus with Rickles to begin with.

It’s Romano, supported by the Lexus Project (a non-profit which provide free legal support for dogs on death row, not affiliated with the cars), who was responsible for Gus’s release just minutes before judgment was to be issued. Claiming Gus was actually being abused and reacted out of fear, Romano rallied a team of animal-rights groups and supporters to save Gus from euthanasia and the Lexus Project agreed to take his case.

Romano’s account on her facebook fan page “Save Sweet Gus.”

“I have the proof of the attack on Gus. The forcing of him into the kennel and even after I told her he cannot be forced into a kennel - the next day this is what she did. His foot then got caught, and she kicked him to get him in the kennel. She admitted this all in Gus’ hearing in front of her lawyer, and a judge, me, my board of directors, and animal control of Montgomery county in feb. She then said that he bit her arm, after the bite she then tasered him, reached for her taser and his legs went limp as did his whole body. Then she said she then called other people to punch him and that is what they did. I, as Gus’ owner, and President/Owner of MaggiesHouse Rescue had to sit there and endure the abuse that was put upon my Gus.”

Another person commenting on the “Save Sweet Gus” fan page claiming to have been part of the jury hearing his case mostly reiterated Romano’s claim that Rickles had confessed to abuse. However, some details in her telling were suspiciously different. As this woman told it, his foot was already injured when it became caught again and he bit before he was kicked.

Simple mistake? Willful disregard for facts? I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it certainly doesn't look good.

Rickles’ Account of the Day

Rickles rebuttal on her webpage “Advocates for Amber” is too lengthy to include in its entirety, but is here for all interested.

To summarize, Rickles says Gus was timid from the time he was first dropped off, and started becoming aggressive toward the other dogs, barking and lunging at them when he saw them, shortly thereafter. Though Rickles tried working with Gus following Cesar’s advice regarding aggressive dogs, he wasn’t responding to the training and she finally decided she didn’t feel safe having him in the house, so she tried calling Romano and asking her to pick him up. According to Rickles, Romano asked to have a couple days to find a new place for him and, alarmingly, didn’t seem surprised to hear about his aggressive behavior. (Also, contrary to what Romano had stated, Rickles claims she was never told not to crate Gus during this or any conversation.) Also according to Rickles, despite repeated attempts to contact her, Romano hadn’t returned any texts or phones calls before the day of the attack 3 days later which she describes in full detail here:

“On Thursday, February 7th, around 7:40am, I went to get Gus from outside and bring him inside to put him in his kennel. While he was loading up, one of his left front toes… got squeezed by the kennel door. I reached down with my left hand to help him get his toe out. After getting his toe out he bit onto my left wrist and would not release it.
I kicked him in hopes of getting him off my wrist. He let go only to jump up for my neck. Since I jerked my head back, he ended up latching onto my left breast. His two front feet were on my stomach as he shook vigorously trying to pull me down. With him still attached to me, I somehow got him backed up into my laundry area that connects to the house from the garage. During this struggle he ripped off that part of the jacket and I quickly shut him in the laundry area.
I then became fearful that my four year old son might open the door if he heard the commotion and thought it was mommy trying to get in. I decided to get a leash to try and catch him as he came out the door. Before I could get to a leash, he busted through the doors and turned to attack a dog that was in a kennel, “Stryker”. He latched onto the dog’s nose through the kennel door and was trying to pull him through. I grabbed my taser from the laundry area to get him off of the dog.
The moment he released Stryker, he turned around and latched onto my right arm, violently shaking and trying to pull my arm off. I felt my arm break. I tried tasing him again to get him to let go of me, but he would not release.
The only thoughts going through my head were that I needed to stay on my feet because if I fell he would kill me, and to stay as quiet as possible so that my son would not wander in wondering what was happening. I let him thrash and pull on my broken arm without fighting him. I made my arm “dead” hoping he would think he killed the "prey” and let go but it didn’t work. 
During this struggle, I happened to look up out the window and see my neighbors across the street. I realized my only option for survival was to drag him still attached vigorously thrashing me out of my garage where I could yell for help. My neighbors heard me screaming, and they ran and jumped my fence to find him attacking me. All three of the men proceeded to punch him repeatedly in the head to get him to release me. The dog was not responding to this so one of the men ended up sticking his own hand around the dogs mouth so that Gus would bite his own cheeks.
Once Gus released my arm, the men pulled me away and into the front yard. This whole event was approximately 20 horrifying minutes. 911 was called by one of the men. I went inside to get my son and my phone. I came back outside and collapsed. I called my husband to come home and directed the other guys to call my mom and sister.”

