‘Dog Whisperer’ star gets sued

By Solvej Schou

LOS ANGELES – A television producer sued dog trainer Cesar Millan, star of TV’s “Dog Whisperer,” claiming his Labrador retriever was injured at Millan’s training facility after being choked with a collar and forced to run on a treadmill.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Superior Court, “8 Simple Rules” producer Flody Suarez said he took 5-year-old Gator to the Dog Psychology Center on Feb. 27 to deal with fears of other dogs and strangers.

Hours after dropping off the dog, Suarez said, a worker called to tell him the animal had been rushed to a veterinarian. Suarez later found the dog “bleeding from his mouth and nose, in an oxygen tent gasping for breath and with severe bruising to his back inner thighs,” according to the lawsuit.

Workers at the facility were accused in the suit of placing a choke collar on the dog, pulling him onto a treadmill and forcing him to overwork.

Suarez said he has spent at least $25,000 on medical bills, and the dog must undergo more surgeries for damage to his esophagus.

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The lawsuit claimed breach of contract, fraud, animal cruelty and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other allegations. It seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

A call to Millan at the Dog Psychology Center was not immediately returned. The facility is also named as a defendant.

A spokesman for the National Geographic Channel, which airs the show, said the dog’s injury was not connected with the production of “Dog Whisperer.”

“From what we understand, Cesar was not there at the time the injury occurred, he never worked with this dog,” spokesman Christopher Albert said in a statement. “Cesar is a tremendous dog lover and has been a tireless advocate and professional dedicated to improving their welfare.”

The lawsuit was the second filed against Millan in a week.

On April 28, his former publicist Makeda Smith and her partner Foster Corder sued Millan and other defendants, including the National Geographic Channel.

That suit claimed breach of contract, copyright infringement and breach of confidential relationship, alleging that Smith originally conceived the name “Dog Whisperer” for Millan.

But while she and Corder attempted to sell a pilot episode written by Corder, Millan “went on his own” and pitched the show to the National Geographic Channel and two production companies without the plaintiffs’ knowledge, the lawsuit claimed.

Together, Smith and Corder are seeking more than $5 million in damages.

The National Geographic Channel said it does not comment on pending litigation.