AURORA, Colorado; RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif.––What did pit bull advocates do after losing their attempt to repeal the pit bull ban in Aurora, Colorado, by a 30% margin?
They figuratively set their dogs on the messenger, ANIMALS 24-7; others using the messenger service, in particular the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and the Home 4 the Holidays international adoption program it sponsors; and Blue Buffalo, a pet food maker whose only involvement was that it sponsors Home 4 the Holidays.
Among the 1.1 million shelter animals rehomed by Home 4 the Holidays in 2013 were an estimated 170,000 pit bulls.
Ads from the Helen Woodward Animal Center urging shelters worldwide to participate in Home 4 the Holidays 2014 had been published on the ANIMALS 24-7 web site since June 2014. The Blue Buffalo logo appeared in the ads, for which the Helen Woodward Center paid an introductory ad rate of $275/month.
34% of dog keepers voted for pit bulls
Final figures from Aurora, including votes counted after ColoRADogs conceded having lost in a landslide, showed that 34,284 voters, or 35%, favored repealing the pit bull ban; 62,953, or 65%, upheld the ban.
Of the estimated 100,441 Aurora voters living in households with dogs (42.5%), only 34% voted against the ban.
Pit bull advocacy web sites announced a boycott of Blue Buffalo for allegedly funding ANIMALS 24-7 barely three hours after ANIMALS 24-7 on November 5, 2014 bannered the Aurora outcome.
The boycott campaign contributed to boosting ANIMALS 24-7 readership to our second-highest weekly average yet. Comments posted to the ANIMALS 24-7 web site ran more than 10-1 against ColoRADogs and the boycott effort, but by 3:00 p.m. on November 5, Blue Buffalo and the Helen Woodward Animal Center were feeling the heat.
ANIMALS 24-7 will not promote rehoming dangerous dogs
First the Helen Woodward Animal Center asked ANIMALS 24-7 to replace the currently running ad including the Blue Buffalo logo with an ad which, in the unanimous opinion of our staff, featured a pit bull.
Responded ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton, “ANIMALS 24-7 will not accept an ad with a visual image that promotes adoptions of pit bulls, or any other dog breed that accounts for more than 10 times more dog attack fatalities, disfigurements, and deaths of other pets than would be proportionate to the numbers of that breed among the dog population. Promoting such breeds is why more shelter dogs have killed and disfigured people in 2014 alone than killed and disfigured people in the entire time from 1858 through 2009. We can publish an ad that shows any other type of dog, or a cat.”
Meanwhile, ANIMALS 24-7 removed the ad including the Blue Buffalo logo.
Helen Woodward Animal Center president Mike Arms replied that according to his shelter veterinarians, the dog in the new ad was not a pit bull.
Said Clifton, “Trying to pass off pit bulls as other breeds of dog is a frequent contributing factor in the human deaths, disfigurements, and deaths of animals (about 6,800 last year alone) resulting from humane societies promoting their adoption.”
Arms offered to substitute an ad featuring a kitten. The offer was accepted. The kitten ad was prepared on the morning of November 6, 2014 and posted at 12:10 p. m., but pit bull advocates continued to pressure Blue Buffalo and the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
E-mailed Arms at 12:54 p.m., “We are being harassed. We will see how long we can hold out.”
At 1:06 p.m. Arms e-mailed again. “I really don’t know what caused all of this hatred,” Arms said, “but now our phones are ringing, our social media is being attacked, and our sponsors are being attacked, so I must ask you to remove our ad. I have the organization and sponsors to protect at this time. Please bill us for anything that we owe, and I hope that all of this gets straightened out in the near future. Can you please remove the newest ad as soon as possible.”
E-mailed Clifton, “What caused all of this is quite simple: bullies created bully breeds, and bullies favor them. What you are experiencing is nothing new here; I have experienced it often since 1988, when I first published the data on pit bull attacks over the preceding six years. Ironically the first two callers in 1988 who gave their names were both later attacked by their own pit bulls, and by 1994 were both victim advocates.”
[The data log first published in 1988, begun in 1982, has now been maintained for more than 32 years. See “32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks, http://wp.me/p4pKmM-Ky.]
Meanwhile in Connecticut, Blue Buffalo continued to hear on the one hand from pit bull advocates responding to a coordinated social media campaign, and on the other, from customers who had heard about it through the grapevine and spontaneously defended ANIMALS 24-7.
By the time ANIMALS 24-7 became aware that anyone was countering the pit bull advocates, 41 of the 108 postings visible on the Blue Buffalo Facebook page favored us––and this was after the pit bull advocates had a head start of more than 24 hours.
Posted Blue Buffalo, “We’ve been hearing from a lot of passionate pet parents over the last few days regarding the placement of an advertisement for the Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays Adoption Campaign on certain pet advocacy sites. We ask you to please keep the following in mind:
“1. This is an advertisement for a pet adoption campaign sponsored by Blue Buffalo. The goal of this campaign is to find forever homes for one million dogs and cats before the end of the year. Our sponsorship and support is for this adoption program, not for any site on which the program might be advertised.
“2. It is not our place to choose sides or influence this debate. We respect the well-meaning intentions of the pet parents on both sides of this issue.
“3. While we appreciate the passion displayed by everyone who has weighed in, we feel that the BLUE Facebook page is not the proper venue for this debate. This page is dedicated to the celebration of ALL dogs and cats and the special connection we feel to our pets as pet parents.
“Thank you for your continued support. Please take a moment to learn more about the Home 4 the Holidays Adoption Campaign here:http://www.animalcenter.org/home4theholidays/.”
ANIMALS 24-7 is not a “pet advocacy site,” but rather a news web site providing independent professional coverage of the humane community worldwide.
Our introductory ad rate is still in effect for advertisers joining us before the end of 2014, but will be substantially higher in 2015, reflecting our increase in readership.
Please donate to support our work: http://www.animals24-7.org/donate/