A grinning bystander doubles over and covers his mouth. Someone else lets out a loud peal of laughter.
But the incident, which was captured on video and shared to social media over the weekend, wasn’t funny to the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or to Hofstra University administrators.
The Long Island university confirmed Monday that it suspended its chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi pending the results of an investigation after the five-second clip purportedly involving some of the fraternity’s members prompted fierce backlash. The video, which had been viewed more than 100,000 times on Twitter as of early Tuesday, also caught the attention of the Nassau County SPCA, leading the organization to launch its own investigation.
“It was very wrong on so many levels‚” Gary Rogers, a spokesman for the Nassau County SPCA, told The Washington Post. “I’m sure it wasn’t the dog’s idea, ‘Hey, I want some beer.’ Animals don’t make that choice.”
The dog, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel believed to be between 5 and 10 months old, was living in a house associated with the fraternity, but is now in the SPCA’s care, Rogers said. The puppy belongs to a 21-year-old senior at Hofstra, who was one of the people in the video, he said.
“Our paramount concern is the safety of the dog," Rogers said. "The dog is no longer in that environment.” He added that when investigators visited the house on Monday, the canine “appeared to be in good condition” and had food, water and a bed.
The video featuring the puppy was reportedly taken at an off-campus fraternity house in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday and shared to Snapchat, according to NBC News. In the background of the clip, people could be seen standing around in a yard.
It didn’t take long for a recording of the Snapchat video to be uploaded to Twitter, where it was swiftly condemned.
“[S]o apparently it’s okay to force dogs to drink beer even though it can kill them????” the person who posted the clip wrote, tagging the official Twitter accounts of Hofstra, the fraternity’s international headquarters and PETA.
The tweet has since been retweeted nearly 1,400 times, with people expressing disgust at the treatment of the young dog and accusing the students involved of “animal cruelty.”
“[H]ours have gone by since [I] saw this and my stomach is still in knots,” one person wrote.
In a statement to The Post, Hofstra said the behavior in the video is “unacceptable” and “in violation of the University’s Code of Community Standards.” The university said it has been in contact with Alpha Epsilon Pi’s international headquarters as well as chapter members.
Beyond the fraternity’s suspension, the statement said "any individual students identified in the video will also be subject to” the university’s code, which may result in a range of actions depending on the investigation.
The fraternity’s international headquarters said that the chapter was also placed on “‘cease and desist’ due to suspected violations of our health and safety policies.” Alpha Epsilon Pi is a Jewish fraternity that was founded in 1913.
“During this investigatory period, there can be no chapter activities,” said Jon Pierce, a spokesman for Alpha Epsilon Pi, in a statement to The Post. “We hope that we are able to use this as a teaching moment to help build better young men who are committed to our policies and our mission of developing the future leaders of the world’s Jewish communities.”
As of late Monday, Rogers said the SPCA investigation of the incident is still ongoing. Once all the evidence has been gathered, a “determination will be made” on whether charges will be filed, he said.
“It was a bad thing to do and inconsiderate,” he said. “You just don’t hold an animal like that and put beer into its mouth.”
While it’s unclear from the video if any beer was ingested by the puppy, experts say there are potential health risks associated with giving dogs alcohol, ranging from getting them “a little buzzed” to a hospital trip, according to petMD. But cases of alcohol toxicity in dogs are rare, Steven Friedenberg, an assistant professor in the department of veterinary clinical sciences at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, told petMD.
“We don’t see much of this in vet medicine because alcohol tends to be distasteful to most animals,” Friedenberg said. “They don’t regularly seek this out, and most owners don’t deliberately feed their animals alcohol.”
In his decades of experience, Rogers told The Post that watching the “keg stand” video was the first time he saw a dog in that situation.
“We’ve seen so much and read so much about frat hazing, why were they doing that to an animal?” he said. “Whether this is an animal crime or not, animal crime is basically a precursor to other violent crime. If you’re doing it to a dog or other animal, you can do it to a person.”
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