When rules are ignored…

I really don’t want this topic to become a theme for 2012. I thought we’d covered it enough in 2011.

Why do some people think that rules apply to other people and not to them?

Yes, we’ve seen CyclistsParking, Seatbelts, Cellphones, Whaleways – and now it’s dog owners. You only have to go walking in Tokai Forest  or the Green Belt or Newlands or (what’s left of) Cecilia Forest to see the contempt that the dog owners of Southern Suburbs have for rules on cleaning up after their animals. Putting it concisely, there’s shit everywhere. (Sorry Mum).

The recent case of the 2-year old girl attacked by a rottweiler on Clifton Beach earlier this week was both saddening and confusing, given that there is a ban on dogs on that beach at the time she was attacked. But if this report on iAfrica is to be believed, that rule apparently didn’t apply to dog owner James Lech and that’s why Meeka Riley spent four hours in an operating theatre yesterday.

Of course, there are other issues here as well – but the fact that the dog (one of three) was unleashed and the fact that even though Mr Lech is apparently regarded as one of the best known animal behavioural “specialists” in the country (more of that below) not withstanding, the little girl would not have been attacked by the dog if its owner hadn’t been ignoring the “no dogs” rule.

And now Mr Lech – the self-appointed “Dog Shaman” who, according to his website:

…is able to understand the communicate the information between the animal dog world and the human world. This understanding helps heal both psychological and physical problems in both dogs and humans.

Riiight. Sad then that this modern day Dr Doolittle seemingly couldn’t communicate the word “stop” to his dog.

But look, if you search deeply enough between the adverts for healing crystals and the like, you’ll learn that:

the methods he uses and abilities are proven through hard science and fact.

Neither of which he actually eludes to, but I’m sure he just ran out of time when writing it up. I’m sure those links to a whole host of peer-reviewed journals, demonstrating the proven powers of canine shamanism are just around the corner. Although, I’m told that he is a little busy right now.

Incidentally, James’ blog also includes a video on “How to walk 16 dogs… or just one” and news of a (now rather dangerous sounding) “Pack Walk” this weekend. However, if you want to go on the walk and “witness the power of the pack” *gulp*, the cost is R120 per person and before you… er… walk your dog, it must have passed a “physical exam” at the Gooddog Psychology & Physical Rehabilitation Clinic.

The physical exam involves a 30 min walk on the treadmill. The cost of this physical examination is R280.

Which is fair enough, because if you’re going to walk your dog, you need an “expert” to make sure your dog can walk. Kerching!

It sounds to me as if most of the stuff printed on James’ website could do with being scooped up, placed in a small plastic bag and deposited in a handily placed bin.

More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: Of course, I should have mentioned that Lech and his Rottie have previous form.
(Thanks Jeremy)

UPDATE 2: Apparently, the main man in the whole international dog whispering thing is an American called Cesar Millan. I learnt this because I saw a photo of James Lech and Mr Millan while I was researching this. In fact, Cesar Millan is mentioned no fewer than 16 times on Lech’s blog, e.g.

I sometimes get criticisms from dog trainers and animal behaviorists that like to mis-diagnose and state that what I and Cesar Millan do is domination theory or negative to the dog and that we don’t believe in “reward” theory.

Of course, if you pop onto Cesar’s site, you can find James Lech’s names as well – right under the heading:

The Following Sites, Products, Individuals, and events are NOT Affiliated with Cesar Millan, Inc. or Dog Whisperer

Where we are also asked to note that:

Please be aware that Cesar takes photographs with many of his fans at seminars and elsewhere. A photograph does not confirm that the trainer has worked with Cesar.


 If you are a trainer posting a photograph taken with Cesar at a seminar or a similar event on your website, we ask that you post a disclaimer clearly stating that you have no official affiliation with Cesar Millan or the Dog Whisperer program.

Not the recent evidence suggests in any way that James Lech is a fraud, but I couldn’t find that disclaimer anywhere on James’ site, but perhaps I was sidetracked by the irony that James’ dogs are fed a vegan diet.

You are welcome to make your own vegan dog food, but I would rather recommend purchasing a pre-made mixture from us…


So no meat at all. Except on the beach on Wednesday, of course.

12 thoughts on “When rules are ignored…

  1. I realiy like the way he author has exposed James Lech. Brialliant handling of a serious fraud.

  2. Perhaps they should look him in a room containing a pack of hungry wild dogs and we will see how good a ‘dog whisperer’ he really is!! Great Post

  3. Anyone using Millan's methods on a consistent basis is likely to induce aggression on a dog sooner or later. Because suppression by force is so much part of Millan's and therefore Lech's training methods, it was bound to happen that a dog would not give warnings. After all, in the Millan philosophy, they are an attempt to dominate you and thus must be punished.

    More than 20 years ago, evidence based and dog friendly trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar warned about the dangers of using punishment to manage aggression. Millan and Lech have proven him right.

    Lech broke the rules by having off-leashed dogs in this area, but it's something he copied from Millan. But then again, people who are so willing to ignore facts of science may also balk at rules.

  4. If you go to Lech’s website, you’ll see his die hard fans giving him a pat on the back and feeling bad for him over all this. I can’t believe some people. In a saner world, this guy would be being laughed at to his face in public continually.

  5. “It sounds to me as if most of the stuff printed on James’ website could do with being scooped up, placed in a small plastic bag and deposited in a handily placed bin.”
    I could not have put it more succinctly. Jame Lech needs to be shut down before an innocent child dies.
    He has the emotional and moral intelligence of about 10 years old.
    Does anybody know whether it is true that he is being investigated for fraud, by the pet insurance industry?

  6. A well-written post. Thank you for your research on this fraud. Pity the rights of animals are not taken seriously in this country for had he claimed the same “cures” for humans he would have been shut down — or maybe not. The crystal people can be a bit loony at times. So who pays? A child lands in hospital and an animal is put to death because of Mr Lech’s irresponsible behaviour.
    And BTW Lech apparently used one of those electronic devices to control this particular Rottweiler. Clever to try to control a Rottweiler by using pain. My logic says it will enrage the animal not calm it down, but this guy doesn’t seem to be big on logic.

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