Chopper the Biker Dog, is, or rather was, a licensed therapy animal. In May, Pet Partners, who license the little guy, suspended his license. The biker aesthetic, which has always been Chopper’s look, was no longer acceptable.
Chopper is a Boston Terrier born in August of 2009. His owner, Mark Shaffer, a motorcycle enthusiast himself, was surprised to receive the message from the organization.
Mark Shaffer own another therapy dog, licensed through Pet Partners, before Chopper. The predecessor’s name was Bandit, and he and Chopper shared the same motif. Shaffer, on Chopper’s Facebook, said it was no a secret.
” I received an email from Pet Partners (formally ‘The Delta Society’), the organization that I (dad) have been a part of with 2 therapy dogs for the past 10 years. 10 years with 2 dogs dressing in a leather vest, goggles, doo-rag, bandana riding on a little Harley. (No Big Secret)”
After 10 years of service, suddenly the biker outfit was no longer acceptable. The organization that previously had no problem with the outfits suddenly took offense and suspended the license.
Shaffer goes on in his post to include some of what was in the email he received from Pet Partners.
“1) ‘Pet Partners regrets to inform you that your registration with our organization is being suspended effective today. Our organization has specific expectations about appearance and professionalism which unfortunately are not met by your team.’
2) ‘We are concerned about the clothing in which Chopper is in the community.’
3) ‘We are also concerned about the perception that your team may be creating in the community with regard to therapy animals.’
4) ‘While Chopper does seem like a lovely dog, our organization would be concerned about him being represented as a ‘magical therapy dog’ in the manner that your website and Facebook page do.’
5) *****’It is the therapeutic value and perception of Chopper’s costume itself that we have a concern about (in view of the disadvantages of costumes in the therapeutic context’)****”
Shaffer goes on to defend his therapy pooch by stating that the organization has known and acknowledged the fact that Chopper dressed as a Biker in his spare time. The suspension comes after Chopper’s highly publicized “tour” of the West Coast.
According to ABC News, Pet Partners sent Shaffer a warning about a year ago about Chopper’s costume. The organization allows costumes to be worn around town but believe it is inappropriate for an animal to wear one during therapeutic sessions.
However, in December, Chopper’s renewal went through without a problem.
Do you think Chopper’s license should have been suspended? Is it in appropriate for a therapy animal to be labeled a “biker dog?”
[Photos via Facebook]