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Most Horrid Human on Greatest American Dog

Written by PETA | August 1, 2008
lockeyebc / CC
Border Collie

Poor Leroy. He’s done nothing wrong, and he just wants to be loved. So what does his trainer do? Spray water in his face, squirt lemon in his face, and even put a vacuum nozzle up to him. And we all know that there is nothing a dog hates more than a vacuum.

On Wednesday night’s episode of Greatest American Dog, the show actually aired previously taped footage in which Leroy was what I can only call abused by his trainer … what were they thinking?!? PETA received numerous complaints from viewers, and rightfully so. We hope that the executive producer of the show will hear viewers and PETA loud and clear: Abusive behavior against a dog or any other animal is never, ever acceptable. Check out PETA Senior VP Lisa Lange’s letter to the show:

August 1, 2008
To: R.J. Cutler, c/o Actual Reality Pictures
From: Lisa Lange

Dear R.J.,

PETA has received numerous calls and e-mails of complaint from viewers of Wednesday night’s Greatest American Dog.

The issue concerns Teresa’s treatment of her dog Leroy, specifically spraying him in the face, squirting lemon in his face, turning a vacuum cleaner on him (and then having the nerve to scream at him when he bites her in reaction to the offending loud noise), and forcing him to wear a snarl band. This was all done in a cruel and misguided effort to make him look “angry” for his photo shoot. To make matters worse, Leroy is a border collie—a breed that dog trainers will tell you is especially sensitive to physical manipulation and psychological abuse (e.g., yelling at him for reacting in a way that any frightened dog would when having a vacuum cleaner aimed at him).

This type of behavior must not be allowed on the show, and although we are aware that this episode was taped some time ago, we are calling on you now to have one of the judges make a statement at the beginning of next week’s show explaining that this is recognized as abusive behavior, that it will never be allowed to happen again in the house or during judging, and that Teresa will not be eligible for or allowed to appear in the season finale if the season finale is live.As you well know, many dogs are abused in similar ways by people who have no idea how to humanely train a dog. This sends a dangerous message to people who take their cues from this show, especially considering that Teresa is labeled as a dog trainer/sitter on the show’s Web site.Please let us know right away that you’ll be taking these steps, or we’ll have no other option than to urge people to boycott the remainder of the season.

May I please hear from you right away?

Lisa Lange
Senior VP, PETA

Commenting is closed.
  • Dawn says:

    I have had several different breeds of dogs in my life and adopted a border collie five years ago. They are incredibly intelligent animals. Teresa dogs have nerve endings just like people and feel pain both physically and emotionally. What part of dog “training 101” didn’t you get? This beautiful animal deserves a loving and KIND home you are not that. Shame on all who allowed this to happen.

  • heidi nash says:

    i feel that nothing leroys owner did was wrong. Lemon juice in the mouth is bitter like alot of products sold in pet stores the vaccum cleaner who hasent played with thier dog with one i know i have its a game my dog loves. The snarl bands are harmless they hurt the dog in no way. The training techniques she used were harmless by all means and did not affect the dogs attitude at all. I good trainer can use these techniques and get results with no harm to their dogs then or later. I suggest peta focus on more important issues like real abused animals or is there no money in that. And by the way i own a borderaussie mix that would love to be doing the things on that show.

  • lexi says:

    I Watched the show! And when i saw her do those things i got angry. I am a groomer and a dog educator to owners and i would never have done those things to my dog’s or any other dog. And to think that she dog sits and trainer i am very scared to let her train my dog’si love Border collies and they are so voice sensitive There are 100 ways to train and border collies are the Albert Einstein of the dog world.So this make me tremble and i hope she will get cast off.

  • anonymous says:

    Gina…luv’ your response!!! O Take that to the producers!

