PETA urges MSU to end use of live bulldog after Auburn incident

The animal rights group known as PETA is calling on Mississippi State to end the use of a live bulldog mascot at sporting events after Bully the bulldog, whose real name is Jak, was hit by Auburn RB JaTarvious Whitlow last Saturday night.

The group has sent a letter to Mississippi State saying that Jak was lucky to be alive after the incident.

“It was sheer luck that this close call didn’t leave Jak severely injured or even dead, and it’s never been fair game to subject a dog to the bright lights, screaming fans, and booming noise of a football stadium,” says PETA Senior Director Marta Holmberg. “PETA is urging MSU to be a dog’s best friend and end its live-mascot program—and we’ll gladly help find Jak a loving adoptive home where he can live out the rest of his days in peace.”

Jak was taken off the field after he was hit but returned to the sideline later in the game. In a tweet this morning, the university said that the Jak suffered a bruised chin and right hind leg but is ready to return to action.

PETA’s full letter to Mississippi State can be seen below.

Dear Dr. Mark E. Keenum,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide. Concerned citizens are contacting us about an incident in which a football player apparently collided with Jak, Mississippi State’s live bulldog mascot, during the September 28 game against Auburn University.

In light of this close call—which could easily have left Jak severely injured or even dead—as well as the cruelty inherent in using living beings as “mascots,” I urge you to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future.

Using vulnerable animals as mascots is a recipe for disaster. For example, at this year’s Sugar Bowl, Bevo, the longhorn steer used by the University of Texas, apparently broke out of an enclosure and charged the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga, nearly trampling him.

Even if animals survive their stints as mascots without losing a limb or their life, it’s hard to imagine that they enjoy appearing before raucous crowds. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and loud noises can be stressful—and even terrifying—for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home with loving guardians.

Bulldogs like Jak are also predisposed to many congenital ailments as a result of inbreeding and being bred for distorted physical features, including severe breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and heart disorders. Poor ventilation and hot or humid weather can be deadly for bulldogs, and traveling is especially taxing on them. What’s more, breeding dogs to use as mascots—or for any reason—is unconscionable, given our country’s staggering canine overpopulation crisis.

Public opinion has turned against using animals for “entertainment,” and most universities and professional sports teams have switched to using costumed human mascots instead of real animals. Unlike animals, human mascots can lead cheers, interact with the crowd, and pump up the team—all willingly.

May we please have your assurance that you will bring Mississippi State into the 21st century by giving Jak the retirement he deserves and pledging not to use real animals as mascots? Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Marta Holmberg

Senior Director