Note - I have edited this post on April 23, 2010 to add some new material and talk about a comment that dog trainer Ted Efthymiadis added to this post on April 22nd, 2010.
I'm not sure how to write this blog post. I'm struggling with it a bit. A lot happened today at the sentencing segment of Brindi's owners trial.
It focused on the assessment that was to be done by an animal behaviourist. That "animal behaviourist" turned out to be a man by the name of Ted Efthymiadis - and I have to say, the crown prosecutor pretty much ate him alive.
The Crown Prosecutor questioned his credentials, and with good reason. It turns out Mr. Efthymiadis has only been working full time as a dog trainer for 2 months, has gotten the bulk of his dog training via the internet, and the type of training that he specializes in - is - there's no other word for it - is probably the most aversive kind of training that you can subject a dog to.
Ted Efthymiadis and his ilk train dogs with the use of "e-collars", or "shock collars" - or what they call - "remote collars".
Mr. Efthymiadis has studied via the internet with Tarheel Canine Training, Inc., located in Sanford NC, a full service training kennel owned by Jerry Bradshaw, Master Trainer, National K-9 Sport Competitor and specialists in behavior problem solutions.
On the Tarheel website there's an article about shock collars at http://www.tarheelcanine.com/articles/Obedience%20Training/OffLeashECollar.pdf
The first time I heard about Mr. Efthymiadis was when I was googling "protection dog in Nova Scotia". There had been an episode about protection dogs on the "Steven Seagal Show" - and it freaked me out that someone could pay $45,000 for a dog - and so I was just googling around to see if anyone trained protection dogs in Nova Scotia - and this Ted guy came up, along with a few other trainers - at that time he had his own website - but I see now that he's working for a guy in PEI - a guy named Duke Ferguson who has a company called "Unleashed Potential" - which is actually over in Prince Edward Island.
When I was googling protection dogs, I also saw Duke Ferguson's website, and I found an article that talked about "shock collars" - it's an article called "Ruger's first time on a "remote collar" - happy and obedient"
But Ted's website, when he had it up, said he followed the following services -
*Private in-home consultations.
*Life-time training programs
*Drug detection services
*Board and train
As of today, he still has a You Tube Channel up with a couple video's up under his "Quality k9" moniker - and you can see his training technique a little bit.
Today in court Ted talked about the fact that if he got Brindi to train he would take her for 3 weeks into what he called his "board and train" program - whereby Brindi would live with him for 3 weeks and train with him intensively, and at the end Francesca would receive back a dog that was trained, and she would have to do maintenance and follow-up work with Brindi.
As well - his letter was also brought up - in which he guaranteed that he could have Brindi completely rehabilitated within 3 months - and he was forced to back off on that a little bit.
Another very troubling thing that happened today in my opinion was the fact that under oath he said that in his assessment - Brindi didn't show any aggression at all during his assessment of her - although he acknowledged that the assessment took place away from the place where she had shown all of her prior aggression episodes that had prompted the calls to Animal Control - but yet, for some reason (which is ridiculous to me) he still believes that Brindi should be muzzled in public for the rest of her life if she's allowed to live.
If in his assessment he could not find any aggression in her - why would he still say she should always be muzzled? That baffles me. He thinks she can be a normal dog - why would a normal dog need to be muzzled? That is not good advice in my opinion. A dog shouldn't have to be muzzled unnecessarily just because someone says so. That's silly.
I also found some of the the things he said about his assessment to be pretty interesting too - but you'll have to talk to me personally to find out about that. Like when is a dog peeing showing that they are relaxed, or when it is showing that they are marking - you tell me.
And does belonging to the CAPPDT make a certified animal behaviourist? If that's the case - then did you all know that I AM A CERTIFIED ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST TOO! Yea! And I have been for the last 2 years! Yea!
And if you are going to call belonging to that organization makes you a certified animal behaviourist - when you are on the stand at a court proceeding for which a dog's life is in the balance - you really should get the intitials for that organization memorized correctly.
I know I'm getting a bit ridiculous there - so I'm going to get serious again.
Because I still think that Francesca - should get Brindi back. Although after today, I don't know whether she will.