  • Michie Herr says:

    I haven’t even seen the show and reading all of these disgusts me. Just because the poor pup can’t cry or say no apparently means that he was “enjoying the shoot” like what a dumbass trainer. My Husky that I have now was abused for 3 years before I got her it took a while for her to even trust me but now she follows me around the house like a lost puppy. My friend told me to use one of those electrical collars cuz she wouldn’t heal at first when I was trainging her and I said If I’m not about to try it neither is she. Its called a decent trainer who shows you how to handle your dog right infront of you. Making you do the commands so that the dog learns to trust you. Not lemon in her eyes or any other cruel thing you can think up of. I find the happier you are while training your dog the better the response you get back. And when you yell at a dog do you really think it understands you..uh no! Its like me going to france or germany and having them yell at me!I don’t speak french or german obvy and just because you yell louder doesn’t mean they start to understand you..c’mon people get real. That lady should not own that dog and that show should be off the air.

  • Joe Pike says:

    I watched that show once. I love my dogs and I enjoy watching well trained dogs. If they are trained compassionately. What I read here is so unacceptable to me. I can’t imagine them thinking that is ok to air.

  • Judith FFFA says:

    AMEN Gina! And I would help! Peace for all animals! Most of my heroes wear masks!

  • Gina says:

    It’s not wrong to want to squeeze lemon juice in ‘Teresa’a’ eyes. It’s a natural reaction to a subhuman who abuses defenseless animals that can’t fight back. I would volunteer to squeeze a whole lemon in here eyes with camerals rolling. It’s called payback an eye for an eye. Believe me that bit knows how much it would hurt yet did it to an innocent puppy anyway why because she could.

  • L says:

    Sickening truly sickening. That deranged woman seriously needs to reconsider her ‘training techniques’. Because everbody knows lemon juice in the eye will actually make you y’know growl instead of running away in agony.

  • nadia says:

    i think that they should all be ashamd of themselves and put off the show animals are living things just like human meand you. i would not squeeze lemon in the owner’s eyes or shove a vaccuum in her face i would just take the poor dog from her and cancel the stupid showwe’ll all do something abbout it and we’ll do it soon!

  • erika says:


  • Maya, CVT says:

    Listen I totally agree that dog guardians are 100 percent to blame for their actions and I think that this kind of “training” qualifies as cruelty. How can people be so stupid? HOWEVER I do not think we should let the show’s producers off the hook!! Of course people who treat animals badly have to be punished for their behavior. But this show for example tells people that they won’t win unless their dog acts a certain way. The dog has to “perform” these random stupid tricks and flawlesssly in the judge’s eyes. This gives a terrible message to tv viewers who may be first time dog owners. It tells them that this is how pros treat their companions and that it’s okay to treat them like this. Other shows like America’s Funniest Home videos and other shows reward people for unspeakable animal abuse. These shows need to be thrashed off the air and I hope PETA will help with that. Thank you.

  • anonymous says:

    In response to Sam’s commment I believe those who have spoken out about the spraying of lemon juice in the owners eyes is to simply give the owner a taste of her own medicine…see how she would like it and how she would personally react to the pain of it all. Maybe then she would think twice before doing it to her own pet. All around it was a very cruel and heartless act on her part and I certainly hope she does NOT do this or inflict further abuse upon her pet behind closed doors. And this applies to all trainers. Its vicious!

  • Gina says:

    I can’t believe that people are still so dismissive and callous about animal welfare that these atrocious acts would be considered ‘training’. I hate to see how ‘Teresa’ treats her dogs when no cameras are filming her. She is not a legiotimate ‘trainer’ but an animal abuser just like puppy mills pet shops. And for any network to air that trash just to provoke for ratings need to be sent a strong message from Peta HSUS and all animal advocates. I never heard of it but shows like America’s Funniest Videos Outrareous Videos frequently show ‘hilarious’ videos involving mistreatment of dogs cats other animals. Outrageous had a shelter cat feautured for adoption on a news show. The cat was stressed they had him with a collar leash with cameras people around. He was scared out his wits and attacked the reporter wildly scratching jumping on this news guy. They showed it over over for what? It’s sad depressing that the poor cat was homeless in a shelter to start with. Then his actions didn’t help in someone adopting him. Yet this show sensationalized the agonized frightened animal for months. DAre people that hard up for entertainment that they enjoy seeing a distressed shelter animal going beserk. What is wrong with some human beings. And these supposedly sophisticated smart TV executives in charge of programming screen this stuff and allow it on the air. I have no hope for big changes in attitudes about animals in my lifetime. They mean nothing to the entertainment industry except the bottom line exploitation for profit.

