A New York based artist is still having to answer for a film he made almost three decades ago in which he shot and killed a dog.
In 1977 for his “Shot Dog Film,” artist Tom Otterness adopted a dog from his local shelter. He tied the dog to a fence, pointed his camera, and filmed himself shooting the dog with a gun. The dog’s slow death was looped to run continuously and shown in numerous exhibits. Not only was the artist NOT charged with animal abuse in 1977, today Tom Otterness is a widely celebrated sculptor and has just received a $750,000 commission to create works for the New York Public Library.
As celebrated as he may be, he can’t seem to escape controversy. In 2008, Otterness spoke about “Shot Dog Film” saying:
"It was indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for…I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me."
Some might be able to forgive Otterness for adopting a shelter dog to use in a dog snuff film but others are not going to let him go without a fight. Activists have already launched a petition campaign aimed at preventing the artist from getting the $750,000 library commission. As of today the petition already has over 6,000 signatures.
Tom Otterness can apologize all he wants but I think the damage to his reputation is done. No matter where his sculptures get built or how rich he becomes, he will forever be “the artist who killed a dog on film.”