ASPCA: Lay Off Owner Of ‘Coffee,’ Citi Field’s Panhandling Pooch

CBS 2 Meets With One Of Mets' Unofficial Mascots To Get Truth

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is it dog abuse or a misunderstanding?

A canine controversy surrounds a panhandling pet named “Coffee,” who is well known to many Mets fans.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin saw the popular dog on Wednesday — without her Mets gear.

But all it takes is a quick change and she transforms into the famous panhandling pooch scores of baseball fans know, love and pay.

Owner Norberto Fernandez insists the dog likes panhandling, He said when he rescued Coffee off the streets five years ago she was shivering and limping.

But now, Fernandez said Coffee loves the attention she gets at Citi Field, and especially enjoys collecting $50-$75 in tips.

But some animal rights activists said the dog is paying a terrible price.

“I do believe a shock collar is in use,” activist Belkis Cardona-Rivera said.

Cardona-Rivera started a Facebook page titled “Stop Abusing Coffee,” with about 8,000 members. She’s circulating a photo of a commercially available and legal shock collar system and other photos of a similar looking device around Coffee’s neck, and similar remote in her owner’s hand.

Carlin showed the photos to Fernandez, who denies using anything to shock Coffee. His daughter said no shock collar is used.

Members of the Fernandez family said inspectors came from the ASPCA’s Enforcement Division checked out the dog and said everything seems fine.

“[They] told me the dog is good, said the dog is good,” Fernandez said.

The ASPCA confirmed to Carlin the dog appears healthy and well adjusted, but added even though it appears no laws have been broken, Coffee will be examined again during at least one of her upcoming stadium appearances “just to make sure.”

Cardona-Rivera hopes the investigators continue to follow up with spot checks.

“To have it sit in the sun for three, four hours …,” Cardona-Rivera said.

The Fernandez family is eager to shake off the controversy as Coffee prepares for her next public appearance, Friday night at Citi Field.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Dave Carlin
Comments

One Comment

  1. Dorothy Irby says:

    I’m sure this dog is being very well provided for. The ones at the shelter are the ones we should be concerned for. And I’m pretty sure that by the time the owner pays for the food and the vet bills, they won’t have to worry about the IRS. People in the world has to be joking to worry over a miserable dog when there are people homeless and starving. What a shame we have nothing better to do.

  2. Shelley Bright says:

    Norberto Fernandez <— B U M = PIMP = LOSER = EPIC MORON

  3. NYC says:

    I think Mr. Fernandez should wear coffee’s outfit and forced to sit for hours with pipe in his mouth. And when he makes any slight movement that shows his tired shock him. Maybe then he will see why this is called animal abuse. I am a proud dog owner and I would never let such thing happen to my dog.

  4. p says:

    charityusa.com, goodsearch.com, isearchigive.com, & fundraising-solutions.org .

  5. Roy says:

    With the price of Mets tickets being what they are,it’s no wonder this guy needs his dogs help to afford them !

  6. tk says:

    Personally, I think he should be fined for making her wear a Mets shirt. Besides that, why is the dog panhandling? Does she have pups to support or something? Is he earning his keep? Are they forcing this poor dog to pay rent? Why shove a pipe in her mouth ? This is as bad as the animals that are forced to smoke for research. Oh…you mean the owner is getting the money? So,…is this income being reported to the IRS? So…how is this not explotation? Isn’t explotation considered a form of abuse??? Why is this ok? GO CARD!

  7. DigitalBob says:

    Abortions are acceptable but God forbid a dog has to wear a yankees cap and get petted by strangers.

    1. KLynn says:

      People are concerned about this dog… and that’s bad why? And just because abortions are legal in some areas, doesn’t mean that everybody supports them. And there’s so much more to this story then the “dog wearing a yankees cap and getting petted by strangers.” If that was the only thing wrong with this situation, do you really think people would be so upset about it? Um, NO.

  8. MR KNOW IT ALL says:

    I BELIEVE THIS DOG IS SEXUALLY ABUSED BY THE OWNER

  9. S.G. says:

    IGNORANT PEOPLE. WELL,IF ASPCA IS GOING TO BELIEVE LIES FROM ABUSERS THEN SOMEONE NEEDS TO ALLERT THE IRS, HIT THIS ABUSER IN THE WALLET.

    1. mrfish says:

      why in the world would the IRS even care!What nonsense!

      1. Chris says:

        Unclaimed Income Bro!!! He’s admitted to making thousands off this dog each season. Unclaimed Income MrFish!!!!

  10. Jerry Gambrall says:

    I think most of these people are just upset because they did not think of it first. As for as the ASPCA is concerned I have found them to be nosey busy body’s that prefer to have dogs put down rather than let a senior citizen give them a caring home with love and attention.

    1. J. Jones says:

      “To have IT (???) sit in the sun for three hours…” WHAT? A “loving” owner calls the dog “IT”??? And has her sitting in the hot sun for 3 hrs? THAT IS ABUSIVE AND EXPLOITIVE. How the hell does he know what the dog likes??? Is he a canine psychic? It seems he feels since he supposedly rescued the dog from the mean streets, now he thinks anything he does is a step up — a KUDO — since she could have been run over , starved to death, or used as blood bait in a fighting ring, had he didn’t pick her up. BULL! This dog should be in a nice comfy home. Not sitting on the cement in the hot sun, begging for money!

