It’s been all over the news: The glamour and excitement of the games in Sochi have come at the expense of thousands of innocent stray dogs. Ahead of the games, the government hired a private company to eliminate stray dogs from city streets.
Now, the athletes themselves are joining the public outcry and efforts to save these precious dogs. Last week, slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy tweeted photos of four adorable stray puppies and their mother. (He them found hiding near the competition area.) The medalist pledged to bring the pups back to the States the moment he saw them.
We’re so happy the pups now have a second chance. Thank you, Gus!
The action doesn’t end there. ESPN correspondent Sarah Spain also saw the plight of the Sochi dogs and wanted to get involved helping homeless pets in her own community—so she’s pitching in!
“Like many people I was heartbroken to learn about the stray dogs being killed in Sochi,” says Spain. “While we may not be able to help those dogs, we can help homeless pets in our own backyard,” she explains. “In honor of the Sochi dogs, I’ve teamed up with a dedicated group of celebrities to help raise funds for the ASPCA.”
Lights, camera, action! If you watched NBC’s Today Show this morning, you probably saw a segment featuring three newly famous ASPCA adoptable dogs: Wishbone, Nautica and Bam Bam.
These adorable pups made their TV debut for a segment with hosts Kathie Lee and Hoda, and taste-tested homemade dog meals from veterinarian and talk-show host Dr. Katy Nelson. They were joined by U.S. slopestyle ski competitors Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, Nick Goepper—recent gold, silver and bronze medalists, respectively.
What a year it’s been! To honor 2013’s most compelling, interesting and adorable dog and cat stories, we’ve created a list of our top 10 favorites. Selected by ASPCA staff, each story captured national attention and illustrates the remarkable impact dogs and cats have on our lives.
In no particular order, here is a look at a few of the stories that truly touched the ASPCA family this year:
Heart-warming news In 2013, science proved what we’ve all known for years: pets are good for your heart. In May, findings from an American Heart Association study told us that having a pet is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, fewer heart attack risk factors and increased survival rates. Another reason to go out and find your new best friend!
Cat domination of pop culture 2013 was definitely the unofficial year of the cat. Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub reached epic levels of stardom and shined the spotlight on how amazing special-needs cats can be. Felines also invaded film festivals from Sundance to Cannes. And cat lovers even voted a kitty to be the new Monopoly game piece.
The journey to recovery begins The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., opened in March and is the first center dedicated strictly to providing behavioral rehabilitation to canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding cases. In June, a previously fearful troop of Dachshunds became the very first graduates of the center—all went on to be adopted by loving families.
On October 5, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, about his two-year study of brain activity in conscious pet canines. (Rest assured, no dogs were harmed: “We used only positive training methods. No sedation. No restraints. If the dogs didn’t want to be in the M.R.I. scanner, they could leave.”)
For Berns, who found that positive anticipation (of food or familiar people, etc.) stems from the same part of the brain in both humans and dogs, the study’s takeaway is “Dogs are people, too.” This leads him to question the righteousness of dogs’ current legal status: “[We] can no longer hide from the evidence. Dogs, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us. And this means we must reconsider their treatment as property.”
This week the website huffingtonpost.com posted a great follow-up article that expands on the concept of “personhood” for animals and quotes the ASPCA’s own Stacy Wolf, Senior Vice President, Anti-Cruelty Group—read it here.
What Do You Think? We want to hear your take on this debate. Should dogs be given the same legal protections as people, or is it right to continue to categorize them as “property”? In what ways have your own dogs shown you that they have emotions? Have your say in our comments section, below.
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We loathe giving Aflac any more media attention than they have already received, but we can’t keep our mouths shut about the recent PR stunt they pulled. If you haven’t yet heard, Aflac recently let a duck loose into a busy New York City subway station and began tweeting about it, ruffling our feathers in the process! The duck, representing their famed mascot, drew quite a bit of attention—but at what cost?
NYC subway stations are noisy, crowded, and let’s face it, pretty dirty places. The hazards that could have harmed our small feathered friend are too numerous to count. We’re appalled that Aflac would pull such a stunt.
Do you think this PR stunt went too far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.