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On Cashing In On Michael Vick

As you know, the ASPCA has Michael Vick’s dogs and they are being evaluated by experts in such things and the hope is that some may be able to be "re-homed" (a word which is linguistically odd in that re- means "again," and "home" is used to describe Vick’s compound. In this case, re-home is not the optimal term.).

The confusion about who had the dogs and when was not just in my head. I thought the dogs were at various shelters in Virginia. But then I started getting e-mails from PETA, the HSUS, and the ASPCA (I believe, but I can’t find it in my deleted mail) asking for contributions based on the Vick case. They all referred to the case, helping the dogs (if not those dogs, other dogs), and prosecuting abusers. The HSUS e-mail urged donations to care for the dogs seized at Vick’s. (Apparently their two hundred million dollars, which I thought were only one hundred million, aren’t enough to care for 60 dogs.) I thought: Oh, then they must have the dogs (no chance). The PETA e-mail was for donations to fight abusers "doing what Michael Vick is indicted for." If one weren’t careful, one might think PETA had something to do with the case.

I wonder how many people opened their wallets because of the Vick teasers. I have categorized this post in, among other things, Gray Matters. In the world of marketing, I don’t think it’s considered unethical to use a particular case to raise funds, even if you have nothing to do with that case. It’s opportunistic, that’s for sure. But I’m not sure I think it’s unethical.

I can say that I would have concerns regarding an organization’s integrity if I found out they played on my sympathy for specific animals and persuaded me to donate so I could help those animals, and then discovered that my hard-earned money was going to something else. I would feel intentionally misled, and I would stop giving to such an organization.

But that’s me.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Ellie #

    I can't speak for HSUS, as I unsubscribed to their email. But didn't something similar happen with Hurricane Katrina? They collected millions of dollars, but left some animals to starve, and killed others they took in.

    I still receive email from the ASPCA, and like yourself, Mary, I deleted it. But request for donations to save abused and abandoned animals is the first thing you'll see on their home page.

    Despite this compassionate appearance, I've spoken with rescuers in NYC who say this is a facade. They don't accept most dogs. They only accept animals they deem adoptable, and suggest the others be brought to "Animal Care and Control" uptown, where they will most likely be killed.

    They get fanfare and the band for the animals they accept, but the public doesn't know they transfer them uptown, if they have medical or behavior problems that didn't show up before.

    And with all their millions, I have actually seen them refuse to treat a dog because the owner could only pay part of the fee.

    Speaking of donations, I wouldn't give either group a penny.

    September 1, 2007

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