  • Anna says:

    I was outraged at the behavior of this trainer towrads her dog Leroy! She is a harsh and inhumane individual!! I was also sickened by the fact that she was not automatically disqualified from the competition and show…not to mention the fact she should have charges pressed against her for animal cruelty. Tillman and his owner had a wonderful relationship! I was mortified that they were eliminated instead of the torturing Teresa! Leroy should be taken away from her immediately!!!!I will never watch this show again! The show and network should be ashamed!!!!

  • Kayla says:

    That is truly upsetting. It’s ignorance like this that spreads. I can’t believe she was allowed on that show. Like many others have stated it’s behavior like this that is remembered and people will think that she’s doing the right thing since she calls herself a dog trainer. Border Collies are one of my favorite breeds. Like many have said they are extremely sensitive to psychological stress. That poor dog should be removed from her care so he isn’t permanently scarred. She shouldn’t be allowed to “train” another dog again.

  • BBR says:

    I never heard of the show until it was made fun of on The Soup E!. Regardeless let’s throw some lemon in her face and see how she likes it. When she misbehaves let’s put something up to her that makes a loud noise and bothers her. I understand animals need to be trained and what not but to spray lemon it the dogs face seems harsh. I can’t even believe the show would air that part of the episode. You would think they would want to cut it out and hide that footage. Hopefully she’ll be eliminated and poor little Leroy will be spared from more abuse. However can you imagine how she must treat him when she is at her own house with him?

  • sam says:

    poor puppy! that makes me so sad to hear that lemon juice was used that would sting so bad! one thing that I do not really agree with however is wanting to put lemon juice in the owner’s eyes. we know that it hurts the dog and causes him stress so why would we want to inflict that pain on any other living creaturebe it dog human horse monkey etc? I think that the owner needs to be educated about her actions and the conzequences they have. I do not think that violence towards the owner is the answer though. We must have love for animals and if not love for humans at least respect for the living creatures they are and a willingness to educate them about our views on animals.

  • Crystal says:

    What was up with the photographer? It would have been so easy to say I am sorry I do not film cruelty to animals. As for the comments that says you would spray her in the face little good that would I am sure she has stuff sprayed in her face quite regularly! LOL A little lemon water would not go unnoticed.

  • aaron says:

    so sad to read something like this…i hate ignorant people i really do

  • Pam McConnell says:


  • Shantay says:

    Ugh. I hate shows like this. People who can’t train a dog right shouldn’t have a dog at all.

  • Marsi says:

    I am absolutely astonished that some people posted comments here basically blaming the tv show for what this woman did! I “train” +evaluate dogs for free at several local animal shelters as well as at home and for friends…with ONLY positive reinforcement!!! If I were a contestant on this show and I had picked “angry”…I would have tried my very best to get my dog to “smile”…and possibly tried “painting” her upper gums with peanut butter when dogs lick that off you might get a shot where they may appear to show off their teeth…or maybe just “take a stand” and hopefully sort of “look intimidating” just by standing real tall with her head real high or looking down…andor possibly try to get her to leave her k9 teeth overlapping her lower jaw happens naturally to almost all dogs occasionally and maybe ask the photographercamera to get underneath her head to make her look even bigger…or etc….get creative people!……and if after all that effort with only positive reinforcement my photo ends up being the worst and I have to pack up and go home I could do so with my dogs and my head held up high! Plus…there are a lot more episodes to come…it’s way more likely that this lady will go home than be crowned the winner! No matter what happens on the show…in the end…in my book she will be a loser either way for what she did! And if she does not win…would all that abuse have been worth it to her…will her dog ever look at her the same? I also read one comment on how the snarl bands were suggestedsupplied by another contestant Prestin’s handler…but in the end it is still your decision what you do to your dog! Just because my neighbor believes in head halters makes me no fan of them…and I have told him the pros and cons too! This woman is an adult right? Able to make her own decisions? Plus…if I had to choose between the snarl bands and the lemon juice…just from my own experience…lemon juice in the eye is quite painful…and I have actually had some dentist rubber bands put around my teeth for over an hour…and I would rather have that done again than be blindsided with lemon juice or water in my faceeyes! I’m not her dog…but even if we are going to blame the other contestant for the snarl band…the lemon juice and water were still her idea right? By the way all the contestants had at least a whole evening + part morning to figure out how to posetrain their dog and were allowed to use props what about using a stuffed cat and making her dog look even slightly unhappy?…and yet that is all she came up with? They also got a whole hour with an animal photographer that was pretty helpful…yet all she did to her dog visibly upset the poor thing! And after all that she LIED or is oblivious to her dogs feelings to the judges about her dogs behavior during the photo shoot! She stated something to the effect of “her dog didn’t mind the snarl band and had a fun time at the photo shoot”! Obviously the judges do not get to see the video of the photo shoot like the tv audience they only get to see the results photos of the dogs and what the owners have to sayadmit to…because I absolutely believe that she would have been asked to leave or thrown out if they would have seen that poor animal suffering at her hands just for a phototv show!

