Should Therapy Dogs Be Allowed to Wear Clothes?


Chopper the Biker Dog is, as you might expect from his name, no stranger to wearing clothes. He sort of has a uniform, as many bikers do. Chopper wears a leather vest, a bandana, and goggles. He wears them a lot. Sometimes he hops aboard his bike and tools around with dad Mark Shaffer, visiting hospitals and doing charity work. Chopper is therapy dog — or, he was, until the group that issued his certificate, Pet Partners, pulled it, seemingly over Chopper’s attire.


“They claim they don’t allow dogs in costumes. This is not a costume,” Shaffer told 10 News. “This is his persona. This is what he is.”

Shaffer said he learned the certificate had been pulled after he returned from a 11-day road trip to Eugene, Oregon, where they stopped at veterans hospitals and police departments along the way.

“Disbelief,” said Shaffer, describing how he felt when he heard the news. “There was anger, and there was a lot of hurt.”




As for the reason Pet Partners dropped Chopper, the group has been pointing people to a message it posted on Chopper’s Facebook page:

“While we recognize that many pet owners enjoy costuming their pets at home and even in public settings, particularly around many holiday events, the use of costumes and clothing in an animal-assisted therapy environment raises a number of concerns for the animal, the handler, and the clients or patients being seen … Pet Partners harbors no ill will towards motorcycle enthusiasts. Holiday costumes, tutus, or clothing other than a scarf are also not allowed. We wish Mark and Chopper all the best and hope that they will continue to bring smiles to the people they meet. Mark did receive written warning to correct the behavior before the suspension to follow the appropriate protocol. He is free to dress Chopper as he pleases, just not while volunteering at facilities as a therapy-animal team.”

Shaffer said he would seek certification from another group, and keep Chopper’s sense of style intact.


What do you think? Should therapy dogs not be allowed to wear costumes? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Via 10 News; photos via Chopper’s Facebook page

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