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PETA wants Mississippi State to retire live bulldog mascot after run-in with Auburn player

PETA wants Mississippi State to retire its live bulldog mascot after an incident during the team’s football game against Auburn.

During the first quarter of Tigers’ 56-23 win, Tigers running back JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow took a handoff on Auburn’s first offensive snap. He bolted through the right side of the offensive line and ran towards the end zone.

As he neared the pylon, a Bulldog defender knocked into the sophomore, sending him sliding out of bounds — and straight into Jak, an English bulldog used as “Bully,” Mississippi State’s live animal mascot.

“I thought the dog was about to bite him,” receiver Seth Williams said. “I saw him hit the dog and was like, ‘Oh, snap.’ I ran over there. I was fixin’ to square up with the dog. But it was all good.”

Now, PETA is getting involved.

On Tuesday, the organization sent a letter to Mississippi State University president Mark E. Keenum, urging the school to retire the mascot and vow to not use live animals in the future.

“In light of this close call — which could easily have left Jak severely injured or even dead — as well as the cruelty inherent in using living beings as ‘mascots,’ I urge you to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future,” an excerpt from the letter, written by PETA senior director Marta Holmberg, said. “May we please have your assurance that you will bring Mississippi State into the 21st century by giving Jak the retirement he deserves and pledging not to use real animals as mascots?”

This is not the first time PETA has spoken out following an incident with a college’s live mascot. Prior to the 2019 Sugar Bowl, Texas Longhorns mascot Bevo, a longhorn steer, charged at Georgia Bulldogs mascot Uga X, a bulldog. The bulldog (and everybody else) escaped unharmed, but Bevo knocked over several spectators.

PETA called for both Texas and Georgia to end their use of live mascots after the incident.

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Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.