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s Rickles account of Romano’s reaction after the fact. According to her, she got no response from Romano - despite calls on the way to the hospital and after her recovery - until she finally sent her a photo of her injury.

“She called back immediately, and her words were (and I quote) “Where is Gus?”… I was in the hospital 7 days and had 3 surgeries. Jenny never contacted me onceto check on me while I was there. In the end, the two broken bones in my right arm received one plate and four pins to fix the bone, and approximately 50 stitches to close the wound. Left arm received multiple punctures resulting in 8 stitches, and my left breast required 6 stitches to close. 

Let me also add that when I was in the hospital, I was trying to contact Jenny to pick up Lady from my house… I never heard from Jenny about Lady. If she, and the others, were so concerned that I abused dogs why didn’t she rush over to get Lady?Also I want to point out that not once did Jenny ask what happened, or why Gus attacked me. NOT ONCE! She had no idea what happened until the day of court, which was held at the end of February.

After court is when she and the others started accusing me of abusing Gus. The last communication I had with Jenny was a text she sent me reading, “Hi sweetie. I hope you are feeling better. I see you deposited the $300 I gave you for Gus and I will need that back.”… My husband sent her a response back explaining that I had no health insurance, and that we needed to concentrate on medical bills, not giving her back the $300 for the dog that mauled his wife.

He told her not to contact me again. 

She said she deserved that money back because Gus didn’t stay the whole month.”

Despite her ordeal and despite her belief that rightly, Gus should euthanized and cannot be made safe for re-homing, Rickles finally agreed in an out-of-court settlement that he be given a chance under Cesar’s care. The civil case between Romano and Rickles is still pending.

Road to Recovery?


In answers to skeptics at the decision of the settlement, Assistant County Attorney Stuart Hughes told reporters "This is something that the Lexus Project kept insisting on - that this dog can get adequate rehab at this facility." As for the actual rehab program, the exact details of his rehab are unknown and Cesar Millan’s Foundation was not available for comment. However, we do know it will last just two weeks and cost between $85 and $100 each day which need to be raised before he can be admitted. In the end, it will be they who will decide whether Gus is suitable to re-home.

“They don't just accept any case,” said Romano,“Gus is a very special dog! I trained Cesar's way. I trained with him and under him. (Gus) can be re-trained. Hecan get a second chance at life.” Romano told reporters. She strongly believes Gus will be safe to re-home when the program is through and continues to rally support on Gus’ behalf through social media.

As for Rickles, while she may have agreed to the current course, it was definitely with reluctance. “I feel that euthanizing him is the right thing to do because he is mentally not right. The money that would be spent on his “sanctuary” would be better used on ADOPTABLE dogs needing medical attention. Or perhaps take that money to help the shelters and local rescues.  =Unfortunately, in my opinion, not all can be saved. Some animals cannot be safely handled, and accidents happen. I believe an accident was waiting to happen with Gus. I am, in a way “ok”, (for lack of a better phrase) that he mauled me, and was not in a home that God forbid had kids or someone less skilled to handle his mauling. Dogs like Gus don’t choose how they react, they just react.”

What do YOU think?

I really like to reserve judgment and be aware of bias (and potential deceit) from both sides, but after carefully reviewing everything being said, I’m inclined to side with Rickles. While Gus may very well have had a history of abuse, I don’t believe she was a part of that. To me, it seems Romano is deluded if well-meaning at best, and at worst, may be lying about Rickles just to cover her own butt. While I’d love to be proven wrong and see Gus go on to live happily and incident-free with a loving family, it just doesn’t feel at all realistic to me.