  • junemarie says:


  • Anonymous says:

    Wow.. this really hit a sore spot! Poor defenseless little pets…I am curious to know Did this Teresa abuser get cited for animal cruelty? Did someone give this Teresa abuser a taste of her own lemon juice? I certainly hope so. I am a devout dog lover and this is incomprehensible! I could never imagine something so haneous as this happening to my own pets let alone read about someone else doing this terribly abusive cruel act to their own on public television yet! Pets are living beings as we are human and should be treated as such. Be it any animal for that matter all share the same physical and emotional “pain” levels. It certainly doesn’t give humans the right to control and treat any animals this way and it needs to STOP NOW! There are no words to express my sadness towards cute “Little Leroy” and any further abuse he may have endured by this sick woman. She doesn’t deserve to be a pet owner. She most certainly does NOT deserve Leroy! It doesn’t matter how long ago it was but that it did in fact happen and proof of her abuse and animal cruelty was exposed on public television. To post this kind of abuse on public television is outragious! This Teresa person should never be allowed to EVER be a pet owner or trainer. Clearly stated she is cruel and abusive! I personally think these kinds of programs invite further public humiliation and abuse towards petsanimal and needs to banned and those who abuse should be prosecuted!…I feel helpless and just venting!

  • kelly says:

    The field of “dog trainer” is one of the worst It attracts either the completely inadequate that can’t help anybody or the cruel and demented But they all claim to have “credentials” which are meaningless because anybody can set up a trainer “certification” scam It’s all a scam

  • tara says:

    what I don’t understand is why they would ask any of the contestants to make their dog appear “angry” for the camera in the first place. also one of the judges told teresa that using snarl bands was “inhumane” during judging yet she wasn’t the one to be sent home! also they told the crazy woman who dresses her dog up that by dressing a dog up you’re covering up other dogs ability to read important body language when meeting yet she’s still on the show as well isn’t hindering a dog’s instinct and allowing them to protect themselves inhumane as well? those judges can’t pretend to be “animal advocates” if they allow this behavior to continue.

  • Kelly says:

    I saw this and was appalled she was not voted off.

  • Morgan says:

    This show is dumb… it just adds to the idea of using animals for human benifit

  • Lindsay says:

    This is just wrong i wish I could squirt lemon juice in her face and stick a vaccum up her ass….what a bitch!!! People like this don’t deserve to have a dog like that…they should take the dog away from her…Please execs take this horrible show off the air!!!!

  • Rory says:

    This is disgraceful u should treat your pets with compassion they are not play dough you have to mould by pushing them. Poor dogs

  • Vegan says:

    I saw the show in question and the judges did make a point of saying her methoids were inhumane but did not vote her off. Dog shows are always a bad idea and this just proves it. She should not be around animals and glorified on tv while doing so.

