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Panhandling Dogs
Cruelty suspected outside of NY baseball stadiums

Working in Manhattan, I see a number of homeless people sitting on the sidewalk asking for money. One man I see regularly uses a cat and a dog to encourage passing people to hand over their change. The animals are not on leash, but seem to be trained to sit in their assigned spots. However, every time I see them, I worry that the animals might get startled and dart into the busy city street.

Recently, a pandhandler has been setting up in front of the Met and Yankee baseball stadiums with a dog named Coffee. This dog sits for hours dressed up in team gear, wearing sunglasses and holding a pipe in her mouth. The worst part is Coffee wears a shock collar that concerned fans claim is used to keep the poor dog from lying down.

After receiving several calls, the ASPCA sent a team of agents from its Humane Law Enforcement department to Yankee Stadium last weekend during the popular rival Subway Series between the two New York teams. Unfortunately, Coffee wasn't present and the ASPCA doesn't have any evidence that any NYS animal cruelty laws have been violated. The ASPCA is continuing to monitor the situation and urges anyone who sees the dog to call their Humane Law Enforcement department at 212-876-7700, ext. 4450, or email enforcement@aspca.org.

Concerned baseball fans have created a Stop Abusing Coffee Facebook page.

Have you seen any panhandling dogs?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by SaraG | May 26 2011 |

I'm glad you posted this. I always wonder about how the dogs are treated when I see them with panhandlers. Sometimes, I imagine they are better cared for than dogs left in homes all day. And I know from talking to a few homeless people that their dogs eat as well or better than they do. But using a dog to attract attention and sympathy--and mistreating the dog in the process--is really terrible. And I fear it's probably all too common.

Submitted by Carolyn | May 26 2011 |

It would be awfully hard for me to want to donate to someone using a shock collar on their companion. Truly awful.

Submitted by Danielle | May 26 2011 |

I think it is important to keep in mind that 'hear-say' is the worst way to make a decision if you want to make a judgement call on some one else. I also really don't appreciate the idea of a facebook page like that. You never know what people out there might do, or how they might react (often violently!) especially in regards to homeless people. I think this whole article gives a bad connotation to homeless pet owners and should be taken off the web. Please folks let's stop spreading ignorance! If you would get the facts you would realize that most homeless pet owners depend on their animals for companionship and because of this treat them like royalty! Having traveled/been on the streets myself I can attest that I always took the best care of my dog (who, might I add, is 7 now and is the love of my life). To be clear: I am not saying I agree to using animals as a tools for panhandling, and I definitely do not agree with shock collars, but I didn't see this with my own two eyes so I am not going to speculate either! There are bad people in all walks of life.
Thanks...

Submitted by Danielle | May 26 2011 |

I think it is important to keep in mind that 'hear-say' is the worst way to make a decision if you want to make a judgement call on some one else. I also really don't appreciate the idea of a facebook page like that. You never know what people out there might do, or how they might react (often violently!) especially in regards to homeless people. I think this whole article gives a bad connotation to homeless pet owners and should be taken off the web. Please folks let's stop spreading ignorance! If you would get the facts you would realize that most homeless pet owners depend on their animals for companionship and because of this treat them like royalty! Having traveled/been on the streets myself I can attest that I always took the best care of my dog (who, might I add, is 7 now and is the love of my life). To be clear: I am not saying I agree to using animals as a tools for panhandling, and I definitely do not agree with shock collars, but I didn't see this with my own two eyes so I am not going to speculate either! There are bad people in all walks of life.
Thanks...

Submitted by Anonymousmerm | May 26 2011 |

Hi Dani, i agree, yet i seen lots of comments that its cruel. Lots of people are ok tattoing their dogs, all sorts of hair styles and fur dye. isnt that for selfish purposes as well and cruel?yet i guess since they got money, they are not out in the open, but moving with coffee. I dont see the abuse. Shock collars are harsh but they are legal.

Submitted by Erica | June 8 2011 |

Do you really think this owner is treating this dog like "ROYALTY"! This dog wears a shock collar and is shocked into sitting still for hours in the sun with no food or water. This is animal abuse regardless if it's a homeless person as the perpetrator. Abuse is abuse.

Submitted by Lisa | May 27 2011 |

I appreciate the point about hearsay and not seeing something with your own eyes.

However, in the photo here and the other photos on the Facebook page the dog is clearly holding a pipe in its mouth.

Anyone with a brain knows dogs need to PANT. Especially in warm or hot weather. This is how they cool themselves off, because they cannot sweat like humans.

Therefore the dog should NOT be forced to hold a pipe in its mouth for extended periods of time, especially in warm weather. That is just DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, not to mention cruel and inhumane.

And you don't need to be there in person to understand that.

Take the GD pipe out of that dog's mouth!

Or better yet, perhaps the dog's owner should dress up in the gear. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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