For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Athens, Ga. – In the wake of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) decisive national championship win over Texas Christian University, PETA sent a letter this morning to UGA President Jere W. Morehead urging him to make the school a winner not only in football but also in its treatment of others by retiring the school’s English bulldog mascot, Uga. The group notes that the school’s use of Uga drives demand for breathing-impaired breeds (BIB), such as pugs, boxers, and English and French bulldogs, whose breeding is being banned in other countries, as their purposely bred, grotesquely flattened faces leave them struggling to walk, play, and even breathe.
“As the back-to-back national champion, can’t UGA find it in its heart to honestly examine the impact of its promotion of deformed dogs and call time on its outdated, live-animal mascot program?” asks PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Jere Morehead to be a peach and replace poor Uga with a human mascot who can support the team in a winning way.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that Uga is a living, feeling being, not a toy to be carted to chaotic football stadiums across the country and trotted out in front of scores of screaming fans.
PETA’s letter to Morehead follows.
January 12, 2023
Jere W. Morehead
University of Georgia
Dear President Morehead:
Hello again. I wrote in 2019 on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to urge you to stop subjecting dogs to the stress and dangers of being used as the University of Georgia’s “Uga” mascot. In light of a new PETA investigation—as well as calls from veterinarians to end the promotion of bulldogs and other flat-faced dog breeds—I’m hoping you will take steps to retire Uga. Please consider the following information with an open mind and heart.
As the New York Post recently reported, PETA’s investigation revealed a disturbing industry practice: Pet stores that sell English bulldogs—as well as other dogs bred to have grotesquely flattened faces—refuse to offer a “lifetime warranty” on them because of the serious health issues that these dogs inevitably suffer from. English bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, French bulldogs, and other breathing-impaired breeds (BIB) are afflicted with brachycephalic syndrome, which leaves them struggling just to breathe and is the leading cause of death for bulldogs.
Solely for the sake of appearances, BIB dogs are bred to have deformities that cause labored breathing, snorting, coughing, gagging, retching, vomiting, tiring easily, collapsing, and fainting. Many can’t even go for a walk or chase a ball—the things that dogs love to do—without gasping for air. In one study, a fifth of BIB dog guardians reported that their dog had undergone at least one surgery related to having distorted physical features.
Veterinarians around the world are sounding the alarm: In 2018, the British Veterinary Association called on companies to stop using BIBs in products and advertisements. The mounting evidence of flat-faced dogs’ suffering is so clear that in 2022, Norway completely banned the breeding of bulldogs. Meanwhile, the prominence of your university’s mascot is driving up the demand for breeding these dogs and perpetuating their suffering.
Please be a champion not just in football but also for dogs. We hope you’ll consider replacing Uga with a willing human mascot, like the ones at many other universities. May I please have your assurance that the University of Georgia will make this change? Thank you for your consideration.
Emily R. Trunnell, Ph.D.
UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Class of 2010
UGA Biomedical & Health Sciences Institute, Neuroscience, Class of 2016
Senior Scientist, Science Advancement and Outreach