Benjy

Discussion of specific It's Me or the Dog episodes.

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pier
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 6:14 am

Benjy

Post by pier » Wed May 02, 2012 6:39 am

Hi to all,
i've just looked an episode (i suppose inside of season 3) in which Victoria suggested to owner to kill the dog...by phone!
I don't understand..there are many way to rehabilitate the dog and kill him is the last option...cruel and irreversible..I am bewildered!

What do you think?

Regards,
Pierluigi

dontpugme
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:01 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Benjy

Post by dontpugme » Wed May 02, 2012 7:49 am

Victoria's Detailed Description of 'Benjy' Episode

October 18, 2006

As could be expected when dealing with such a sensitive issue, there has been an overwhelming response to the episode of ‘It’s Me or the Dog’ that aired Oct. 17, 2006. Obviously, the overriding sentiment created by the episode is one of sadness for Benji, Bramble, and their owners, and I think this is most appropriate. The family struggled greatly with the situation, and ultimately made the toughest decision a pet owner can ever make. My thoughts are with them, especially after the recent broadcast of the programme.

While the majority of the responses I’ve received via email and on my web site have been positive, there are those whose sadness and anger at the nature of the situation has, quite justifiably, prompted them to ask questions regarding the story. I will try my best to provide as clear a recounting of the situation as I can in the hopes that it will answer some of these questions. Because the format of the show is only 30 minutes long, it’s sometimes difficult to include all of the details and information involved in any given situation. Indeed, there is often quite a bit more training advice I wish we could include in each episode which I think is interesting and would be helpful, but due to time constraints, not everything can make it into the final version. This was also the case regarding the episode in question.

Benji attacked 3 different members of the Marshall family. The first bite was on Emily (the youngest daughter) and occurred because she had dropped a crisp packet on the floor, Benji went for it, and she went to pick it up - clearly an instance of somewhat typical food aggression. After this attack, the Marshalls took Benji to see their vet (who has been in practice for 25 years) to see if there was any medical reason for his aggression. The vet ruled this out, and after a full checkup, Benji was given a clean bill of health. The vet concluded that Benji deserved a second chance.

The second attack was considered a mauling, as Benji attacked Susan (the mother of the family) in a frenzy, not having been provoked. Both of these attacks occurred before I visited the family. After this incident, they returned to the vet, who recommended (based on Benji’s history and the results of his prior checkups) that Benji should be put to sleep.

The Marshalls were considering putting Benji to sleep when they found out they were accepted on ‘It’s Me or the Dog', so they all decided to give Benji another chance. We did some good work together, but as I mentioned on the programme and still firmly believe, once a dog has shown the propensity not just to bite, but to attack (especially unprovoked), that dog can never be trusted not to attack again.

Six weeks after I left the family, they phoned the production company to inform them that Benji had attacked a third member of their family, Rachel (the middle daughter), unprovoked. The girl had been hanging up washing in the back garden and was ignoring the dog when Benji mauled her, inflicting the wounds shown during the programme. The eldest daughter (16 years old) witnessed the attack from beginning to end, and the mother witnessed the end of the attack, dragging Benji off of her daughter.

The family placed Benji temporarily with his groomer while they determined the next course of action. They consulted the vet again to seek his advice, and they decided not to put Benji through any more medical tests. Based on all the information he had collected regarding Benji, the vet’s advice was to put the dog to sleep. They called me while I was filming another episode to ask my advice, and based on Benji’s prior history, the vet’s advice and my intimate knowledge of Benji’s situation, I concurred, as was shown on the programme. As I was filming elsewhere in the country during this time, I was unfortunately unable to be with the family while they went through this terrible time.

I have been made aware of rumors suggesting there may have been individuals or organizations supposedly willing to take Benji in after his third mauling, but neither I, my representatives, or the production company have any firsthand knowledge of these or any other facts surrounding these stories. If true, we were not made aware of any such developments. Understandably, those involved with Benji’s life before he went to the Marshalls can be expected to maintain that he did not pose a significant threat, either out of fondness for him or defensiveness for their practice. It has recently come to my attention that the Benji's breeder has produced at least one other black Cocker Spaniel with a history of unprovoked attacks. Regardless, I firmly maintain that rehoming Benji was not a suitable option, though it was one that was strongly considered. Throughout the entire affair, a qualified veterinarian's input was regularly sought by the family, which resulted in repeated diagnoses ruling out medical causes for his aggressive behaviour. Even if Benji had been rehomed with adults who were able to provide the best possible environment specifically for him, there is no sure-fire guarantee that he wouldn’t someday be exposed to others (children or adults) who could then be at risk. That was a gamble neither the vet nor myself were willing to take when advising the Marshall family about Benji. Ultimately, however, the final, difficult decision was made by the Marshall family themselves, and I stand by them fully. They have expressed their gratitude to everyone involved in the situation, and I wish them the very best as they move forward.

