As I write, I am listening to the snores of my beloved rescued English bulldog, Arthur, a puppy mill "reject." Bulldogs are comical and completely devoted, but like all bulldogs, Arthur's chest is too large, his nose is too short and his legs are too stumpy. He starts breathing hard when the temperature hits 60. Even though he is friendly and personable, loud noises and crowds make him anxious. But of course, that could be said for most dogs and many people, for that matter.
It is hard to imagine that any animal enjoys appearing before raucous crowds. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans and loud noises can be stressful—and even terrifying—for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home taking it easy.
Even if animals used as mascots are not blatantly abused, they have no choice in the matter. What if they simply do not feel like participating? They have no choice but to do so. What if they are feeling ill, tired, cranky or unsociable? It does not matter, because off to the stadium they go. And really, is a dog or other animal on the sideline really why people go to a game? Is a live animal really necessary to represent a school's brand?
Surely institutes of higher education can find ways to entertain and stimulate crowds without compromising the well-being of any animal.