Photo Credit: John Kelley/UGA Athletics
This is about as likely to happen as Kirby Smart leaving to coach Georgia Tech, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking the University of Georgia to stop using a real-life English bulldog as its mascot.
After Uga X's encounter with Bevo, the Texas longhorn, at Tuesday's Sugar Bowl, PETA sent letters to both schools asking them to stop using live animals as mascots.
"It's indefensible to subject animals to the stress of being packed up, carted from state to state, and paraded in front of a stadium full of screaming fans," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. "It's no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging, and PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident, retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team."
The letter to UGA President Jere Morehead was signed by Emily R. Trunnell, a PETA research associate who received her undergraduate and doctoral degrees from UGA:
In light of the close call at yesterday's Allstate Sugar Bowl—in which Bevo the longhorn steer apparently broke out of his enclosure and charged at Uga, nearly trampling him—I urge you to retire Uga and pledge not to use live-animal mascots in the future.
As a UGA alumna, I'm proud of my alma mater for many reasons, but this is not one of them.
Dogs deserve better than to be shuffled from game to game as if they were sporting equipment. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and frightening noises is stressful—even terrifying—for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home with their loving guardians.
Bulldogs like Uga are also predisposed to many congenital ailments because of inbreeding and being bred for distorted physical features. Many of these dogs struggle with severe breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and, as shown in the Uga lineage, heart disorders. Poor ventilation and hot or humid weather can be deadly for bulldogs, and traveling—as Uga is forced to do frequently—is especially taxing on these dogs.
The public doesn't want to see animals used as props or forced to perform—as evidenced by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' closure and SeaWorld's decision to end its orca-breeding program. Many schools have retired their animal mascots.
Most universities and professional sports teams use costumed human mascots instead of real animals. Not only is this humane, it also means that the mascots can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team—all things that a frightened animal can't do. Please, in light of Tuesday's near-miss, won't you join them and bring UGA into the future by retiring Uga and pledging not to use real animals as mascots?
It's true that English bulldogs suffer from a number of health issues. But Ugas also live a pretty comfy lifestyle, and 5-year-old Que looked pretty spry scampering away from Bevo when the steer took "hook 'em horns" a little too seriously.