Chopper the Biker Dog Suspended

By Joe Nelson

   Mark Shaffer, close friend to and the entire radio community recently met up with reporter Joe Little of 10 News to discuss recent events regarding Mark's dog, "Chopper the Biker Dog"

   A couple weeks ago, Mark received a letter from "Pet Partners", the organization who certifies Chopper as a therapy dog stating his certification was suspended.

See Joe's story and video from 10 News HERE

   The following is the letter and an editorial from Mark himself.
"It is the therapeutic value and perception of Chopper’s costume itself that we have a concern about (in view of the disadvantages of costumes in the therapeutic context” (Look at this photo and tell me where the concern is??)
On May 14th, 1 day after Chopper and I returned from a 10 day “Tour” up the west coast, sharing MY love with as many people and with whoever we could, at different nursing facilities, Veterans, Law Enforcement, “Chopper’s fans”… and whoever was in need of something “special”, ON OUR OWN TIME, I received an email from "Pet Partners" (formally “The Delta Society”)”, the organization that I (dad) have been a part of with 2 therapy dogs for the past 10 years. 10 years with 2 dogs dressing in a leather vest, goggles, doo-rag, bandana riding on a little Harley. (No Big Secret) The email read in part, these quotes:
1) “Pet Partners regrets to inform you that your registration with our organization is being suspended effective today.
2) “We are concerned about the clothing in which Chopper is in the community.”
3) “We are also concerned about the perception that your team may be creating in the community with regard to therapy animals.”
4) “While Chopper does seem like a lovely dog, our organization would be concerned about him being represented as a “magical therapy dog” in the manner that your website and Facebook page do.”
5) *****“It is the therapeutic value and perception of Chopper’s costume itself that we have a concern about (in view of the disadvantages of costumes in the therapeutic context”)****



They do reference their policy about dogs wearing “costumes”: “Pet Partners doesn’t allow animals to be dressed in costumes for animal-assisted activities (AAA) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT), because costumes detract from the animal’s credibility as a therapy animal and a member of the facility’s treatment team.”
Keep in mind the definition of a “costume”, and according to the “definition”, that does NOT describe Chopper. What I do with Chopper is on my OWN time, and this organization has had FULL knowledge of what I have been doing, and even acknowledged it in numerous emails over the years, one being from Lisa Zeiner with Pet Partners, Therapy Animal Program Coordinator - Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA. Instructor and Evaluator sends an email saying, “It looks like you two do an awesome job!” (2012) Referring to Chopper and I.
In 2008 I received an email saying, “Bandit is adorable. “Just FYI, I’m not sure if you are aware of the new Delta rule about costumes, so you can’t bring him “to the evaluation” in full dress up. Only the leash and collar/harness you use.” JUST for the evaluation. Once again, “acknowledgment”.
December, 2014 Chopper was up for renewal, was re-evaluated, and our renewal was accepted.
This organization, Pet Partners (formally The Delta Society) has had FULL knowledge of my “biker dogs”…… for 10 years now!
The point of this, for 10 years, this organization has had knowledge, and awareness of both Bandit and Chopper dressing up as “biker dogs”, visiting so many people in need, and making a positive difference to thousands, and hundreds of thousands of people over the years…. They (Pet Partners) still gave us praise (in private emails), accepted our money and renewed our registration, UNTIL we went on our very publicized “road trip”, the SAME week they had the “biker gang” (as the news puts it) shooting / killing in Waco, TX…. coincidence? Profiling?
This does not mean Chopper is no longer a “Therapy Dog” what’s so ever. It means that this organization does not want him, and really needs to look at their rules and regulations closer, and change needs to be made, not to mention INSULTED US!! They need to look at the WHOLE “therapy-dog picture” of what a “therapy dog” is, does and brings to those in need, and the difference they make to those they visit…. And stop “judging”.
Maybe Pet Partners would like to hear YOUR opinion or stories how a “Biker Dog” affected your life, or a loved one. Maybe you would like YOUR voice to be heard.
I have given Pet Partners numerous chances to retract their statements and “reinstate” Chopper based on he does not wear a “costume”, and that being the bases of the suspension, and they “stand by their decision.”
The emails and quotes were all written and sent to me in an email by: Bilyana Yakova – Pet Partner’s Program Manager: 425-679-5529,
Annie Magnant is the President of Pet Partners -
Pet Partners
875 124th Ave NE #101
Bellevue, WA 98005

   Mark and Chopper were in studio this morning with Jagger and Kristi to discuss the matter.
SanDiegoRadio supports you both, Mark and Chopper!


Tracy said…
I have known Mark for years and he is a very kind man who would not want to do anything to hurt anyone and has given of himself, his dog and time for so many charities! It is heartbreaking that anyone or organization would attempt to "profile" a dog and a man who gives to the community the way they do! I hope other members of this organization stand up to them and remove their membership and subscribe to another in support of Chopper and Mark!
waggybaggy said…
This is past nitwit.Rules can be changed & this rule should be changed.I trust that Chopper discovers a new organization to work with.
@Tina Long.

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