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The Case of the Puppy-Stomper

Jeb Johnson Abuse Chaotic Retrievers Idaho

By now, thousands have viewed a TikTok video showing a man (Jeb Johnson) stomping on and
beating a young yellow Lab in a field near Weiser, Idaho. The puppy can be heard
screaming in the video. The viewer can easily see that he didn’t kick at the pup or
strike the pup once or twice, but inflicted serious pain. The video runs for nearly a
minute. The video can also be viewed in the comments section of his Facebook
page for Chaotic Retrievers LLC.

This event (filmed in the summer of 2022) involved Jeb Johnson, owner, and
trainer at Chaotic Retrievers 208 of Weiser in Washington County, Idaho. No
matter your position on various methods of dog training, it’s difficult to imagine
ANYONE defending his actions. Furthermore, upon closer investigation, it
appeared that there were other instances when Johnson had neglected dogs and
used questionable training practices, leading to the death of a dog he was hired to
train earlier in 2022.

As it would turn out, Johnson was charged with committing cruelty to animals in
Idaho, but would have the charges amended to disturbing the peace, of which he
pled guilty. For those following the case, it would be a bitter disappointment. It
has left many wondering why “justice” wasn’t served and questioning the laws in
Idaho regarding animal welfare and the ability of law enforcement and
prosecutors to enforce those laws.

Did Washington County Drop the Ball?

When reviewing official reports and statements obtained through public records
requests to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, it was evident that Johnson has
had multiple contacts with authorities for various reasons. Most of the records
reviewed, dealt with the death of a dog in his possession in 2022, living conditions
of dogs at his kennel, as well as the incident with the yellow Lab puppy. Among
those reports were statements from individuals about abuse and or neglect of
dogs that they witnessed or alleged, statements from individuals who indicated
they were familiar with Johnson and his training and saw nothing of concern,
statements from veterinarians, and statements from Johnson himself discussing
the allegations of abuse and neglect.

My background is in animal health, which included investigating allegations of
animal abuse and neglect in the State of Idaho and assisting agencies with
preparing these cases for prosecution. Currently, I am self-employed as a
professional dog trainer. The Johnson case in Weiser, Idaho caught my attention
as it pertained to a self-proclaimed dog trainer allegedly abusing dogs. And
though, what seemed to be, damning video footage of him physically assaulting a
dog was available, Washington County Prosecutor’s Office allowed his charges to
be pled down to disturbing the peace, leaving many angry and shocked. So how
does this happen?!

First, it should be noted that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office had taken
multiple complaints and investigated complaints against Jeb Johnson. From what I
read; they were genuine in responding to the various complaints. It did appear
they were at the mercy of Johnson’s explanation of his training tactics being
consistent with normal training practices. I did not find anything in the documents
received that indicated they sought advisement from other dog trainers as to
what would be considered normal or acceptable.

It was interesting to review the documents supplied by veterinarians. Most of the
documents were pertaining to the client’s dog which was strangled to death. Those
records can be very technical to read. I would not expect a layman to fully grasp
what the findings mean. The most notable document among those records was a
statement from Johnson’s veterinarian indicating they did not have any reason to
believe Johnson was not providing adequate care to his dogs and dogs in his
possession. From experience, I can say that a veterinarian’s statement holds a
tremendous amount of weight in animal care cases. I can also tell you that I have
regularly encountered veterinarians with a strong stand both for and against a
defendant in these types of cases.

As for the witness complaints and statements, most did a good job of articulating
their experiences. Some were understandably emotional, which is typically not
helpful in these cases. It’s easy to have strong feelings about animal care cases,
but it is facts and relating those facts to how they apply to the law that matters. It
would have behooved some of the individuals involved to have taken better
photos at the time they saw things of concern. It has also been my experience
that it’s best to stay focused on the most egregious acts of cruelty or neglect. Not

that all other isn’t important, but defendants usually benefit when there is
excessive focus on smaller offenses. An example would be a dog that has lost a
small amount of weight while in the possession of an alleged offender.
The statements from Jeb Johnson were enlightening. He did not deny a dog died
in his care. His explanation of how it happened, during a training event, was
plausible. Based on his statements, it was obvious that not only were his training
methods problematic, but he wasn’t knowledgeable about basic dog training and
canine behavior. When he was confronted by law enforcement about the assault
of the yellow Lab in the field, he first stated he wasn’t actually hurting the pup. He
explained his training methods included asserting dominance and control over
dogs and that his actions were meant to make the dog think it would be stomped
on or choked out if it did not do the behavior he wanted. When pressed about
physically assaulting the pup, he agreed he had been very stressed and frustrated
since the death of the client’s dog and had lost his temper with the pup, making it
out to be an isolated incident.

In conclusion, I believe this incident leaves all of us wondering how “we” can do
better. My first thought is education. Educating those who investigate these
cases. Helping them identify resources. Educating the public on how to be good
observers and how to best document suspected abuse and neglect. Part of that
includes the public understanding of how laws are made, how they are enforced,
and how court proceedings work. Educating dog owners about the proper care of
animals, which includes conversations about training methods. And educating
veterinarians about their roles in the legal system. It truly takes a village to
successfully prosecute cases of animal cruelty and neglect, no matter how
obvious the offense may seem.



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