Casper, a 3 year old Presa Canario has been contained in a Westchester country animal shelter for six months while his owner is facing $80,000 in fines, eviction and fighting to save his dog’s life after events led to Caspar injuring a visitor in his condo parking lot.
When Eric Leinwand of Westchester bought Casper as a puppy from a breeder- he was encouraged by the dog’s breeder to train the dog for protection as well as leaving him in-tact to use a stud dog to bring in some ‘extra cash’ later down the road. Unfortunately, ‘later down the road’ Casper grew and started showing some troublesome behavior such as marking in the house, lunging and barking at other dogs and strangers outside home, and showing fear aggression toward people inside the home due to lack of proper basic training and socialization. Eric then decided to take the advice from some acquaintances and purchased a shock collar to attempt to control Casper’s behavior. The result of the shock collar was worse than the original situation as the behavior intensified and was made worse, especially towards strangers.
In an attempt to fix his situation, Eric and Casper appeared in the third US season of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog, hosted by Victoria Stillwell. During the show, Stillwell tried to show Eric the potential of his dog’s power and what could happen WITHOUT proper training. The original story reported that “On the show, a trainer waved a big stick at Casper in a threatening manner and the dog lunged at him after being released by Eric Leinwand.”
In reaction to the article, Stillwell has come out with a statement explaining “I arranged for Eric to watch a demonstration with an experienced handler and his own trained protection dog to show, in a controlled scenario, how powerful a bully breed can be. This segment included the handler, his trained protection dog and an experienced trainer in a bite suit, who waved a bite stick at the trained protection dog and NOT CASPER – a common scenario in protection work. At no time was any stick waved at Casper.”
At the time when Eric purchased the dog, his condo association gave him permission to keep the dog despite the community’s no-dog rule. Over time the community grew worried about Casper and his owner, and even though reports suggest “all of the problems” started when they appeared on the show, Stillwell states “there is no doubt that the biting episodes which actually triggered the dispute would have occurred (probably even sooner) without him appearing on the show.”
The episode of It’s Me or the Dog shows that despite urging from Stillwell to have the dog neutered and arrangements made by her for Eric to work with other area trainers after her departure- Eric did not follow through on much of the training, did not work with any trainers nor did he neuter Casper, leaving him to his previous behaviors which lead to events that caused the dog to act out towards the visitor.
Westchester County judge Walter Rivera labeled Casper as “dangerous” but also ruled to spare his life. The judge also ordered that he must be neutered, visit a “board certified animal behaviorist” and not go out in public without a muzzle.