But if she does, I am seriously worried about what's going to happen if she undergoes a training protocol that is going to include strong aversives like a shock collar. Previous to today, I knew that Ted Efthymiadis was a trainer who used that method of training, I just didn't know how little actual hands-on training he actually had. And that worries me, because Brindi's rehabilitation is depending on this man (supposedly) - and he seems to be willing to stake his career on the successful rehabilitation of Brindi - and if Brindi fails and attacks another dog - I don't imagine that Francesca Rogier will be blaming herself - she'll be very glad to blame it on Mr. Efthymiadis.
And is a reactive, long-kenneled dog like Brindi going to respond well to such a highly-aversive training regimen like what Mr. Efthymiadis has planned for her.
I don't know. But I am worried. Maybe his wish for Brindi to be muzzled for the rest of her life is being asked for a reason.
I wonder how much he charges per hour. I should find out, and then charge $10 less an hour myself, because after all - I guess I am now a certified animal behaviourist. You can email me at ... email@example.com
You can watch CTV's news online at
and the CBC have a good article online at
April 23rd, 2010 - since I wrote the above post - comments have been added to this post - from "Nobody Important" - of whom I have written about on this blog previously - you can read that post at http://dogkisser.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-to-do.html if you want to read who the author "Nobody important" is - and that person says in the comments -
"nobody ever said that Ted was an animal behaviourist. The judge was never told he was, nor did she require him to be" and then Ted himself says - "when did I say I was a dog behaviorist?"
So I went back into my 20,000 or so emails and had a look around. It was April 2009 that Ted presented himself to Francesca saying that he wanted to help her train Brindi. At first he was her "anonymous" benefactor - she was saying at the time on Facebook and other places that she has a "trainer" will to help her, but she wouldn't say who he was - and then in July, 2009 - Jennifer Richardson, one of Francesca Rogier's closest "Brindi's Angels" had a letter to the editor published in the Chronicle Herald - and it read:
Send Brindi home
Brindi, the dog, has now been imprisoned unjustly by HRM for a year. A year in a kennel that is meant for short term stays! I am sure the SPCA is doing their best, but Brindi should at the very least be moved to a more accommodating kennel, where she can be walked!
Her current situation is inhumane!
This is not about public safety; this is about HRM trying to save face. They have the power to end this mess. Brindi is not a dangerous dog! This was proven when the Supreme Court quashed the euthanization order, only to have HRM charge her owner, Francesca Rogier, at literally the last hour of the six-month statute of limitations.
To re-home Brindi would mean declaring her not dangerous. The city will not agree to this, because then they would have to drop their charges. They want to kill Brindi; Brindi is not human aggressive (as stated by a professional assessment) and has never seriously injured any dog. Yes, she has issues with other dogs near her property and these issues will be worked on. Ms. Rogier has a certified dog behaviourist/trainer on board to help.
Our animal control system is in trouble. Ms. Rogier has been denied due process. It
horrifies me that I even have to write this letter, as it is all so unbelievable! Ms. Rogier and Brindi are being treated worse than criminals.
I am concerned for the welfare of my own dog under bylaw A-300. The way it’s written, if my dog "appears" to be threatening to someone, they can come and take my dog and kill her! This would all be decided by people who have little to no experience in animal behaviour! We should all fear for our dogs in HRM.
To the HRM councillors, please stop sweeping this under the rug! Hiring pricey outside lawyers to prosecute a bylaw infraction does not sit well with me as a taxpayer, either.
Even the animal control in Calgary, which you are trying to model, is not pleased with the handling of this case.
Stop the injustice and send Brindi home where she belongs!
Jennifer Richardson, Dartmouth
So there is the smoking gun, if you will. At the time - when this letter to the editor came out - I emailed Jenn and asked her what the name was of the "certified dog behaviourist/trainer" that they had found who was willing to work with Brindi, and she emailed me back and said it was up to Francesca to say who it was, not her - so I never found out who the trainer was.
So there is the proof that they were calling him a behaviourist. It really doesn't get any plainer, or public than that - a letter to the editor of the Chronicle Herald - I could probably find more incidents, but really I don't have that much interest.
So - on to Mr. Efthymiadis comment from last night in which he said - "Hey, I'd like to start by thanking you for taking the time to post this info. I have already seen plenty of business come in from the interview on the news, newspaper, and now your blog."