  11. Bruce Goldensteinberg says:

    Send Mr. Fernandez back to Mexico along with his 8 out of wedlock kids someone like him probably has.

    1. HARLEM GOING HAM says:

      GOLDENSTEINBERG? YOU’RE THE ONE WHO SHOULD GO TO MEXICO. DUE TO YOU BEIING THE U STUPID. PLEASE STOP USING A JEWISH NAME TOO. IF YOU ARE JEWISH, YOU ARE THE DUMBEST ONE

  12. morrigan says:

    perhaps mr. fernandez should get up off his lazy a$$ and get a job instead of using/abusing his dog like that.

    1. J. Jones says:

      morrigan, I TOTALLY AGREE with you!

  13. mrod says:

    The dog looks happy. And does not appear to be cringing from either it’s owner or the clothing. I think this is much drama over nothing.

    And I trained my pitbull without a shock collar.

    People really have nothing better to do …

    1. J. Jones says:

      mrod, your words of “wisdom” come from a powerless bully who used a shock collar instead of his brain. If I knew you, I’d take your poor dog from you. If you knew ANYTHING about the breed, you would know that Pits are THE MOST DEVOTED to their family, and the reason they are chosen for abuse by criminals , and put in the fighting ring is because they are willing TO DIE TO PLEASE THEIR PEOPLE. Pit bulls who are in extreme agony will not show it, if that abuse is heaped on them by the people who own them. They are dogs who are so loving, and so extremely devoted, they are very often exploited in the fighting ring, and by morons like this guy who is pimping his dog. HE IS PIMPING, EXPLOITING, AND ABUSING THIS DOG.

  14. KLynn says:

    I love how everybody keeps saying to focus on the shelter pets… how do you think Coffee’s facebook page got so much attention?? It’s people like us who stay up for hours, cross posting animals/ rescuing animals, so they have a fighting chance at life. We have no control over how the shelters are ran, but we can be a voice for the animals that don’t want to die, or that need adopted out/ fostered. Trust me, there are plenty of petitions and letters that have been sent to state legislators to change shelter environments and to crack down on animal abuse. Enough of that though… I personally do not know if Coffee is being abused or not, but I know that I would never use a shock collar on my dog, nor would I make her sit out like that for hours on end. She loves to be outside, but she also likes to be able to drink her fresh water, and to get out of the sun whenever she feels like it. Sure, Coffee is adorable, but would you want your pet to “work” like Coffee does? I know my answer is NO.

  15. Kenny says:

    Yet these groups choose to ignore child abuse cases.

    1. J. Jones says:

      Kenny, you’re wrong. I speak up for the animals, but I equally speak up for the children, and have taken action on both issues, as well as for the elderly. When you assume things, as you did, you “make an ASS out of U and ME.”

  16. CeliaSue says:

    with a pipe stuck in her mouth, how can she adequately pant to cool herself off during her several-hour stints in the blare of the sun???? this is cruel and inhumane treatment of a dog. anyone with eyes can see it. No dog wants to sit in the hot sun unable to move for fear of being shocked for HOURS to make money for their abuser. she deserves to be loved running around, rolling in the grass not making money for this loser abuser.

  17. CeliaSue says:

    and just exactly how is Coffee breathing with a pipe stuck in her mouth for hours a a time???? yeah leave the abusers alone to abuse Coffee… NOT…

    1. J. Jones says:

      I agree with you COMPLETELY. Even more so, now that its getting really hot outside. This jerk is exploiting his dog, and doesn’t deserve her. The ASPCA cops have to go with their rules — In Brooklyn I saw a fenced lot with old cars and two Rotties that had what looked like mange. They were good body weight, but both of them had very horrible looking skin. My friend and I reported them to the ASPCA police. They responded saying the dogs didn’t have mange, and the case was closed. THE DOGS HAD A SEVERE LOOKING SKIN PROBLEM. But the way the law goes, the ASPCA cops can’t do anything. Their hands are tied, basically because this society, full of jerks like Bloomberg, don’t view animals as anything other than property — like an end table. .

  18. DP says:

    Let’s see, gay community, Hispanic community, the offended community… “Oh, please, please don’t eat that poor innocent helpless dandelion salad! I’ll just feel so bad, I will have to sue you for offending my rights, the nightmares will plague me for years to come (not to mention the cruelty to horses, night-mares don’t deserve that kind of treatment!)”

  19. Gina Putman Posner says:

    Wow, an awful lot of lies these people are willing to believe because abusers tell them it’s so, pretty sad.

