Animal-rights protesters in Georgia, America have asked a local football* team - the "Georgia Bulldogs" - to replace their recently-deceased bulldog mascot with a robot. The protesters say that far from being tough, bulldogs are actually weakly genetic freaks and shouldn't be allowed to breed.
WGAU Local News reports on the plea by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to the Georgia Uni athletic director, in charge of the Bulldogs, to automate the job of team mascot out of existence.
It seems that PETA feel there is an "animal overpopulation crisis" going on, and that furthermore the bulldog - generally seen as a sturdy and pugnacious breed, hence the team's name and the common use of such phrases as "bulldog spirit" etc - is in fact congenitally feeble, and no more should be bred.
WGAU quotes a PETA statement:
PETA has asked the school's athletic director, Damon M Evans, to replace the mascot with an animatronic dog - or to rely solely on a costumed mascot - instead of using another real bulldog. Bulldogs are prone to breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, heart disorders, and other congenital ailments, and acquiring a dog from a breeder perpetuates the animal overpopulation crisis while causing another dog waiting in an animal shelter to be condemned to death.
"It is time for the university to put an end to the cycle of suffering endured by dogs who are brought into the world solely to represent the school's 'brand'," adds PETA Assistant Director Kristie Phelps.
"By choosing a humane alternative to the use of live animals as school mascots, UGA can show that compassion always wins."
PETA's assertion that bulldogs - at any rate the ones recruited as Georgia football mascots - are actually a bit fragile seems to be borne out by the fact that the previous mascot, seventh to bear the name "Uga", died recently at the age of four from a heart condition. His predecessor, Uga the Sixth, went the same way last year.
According to the Augusta Chronicle, PETA had previously taken a more moderate stance, calling for Uga VI to be replaced by a dog from an animal shelter. This time, however, they have gone for a hardline insistence that only the use of robots can stem the doggy overpopulation problem and stop breeders producing genetic freaks.
The dog-breeding Seiler family from Savannah, who have supplied Georgia Uni's mascots for decades, offered no comment. However, university spokesmen said that PETA had made "good points that deserve our consideration”. ®
*This is we-shall-mostly-be-bonking-into-each-other-and-grunting American-style football, not the various manly/effete British and/or global activities of the same name.