That's another couple sentences where something couldn't have been said any plainer. It looks like Ted may be in this just for the money. "He's already seen plenty of new business come in from all the media he's gotten because of the Brindi story". Well - isn't that just fantastic? I guess his motives are showing.
He should be careful, because if he's not 100% successful in rehabilitating Brindi - there could be problems. When I was going through my emails yesterday - I found an unpublished comment from Francesca that said 1,000 words in a lot less than that, and it went like this -
"She did remarkably well, considering her long stay in a shelter. But dogs, like horses, sometimes exhibit unexpected and out of character behaviors in certain circumstances, and Heather, NOBODY knew about these "issues" until well after obedience class. The advice I got to deal with it was sadly not appropriate. I didn't get a chance to do more."
The important line in that paragraph is the sentence I highlighted - "The advice I got to deal with it was sadly not appropriate" - meaning that she took no responsiblity for the bad behavior of her dog, and that the bad behaviour of her dog was all her dog trainers fault. So if anyone is to blame for Brindi's troubles - it is Bob Ottenbrite according to Francesca.
That's why I think any dog trainer who takes Francesca on has to be really careful - they have to really believe in their system of training - because if it doesn't work - and something happens to Brindi - Brindi's owner isn't going to be blaming herself - she's going to be blaming the training system that was used on Brindi - that's also why I am blown away by the claim that Bob Ottenbrite would love to work with Francesca and Brindi when they are together again. If I was him I'd be taking a vacationo in Siberia rather than have anything to do with her. But that's just me - and my opinion - and people are allowed to have their own opinions.
One last thing about the comments left on this post - from the "Noboby Important" person again - saying that Ted's certification is from CAPDT - like as if there is an organization with that acronymn that's separate from CAPPDT - guess what - there's not. There is no CAPDT in Canada. There is only a CAPPDT - and both me and Ted belong to it.
And in April 2009 - I think it was very disingenuous of Ted Efthymiadis to write a letter to the prosecution in Brindi's case and say - "I studied professional obedience & behavior with Tarheel K9 (www.tarheelcanine.com),
which is located in Sanford North Carolina"
He said that 12 months ago - and he said in court that -
1. He's only been studying for less than 2 years;
2. He's never actually been to North Carolina - that all his classes were online.
Using the past tense gives an indication that all his studies are done, that he's fully trained, and that he has some kind of certification. He also said in the letter that "My dog training days go back four years, I starting specializing in dog obedience." Either he was lying under oath, or he was lying in this letter. But somewhere he's off by 3 years in his dog training days. That's not good when you're trying to look credible.
Here is the letter Ted wrote to Joshua J. Judah, Municipal Solicitor - who in April, 2009 was prosecuting the Brindi case.
April 16, 2009
Dear Mr. Judah:
Today I am writing with a plea for restoration for a dog named Brindi. My name is Ted Efthymiadis, I am a professional dog trainer located in Halifax Nova Scotia. I studied professional obedience & behavior with Tarheel K9 (www.tarheelcanine.com), which is located in Sanford North Carolina. Tarheel K9 specializes in teaching dog trainers the skills to train dog obedience, dog behavior, drug detection, search and rescue, dog behavior modification, police protection among others. My dog training days go back four years, I starting specializing in dog obedience. My love for dogs soon evolved to training protection, behavior modification and drug detection. I now specialize in training with dominant and aggressive dogs. The (CAPPDT), Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers has certified me as a professional in good standing.
Many months ago, I heard of Brindi's case in the newspaper. In all honestly, I was shocked that this dog had not been release within a month of being detained. From what I have heard and read of Brindi, I am absolutely confident this dog is able to be rehabilitated within 3 months or less, ultimately I believe this dog is capable of being a good member in her community. I have personally worked with dogs much more aggressive than Brindi, with great success. My business generally caters to larger aggressive dogs like Boxers, Cane Corsos, German Shepherds and Pit Bull's. On a scale of 1/10, Brindi's case at most would be a 5/10.
I have had personal contact with Brindi's owner at length and I am confident in her willingness to change the way she handles her dog. She seems very interested in learning how to properly deal with her dog and trusts my professional opinion in dealing with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Because I believe so dearly that this dog should not be held any longer, I support her return to her owner, and am willing to offer, and monitor to the fullest extent of my ability, a full rehabilitation program for this dog and owner free of charge.