I mean, how could you really guarantee a dog that would turn like that could ever be safe?

How could you live with the guilt if you should be proven wrong?

Some people have suggested Gus should simply be re-homed somewhere without children. To me, while this makes some little amount of sense in that a child would be at increased risk should he turn, I can't understand why anyone would feel it's okay to risk a life so long as it's an adult's. Step back from the idea of the nameless, faceless person #8,893,457,345 somewhere out there somewhere who might take on Gus. Rickles wasn't just an adult. She was a person with a name, and a history, and a story. She was a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, and yes, a mother. And she was very close to having been taken from all that, from all those people for which she fulfilled those very important life roles. The idea of a second chance for Gus is lovely, and generous, but ask yourself honestly - is there anyone you personally love, whose story you know that you would like to see him go home with?

Finally - to the idea that Gus just needed a more experienced handler, I'd like to point out that experience, while protective, offers no guarantee of safety. Think Steve Irwin. Think Grizzly Man Diaries. Rickles was experienced, but even an expert swimmer can drown. If this could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.

We can't let that happen.

UPDATES:

June 11, 2014:

Apparently, not even Cesar could help Gus. A surveillance video showing Gus brutally attacking another dog in Mr. Milan's kennel was uploaded by the owner of the dog being attacked. Thanks, Martha for sharing this update with us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4MMMMp8alI

October 23, 2014:  

Six days after Ms. Romano decided to take Gus out of rehab and home with her, the clearly troubled Pit Bull attacked her boyfriend John and his "lady friend" Allison. Both her boyfriend and Allison  required hospitalization, though Allison, who had no idea of the dog's history, was injured much more extensively. Similar to the injuries endured by Rickles, Allison suffered a broken arm and severe bite wound requiring surgery. After leaving the hospital, sources say she researched the case and decided to call animal control. Gus is now being held in a shelter awaiting trail. Once again the right to euthanize Gus is being sought. As for the formerly outspoken Ms. Romano, she has yet to comment except to say "No, I would not have stated he was ready for release..."  The Lexus Project which had been her primary support was removed from the case.

(Thanks to Kiyote from twitter @Yotie72 for alerting me to the development in this case!)

More details from the mouths of both sides on the situation:

The Support Sweet Amber Facebook Fan Page:

1st Post: "This is the most recent update that we know of from my lawyers, the lawyers who contacted them and animal control law enforcement. What we put here is all we have been told. We will not expand or add to what we know. We will update as we get updates and are cleared to tell by lawyers.Gus (the dog who attacked Amber and who has been at the Dog Psychology Center in CA) was released to a foster home, deemed rehabilitated. (We do not have exact dates on any of this yet.) He then attacked a visitor of the foster much in the same manner he attacked Amber. We do not know the details on what caused the attack. We are just learning about all of this our self. That person suffered a broken arm and bite wound, we are told much like Amber. Gus is now being held at an animal control shelter awaiting a trial like he did here. We know that the shelter is seeking euthanasia as we did here."

2nd Post: "Let us just say. We assumed Gus was deemed "rehabilitated " because based on court documents from TX he was not to be released unless deemed rehabilitated. We have not read any documents at this time from the DPC. We will post what circumstances he was released once we here this from lawyers involved directly. We at this point just know he was released to a foster home..."

The Lexus Project Facebook Fan Page:

1st Post: "...We just found out that Gus, the pitbull we saved in Texas was taken from Cesar Milan's by Animal Control due to another incident. From what we have learned Gus was doing quite well at DPC when his owner removed him from Cesar's before he was ready and left him with a friend, who ignored the clear instructions he was given by the trainers at the DPC. (Don't allow him on the bed, don't feed him from the table, etc)..."

