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Tag: racism

Making a mountain out of a … poop bag?

vandy

Vanderbilt University may well have some racial inequities worth addressing. And some racist acts may take place on campus from time to time. But Marley’s poop was not one of them.

A sack of dog poop left on the front steps of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center — discovered the day after a student demonstration to show support for protesters at the University of Missouri — was quickly decried by a student organization as a “vile” and “racist” act.

In reality, the bag was left there by a blind student who cleaned up the mess left by her guide dog, Marley, but could not find a trash receptacle to place it in.

On Monday, about 200 Vanderbilt students staged a walkout over campus race relations — one described as a show of support for the Missouri students, but also held to draw attention to Vanderbilt’s own problems when it comes to racial imbalances.

On Tuesday, the bag of feces was found in front of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.

Backers of a university campaign called Hidden Dores, the mission of which is to “draw attention to the racial and ethnic minority experience on a predominantly white campus,” quickly placed a post on Facebook decrying the deed.

“The Hidden Dores team is appalled to announce that our demonstration yesterday was met this morning with a vile act. This morning someone left a bag of feces on the porch of Vanderbilt University’s Black Cultural Center. The center has served as the nexus of many aspects of black life on Vanderbilt’s campus since its inception 31 years ago. The violation of a place that in many ways is the sole home for black students is deplorable.

“As many of us sit in grief, recognize that these types of actions are what we speak of when we note the reality of exclusion and isolation of students of color and specifically black students on our campus. This act has hurt many and will not be received lightly. We will not allow for the desecration of the place we call home. As we announced yesterday and reaffirm today, we will not be silent.”

Campus police launched an investigation immediately. After surveillance camera footage was reviewed, officers contacted the student who appeared to have left the bag of feces there.

“The investigation found the bag was inadvertently left by an individual with a service dog who was authorized to be in the building who could not find a trash can near the entrance and did not wish to take the bag inside. VUPD has concluded, based on their investigation, that there was no criminal or malicious intent in this action, and the investigation is considered closed,” Vanderbilt News reported yesterday.

The blind student posted her own account of what happened on Facebook:

“I would like to inform everyone on this campus that no racial threat occurred. I am a blind student on this campus with a guide dog. I was meeting with a group last night to go over our debate for one of my sociology classes. My dog did her business outside on the grass and I picked it up and put it in a bag like always … I did not want to bring the feces inside and make the building smell, so I left it outside by the door … Everyone is going to point me out now as the blind girl who left her dog feces by the black cultural center. I am sorry that I do not know where all the trash cans are on main campus…”

Leaders of the Hidden Dores campaign put a new post on its Facebook page, apologizing to the blind student, and for reacting a little too swiftly.

“Given the recent elevation in polarization on this campus in the aftermath of our silent protest this Monday, evidenced by tough personal exchanges and anonymous targeted posts, it was too easy for us to believe that a member of our community would stoop low enough to maliciously leave fecal matter at the Black Cultural Center,” the Facebook post said.

“Nonetheless, we apologize to the Vanderbilt community for jumping to conclusions and for any personal trauma caused by the quick escalation of this situation.”

(Photo: Hidden Dores Facebook page)

And now, the downside of doggy DNA tests

dnany

The board of a ritzy Manhattan co-op is requiring some residents undergo testing of their blood and spit to determine if they are pure enough — and of the proper type — to live there.

As of last month, dog owners living in the luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue must have their veterinarian sign off on the canine’s pedigree and, if the pet is a mix, detail the percentage of each breed, according to DNAInfo.com

The policy is designed to purge the building of any pedigrees the board deems troublesome.

And the board deems many breeds troublesome — 27 in all, including the Pomeranian and the Maltese.

Residents were informed of the new policy a few months ago.

The board policy says the 27 breeeds were chosen based on “documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.”

In the case of mixed breed dogs, the co-op board is requiring owners to have their pet undergo a DNA test. If the test shows a dog to be made up of more than 50 percent of one of the outlawed breeds, it will have to leave the building.

Initially, they wanted to require mandatory DNA testing of all dogs, but they amended the policy to require the testing “at the board’s discretion.”

The latest version of the policy, issued on May 26, says that if a dog’s breed is unknown “the board at its sole discretion may require a resident to perform DNA testing.”

The 484-unit, 42-story cooperative is one of eight buildings that comprise Lincoln Towers, a 20-acre property near Lincoln Center managed by FirstService Residential. Each building has its own co-op board and makes its own policies.

The board policy also requires that residents register their dog and provide a mugshot of the canine.

The list of banned breeds includes St. Bernards and German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds — and even the tiny shih tzu.

“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident said of the new policy. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”

(Photo: From NYcurbed.com)

Of manly presidents and girly dogs

Barack Obama’s use of the term “girly dog” has raised the hackles (and who knows what other body parts) of a Huffington Post blogger who says it was disparaging — a threat both to his manhood and that of his dog, Manuel.

“…Clearly Mr. Obama meant “girly” in the pejorative sense, not as an adjective denoting “nice for girls,” but rather to suggest a dog that lives in conflict with its own manly nature or the manly nature of dogs in general,” wrote blogger Billy Kimball.

I can’t get too bent out of shape about the president-elect’s remark — “girly” somehow sounds less pejorative coming from Obama’s mouth than, say, an Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, in hindsight, perhaps a more politically correct term would have been “little yappy pipsqueak dog.”

Kimball’s not willing to cut the president-elect any slack in his piece, written in response to an exchange between Obama and his wife, Michelle, during an interview with Barbara Walters. When Walters suggested the First Family get a Havanese, the small breed of dog she has (and Kimball has), Obama said, “It sounds kinda like a girly dog…We’re going to have a big rambunctious dog.”

“By saying that he wanted a ‘big, rambunctious dog,’ Obama was trying to don the mantle of the ‘guy’s guy.’ “ Kimball wrote. “Big rambunctious dogs, through their genetic link to working and hunting breeds, establish one’s bona fides with the masses. Those toy breeds who don’t have to work for living probably belong to people who don’t either – or so the conventional wisdom would have it.”

Kimball gives Obama points for considering a shelter dog, but says, “making distinctions about dogs based on breed is nothing less than a form of canine racism and exactly the sort of thing many of us had hoped we were leaving behind on Nov. 3. “

The truth is many small breeds have established themselves as some of the fiercest hunters. Kimball also misses the mark when he says Obama promised his children a dog if he won the election. Actually, he promised them one once it was over, win or lose. 

Most ludicrous, though, is Kimball’s argument that it would be irresponsible to own a large breed of dog at the White House.

“Obama is acting irresponsibly by getting a dog much larger than is practical for people in his zip code who don’t have a Rose Garden and South Lawn for it to run around on,” Kimball says.

For one thing, Obama will have a Rose Garden and a South Lawn. For another, saying big dogs shouldn’t live in the city is precisely the kind of “canine racism” Kimball seems to be accusing Obama of.

A dog’s size doesn’t define it, and it shouldn’t define us — however much some people may try to read into things.

Your little dog doesn’t mean you’re “girly,” any more than my big dog means I’m compensating for some shortcoming with my bona fides.