Yesterday, TBD, Prince of Petworth and Frozen Tropics all reported that Metro Mutts, a pet store on H Street NE, had been vandalized with hateful, racist graffiti. Someone spray painted the following on their door:
“Cracker (large penis illustration) get out my city fag”
Since this unfortunate incident involves race, class and gentrification in the District, I wanted to learn more about what I had read, so last night I took my puppy to H Street to visit Metro Mutts and talk to Anna Collins, who has a fantastic name; she is one of the six-month old store’s owners.
Collins said that the door had been vandalized on Saturday night, after Metro Mutts closed at 6pm but before a regular customer walked by and spotted the graffiti at 9. She expressed some surprise at the gay slur since Metro Mutts is “primarily a woman-run business”– they do have one male partner, but he’s not in the store that often. Collins confirmed that the police had taken their complaint and then sent someone who investigates hate crimes (possibly someone from the GLLU).
I asked Collins if she or the store had experienced any tension or negativity related to race or gentrification before this incident and she said “No, we never had anything. Such a wide range of people from this neighborhood come in here, from people who’ve lived here for 40 years and are so glad we came to people who are new to the area. We have never felt anything but welcome so it was surprising.”
Six months of positivity and now someone tells Metro Mutts to “get out” of their city? I had to ask Collins if the incident changed how she views the neighborhood. She immediately said, “No, because of it, we’ve heard from so many people who are happy we are here. We’ve heard from people who are sorry and some people even offered to help us clean it up. They are telling their friends ‘make sure you go support Metro Mutts’, so if anything it made us feel very good about people being so supportive.”
She went on to emphasize an interesting fact– “I don’t know…we’re the store front, so maybe people think it was aimed at us…but people don’t know offhand that it’s British Ink‘s door and not ours. It just has our sticker, we’re supposed to get a new door.” I walked back over to the door, which had already been scrubbed clean by the time I arrived at 7pm. Sure enough, it didn’t say “Metro Mutts”, except on a small round sticker. I immediately decided to call British Ink and ask for their take on the incident– I’m supposed to speak to the owner, Paul, today. Hopefully I’ll have more for you, after that.
I don’t think the graffiti was meant for Metro Mutts but that didn’t stop them from offering a clever promotion to the customers who were streaming in to show their support for the store. Inspired by the crude rendering of a penis which had been spray painted outside, Metro Mutts was giving anyone who spent $50 or more a large, free dog treat, the appositely-named “Bully Stick“. For those of you who don’t know, they are made of bull penises.