2nd Post "We appreciate hearing back from the DPC when we reached out to find out what happened with Gus: 'All we know at this point is that when Jenny R. boyfriend, John V. and Jenny decided to take Gus to John's house, we had no legal right to tell them they couldn't do so since Jenny is the legal owner. And within 6 days of John having Gus, John got bit by Gus and apparently had a lady friend over at the time by the name of Alison who was laying on the bed with Gus, and apparently also got bit; much worse then John. Both went to the hospital. John was released, went home and got Gus, and brought him back to the DPC. Alison stayed for surgery. John has stated he knows he wasn't supposed to have Gus on the bed, but felt things were going well until this happened of course and that he and his homeowner's insurance would take care of Alison and her medical bills and time off from work. She later returned home (which is in FL I believe), researched Maggie's House Rescue and Jenny and Gus, and discovered the prior case, and that's where this has all taken off - this is according to ACO. While John's home owner's insurance is handling the case, they of course are further investigating as well. Meanwhile, Alison attorneys did contact Animal Control and they came and seized Gus and he is in quarantine at an undisclosed location. At this point, they will only allow Jenny Romano or her representation to discuss anything further with them, and have eliminated us from the picture.' When asked if Gus was ready to be released: 'And no I would not have stated he was ready for release.'"

3rd Post: "He was sent to DPC because there wasn't any "body" he could go to with based on the aggression he showed and he is not other dog tolerant. This was THE only option for Gus. The owner worked out whatever arrangements she made with the facility. We are sad for Gus. We are sad for the people who were innocently hurt, but we are angry as hell that Gus was brought to someone who clearly could not It handle a dog like Gus or follow simple instructions. Someone who "knew better". Human error has failed Gus. Again."

The "Save Sweet Gus" Facebook Fan Page: 

Apparently no longer exists. Huh... and it was doing so well! 60,000 or close to that number of fans. Wonder why Romano would get rid of such a popular page... 

January 8, 2015:

Thanks for the tip, Robin!

From the "Support Sweet Amber" fan page:

"So LA had their trial today. Gus was deemed vicious, again, and Jenny Romano was fined $2k. They have a final trial on January 29th to decide Gus's fate. He is still being held by LA County and will remain there until trial is over."

LA Court Tentative Ruling:

"The County of Los Angeles has filed a Petition to Determine if Dog is Vicious pursuant to Los Angeles County Code § 10.37.030. Following are the Court’s tentative views upon reviewing the petition only. The Court has not yet received evidence from respondents Jennifer Romano and John Vazzoler, or from the Dog Psychology Center, and the Court remains ready to change its views upon the receipt of additional persuasive evidence...Respondent Vazzoler, who lives in this County, took possession of Gus on September 17, 2014, at Romano’s request. It is unclear what Vazzoler knew about Gus’s history. Only six days later, Gus attacked Vazzoler and a friend, Alison Bitney, inside Vazzoler’s home...Based on the petition, Gus is a vicious dog under LACC § 10.37.030(B). Gus clearly acted aggressively to injure Vazzoler and Bitney. The issues are whether (1) he was provoked and (2) whether the injuries were severe.  

According to the statements of Vazzoler and Bitney, Gus was not provoked when he injured them in the September 23, 2014, incident, as he committed the initial action of latching his mouth onto Vazzoler’s arm before either person acted aggressively toward him. While Vazzoler’s injuries were not minor, they do not appear to have been “severe” as defined by LACC § 10.37.040. His injuries were lacerations requiring a single stitch. Britney, however, suffered severe injury: a fractured ulna, a fractured radius, a tricep tear, an extensor muscle tear, puncture wounds, lacerations, and soft tissue damage. She needed pain medication and had surgery the following day. She reports only a 50% chance of sensation returning to her left hand, and she is undergoing physical therapy...

The County is seeking three remedies: (1) that Gus be destroyed per LACC § 10.37.140(A); (2) that both respondents be prohibited from owning or possessing a dog in California for three years per LACC § 10.37.140(G), and, accordingly, surrender any dogs they possess; and (3) that both respondents be ordered to pay a $2000 fine for two bases on which the viciousness determination was made above, per LACC § 10.37.140(F)...