  20. Amanda Bennett-Spera says:

    So this dog enjoys having a pipe sticking out his mouth for hours? Um, I think not. And would the owner still be having the dog sit like this if he couldn’t make money off of him? And at $75-400 bucks a game, at several games, is this idiot claiming taxes on this money his abused dog is making? It may not even be physical abuse as the shock collar is in question (although the many scarves are a bit suspicious), but there is some mental abuse there, which is still abuse. And this isn;t a registered service dog as far as i know so why is this dog able to be there in the first place. Hinky, very hinky.

  21. Heather says:

    I’m not sure why he is panhandling /w the dog?! Is he so broke he can’t afford to feed her, is he using it to pay his bills or is he actually helping a local shelter? I do not believe if he’s a good trainer he should need to use a shock collar, and still have no idea why he would want to sit /w his dog outside for up to 4 hours for $75 /w no breaks?! If your broke, get a job!!! Oh wait you’re a dog trainer…I almost forgot, or at least was trying.

  22. michelle says:

    You two are idiots.
    If we asked the dog what she preferred, being forced to do stupid tricks for cash because her owner won’t get a job (fyi, he makes upwards of $300 per game, he just changed his story for the press so he won’t get taxed for his almost $200K/year income from this dog) or going to a good home where she can spend her days at dog parks, hanging out in the yard, and not getting zapped with electricity…what do you think she’d say. THAT answer is all that matters. Don’t tell us to go get dogs out of shelters, we do that every day. What do you do besides sit online and get fat?

    1. Kenny says:

      Let me get this straight, $300 x 81 = $200,000?

      1. Anthony says:

        Yea, but I’m the idiot.

      2. HARLEM GOING HAM says:

        I LIKE THAT MATH KENNY. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS WHERE’S THE 300K. THE CORRECT ANSWER IS 24,300 CRASH DUMMY MICHELLE. YOU. SOME OF YOU DOG AND CAT LOVERS MAKE ME SICK. I HAVE WITNESSED A CAT LOVER GIVE FOOD TO A STRAY CAT , WHILE IGNORING A HOMELESS VET. I GAVE THE VET SOME MONEY, CAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE PUT THEIR LIFE ON THE LINE FOR US, NOT THE CATS AND DOGS. LET’S START GIVING BACK TO THE VETS WHO SUFFER THE PAINS OF WAR FIRST AND HAVE DOGS AND CATS TAKE A NUMBER.

    2. Anthony says:

      ASPCA said it’s all good and are going to continue to monitor. Good enough for me. Now if they doublecheck and something is up, I hope this man is prosecuted to the fullest extent.
      You shouldn’t have to lower yourself to insults to voice your opinion, especially without really reading what someone writes. I said to focus on improving shelter conditions. On top of that there’s circus cruelty, situations with zoos etc. Tons of things, but it’s up to all to be the voice for animals that have none. The Bronx/Central park zoo system is threatened with 50% budget cuts this year. Calling someone fat over the internet is for a teenager, not an adult. And just to point something out, to be making $200K a year panhandling, the guy would need to collect over $2400 a game. This guy is not getting rich off doing this. But like i said, if something comes up, throw the book at the guy.

  23. Julie says:

    People should pay attention to ALL forms of cruelty–from dogs dying in shelters to dogs being shocked every time they want to lay down and rest in the hot sun. How would you feel if you were made to be out in the heat, standing in one place for hours at a time, and someone zapped you in the neck if you wanted to sit down and rest? How would you feel if you weren’t given free access to water? This may not be as cruel as someone beating or starving a dog, but it’s still cruel. She is being forced to be compliant–not in the name of simple good behavior, but for her panhandling owner to make a buck. It is wrong.

  24. Me! says:

    I have to agree with the two posters above. My dogs sit home all day while I’m at work. Really, what’s the difference? This dog is out in public. Let’s focus more on homeless dogs in shelters and leave this man alone.

  25. Linda Jean Buonomo says:

    how much did the owner pay you guys to say this?….your full of BS!!!!!!!!!!!,so many witnesses have caught the mks treating of Coffee!!

  26. Anthony says:

    I’ve seen this dog outside Yankee stadium too. Was happy as hell and I remember the owner had a water jug and small bucket so the dog can drink. Like Austin said, there’s 100s of dogs dying in shelters and we focus on one animal that’s more than likely perfectly happy with their life.

  27. Austin says:

    There are much bigger things to worry about then a health happy dog and his owner. So what if hes panhandling not like he harassing people for the money hes a dog, obviously people think hes cute and thats why they drop money. And so what if a shock collar is being used, if its being used properly it causes no harm to an animal and it totally legal. I say focus on the NYC ACC Shelters they could use the bad press and media, we have 100hundreds of dogs dying weekly and your going to focus on this mets dog fan, Maybe you bias and your a yankee’s fan. Leave the dog alone, and focus on something bigger.
    As a certified Animal Cruelty investigator I would have taken a picture with this dog, and in my report put that this dog was awesome…..

    1. PitPomDobeMom says:

      Austin, the idea is that the owner is NOT using the shock collar properly. The dog is forced to sit upright for 4 hours at a time with no food or water and a pipe in her mouth. When she tries to lay down if she is tired, she gets shocked.
      If you’re really an animal cruelty investigator you should seek a new career path.

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