Six months after it premiered, Netflix’s reality series Canine Intervention is still stirring up controversy among subscribers. The series debuted on the streaming platform in February of this year and follows renowned Oakland dog trainer Jas Leverette as he runs Cali K9, one of the top dog training facilities in California. However, his unique training methods and techniques, showcased as he works with a variety of dogs and their owners, has led to discord among viewers and opposing online petitions from groups calling on Netflix to renew Canine Intervention for Season 2 and those calling on the streaming to cancel it due to “inhumane animal training.”
On the latter side of the argument are those who support the series and Leverette’s method. A Change.org petition created following the Season 1 premiere and calling on Netflix to “continue to air Canine Intervention and give us many more seasons,” credits the streamer and the trainer for “helping save dogs all over the world from being abandoned, abused, going to shelters, and/or being euthanized.” Signed by 19,000 people, the petition says Leverette’s “training methods are gentle, effective, and full of love and compassion” and “all about consistent daily practice, praise and rewards.” It adds that Leverette “is making a huge difference in our lives” and “Netflix subscribers need to see more of Jas Leverette and Canine Intervention.”
However, at nearly 50,000 signatures strong, an opposing petition calling for the series to be canceled is even more popular. That petition argues that “this type of commercialization for the sake of entertainment is barbaric and does not serve the general population and our most adoring companion animals.” The petition’s creator, as well as the thousands of signees, notes that Canine Intervention features “an animal trainer that demonstrates the use of choke collars, prong collars and electric shock collars” and shows “inhumane training techniques to animal owners.”
It even points to The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour’s position statement on famed animal trainer Cesar Milan’s series Cesar 911, which Canine Intervention has been likened to. The AVSAB’s statement declared such punishment-based training methods as “unacceptable” and said such training methods “may be advocated by those without an appreciation of the current status of science in dog training.”
“Although such methods can be effective in the short term, science tells us they are likely to exacerbate an animal’s fear and actually increase aggression in the long run,” the AVSAB’s statement continued. “When the problem behavior involves a negative reaction to another animal, attempting to elicit the bad behavior so it can be ‘corrected’ is not only ineffective, it puts the target animal at risk of injury.”
That petition is backed by dog trainers, who following Canine Intervention’s February release rallied for the show’s cancellation. In a YouTube video at the time, Saro Boghozian, a certified dog trainer and author of A Dog’s Five Essential Needs, explained that we don’t need “another aversive method of dog training popularized on TV shows in the form of entertainment that does more harm than good.” He said that all that such training methods achieve “is teaching and training the dog in very slow motion, and each step that you’re taking takes weeks.”
At this time, Netflix has not renewed Canine Intervention for a second season, and it is unclear if there are any plans for future episodes. The streamer also has not responded to the backlash to the series. Stay tuned to PopCulture for the latest streaming updates!