  • Christina says:

    I posted a message on the GAD board. This show is horrible and should be taken OFF the air. Here is my message I dont know how a person who uses abusive techniques can claim they are “training”. Squirting water or lemon juice in a dogs face is not a a training technique…its abuse. Also scaring a dog with a vacuum cleaner and always yelling at the dog is also abuse. The whole snarl band thing is just disgusting. This show is disgusting. Teresa should be ashamed of herself. I feel sorry for those dogs having to “perform” for television. Im sure some of these people truly care about thier pets but this show is not right. Teresa is abusing a dog on televison under the guise of some stupid contest. She says in her bio that she treats her dog like royalty. Maybe the court jester…that would be more like it. Royalty does not get lemon squirted in his eyes or have vacuum cleaners used to terrify him. She is a horrible pet parent and should be charged with animal abuse. Someone should put a snarl band on that beotch

  • Adi says:

    Poor little helpless animal Somethig has to be done.

  • sarah says:

    im so happy that peta picks up the little things and actualy does something about it other than waiting around until it excalades! i wish i could slap that owner across the face what a bitch! they dont deserve to even own an animal!

  • sundance says:

    Thanks PETA for defending this dog from abuse. This show really does set a bad example. My friends at work all know I train my dogs alot. They all suggested I watch the show. Since tv and I are not regular friends I missed it. Now I am glad I did. I have been advised several times by ‘dog trainers’ to use shocks sprays and other archaic means to control my big energetic dog. I just always felt these were inapropriate suggestions and discovered better ways to work with my friend. As a result he trusts me and gives me all the attention and love he can. If he cannot do something I need him to do I take my time and figure out some creative way to show him how with just positive rewards. Sprays etc are for really dumb people who have not learned to talk with their dogs. When the spray doesn’t work then its shocks when the shock doesn’t work then its boot kicks. There is no end to this type of cruelty once the trainer starts using trauma and force. This is the same thing I saw with horse trainers and the same thing we’ve seen with the bad elephant trainers. People need to know they can use kindness and rewards to work with their dogshorseselephantsetc. Maybe even their kids! The show executives should be asked to present the trainer as an example of failed training and then have a demonstraion of how to achieve the same things using positive rewards. I am sure the collie would jump for joy if treated correctly truely abusing a border collie…such a sensitive dog pure ignorance.

  • Jennifer T. says:

    I agree completely that Leroy has been mistreated. I was certain that the judges would vote Teresa off after finding out that she used a snarl band for the photo shoot. Tillman and his daddy were so much fun to watch! It won’t be the same show without them!

  • Phill says:

    Sorry but I got to say some things here. First of all I have a problem with PETA attacking ONLY Teresa why aren’t you complaining about Prestin’s owner who TOLD Teresa and SUPPLIED her with the snarl bands to begin with? Why aren’t you specifically attacking the SHOW for having angry as a category? She was only trying to complete the task given to her. How else could she show that her dog was angry? Not saying that that excuses the behavior she should have refused to do that task but you must fault the show. Also the judges did tell her that what she did was inhumane and she was in the bottom three. I don’t think she intends to harm her dog she was just getting frustrated. If anyone on this show is guilty of animal abuse it’s Bella Starlet’s psychotic owner!

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    If the show has any regular advertisers call these companies and let them know you won’t buy their products while this garbage goes onthat’ll hopefully put an end to it.

  • Desiree says:

    This deranged woman’s name is Teresa Hanula and I fear for any animals that enter her “Colossal Canines” training facility in Fairfax VA. Can you believe she advertises herself as offering positive reinforcement training?!? This is just a helpful reminder that anybody enlisting services for their animals never leave them alone. Always insist on being present during any training session the good ones won’t object.

  • Juliana says:

    When I saw this “trainer” do this to Leroy I was in shock that they would even show this. Lemon in your eye OUCH! One time my sister got lemon in her eye and she was screaming and ran to the bathroom to wash it off. Leroy can’t run to wash it off because his owner is too busy trying to win a competition. Remember executives be careful with what you show on the show because some ignorant viewer will try this at home and laugh. This my friends is no laughing matter.

