Africa’s Dog Whisperer’s Dog Attacks 4 Year Old Girl at Mall

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Warning: video is graphic and is disturbing.

I am both shocked and appalled at the following news story from South Africa.  An alleged  “Service Dog” at a mall in South Africa attacked a 4 year old girl in the food court. The Rottweiler was in the company of James Lech,  South Africa’s self proclaimed ‘Dog Whisperer, Africa’s # 1 dog trainer and animal Shaman’, who deemed the Rotti in the clip 100 % cured of it’s previous issues. According to his web site, and info obtained online, James Lech claims 100% success rate in every case he ever worked with.

.That folks is NOT possible.  Even if a trainer was an animal miracle worker, 100% success does not compute when you add in the human equation, and human error, of which Mr Lech is guilty of in this clip. Buyer please beware of such claims.

Now those of you who know me know that I am a trainer of science. I do not prescribe to  dated behavior theories or new age techniques.  But my thoughts and ideas are neither here nor there in regards to this little girl who was simply out for lunch with her grandparents. At the bottom of this tragedy is a little girl who is in pain and is suffering, and she may fear dogs for the rest of her life.

And don’t even get me started on why this dog was being passed off, or trained as a service dog. That is an issue dear to my heart,  and one that makes my blood boil almost as much as the little girl’s pain. I do not know of  one legitimate service dog organization that would take a dog with a history of aggression and train it for service dog work. Do you?

Just does not  happen — because it shouldn’t happen.  Whether  Mr Lech  was over stepping the law and claiming the dog was a service dog, time will tell. I am interested to hear the answer to this question that is on everyone’s mind.

Regardless of what magic skills a person may or may not posses, what we see in this video is nothing short of negligence.  The dog is clearly agitated by the girl and is watching her, yet the dog’s handler does not pick up on this because he is not watching his dog.

Here are some facts.

There is no such thing as 100 % success rate when dealing with animals. Ask anybody. There could be underlying medical conditions that will affect your results. Bottom line, HUMANS are not perfect.  As you have clearly seen, even a self proclaimed dog whisperer can make a REALLY bad judgment call, by letting his guard down and not watching his dog. Also as trainers, or as shamans or whatever we want to call ourselves, there isn’t ever a chance to “proof” for every conceivable possible event that may occur.  My Collie Finney may be great at stay, but I never asked him to stay when a herd of water buffalo, or a parade of meat carrying donkeys was cruising by, so really who knows if he would.

The other issue that is coming up again and again in dog training forums is this. Was the dog really rehabilitated or was the dog’s aggression only suppressed? Was the dog’s warning (growl) taken away? Dogs who have their warnings taken away can become ticking time bombs. The underlying emotional issue at the root of any  dog issue needs to be  addressed.  Again, I was not there, have not met the Whisperer, or the dog, but this is a dog training 101. Sometimes  best intentions actually make a dog worse.

My intention in this post is not to bash.  My intention is to educate.

Dog training is not a mystery. Dog training is not a secret profession, it is based in behavior science.  I am curious to learn the  history of the Rotti in question.  If a dog has  done damage to a person or another dog, there is a  high probability that  a dog will do damage again.     If  a dog bit with force, the odds that when a dog bit again that it would  deliver another damaging bite is  quite high.   Behavior predicts behavior, or in other words, if you did it before  there is a good chance you will do it again.  It is thought that bite inhibition  – how hard  a dog uses it’s teeth  and jaw can only be taught in puppy hood.  It is our job as responsible adults to manage dogs with bite histories closely.  Canine rehabilitation, if that is what you are going to call it, still requires a high level of management.

When my own son was four years old, he got a nasty puncture under the eye from a friend’s dog. My son  reached for a bagel that fell under the dining room table.  It was a very humbling experience for me and I  learned everything I could about dog aggression for the next five years before I took on a case.  There is a lot to learn and a lot is at stake.  We were at the hospital for about 9 hours on IV antibiotics due to a medical condition and I can tell you, it changed the way I look at life and dogs and would NEVER EVER pronounce a dog who bit to the point of damage 100  % cured.  Any dog can bite. Simple as that.

Dog Trainer tip of the day.

In this video, it is clear to even a non dog professional,  that the dog is intently watching that little girl.  Be aware of where and what  your dog is looking at.  This is important whether you are having issues or not.  Don’t let your dogs obsess about anything.

That is common sense and there is no amount of whispering, energy or mumbo-jumbo needed.  And above all, when you take your dogs out in public, please — watch your dogs.

43 thoughts on “Africa’s Dog Whisperer’s Dog Attacks 4 Year Old Girl at Mall”

  1. the fact that he wasn’t paying ANY attention to this dog is gross negligence. the fact that later in an interview he then tries to fix blame on the little girl is gross irresponsibility. the fact that he states THIS IS A SERVICE DOG is … is … MADDENING. >:(

  2. I have a 7 year old Chihuahua who is the most passive dog in the world. He gets along with all people, all dogs, every situation. He had some dental work done not long ago, and I had him with me so the other dogs wouldn’t bug him. He saw a little girl, and suddenly started growling at her. I had never heard him growl before in his life. I held him tight, and nothing happened, but it just goes to show you that ANY dog can act unpredictably. If after 7 years of he and I being inseperable, he was able to shock me. He hasn’t done anything like it since, but I am more cautious now than I was before.

  3. That would be my reaction too. It’s our responsibility to our dogs and to anyone, heaven forbid, they might attack or even harass. Something else that makes my blood boil is that this guy, instead of being a man and being honest about his negligence, is that he attempts to equivocate, and find some fanciful answer to explain what happened, when the evidence on the tape is so clear. Bad things happen, but it does make a big difference when people just ADMIT they made a mistake or a misjudgement rather than evade responsibility. Trying to find blame with this innocent child, who was behaving quite calmly and in no way provoking the dog, not even making eye contact with it – this Dog Shaman should be ashamed of himself.

  4. Just came across this article now… I agree with all of the above. As a dog trainer myself, I have to ask how does one test that your rehabilitation methods have worked with 100% reliability. As has been stated it’s just not possible. In my opinion no “rehabilitated” dog should ever be used as a service dog. Unfortunately, there is no service dog authorising body in South Africa, which means that anyone can slap a home made jacket on the dog, walk them into a shopping centre and claim that the dog is a service dog. In my opinion, him having his dog with him was nothing more than an ego trip on his part. He is yet to explain what he requires a service dog for.

    There has since been another incident with guy… This time his dog mauled a child on a beach in Cape Town earlier on this month. The little girl required 4 hours of surgery. Again by all accounts, the attack was totally unprovoked. It’s not clear whether it is the same dog.

  5. Did you see the part on his blog about vegan diets? “… I can testify that the diet type does have amazing results and fitness super powers. Both on humans and canines that show amazing recovery on physical rehabilitation, accelerated weight loss and quick lean muscle building with clear definition.”

    Fitness super powers, indeed! What an idiot. I’ve never even met a healthy human that’s been vegan for a year or more, nevermind trying that with a CARNIVORE! Grrrr.

    No wonder the dog was hunting the girl: he was protein starved. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a leap, but I’m just sayin.

    Also noticeably missing from that blog of his: there is no apology, not even a mention of the incident with that poor girl.

  6. I feel bad for that poor little girl, but even worse for that because of a neglectful “trainer” this dog was more than likely put down. In all reality of the aspect the dog was probably under the impression that he was doing his job and that little girl walked up really fast and he just thought she was a threat. A great breed with a bad rap sheet now has more issues to worry about.


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