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Artist Shoots Shelter Dog and Gets Paid $700,000

Artist Shoots Shelter Dog and Gets Paid $700,000

By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.

In 1977, artist Tom Otterness adopted a puppy from a shelter. But, he wasn’t planning on rescuing the dog and providing her with a forever home, instead he tied her to a fence post and shot and killed the dog with a gun in public for the “purpose of art”. The murder was turned into a film called “Shot Dog Film”. In the years since, he has enjoyed a very lucrative career as an artist and frequently is commissioned to create sculptors for public spaces. Recently, the city of San Francisco commissioned him for two projects totaling nearly 1.4 million dollars.

The commissions involved creating 59 bronze sculptures in the Moscone Center for the Central Subway Project. The city had planned to pay him $750,000 for that project. Secondly, he was contracted to create a sculpture for  the San Francisco General Hospital for $700,000.

But, we love our dogs in San Francisco and consider them to be part of our families. When a San Francisco Examiner reporter recently discovered Tom Otterness’ 1977 dog shooting episode, San Francisco residents called for the termination of Otterness’ contracts. Last week, half of their mission was accomplished. The city’s Arts Commission canceled the contract for the subway sculptures. But, the art piece for the hospital is still moving forward. Half of the $700,000 has already been paid to Otterness and the city would lose the remaining $365,750 if they terminated the contract now.

I’m sure they have learned their lesson about not doing thorough background checks on commissioned artists. And personally, I’d rather see them eat that mistake than pay the remaining amount to Otterness. But, I think other alternatives could present themselves.

According to a recent San Francisco Examiner article, Otterness has been speaking with the director of Animal Care and Control about how to earn community forgiveness. Is he really sorry for his 1977 dog shooting? In searching online, I can’t find any reports of him volunteering community service time to help animals. And I haven’t read about him donating money to non-profit animal organizations. Is he just paying lip service so that he continues to earn astronomical fees to create art work in which he shows alligators eating children?

How about if he took all of his $700,000 earnings from the San Francisco General Hospital commission and donated it to the San Francisco SPCA and other San Francisco non-profit animal organization that actually help animals in need? What do you think? Should he still be allowed to create art for the San Francisco General Hospital for his remaining fee of $365,750? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment below.

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.

360 comments

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1:15AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

What a pathetic excuse for a man. Put him in jail and throw away the key. Where is the justice for that poor dog.

1:04AM PST on Jan 7, 2012

This is disgraceful, this man is total scum. I will never understand.

4:42PM PST on Dec 31, 2011

We should tie the artist to a fence and shoot him and call it "art". Shooting an animal and calling it art is ludicrous. I guess when a mass murder kills someone they are considered an artist too.

2:56AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Joan q, Idiot!
we are here to help not help yourself to pathetic sarcasm against another person who cares painfully about what happened. If you have the time to be sarcastic and target me I sugesst you seek help because you are starting trouble with another person which goes against what this Site is about.

2:47AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Rebecca lynn m

You psycho! get off this care2 pretence. Adding sarcastic comments to people who feel deeply for a cause is no reason for you to critisise them. You seem to have time to find the words to show no compassion whatsoeever. You have no idea what I do for animals in need. If I feel like I described in my post it is because of what I've been through and what I've seen for myself.
To then target someone else here on care2 is pathetic as we are all trying to help. I suggest you look in the mirror and seek help elsewhere because you are starting bad blood here when you say you care. Point proven.

2:46AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Rebecca lynn m

You psycho! get off this care2 pretence. Adding sarcastic comments to people who feel deeply for a cause is no reason for you to critisise them. You seem to have time to find the words to show no compassion whatsoeever. You have no idea what I do for animals in need. If I feel like I described in my post it is because of what I've been through and what I've seen for myself.
To then target someone else here on care2 is pathetic as we are all trying to help. I suggest you look in the mirror and seek help elsewhere because you are starting bad blood here when you say you care. Point proven.

9:18AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

A man who shot a dog was recently given a six year prison sentence, but he forgot to claim it an "art" project.

5:06AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

I too think the hospital should terminate his contract. I bet there are plenty of animal loving artists who would be happy to do the project for the other half of the money. I would like to see him jailed frankly. I certainly hope this is publicized to the hilt and he gets no more work. Perhaps he can repent somehow. Yes, donating all the money from his projects would go a ways toward making up for his unbelievable cruelty. I seriously think something is mentally wrong with a man who is capable of such a deed so I don't have a lot of hope for true repentance. And how in the world did shooting and killing a puppy bring him notice? How did that advance his career? I just don't understand.

1:33AM PST on Dec 7, 2011

'All creatures great and small, the Lord created them all'!...
So perhaps, when all is said and done, he'll finally reap his just rewards.

8:14AM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Anything controversial to get a "name", disgraceful. He should pay a good deal of his exorbitant fee to a shelter, but don't count on it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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