Victoria Stilwell
--dontpugme

pier
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 6:14 am

Re: Benjy

Post by pier » Wed May 09, 2012 3:02 am

Hi dontpugme,
thank you for reply....
However Victoria explained the benji's behavior but not the cause of it.
I think try to contact another colleague could be the way to avoid the euthanasia..
By the way, why not listen to the opinion of another vet less likely to suppress the dog?
Try some therapy?
In my thoughts, i s possible to reeducate also the (big) dogs in red zone...
What you think about ?

Regards,
Pierluigi

dontpugme
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:01 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Benjy

Post by dontpugme » Wed May 09, 2012 8:30 am

pier wrote:However Victoria explained the benji's behavior but not the cause of it.
Try some therapy?
The cause was explained. His last attacks were unprovoked and most likely because of a psychological condition that cannot be helped with training.
I think try to contact another colleague could be the way to avoid the euthanasia..
By the way, why not listen to the opinion of another vet less likely to suppress the dog?
A large reason for putting Benjy down was because if he was kept alive, he would have remained a constant threat to society. He had a history of attacks with both adults and children. If he somehow were to escape from someone's home, there would be a pretty high chance that he could maul someone on the street or kids playing at a local park.
In my thoughts, i s possible to reeducate also the (big) dogs in red zone
It is possible to rehabilitate aggressive dogs of all breeds. But Benjy was not an aggressive dog. He had a neurological disorder.

Now, I am not the kind of person who likes having to put dogs down...neither is Victoria...but in this case, even the most careful management of this dog would not guarantee the safety of the public. At least the Marshall family made the final decision. They were not forced by the authorities like so many families are. The lesson to learn here is that we need to get the irresponsible breeding under control. Victoria gave her honest opinion by phone because she was working with another family. She could not have said to them, "Hold on, I'll be there in a week when we're done filming and I talk to you then." The situation was too dangerous.
--dontpugme

Wilkie
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:11 am

Re: Benjy

Post by Wilkie » Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:19 pm

I thought that they said Benjy didn't have a neurological disorder? Maybe I missed that part.

Now this is just my opinion, but I have read some pretty horrible comments about Victoria that pertain to the events in this particular episode. On top of the uncalled for comments, people were saying that the family should've contacted Cesar Millan! That man would have made the situation a million times more impossible. I don't blame the dog for its behavior because the breeder was irresponsible. Also, I don't think the family was properly training Benjy. Otherwise, they never would've signed up for IMOTD in the first place. This episode aired in 2006, but even today people are dead set on smearing Victoria's image. These people like to cut and paste videos on Youtube where they highlight times that Victoria has gotten really upset and take the whole thing out of context. It's really immature and pathetic. Victoria busts her butt to not only help animals, but to help people. She tries really hard to educate people and sometimes trying to educate the ignorant or people who don't like to listen or take direction, it gets frustrating and exhausting. Many animals are suffering and it really is life or death for them if people don't change their attitude towards animals. I would be grateful that someone like Victoria is out there trying to make a difference in a positive way. She isn't being selfish because she thinks about others first. Her methods and the methods of people who support her are helping countless animals who would otherwise die without their help.

Cesar Millan has physical evidence on almost every episode that he has been bitten because of his irresponsible behavior that is damaging animals and creating more irresponsible, selfish people who could care less about animals. Victoria I feel is trying to make it so that people and animals can co-exist peacefully rather than being arrogant and running around thinking animals are just objects, pieces of garbage or play things. She doesn't boss animals around, but she does create a calm environment where the stress level is almost non-existent and both animals and people are getting things done productively.

For those who are saying awful things about Victoria, like how she should be put to sleep should be ashamed of themselves. I guess that’s what can be expected when people follow Cesar’s disgusting methods. The way you treat animals is the way you treat people!

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