Dean Potter, 42, from Yosemite loves his dog Whisper; in fact the two travel together on all of their adventures which have at times been called suicidal. Potter is a B.A.S. E. jumper, an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (bridge) and Earth - meaning the four major fixed objects from which participants jump.
According to a YouTube video released on Tuesday, this time Potter jumped with his four-year-old Australian cattle dog Whisper. "When Dogs Fly" has stirred much discussion as whether the extreme athlete is guilty of adventure or animal cruelty.
The video has already been viewed more than 168,000 times and has hundreds and hundreds of comments.
In Potter's defense, he states he takes his dog's safety very seriously:
"Whisper is a Cattledog. She weighs 22-pounds and is bred to tell gigantic cows that weigh over a hundred times more than her what to do. This horrifies me! Lineage of Australian Cattle Dogs. For sure, this isn’t “safe” for dogs but for some reason, Whisper instinctually wants to herd other animals. Dogs do things that aren’t “safe” every day, but society has become used to them: livestock wrangling, assisting the military, helping law enforcement, fighting fires, search and rescue, hunting, driving without seatbelts. Note: Whenever our family drives with Whisper, she’s secured with her full-strength harness and clipped into the seatbelt. Though we recognize this isn’t a perfect fix, we do everything in our power to keep Whispy safe at all times."
While Potter agrees that not everyone will understand, he takes every precaution to keep his dog safe.
The athlete's Facebook page, however does provide more insight into the jump and as Whisper is lowered to the edge of the cliff by a zipline, the dog looks petrified. One comment under the photo of Whisper as the dog pushes onto the cliff stated:
"This is not cool at all. Forcing animals to do anything extreme just ain't cool since they have absolutely no say in the matter."
When Whisper is safely on the cliff, the dog is then secured into the backpack, fitted with a pair of "doggles" and strapped to Potter's back. Potter is wearing an Adidas wingsuit, the sponsor of the event.
According to Bandolier, the sport is reasonably safe and the risk of death is one in every 2,300 jumps. In August 2013, however an experienced B.A.S.E. jumper Mario Richard died during the course of a wingsuit jump in the Italian Dolomites.
Do you think this is enjoyable for Whisper or do you think this is animal cruelty? The video is attached for you to judge.
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The jump took place on Eiger Mushroom in Switzerland last summer. In order to reach the edge of the cliff