PETA shames Fresno State for use of live mascots before Passing the Collar ceremony


Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian

Victor E. Bulldog IV waits for the debut of Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval’s new booth on March 16 at the free speech area.

By Jiselle Cardenas, News Editor

As Victor E Bulldog III is scheduled to pass the collar to his successor, Victor E Bulldog IV, PETA publicly criticized Fresno State for its treatment of live mascots.

On Friday, April 14, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said the bulldogs suffer through poor working conditions in a press release.

“Shame on Fresno State for forcing a breathing-impaired breed with a grotesquely flat face to choke, cough, gag, and suffer in the sweltering heat as its “mascot.” If the university’s athletes suffered from deformed windpipes, they’d lose every game – and some of them would lose their lives from exertion,” Newkirk stated.

PETA has posted articles on its website with such titles as “Buying French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Other Breathing-Impaired Breeds Is Flat-Out Cruel.”

Due to their genetic conditions, bulldogs are more vulnerable to breathing problems, specifically Brachycephalic Syndrome, which is the breed’s leading cause of death.

Bulldogs are at higher risk for breathing problems, gliomas (tumors of the spine or brain), mast cell tumors, cancers of the eyes, skin irritation and lymphedema (congenital lethal swelling throughout the body), according to PETA’s website.

“Continuing this trend will only inspire more people to support cruel breeders, and PETA reminds Fresno State that the ‘Passing of the Collar Ceremony’ involves passing on debilitating deformities to dogs who can’t enjoy happy or healthy lives and urges the school to switch to a costumed human,” Newkirk added.

Apart from a live mascot, Fresno State already has a “costumed human” mascot named TimeOut, who was introduced in 1981.

The Passing of the Collar Ceremony has been a Fresno State tradition since the first use of an “official” live mascot began in 1935, deeming Touchdown as the first live mascot.

Jacquelyn Glasener, executive director of the Fresno State Alumni Association, said that the alumni association is the official owner of Victor E Bulldog III and Victor E Bulldog IV on behalf of the university, but the live mascot is self-funded by donations from alumni and friends.

“We want to affirm that their health and well-being is our first priority. We have strict guidelines and protocols in place to ensure that they are both well-cared for, including receiving routine checkups from world class veterinarians in Fresno and at one of the nation’s largest veterinary schools, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Both mascots live with a loving family who have dedicated their lives to the highest quality of care for our beloved bulldogs,” Glasener told The Collegian in a statement.

Glasener said that John and Lollie Horstmann donated the funds for Victor E Bulldog III. Their daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Robert Huebert, continued the tradition by sending donations toward Victor E Bulldog IV.

“The Horstmann family has been instrumental in the continuing history of the live mascot program and its traditions on campus and in the community,” Glasener said.

According to Glasener, a regular day for Victor E begins with him waking up with his family and having breakfast. Afterward, he chews on toys and anticipates his “mom,” Glasener, to drive him to campus.

The bulldog then spends his time at the Smittcamp Alumni House with his “human work colleagues” and attends scheduled appearances on and off campus.

If he’s not pulled around on his wagon by his handler, students can spot the dog passing by in his own Lexus or golf cart.

“He works on training with his Live Mascot Program Coordinator and is taken on walks to meet new friends. Our office student assistants and staff enjoy taking a break from work and playing with him. He then travels home each evening, has dinner and relaxes until it is time for bed,” she said.

The Passing of the Collar ceremony is today, April 16, and is free for students. Students can also bring one person outside of the university, with proof of student ID. Admission is $5 for fans and friends.

The ceremony will take place from 12:45-1:05 p.m. before the first pitch of Fresno State vs. San Diego State at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

“Our live mascot program has been a cherished tradition at Fresno State for decades, and our beloved bulldog mascots are an integral part of bulldog pride. They serve as ambassadors for our school, attending events, supporting our sports teams; and bringing joy to students, alumni, faculty, staff, and fans alike. We are proud to celebrate the live mascot legacy,” Glasener said.