(Reuters) - TV channel Nat Geo WILD on Friday rallied around popular "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan, who is being investigated for animal cruelty, as thousands signed a petition demanding his television show be canceled.
The American Humane Society said in a statement that it had also received complaints about a recent episode of the TV series "Cesar 911" in which Millan uses a pig to train an aggressive dog. The dog chases the pig and nips its ear, causing it to bleed.
Some viewers believed the dog had bitten off the pig's ear but the network said that was not the case. On Twitter, B.L. Ochman said "He practically forced that dog to maul that poor pig. https://twitter.com/whatsnext/status/708289565732294659
A change.org petition, which includes the video clip of the incident, called on Nat Geo WILD to cancel Millan's show. It had been signed by more than 9,000 people early on Friday. https://www.change.org/p/ban-cesar-millan-shame-on-you-national-geographic
The petition called Millan's methods inhumane. "In this episode, Cesar used pigs as bait for a dog who was a known pig killer and all for 'entertainment' purposes and this is not the first time he has used bait animals. This is wrong! Using animals for bait is against the law."
Nat Geo WILD, a unit of 21st Century Fox, said in a statement on Friday, "Cesar Millan is and will continue to fully cooperate with any investigation. He is confident that the investigation will show there was no wrong doing."
It said that a clip from the Feb. 26 show that was shared online "caused some concern for viewers who did not see or understand the full context of the encounter."
"The pig that was nipped ... was tended to immediately afterward, healed quickly and showed no lasting signs of distress. As the additional clip reveals, Cesar and his animal pack effectively helped (the dog) Simon to overcome his aggressive behavior toward other animals," it said.
Millan, 46, first found fame through his "Dog Whisperer" TV show in 2004 that has been broadcast worldwide. He also has sold millions of books about his techniques.
The network said investigators from Los Angeles County Animal Control had been in touch with Millan's Dog Psychology Center outside Los Angeles after complaints from the public about the episode involving the pig.
Millan referred reporters to the statement on Nat Geo WILD's website. Animal Control did not immediately return a request for comment.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)