I was disturbed today to read about Coffee, a dog that has been sitting outside of Citi Field and Yankee Stadium for the last few months dressed up in a variety of getups: baseball jerseys, Grouch Marx glasses, a pipe, sunglasses, etc. All this might fall under the realm of “cute” were it not for the fact that Coffee appears to be wearing a shock collar (obscured by a bandanna) and has no teeth. Worse yet is the fact that she seems to be out there alone for the duration of the games, without any kind of food or water.
The ASPCA has said most recently that they will “continue to monitor the situation and remain prepared to take appropriate action, as warranted.”
There is an online petition and a Stop Abusing Coffee page on Facebook, currently some 7,000 people strong. According to a New York Post story from earlier this spring, Coffee belongs to Wellington Fernandez and his father Norbert Hernandez, both of Queens. “We watch the games, she lays around,” Fernandez said of his dog. “Hopefully, [the season] goes good to make the dog happy.” Seems like the dog isn’t as happy as her owners: Some articles state that Coffee’s collection cup pulls in as much as $400 per game.
I’ve read ten or so articles on this situation (here and here and here, etc) and it’s still unclear to me why the owners have not been dealt with and why the dog is still out there. I also don’t see why a rescue group has yet to sieze her. My only guess is that it has to do with the fact that dogs are legally considered property. It is sticky to take any property that obviously belongs to someone–unless, of course, Coffee dressed herself this way.
Sad as this is, the attention Coffee is getting serves as a good reminder of the hypocrisy of dog ownership and our warped ideas about what is okay to do to your pet. I’m sure the Hernandez/Fernandez clan don’t see themselves as particularly repugnant dog owners. Most people who put their dogs in clothes don’t.
This abuse situation is only getting attention because it’s so out in the open. It breaks my heart to think about all the abused animals that are sitting in homes around the city, living with owners who don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. For instance, in my opinion, any shock collar is abusive, whether your dog is wearing it in the hot sun at Citi Field or on a sofa in a some Trump penthouse. The latter group just have to suffer in silence. No Facebook pages for them.