A 5-year-old Boston Terrier who brings smiles and love to hospital and nursing home patients around San Diego, California may be out of a job because of his biker costumes.
'Chopper the Biker Dog' works as a therapy dog. The black and white pooch rides to patients on his owner, Mark Shaffer's, motorcycle in a special seat, dressed in a leather vest and protective goggles for canines. According to the Huffington Post, Chopper often times rolls into the rooms of sick people on a mini doggie motorcycle. Shaffer says Chopper is in high demand, receiving requests for visits up and down the West Coast.
“At three months old he started riding that little bike. He knows it, he likes it.”
After returning from a tour, Shaffer received some sad news: Chopper would be losing his license as a therapy dog. Pet Partners, a nonprofit group that evaluates and insures therapy animals, emailed Shaffer explaining that their policy prohibits therapy dogs from wearing costumes to ensure the safety of animals and patients.
Director of Communications with Pet Partners Glen Miller says that costumes impairs the animals’ ability to see, move, and respond.
"A costume is just not appropriate for going to the hospital."
Shaffer begs to differ, explaining that Chopper's biker outfits make patients laugh and that his goggles are always removed when he is interacting with people. He also says that technically since Chopper rides on a motorcycle, he's not wearing a costume and "he’s being himself.”
Miller explains that many hospitals prefer therapy dogs that are licensed because they know that they are insured and have been evaluated by a professional. But since Chopper doesn't necessarily need a license to continue his mission as a therapy dog, he'll still visit patients without one until he can be registered with a different animal organization that is more accepting of his bad boy style.
It's all about the kids! It's all about making a difference and creating beautiful memories Spending the day here at the Ronald McDonald House in San Diego, across the street from Rady Children's Hospital, at a fundraiser event. Meet my new friend Josiah. #firstharleyridePosted by Chopper the Biker Dog on Sunday, June 7, 2015