Work in Sports
Dog eat dog world
Saints make popular dog fetch walking papers
Posted: Friday June 23, 2000 01:50 AM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Fetch Monster, who delighted Louisiana Superdome fans by retrieving the kicking tee after kickoffs and field goals at New Orleans Saints home games, has been fired by the team.
The Australian Shepherd got her walking papers Thursday. She joins president-general manager Bill Kuharich, coach Mike Ditka, most of his staff and trainer Dean Kleinschmidt on the roster of ex-Saints.
"What they're doing is getting rid of the only winner they have so far in PR," said Mike Moriarty, a Houston lawyer who, along with his wife Melna, owns the dog. "I don't think in three years the dog lost a game."
Her dismissal is part of a host of changes at the Saints' headquarters since team owner Tom Benson fired Kuharich, Ditka and most of his staff.
"This is nothing against Mike, Melna and the dog," said Barra Birrcher, entertainment director for the Saints. "They were wonderful to work with, very popular for us. But we're going to try to go in a different direction."
The decision apparently was made by Arnold Fielkow, the Saints' new director of administration, the couple said. Melna Moriarty met with Wayne Hodes, the team's new director of marketing, in the spring to discuss the dog's future and expected to hear something by June 1.
On Thursday, Mike Moriarty called Birrcher and learned Fetch Monster's fate.
Fielkow was traveling on the Mississippi Coast on Thursday, his secretary said, and did not immediately return a phone message. Hodes was out of the office and couldn't be reached for comment.
The Saints paid all expenses for the dog and her owners to fly from Houston to New Orleans for home games. That was as much as $1,000 a game, but the decision had nothing to do with money, Birrcher said.
As for the dog's future, Mike Moriarty said he's hoping an outcry from Saints' fans will prompt the team to rehire Fetch Monster, who turns 7 in August.
"The trainer told me she's got another three good years left," Moriarty said. "If Saints' fans don't think it's that important, so be it, we can accept that. But I don't think that's what they'll find."