Therapy Dog Fired Because His Biker Outfit Is "Inappropriate"

Indrani Sengupta
Correction: His biker outfit is awesome. Dress code sticklers/body shamers appear to have expanded the focus of their attention from teenage girls to hapless dogs.

A 5- year old Boston terrier, known as “Chopper the Biker Dog,” does a tremendous service, and is widely beloved. He visits hospitals, schools and senior centers up and down the WEST COAST, his mini motorcycle in tow. He's comforting, entertaining, and beloved in San Diego.

But the organization that certified him as a therapy animal has just suspended his license.

Why? Chopper’s uniform—a leather vest, bike goggles, and bandana—have been deemed a safety hazard.


Pet Partners recently wrote to Chopper’s human companion, Mark Shaffer:

“We are concerned about the clothing in which Chopper is in the community. We are also concerned about the perception that your team may be creating in the community with regard to therapy animals.”

Shaffer thinks this is unreasonable. He has been managing therapy animals for years, and has seen how much laughter is brought into the room when Chopper moseys in on his ride. Pet Partners has known about Chopper’s shtick for a long time now, and it’s never been an issue before.


This photo says it ALL!! I think the smiles on their faces express more about this photo then any words I can say. ...

Posted by Chopper the Biker Dog on Sunday, March 8, 2015

The suddenness of Pet Partners’ decision, Shaffer believes, may be the result of the recent biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas. Maybe Pet Partners doesn’t want to be seen as contributing to future biker gang shootouts?


Which is ridiculous. When people see a dog on a bike, they don’t think “how can I make myself look as cool as this dog? I know! Let’s get a bike, join a gang, maybe shoot some guns”

When people see a dog, on a bike or otherwise, they’re likely not thinking of anything besides said dog. The Internet, with its plethora of cute puppy pictures, suggests as much after guns.


It’s Pet Partners’ loss, though. Shaffer will be getting Chopper certified with another agency, and the biker spirit will live on.

Read more: Dogs: A Medicine For Mental Health Problems?