  • Rex's Mom says:

    Normally I never watch entertainment shows featuring animals especially I will never watch or attend another circus! but since these dogs are “owned” by the contestants I figured they’d be treated humanely. For the most part they are. Their” “people” are very loving to them. However I did see Theresa treating Leroy very abusively especially when she used the snarl band on him. He hated it. The judges did point out to Theresa who was in the bottom 3 at the end of the show that she was being very abusive to her dog yet they sent home another contestant with a darling English bull dog because they didn’t care for the picture from his dog’s photo shoot whose action was he had to look lazy. They said that the lazy look is very easy to accomplish and he didn’t do it right. Even though they did address Theresa as being abusive to Leroy they sent home I forgot the man’s name and his dog Tillman.One of the judges is Victoria Stilwell who is on Animal Planet’s show “It’s Me Or The Dog”. She is a phenomenal animal trainer to people who have really bad behavior issues with their dogs. She is English and this takes place in the Untied Kingdom but she only uses positive reinforcement and never is abusive to any of her customers’ dogs. But she should have sent home Theresa since Victoria was the one who chastised Theresa for her abusive treatment of LeRoy.

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Great letter Lisa!! Shows like this along with several shows on Bravo America’s Funniest Home Videos and several Animal Planet shows have animal abuse shown each week. Personally I would love to know the sponsors of these shows so I can put on my blog that we should boycott them!! It’s the money that matters to these boneheads and the attention that the owners get from being on tv. We need to hit them where it hurts in the wallet. I’m sure it would hurt to hit them in other places too but I don’t advocate violence LOL


    It’s really time now that people start to think! Animals are not put in this world for human abuse amusement entertainment killing etc. So once more i’m repeating to all the bored and boring folks outthere entertain yourselves without using animals! Respect their dignity and respect your own dignity because if someone doesn’t respect the dignity of other living beings he has no dignity inside himself and is just a head and heartless jerk!

  • Judith FFFA says:

    This enrages me more that one can imagine. My husband and I and our 2 daughters have always rescued dogs and we are definitely doggy lovers. To see and read about this little dog reminds me of my daughter and my experience at the vets one day long ago. Some guy with cowboy boots and a huge hat came in and sat across from us with a precious yellow Lab. And he was carrying a squirt bottle. I asked my daughter why the bottle? Then the pup tried to jump in his lap and this asshole started squirting him! Well my daughter had to hold me back and our vet came out when he heard the ruckus and told the guy that he could not have him inside his office. And that he did not believe what the asshole was doing was the proper way to teach his dog any manners. This is pure and simple cruelty. I wish someone could hold this person down and squirt lemon in their eyes for a couple hours or more. Unfortunately sweet little Leroy is going to suffer a lot of physiological problems caused by who else a human being. A nasty Bunch most of them! I have never watched this show of cruelty and I never shall. Lock this person up and charge them with cruelty to animals. Peace for all animals! Most of my heroes wear masks!

  • Heather says:

    I was flipping through the channels the other night and came across the show and I saw the judging. I don’t support the show because I don’t agree with using animals for entertainment but it caught my attention when I heard about the snarl bands which Teresa had used. I didn’t even know about the lemon juice or vacuum until I read this! I appreciated judge Victoria Stilwell’s comments against Teresa’s methods however I do think that more needs to be done and I absolutely support the steps you’ve suggested.

  • Soliel says:

    Gosh that is SO WRONG! What a darling dog! If they keep it up that once darling dog will become not so wonderful due to the stress. Please execs CHANGE THIS!

  • karina rodriguez says:

    It is terrible and horrible a show that support the cruelty with animals. Think again and think well this time

  • Erin says:

    I have not watched this show because the commercials make me sick enough. I love my dogs and see THEM as the Greatest American Dogs but would NEVER EVER subject them to the stresses of performing and living with others as these poor dogs do for the “entertainment” and whatever the prize is for the “winner”. Ridiculous. These programs should stick to human humiliation because humans have the ability to say no when they want to.

  • ian says:

    I’ve never even heard of this show. And to think that is what is shown on camera. I wonder what she does to the poor dog in private. I wish I could squeeze lemon in her eyes.