From the petition alone, it is clear that the release of the dog would be such a significant threat. The statute, however, also permits the Court to order that a vicious dog not be destroyed if there are “conditions upon the ownership of the dog that protect the public health, safety, and welfare.” Based on the petition alone, the Court has insufficient indication that proper conditions can effectively be imposed...

Romano lives in Texas, and appears not to have had direct contact with Gus during the time that Gus has been in California. However, she allowed a vicious dog to be released to a person, Vazzoler, who apparently was unprepared to control it. This appears to be a sufficient basis to conclude that allowing Romano to possess a dog in California “would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.” Food and Agriculture Code § 31646. Thus, absent additional evidence at the hearing, the Court would prevent Romano from owning or possessing a dog in California for three years, and to surrender any dog she possesses that is located in California...

Whether or not a fine is authorized for a custodian, for similar reasons to those stated in the section immediately above, the Court is inclined to impose a $2000 fine on respondent Romano but not upon respondent Vazzoler. Based on the petition alone, it is not clear that Vazzoler knowingly or negligently acted in any way that caused a violation of the county code. On the other hand, Romano appears to have allowed a dog that had been determined to be vicious and ordered destroyed in Texas into the custody of an individual who was not prepared to protect himself or others from harm. This warrants the $2000 fine upon Romano only."

Full tentative ruling HERE.

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26 Comments

  • A few things you might find interesting. First, this is not the first vicious dog Jenny has been unable to handle. The first, was a dog that killed her "Maggie" that she named her group after. Gus obviously, she pawned off on Amber, rather than leave the other dog she was boarding with her, she picked him up, and left Gus.

    Jenny's rescue, is registered as a for profit business, even though she claims to be a 501c3. She was also not 'trained" by Caesar Milan. He's group runs a periodic workshop for dog owners. It's more of a fan event, than formal training.

  • This really sounds like a dangerous dog. I would be I. Favor of either euthanasia or a sanctuary where tere is no chance of him getting loose and hurting someone!

  • Real behavioral scientists know there is a thing called 'spontaneous recovery'. This means that when an animal shows a behavior you don't like, and you train that behavior out of the animal, the behavior will sometimes spontaneously resurface despite the training. This can happen months or even years later. When you are training away annoying behavior, spontaneous recovery is no big deal. You repeat the training process, then it can again be months or years before it shows up again. When you're talking about life-threatening behavior, spontaneous recovery is a big deal. I find it fairly strange that so many people who claim to be experts seem completely unaware of spontaneous recovery -- or maybe they're just willing to expose the public to the risks it involves.

  • I am sorry but I don't think I believe either of them fully. Something VERY strange is going on here with BOTH of these women, and I think Gus is caught in the middle of it. That he attacked Amber is undeniable, however what precipitated the attack is in question. Can I ask a very simple question here that it doesn't seem anyone else thought of...why did Amber have a TASER so close to where she houses her dogs? I find that to be the most suspicious thing in all of this, and is why I lean more towards believing Amber was abusive towards Gus than helpful. In cases like this (a she-said/she-said), isn't it most humane to give Gus the benefit of the doubt and allow an acknowledged expert to evaluate Gus? Cesar Millan is not going to adopt out an animal that would make him look bad in any way. If Mr. Millan decides Gus is not adoptable, I am certain he would place Gus in a facility that could care for him properly for the rest of his life or care for him in his own facility. Either way, Gus would no longer be a danger to an unprepared individual and/or would no longer suffer from abuse of any kind. IMHO

  • Gus was at it again....
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4MMMMp8alI

  • Just like you, Denise, I think there is way more to this story. And the fact that Amber was hell bent on this dog being put down, then agreed to his going for rehab....Me thinks the other side would have exposed her and ripped her to shreds and that's why the city attorney told her, it was probably in her best interest to settle. I wonder what they would have exposed.

    As far as that new video of Gus, notice no one lets you see what led up to that attack. How do we know that the other dog didn't start with Gus. Gus may be an aggressive dog, which in itself is no big deal if you gave a responsible owner, but Amber was clearly not capable of dealing with him and that video is BS.

