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.
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