Breeders Address the Sad Pet, Pro-Adoption Commercials

Piggy FaceImage courtesy of Rachel Gardner

Sad eyes or smiles - what types of adoption campaign advertising works for you?

The Westminster Kennel Club is getting a lot of heat because they dropped their former sponsor, Pedigree, in favor of a new sponsor, Purina. The argument was over the “sad pet” commercials promoting adoption that supposedly made viewers want to change the channel. Pedigree says they were told they were too focused on adoption and Westminster says they simply want happier commercials. Nobody seems to know the truth and, frankly, it’s making everyone look bad – Westminster, Pedigree, Purina, and other pet sites that are choosing to selectively report one side or the other making this a battle of breeding vs. adoption.

I personally feel the truth of what happened at Westminster lies somewhere in between.

If I might add my experience in television production along with what I know about working with animal welfare, commercials take time and money to produce. Shooting a commercial takes resources away from the shelters. They will only have so many pre-made commercials ready to air and they’ll want to get the most miles out of what they have made. Commercial spots like Don’t Pity A Shelter Dog, Adopt One and
Help Us Help Dogs have been used in previous years. Depending on when Westminster Kennel Club requested the change, there might not have been time to make entirely new commercials. The only solution to conform with Westminster’s requests would have been to completely drop the adoption campaigns putting Pedigree in the hot seat.

That said, I do agree it’s time for a change to how adoption commercials are presented. I work in animal welfare and want every animal to find a home but I change the channel if I hear Sarah McLachlan singing. There was even a Saturday Night Live sketch on how much people dislike these types of commercials. These *were* great commercials once but they were over played. Like so many people who might have watched The Westminster Kennel Club in previous years, I don’t want to feel sad. However, it’s important to point out there is a huge space between not wanting to cry and being anti-adoption. I am pro-adoption, but I would like to see a change.

I think commercials to promote adoption can succeed in other ways. How about success stories? Happy families are excited to find a pet to bring home. Animals have been successfully saved from challenging situations. Veterinarians enjoy seeing the light in the eyes of an animal being given a second chance. These are things that make us feel good and still promote adoption. For the emotional types out there, these commercials can still make us cry tears of joy. Even those of us in animal rescue who have experienced the sadness first hand want to feel like we’re winning sometimes.

The details of what happened at Westminster might never be known for certain. However, the battle of breeding vs. adoption has been going on since the dawn of humanity when someone invited a cute dog closer to the campfire and left that mangy wolf off in the woods. This is a topic that involves pets of all types, everywhere.

All of this comes along as if we don’t already have enough to argue about in breeding and adoption individually. There are breeders and purebred breeders, each with their own goals and standards. On the adoption end there are kill and no-kill, although it is debated that the terminology itself is portrayed with biased. You might be surprised to find not everyone is on one extreme or the other. Some individuals choose to both breed and rescue. How can this be? A variety of reasons but some individuals find all life precious and believe beings are designed to reproduce free of authority.

In this battle of breeding versus adoption, where do you stand?

If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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February 2012
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