Can dogs be racist?

Is Jenna the German shepherd  racist against non-whites? The dog is recovering after losing an eye in a knife attack. (courtesy: The Journal News)

That’s the question reverberating across America after a black man allegedly attacked a German shepherd whose owner says does not like minorities.

“The dog reacts to black people, Hispanics, anyone who is not white,” owner Paul Tocco told New York’s Journal News.

Tocco runs a family-owned oil-delivery business in Yonkers, N.Y., where the canine, 4-year-old “Jenna,” stood guard Monday.

His handyman employee, Andrew Owens, 58, reportedly became annoyed at Jenna’s incessant barking, and is said to have “egged on” the dog before charging at her and slashing her eye with a 9-inch folding knife.

“The dog let out a loud yelp, and when I ran there, she turned her head toward me and I seen the whole right side of her head bleeding,” Tocco said.

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Andrew Owens

Detective Ken Ross told the paper the dog was cut “over the right eye, all the way down to the socket bone.”

Ross said he’s uncertain why Owens attacked the canine.

“He never liked the dog,” Ross said of Owens. “The dog did not bite him (Monday). It appears everything was done out of anger.”

Owens allegedly had threatened to kill the dog in the past and claimed Jenna had bitten him last year.

After admitting his involvement in this week’s stabbing, Owens was arrested and charged with felony aggravated cruelty, as well as fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

Tocco rushed his pet to a veterinarian, and while it was too late to save Jenna’s eye, the dog is recovering.

Tocco is now being bombarded with calls from those reacting to his statement about his watchdog not liking non-white people.

But he told the Journal News he never trained Jenna to behave that way and didn’t think it was fair to call his dog prejudiced.

“I never said the dog was prejudiced,” he said. “I said it doesn’t like minorities. I think it’s unfair to the dog that you’re publicizing that she’s prejudiced.”

The story caught the interest of top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh who said in tongue-in-cheek fashion today that “if the dog is racist, then shouldn’t the dog be the perp and the innocent black guy was simply defending himself against a hate crime?

“The hate crime in this case is a barking German shepherd.  The wrong entity here has been charged.  I mean, if we have learned anything, if you are racist, if you don’t like black people or Hispanic people or anybody of color, and you perpetrate any act against them that’s criminal, you can add to the penalty by calling it a hate crime. The dog here is the one who is exhibiting the hate. A racist dog. And the poor human being is paying the price here for having to go up against a racist dog every day. It’s a purebred German shepherd, by the way. Don’t discount the importance of the breed here, folks.”

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The news is also sparking plenty of discussion on line about the issue of race when it comes to dogs, including:

  • “Hello! The dog is black and brown. How can it be racist against blacks?”

  • “I have a dog that reacts to men wearing baseball caps. Does that mean she’s prejudiced against baseball players?!”

  • “A professor of veterinary science said that dogs do not think therefore they cannot be racists. He did say that ‘dogs do not like subsets.’ That could be very large men, very small children or men with beards or wearing baggy clothes. There are certain breeds of dogs that naturally react to different people. There are certain smells dogs don’t like and certain demeanors they can sense. They can read people, and obviously she knew this man didn’t like her. This dog wasn’t ‘trained’ do dislike minorities, and the owner’s beliefs and morals were not ‘passed down’ to his dog. She was a guard dog that was protecting the property. She probably barked at everyone. Dogs learn most of their behaviors and fears when they are just 8-12 weeks old? Maybe she never saw a “minority” when she was young and they confuse or even scare her. You cannot blame the owner or the dog for this. That man deserves the same punishment the dog got!

  • “All of a sudden dogs are on the same emotional level as people, as racists of all things. But not as far as anything else (suffering, starvation, enduring cruelty). Holy frijoles. That’s the biggest double standard I’ve seen in ages. All to suit an alarmist’s / sensationalist’s / BS artist’s agenda.”


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