Recently there have been a number of commercials that are offensive to those of us in animal welfare.
Now, on the one hand, I’m all for freedom of speech. I have no doubt that I have offended my share of people, and mostly I don’t really care if people say things I don’t like. If I don’t like what they say, I either tell them off or ignore them. Simple.
But this is different.
Animal welfare advocates spend a lot of time and energy trying to educate the public about adoption, vaccination, spay/neuter, proper treatment of animals, and a host of related issues. One of our biggest hurdles is convincing a certain segment of the population that homeless animals don’t have something wrong with them. They end up homeless because humans fail in their obligation to provide for them, not because they are flawed in some way.
So when a company like DirecTV chooses to make fun of animal welfare advocates by essentially saying we’re all hoarders with mental problems as a result of poor life choices (ie, not having their product), it bothers me.
(See the stupid commercial here to decide for yourself if it’s annoying and inappropriate.)
In the last year or so, I have really begun to discover the power of the media when it comes to this sort of issue. Michelin Tires rolled out an obnoxious commercial featuring dozens of cartoon animals getting squashed by drivers with bad tires, then magically re-inflated, then dancing about gleefully (with tire tracks on their little cartoon bodies), it really bothered me. I wrote them an email explaining my issues with it. Some flunky replied, and condescendingly told me that I missed the point, which was that the Michelin Man was SAVING them. I sent another email, in which I included quotes from several animal welfare people who were repulsed by the commercial. I have no idea if I had any effect, but the commercial is gone now.
When the evil puppy sellers tried to invade Montgomery County, I reported the details in my blog and suggested action. I was delighted to see my online animal welfare community step up. They wrote blistering emails to the seller and the facility, organized a protest, and generally made it very unpleasant for the puppy sellers to be here. And it was all legal! My source (a neighbor who knows the campground manager) tells me that the morons only sold ONE PUPPY and that the campground management is eager to host adoption events. Mission accomplished!
So if you, like me, are really irked by the implication that helping stray animals equals mental illness or antisocial behavior, may I suggest that you let DirecTV know how you feel?
Here is the link to their online feedback form: http://support.directv.com/app/ask
And here is their phone number: 1-800-370-3587
The email I’m sending, which you’re welcome to use:
“I work in animal welfare. I take in stray animals. I walk into traffic to save them, I stay up nights when they’re ill, I spend a fortune at the vet’s office. I volunteer at the shelter. I raise funds to care for homeless animals. I educate people about the ways to help homeless animals. And I do little in comparison to what so many other volunteers, shelter employees, and foster families do. The county shelter where I live takes in over 20,000 animals a year, and we save thousands of them BECAUSE people “take in stray animals.”
I am dismayed that any socially responsible company would portray all those of us who work to care for homeless animals as being antisocial hoarders. Hoarding is a mental illness. Animal welfare is a calling to help those who cannot help themselves. Such an ad could potentially lessen the impact of our efforts to educate the public about the value of helping homeless animals. I’m sure that’s not your intent.
Please reconsider the value of this ad.”
It will be interesting to see if I get a reply. Or if you do.