  • Please look at this excellent page about what is safe to live with and what's not when it comes to dog aggression. It gives a realistic and nuanced background, based on real behavioral science:

    http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/what-is-dog-aggression/

  • Denise - "why did Amber have a TASER so close to where she houses her dogs?"

    Denise purchased a taser after housing another aggressive dog sent to her by Romano. She had a child in the home and it was kept as a safety precaution. She had called Romano telling her she felt unsafe with the dog in the house and wanted her to pick him up immediately. Instead, she was ignored and left with a dog she was scared of for several days before it finally attacked her. Left to deal with a dog you felt was dangerous, wouldn't you want some way to defend yourself near by in case something actually happened?

    "I find that to be the most suspicious thing in all of this, and is why I lean more towards believing Amber was abusive towards Gus than helpful."

    I truly don't believe the allegations of abuse being thrown at Rickles. As mentioned, Romano had more than one dog in Rickles care. Had she truly believed her to be abusive, why did she wait so long to pick up the other dog after the attack took place? Being an animal lover, I would imagine that at the first hint of anything abusive going on she would have rushed over to remove them from the situation!

    Robert - "Me thinks the other side would have exposed her and ripped her to shreds and that's why the city attorney told her, it was probably in her best interest to settle."

    She hasn't settled. There civil case is still ongoing.

    "Gus may be an aggressive dog, which in itself is no big deal if you gave a responsible owner..."

    Even a responsible, experienced owner can be attacked by an aggressive dog. There are so, SO many non-aggressive dogs that are being euthanized each day for the simple lack of a home. Wouldn't it be better to see one of these dogs go to that responsible owner?

  • More info http://www.examiner.com/article/animal-cruelty-fraud-and-lies-jennifer-romano-of-maggie-s-house-rescue

  • The decision to "settle" was not made by Amber. The county DA is the one who agreed to Gus going to Cesar the dog-kicker. Look for inconsistencies...Romano said Gus is afraid of crates, yet she set his up at Ambers. Romano and her supporters claim Gus never showed any aggression, but one of her "board of directors" , Sue Clayton, would not allow him in her house after she illegally obtained the dog. Not only that, but after keeping Gus in a crate on her back deck for about a week (in the rain with an electric space heater) and then adopting him out, he was returned to a shelter a few days later and deemed "unadoptable due to aggression". Clayton picked him up, and then dumped him with Romano's fake rescue.

  • I think one of the so called "knowledgeable" rescuers that caused all the drama should be required to keep Gus in their home for the remainder of his life. Maybe then they will learn to use their head instead of their heart in making decisions concerning animal welfare.

  • I agree let Jenny keep Gus. Let him sleep in her bed and reside with her dogs. No better plan out there. The people who are passing judgement on Amber have never meet her and don't know the set up or dedication she has had since I meet her 15 years ago, in fact when we meet she was heavily involved in bully rescue. She has been a certified trainer for 10 years. She has trained service dogs and dogs used by the police department, she is no amiture. I wish truly wish you all could have known her and her capabilities before passing judgement. I am lucky to call her my friend and previous Co worker. I helped her with her business after the incident because she couldn't use her arm for months and eventually had to have a bone graft and additional surgery to fix, her attention to detail and ability to evaluate all the dogs was outstanding. Shame on you people for victimizing the victim.

  • I have known Amber for many years and use to work with/for her. she is a truly kind hearted person and I fully believe her story. I am not siding with her simply because I know her but because i know her love for dogs and have seen her in action numerous times working with them. She was always patient and loving. I haven't spoken with her recently but know that her whole life has been turned upside down, especially emotionly/mentally because of this. I know she didn't abuse Gus and I do feel bad for him because he was just acting out what he felt was right to him. But any dog who brutally attacks someone for 20mins (would've been longer if help didn't arrive) regardless of what happened, something is very wrong with them. Even with tons of training in my opinion could never really be trusted again.

