Standing outside of Shea sporting Mets gear and Groucho Marx glasses panting with a pipe in her mouth, Coffee the dog has a summer job sparking the attention of Meadowland baseball fans: she's a panhandler.
It's said Coffee pockets about $75 in tips from fans on their way to and from baseball games using a tip jar. On the surface it seems like a cute trick for her and her owner Noberto Fernandez, a dog trainer from Queens, to cash in on, but as the season continues -- a not so great one for the Mets -- questions and concerns are beginning to arise. So much so that the ASPCA has launched an investigation into the matter in question.
Mr. Fernandez's claims that Coffee was a rescued dog that he trained to wear costumes and hold the pipe for hours. People are suspicious however that they never see her lie down. Some have noted that on the few occasions she's tried to lie down she would suddenly jolt back up to a sitting position, leaving many to suggest the dog may be receiving shocks from a remote-controlled collar to stay in position.
Another concern is that with the summer's heat and the long hours she's had to endure standing on those hind legs no one's seen her drink water either.
Fernandez counters those claims arguing that Coffee is wearing a special collar with an ice-pack to keep her refreshed on game time.
A Facebook page titled "Stop Abusing Coffee" aimed toward ending the practice has been launched with 8,000 likes and counting. The page contains information and evidence further suggesting the use of a shock collar and other abuses in hopes of stopping it. As the description of the page reads, "This dirtbag of an owner has abused this dog non stop for years & uses the dog to make money."
Despite the controversy Coffee is loved in her home neighborhood of Queens and integrating into New York's pop culture, it may only be the beginning of her new-found fame. But we can all agree that we only want what's best for her.
The ASPCA issued a statement saying they're monitoring the situation and remaining "prepared to take appropriate action, as warranted."
Image: Courtesy of Stop Abusing Coffee Facebook Page