Ask Cindy Our Newsletter Free Catalog
Leerburg » Articles » Dogs & Kids » Dateline and Sabina Davidson Case From My Perspective

Dateline and Sabina Davidson Case From My Perspective
Dateline and Sabina Davidson Case From My Perspective
by Ed Frawley

Several weeks ago ‘Dateline’ ran a segment on Sabina Davidson and her Rottweilers killing an 11-year-old boy. I had testified at this trial. In fact the District Attorney wrote me a very nice letter "thanking me for my help and saying that he would not have gotten a conviction without my testimony." (See below) Shortly after the trial I wrote 2 articles on this subject and posted them to my web site, if you have not read them you should read them.

Attorney thank you letter

I had an opportunity to watch the ‘Dateline’ segment the night before I went on vacation. While I was gone I received many emails concerning this show and the incident. All were amazed at the brashness of this woman and many were concerned about the damage this show did to the image of the sport of Schutzhund. I agree with both points. Sabina Davidson is as close to a bitch as you will find. She had no remorse - NONE !! She deserves to spend 11 years and 6 months in prison and when she gets out I hope they deport her back to Germany. With a little luck her stupid husband will leave the country with her.

To a certain extent ‘Dateline’ followed the old news theory "DON'T LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY." The fact is that Sabina Davidson had been kicked out of three Schutzhund clubs because of her unorthodox methods of handling her dogs (i.e. attend a training session with all the dogs loose in the back of a station wagon - none of them in crates - not doing any obedience or tracking etc.) The dogs would escape from the car and wreak havoc on other dogs. The fact is that the people who ran the Schutzhund clubs that Davidson attended saw this woman for what she was (a disaster waiting to happen) and told her that she was not welcome. Unfortunately the ‘Dateline’ staff chose to ignore this fact.

I have been asked how I came to be involved with this case. Tom Brenneman (a police officer in Kansas and a friend that I have produced a number of training videos with) was hired by the Kansas Attorney Generals office as an expert witness on this case. Tom called and asked if Davidson had ever bought training videos from me (she claimed that she had never protection trained her dogs) When I checked my database I found that she had bought my tape on "Bite Training Puppies." So I was subpoenaed to testify to this one fact.

My testimony was suppose to be a 5-minute deal - "Did you sell Sabina Davidson tapes on protection training?" "Yes." Well it ended up being 2 1/2 hours on the stand. The judge allowed the first 45 minutes of this video to be shown to the jury. That part of the tape stresses proper selection testing of dogs for sport work. It deals with good and bad temperament and shows what can happen when the wrong dogs are trained.

After viewing the tape the jury understood my level of knowledge on dog training, in addition, because of my police K9 work I have had a lot of experience testifying in court on dog training issues. I was allowed to discuss pack drive and territorial aggression to the jury. The female juror that was shown on Dateline mentioned these terms when she talked about Davidson's dogs, she got them from my testimony.

The unfortunate thing was that ‘Dateline’ chose not to emphasize these facts. In addition they showed a short portion of my videotape. It was a few seconds taken out of context to make an inaccurate point. I have been asked if I had given permission for them to show my tape. I did not! The way this works is that because it was shown in open court and filmed by court TV and the local news media - it becomes public record. Because of this, even though my tapes are copy righted I cannot stop them from showing parts of the video.

Schutzhund did take a public relations hit on this show. I was asked in a couple of emails to help start a letter writing campaign against ‘Dateline.’ In my opinion this is a waste of time. These people are not going to issue any kind of a retraction. It's simply not going to happen. It's water over the dam and nothing will change that.

While the Schutzhund clubs that Davidson went to ALL acted appropriately (in kicking her out), this case should be a wake up call to every Schutzhund club in this country. Because of the protection work, there will always be goof balls that are attached to the sport. Clubs need to step up to the line and clean house. After my experience in this case, it would be a good idea to document (in writing) the reason why these people are not allowed to train with you. That way when a future accident occurs (which it will with some of these people) you have written documentation of the reasons why you either asked them to leave or would not train with them.

In addition the management of the various Schutzhund organizations need to move foreward with their own public relations campaigns. One of the best ways to do this is to align themselves with the concept of Police K9. Sport people should be seen as the people who support local law enforcement by providing dogs (through breeding and donation). The clubs should be sponsoring K9 exhibitions at every Schutzhund trials and they should go out of their way to become friendly and helpful to their local police departments. Club members can volunteer to be tracklayers, helpers can volunteer to take bites.

The general public has a very positive image of K9 officers. These police officers not only protect the public, they are out there giving public service speeches to DARE classes and Rotary clubs (I can not tell you how many I do every year - but a lot). K9 officers are a very professional group who make an effort to create a positive public image. Schutzhund people should recognize this fact and attach themselves to their coat tails.

With that said there are a lot of sport people (like some I met at a seminar from Colorado this year) that this will never happen with. Not only are they never going to change their minds about the police, the police want nothing to do with them.

