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ATU Bulldog Retirement Prompts PETA Call to End Use of Live-Animal ‘Ambassadors’


For Immediate Release:
April 3, 2023

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Russellville, Ark. – In response to reports that Arkansas Tech University (ATU) is retiring its current live bulldog “ambassador,” Jerry II, due to a debilitating hip condition, university alumni at PETA sent a joint letter this morning to ATU President Robin E. Bowen, urging her to show benevolence to bulldogs—a breathing-impaired breed (BIB) beset with an array of physical disabilities—by ending the school’s use of live animals. The group points out that dogs, just like all animals, are individuals with unique needs who shouldn’t be paraded in front of boisterous crowds and that BIBs live with the added stress of being constantly short of breath due to their purposely flattened, pushed-in snouts.

“When ATU fans shout, ‘Fight on!’ it shouldn’t mean ‘for oxygen,’” write the PETA staffers. “Instead of promoting dogs who can’t breathe and propping up the cruel breeding industry, ATU could instead partner with a local animal shelter to promote adoption and help find loving placements for homeless dogs.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that Jerry II’s hip ailment is hardly surprising, as bulldogs have been bred by humans to have unnaturally narrow hips that are prone to developing painful problems and prevent the dogs from mating and giving birth naturally.

For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Bowen follows.

April 3, 2023

Robin E. Bowen, Ed.D.

President

Arkansas Tech University

Dear President Bowen:

As proud Arkansas Tech University (ATU) alumni and representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally—we want to thank ATU for taking Jerry II’s debilitating hip condition seriously and acting in his best interests by retiring him. In that same spirit, we’re writing to request that ATU act in the best interests of all bulldogs and commit to never again using a bulldog or any other live animal as the school’s campus ambassador.

Hip dysplasia isn’t the only painful condition that bulldogs are prone to, due to decades of being purposely bred with deformities, all just to suit humans’ whims about an animal’s appearance. They are also afflicted by brachycephalic syndrome, which means that the breeding practices that produce their unnaturally flattened, pushed-in snouts also result in crumpled, constricted airways that leave them struggling just to breathe. That’s why it’s so common to see bulldogs panting and gasping for air, even when they’re sitting still. Appropriately, many countries refer to the breeding of breathing-impaired dogs as “torture breeding,” and countries like Norway and the Netherlands have passed laws restricting breeding them.

Breathing-impaired breeds’ (BIB) physical deformities cause them numerous issues, including fainting, dental problems, eye problems caused by misshapen skulls, laryngeal collapse caused by chronic stress on the cartilage, and strain on the heart from fighting for air. Because they can’t breathe properly, it can be tough or even impossible for them to run, chase a ball, or play with other dogs—much less be a healthy and robust ambassador at university functions. Most disturbingly, as a result of repeated, selected breeding for certain features, most bulldogs’ hips are too narrow to allow them even to mate, so breeding them requires forcible insemination—in other words, they are sexually manipulated and assaulted by breeders.

When ATU fans shout, “Fight on!” it shouldn’t mean “Fight for oxygen.” Instead of promoting dogs who can’t breathe and propping up the cruel breeding industry, ATU could instead partner with a local animal shelter to promote adoption and help find loving placements for homeless dogs. Just like all other animals, dogs are individuals, not “campus ambassadors” or “mascots.” They are living, feeling beings with their own unique personalities, relationships, and interests, and they shouldn’t be paraded in a noisy stadium or forced to endure the stress of a bustling college campus. We hope to hear that after considering how BIBs suffer, you’ve decided to do what’s best for Jerry II and other dogs like him by retiring ATU’s live-animal ambassador program.

Sincerely,

Klayton Rutherford                        Faith Robinson                     Katherine Nunez

Class of 2016                                 Class of 2016                        Class of 2016





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