Chopper is a therapy dog. Or at least he was. His owner, Mark Shaffer, made the mistake of dressing him like a biker to visit schools, senior centers and veteran’s hospitals in San Diego, ABC News reports. His therapy dog certification has been revoked because of his outfit.
Chopper is known as “The Biker Dog” and is often seen wearing his little costume, which includes biker goggles, a leather vest and a bandanna. He’s been a therapy dog for five years and, Shaffer told ABC News, “As soon as Chopper rides into someone’s room on his motorcycle, the patients start to laugh and smile. Each therapy dog brings something different to the table and Chopper’s whole package provides the therapy.” He added that the outfit is part of the dog’s persona.
He states that the therapy dog certification agency, Pet Partners, was aware of Chopper’s costume, even though the agency, ABC News reports, prohibits dogs wearing costumes. They give safety to patients, pets and handlers as the reason.
“It’s not a problem for dogs to wear costumes around town, but in the context of a therapeutic visit it’s not appropriate,” Glen Miller, the national director of communications for Pet Partners, told ABC News. He added that with the number of handlers and dogs they certify, it is difficult to ensure everyone is following this rule. However, he said, Shaffer was sent a warning against Chopper’s costume a year or so ago.
Chopper’s therapy dog certification was suspended on May 14, 2015. Shaffer was hurt and angry, according to ABC News, but plans on applying for a new certification through a different organization.
What do you think of the revocation of Chopper’s certification? Should he be allowed to wear his biker outfit as a therapy dog?