On Wednesday, January 25th, the New York City police department entered an apartment at 1 Lincoln Plaza, finding the body of struggling actor Nick Santino. A suicide note was found: Today I betrayed my best friend . . . Rocco trusted me and I failed him.
Rocco was Nick’s dog, whom he had adopted from a shelter years before. Rocco appeared to be a “pit bull” type dog. And that appearance ultimately led to both his own death and that of his owner and friend.
Evidently, the management at 1 Lincoln Plaza decided to ban any dog from the building that appeared to be a “pit bull.” It is believed that Rocco was grandfathered in and therefore excepted from the ban, but the building nonetheless enacted strict regulations against him, and reportedly engaged in a pattern of harassment against both Rocco and Nick. A neighbor and friend said that others in the building were “constantly complaining” about the dog. ”It was open season on him,” the law professor said.
Rocco was banned from riding in the building elevator. The building limited the number of hours that Rocco could be unattended in Nick’s apartment. And the building also threatened to fine Nick after someone complained about the dog barking— even though Rocco was not prone to barking.
On Tuesday, the 24th of January, the harassment, discrimination, and constant complaints led Nick— for reasons I do not claim to comprehend— to have his healthy dog Rocco put to death by a veterinarian. The next day, Nick put himself to death.
There can be little doubt that Nick’s mental health played a role in this.
But there can also be no doubt that irrational and baseless discrimination against “pit bull” type dogs too played a role.
And perhaps most importantly, there can also be no doubt that the very organizations who claim to speak for animals— and reap considerable financial rewards for so claiming— have played and continue to play a role in not only creating but also perpetuating the immorality and irrationality of breed discrimination.
Despite conclusive scientific evidence that “pit bull” type dogs behave just like any other dogs, and despite the fact that animal shelters misidentify dog breeds roughly 90% of the time, animal shelters throughout the country, and at least one national organization that claims to speak for animals and the people who love them, nonetheless engage in and fully support the mass slaughter of dogs that they think look like pit bulls.
Let me say that again. Despite conclusive evidence that “pit bull” type dogs are no different from other dogs, and that animal shelters misidentify dog breeds 90% of the time, many animal shelters (such as the Houston SPCA and the Houston Humane Society) and at least one national group claiming to speak for animals (PETA) nonetheless engage in the systematic, daily mass slaughter of dogs that they think look like pit bulls.
In fact, unwilling to stop at killing nearly every dog and cat that enters its own shelter doors, PETA aggressively advocates for shelters all over the country to exterminate every “pit bull” that comes into their doors as well.
This is not ethical, nor is it humane, nor is it even rational. It is nothing short of cold-hearted, calculated killing based on disproved mythology and hysteria.
And it needs to stop. Today. Because every additional day that groups who claim to speak for animals engage and advocate for breed discrimination, they aide and empower others to do the same.
The American public has trusted PETA and other discriminatory animal-welfare organizations. But PETA and the others have failed the American public, and they have betrayed us and the animals they claim to love.
Rocco should still be with us. Nick should still be with us. But at least they are together.