  • It's not that dogs don't 'deserve' second chances (although a dog with this level of aggressive capability is not suitable to be placed in any community). The real issue is that there are WAY TOO MANY dogs in need of re-homing. Aggressive dogs in rescue require a lot more in terms of resources, as rehabilitation for them can be extensive and requires expert handling. That kind of training adds up. Those are resources that could be used on dogs that are already adoptable. Perfectly adoptable dogs are being euthanized daily around the world, and aggressive dogs in rescue sit around longer waiting for a home while they suck up valuable resources. I hate saying it that way, because I know many dogs who are fearful/aggressive didn't get a choice in becoming that way - many are subjected to abuse or neglect. But the hard facts still stand. Perfectly adoptable dogs are being euthanized while dogs like Gus take up space and resources. Sometimes it must come down to a choice, as unpleasant as that may be, simply because there are not enough homes for all homeless dogs!

  • Maybe he attacked her because she slammed his foot in the door and it was instinct.

  • Are you implying she hurt Gus purposefully? Why would she do that? As for his response being instinct, a nip in reaction may be instinct, but Gus's reaction went far beyond that. He continued attacking for half and hour. He has also attacked another dog since being sent to Cesar Millan's rehab center. This is a dog with definite, abnormal aggressive tendencies.

  • UPDATE: Gus was taken out of the facility that Cesar Millan runs a couple of weeks ago by the "owner" and supposedly left with a foster, he was deemed rehabilitated. Gus reportedly attacked a woman (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=374992935999107&id=315599808605087&refid=17) at the friend's home and broke her arm, the dog was then "confiscated" by animal control from Cesar Millan and is now in quarantine for this second attack, e.g. same thing that he did to the lady in Texas. But, hey, everyone got their 15 minutes of fame off of the tragedy that is this dog, who cares about the horrific injuries that innocent folks suffer through? Who cares about how the dog is kept in continual quarantine because "concerned" people have to use the dog to prove their "humane" points...

  • Riley's comment is incorrect. Gus was removed from Caesar Milan's before he bit the second lady. He was removed against Caesar' advice.

    Given time, I imagine Caesar could have helped Gus but frankly, I think the money would be better spent on helping non-aggressive dogs that need medical or retraining help.

    I'm glad the Lexus Project took on the case, as it helped set some new court precedents, but I don't think Gus should ever live outside of a sanctuary--if at all. There are simply too many wonderful dogs, losing their lives out there, to waste resources on such a damaged dog.

  • Betty, "Given time, I imagine Caesar could have helped Gus". Seriously? It was claimed that Gus' rehabilitation at Cesar's facility would take two weeks. And yet he was there full-time for SIX MONTHS, attacked two dogs while in there, and then six days after he left, he AGAIN mauled two ppl and again broke someone's arm!
    Exactly how much "time" would you give Cesar, for God's sake?
    And apart from that, do you really believe Cesar has ever even met Gus? Wow, bit naive, honey.

  • And by the way Betty, Riley's comment is not, as you say, incorrect. Try reading it again.

  • Many Golden Retrievers attack people, and Cesar Milan's training methods have been thoroughly discredited by experts with degrees in canine behavior. In fact, his confrontational methods can make dogs' behavior worse. They should let someone who uses more modern, scientifically based methods, like Eldad Hagar, work with Gus.

  • There is no evidence that Cesar Millan has ever met Gus. While Gus was at his DPC, Millan has been globe hoping doing his live show and making public appearances.

    This is the judgement from the court in LA.

    http://advocatesforamber.org/home-2/

  • To Erin Froehlich: It is truly a shame that you didn't check with reputable dog-breeders, or at least read a book or two about dog-breeding before writing this article. If you had, you wouldn't have said: "Most people now understand that bad dog behavior comes from poorly or inadequately trained dogs. Aggression is not in-born or destined just because a dog happens to be a certain breed." If certain traits (including aggression) were not "inborn" (incidentally, there's no hyphen in the word), there wouldn't be so many different dog breeds. It is those inborn characteristics that differentiate between the breeds. If there were no inborn characteristics and instead a dog's behavior was solely the result of "training," fox hunters could train Great Danes to chase fox, ranchers could train French poodles to herd animals, and Michael Vick would have been fighting collies! Just because there is a ridiculous "Pit Bull Awareness Day" doesn't make these monsters any less dangerous. Last month alone (January 2015), three people in the US -- an elderly man, a toddler and a 7-year-old boy -- were murdered by dogs and the culprits in all three deaths were pit bulls!