The various Schutzhund organizations need to develop AND SUPPORT a separate police K9 section their organization. They need to promote the development of Police Dog Certifications and police dog judges (Schutzhund Judges ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO BE POLICE DOG JUDGES, nor are basic Schutzhund trainers qualified to train police dogs). These organizations already have office staff that records sport titles, it would not be very difficult for them to record police dog certifications.

The fact is that having police officers aligned to sport people is a very effective way to improve the image of the sport. It's time the sport people recognize this. Schutzhund in this country cannot afford to have very many more Sabina Davidson incidences that the media has a chance to exploit. So the next time your club holds a Schutzhund trial call your local sheriff or chief of police and ask for a demo. Then treat the officer that shows up as a friend and fellow dog trainer. That's the first step.

I would like to close this article with a comment on a guy named Bill Miller. I have never heard of this guy and I don't do internet chat lines, but I understand he threw some arrows in my direction on the Schutzhund chat lines after viewing this Dateline show. He is the only one who sent me a negative email concerning this incident. I have included a copy of his email at the end of this article. It seems he has a big mouth. I will not include my response to his email (there is a possibility that children may read these articles and my response would be totally inappropriate for their viewing).

From :"Bill Miller"

Your granting to NBC rights to use your videos, particularly the puppy training tape, was irresponsible and damaging to the sport of Schutzhund. Its nice to know that with a few stick hits you can make a pup bite deeper. This type of video had no business being shown on national TV. Now due to the Dateline show, people nationally will believe that Schutzhund is all about attacking people.

The segment showing the routine protection and obedience was fine. You didn't have to give them the puppy tape.

Congratulations on setting the sport back farther then it already is. Clubs are struggling for membership, as well as national organizations. Good publicity and exposure is what is needed for the sport. But from your viewpoint, Leerburg Videos/Kennels are now known nationally. To buy the exposure you received last night would have cost in excess of $200,000.

I for one am in favor of a boycott of all your products. There are other honorable vendors who support the sport.

Bill Miller and Phil vom Eichelbrunn SchH3 FH & Nina vom Birkenbach Sch3 FH2\exec

http:\\\exec\schh.htm (Schutzhund Ring)

To bring things into perspective, I am adding an email from an individual who has had previous dealings with Miller.:

Hi Ed,

I've just been reading some of the information that you've put on your website regarding the "Dateline" show. I noticed that you had some "dealings" with Bill Miller.

Since you are into exposing bums for what they are I'd like to tell you a little more about Bill Miller.

About a year ago, or a little more, a friend sent me an email saying "check this website out!".

It turns out that Bill Miller had put together a Schutzhund Web Ring linking together many SchH related websites. He needed an icon to be his logo for the web ring and so he chose my (copyrighted) Triathlon logo that I had designed in 1995. This guy had put it on his home page so participating web sites could pick it up and add it to their websites, designating that they were part of the SchH Ring!!!! There were 53 websites using my (copyrighted) logo illegally!!!! I was horrified. It was as if someone had stolen one of my children.

I immediately contacted him and he told me he'd never heard of Top Dog Designs. I'd asked him how long he'd been in the dog world, and he told me it was none of my business. When I told him that he'd stolen my logo, he told me to prove it was mine. $1500.00 later (attorney's fees) he realized he'd made a mistake. I only wish there was a way to collect damages.

This guy bought a SchH3 and lives in the Palm Springs area. He attended a few training sessions with Leo Muller then found out his dog has some back problem, so he got out of training. (Probably just figured out it's actually a lot of work!) He knows nothing! I mean nothing!!!

I despise even hearing this guys name - he cost me a lot of money, sleep and worry.

Now, tell me how I can list the deadbeats from the t-shirt world :)

Kathy Moacanin

Ed's Comments

I guess Miller called my office (while I was on vacation) to ask one of my secretaries (who is not very familiar with the case) if I gave permission to use my tape. She thought he was referring to the prosecution using the tape against Davidson and answered "yes". Rather than confirm this with me when I got back from vacation, he chose to go off half-cocked and shoot his mouth off.

It would seem Mr. Miller has a history of having a big mouth and dubious business practices.

If you have not read my two other articles on this case, I recommend that you read them:

Rotts Kills 11 Year Old Boy - Lessons to be Learned by Many Mistake - Owner is Charged with Murder

Rotts Kill 11 Year old Boy - the VERDICT !!!

Dogs to Diapers DVD

The family dog is often not properly prepared for the arrival of a newborn resulting in the dog becoming isolated or rehomed.

Carrie Silva Wooddell, a professional dog trainer with over ten years of experience, teaches families how to better understand their dog and demonstrates how to prepare and introduce their dog to their new baby.

In recent years, the number of child dog bites has risen. Keep your baby safe by learning the warning signs to watch for when your dog is around your baby.

Not only does Carrie offer the perspective of an accredited dog trainer but this video follows her personal journey from being pregnant and sharing the same concerns as many first time moms who love their dogs.

CLICK HERE to visit the product page for this DVD and for purchasing options

20% off Select Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis DVDs, streams, and courses good through Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11:59 PM CT