A day after a YouTube video of a dog free-falling off a 13,000-foot Swiss mountain started to go viral, some animal lovers began criticizing “Whisper’s” owner, saying the best-friend-and-man jump seemed cruel and unusual.
“Um, so no one thinks this is wrong,” John Chang wrote Facebook. “At least humans have the choice to say if they want to sky dive or not, animals do not. This poor dog was strapped in not by choice and sent skydiving. It could have been scared out of his mind!”
“Dog abuse,” posted Pat Collier, seen sitting on horse in her Facebook post. "Poor thing, surprised it didn’t have a heart attack or barf etc. in mid air.”
As of Friday, the video “World’s First Wingsuit BASE Jumping Dog,” which was posted on May 27, had received more than 700,000 views, double from what it was the day before. And Whisper’s owner, Dean Potter, 42, who lives in Yosemite National Park, had been asked by major television networks, including this one, permission to show an incredible jump in August 2013 off the Eiger in Switzerland, a limestone buttress known in mountaineering as one of the six great north faces of the Alps.
"People are just so disconnected from nature," Potter said Friday in a phone interview. "Whisper does what she wants to do."
Potter, who was the 2009 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, said he created this form of jumping in 2008. And to be closer with his four-year-old Australian cattle herd dog, he devised a backpack she could fit into so the two could free-fall together.
Potter also runs a film company and attached a GoPro camera during their flight. And in an interview with NBC Bay Area on Thursday, insists his dog likes to jump; she sits on his wingsuit each times he pulls it out as if to get ready to accompany him on their daring adventures.
And Whisper certainly doesn’t appear to be scared in the 46-second clip. The goggle-wearing pooch sniffs the wind on the way down, and shows her prancing, jumping and licking Potter's girlfriend, Jen Rapp, when the two land.
In an interview Friday, Scott Delucchi, spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame, said he’s not personally outraged after viewing the clip.
“There are things that owners do daily that are far more dangerous or harmful, like letting them ride on a motorcycle, or the back of a truck or be off leash,” he said.
“We also hear about dogs in the backyard with no love and companionship,” Delucchi added. “And to me, that’s far worse and more abusive to the dog.”
Delucchi also didn't miss an opportunity to find a loving home for abandoned pets. He said his center has two more Australian cattle dogs that need to be adopted if Potter is interested.