  • Lee: you're ignorant and an idiot and guilty of "not checking facts". Your opinions are anti-breed driven, and just like any other biased and uneducated person, without a foundation and untrue. Pit bulls have a rich history of being faithful companions, dating back to WWI and II. They are loyal, brave, unconditionally loving, and intelligent. And of course, as in ANY breed, there can be the random anomalies or mental defect. Similar to humans. And the majority of aggressive behavorial issues are caused by bad ownership! For example, when your kid grows up to be a jerk, I would blame YOU for being a crappy parent. Do not act like the humans have zero responsibility. To imply that its a bad breed is stupid, uneducated and hateful. Have you by chance checked the attacks on people from other breeds? They are the same and in some areas, more. And did you know that the pit bull consistently scores very high on the temperament test, beating out a few of the favored breeds. And OF COURSE a negative pit bull story will make the news. There's a stigma against them, made worse by people like you. Have yoy also looked up the many many poaitive stories? How they have acted bravely to save their families or their human? Do some research before you try to lecture other people with nothing but your opinions to support you. Ten years ago, you hated the rottweiler, and before that, the German shepherd and doberman. Will you finally be happy when all that's left is what you deem appropriate? Is a chihuahua OK for you? Even though its ranked in the top 3 of most aggressive breeds and most likely to bite? Is it because its small and you're not afraid of it? When your done with your pointless crusade against an innocent breed of animals, take it up a notch and go for some ethnic cleansing. Same concept built on the same hate for what toy don't understand and deem lesser than you. Abusers, breed specific legislators and people like YOU are the real monsters.

  • I just can't believe the stupidity of all this . Women trying to make babies of fighting dogs - it doesn't work . How is a rescue " angel/trainer " who allows a dog in their controle to fight and maul any different to a dog fighter ? It makes not a whit of difference to the animal being mauled wether it's intentional or not . Oh but there is one difference - non of the attacks I read about on here are caused by dog fighters , only rescues , trainers and pet owners . A fighting dog will fight - be prepaid to deal with it .

  • The "type" has issues, and lets get factual, "Pit Bull" is not a breed, it is a TYPE of dog that actually encompasses several distinct breeds as well as mixes. The type has been grossly overbred by horrible irresponsible people inbred horrifically to isolate "Blue" and "Red" and to promote massive muscling with absolutely no care or thought put into temperament or stability in behavior for more than 2 decades. The tyep also goes through three behavioral milestones in it's development, puppyhood almost always is sweet and gregarious, teenager into adulthood and then between 3-7 years of age they go through another testing phase where they challenge authority again. Good owners handle it seemlessly, and alot of the dogs dont have gross aggression escalation during this phase but some DO and that's where the headlines come from. As a bahaviorist who has evaluated hundreds of these dogs after they have mauled people, interviewed their families, I want to be CLEAR and say that I have NEVER encountered a family that abused one of them, never encountered a dog that was beaten or neglected. What I saw instead were families that trusted a dog that they had had it's entire life, that they believed was socialized stable and safe and they did not recognize subtle warning signs the dogs gave that trouble was brewing, and even when they saw those signs, they did not believe their beloved dog was capable of what it later did. This is a problem in this type of dog that fancier MUST recognize and accept if there is any hope of ever getting it under control. This endless blaming the victims that is being done must stop, there IS a problem within the dogs themselves and the people who claim to love this type of dog need to acknowledge it and start working to correct it or eventually society WILL universally ban and exterminate them, and that would be a tragedy, because these dogs are worthy of being saved.

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