I have had it. HAD it. Before this, I saw your commercials on TV, I turned the channel and I waited however long I thought the commercial might take — and those are long commercials. I hardened my heart to the sight of suffering and abused animals. I figured you were doing things the wrong way for the right reasons.
That was before you started advertising on Nickelodeon. That was before you went after my kids. (Ed note: That is not okay, ASPCA!) You see, the other night my 5-year-old son had a nightmare and came to our bed. He turned on the TV and when I woke up a few minutes later, I saw him staring, unblinking, at one of your commercials with a devastated expression on his face. He went from one nightmare to another.
This experience got me to thinking about those ads, and at this point I am livid.
Now, I’ve done plenty for animals in my life. I adopted my dogs. I fostered. I ran a rescue for ten years. The dogs I’ve adopted have been hard-to-place dogs. I’ve donated time and money to other animal causes. I’m a vegetarian. In other words, I’m one of your people.
So let’s talk. Yes, there are a lot of animals whose lives consist of suffering. There are a lot who will be euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them. It’s a terrible fate. We’re agreed on that. But your ads wring that misery out for every cent you can get, and that’s not acceptable.
First of all, your ads are so emotionally manipulative it is literally cruel to a lot of your viewers. If a kind-hearted, animal loving person, whether adult or child, sees your ads, it’s heartbreaking for them. A lot of them will cry. It will literally ruin peoples’ days. But hey, it’s OK if it helps the animals, isn’t it?
No, it’s not OK. It’s cynical, and there is more than a whiff of “these animals will die if you don’t send us money.”
It’s also not smart. Sooner or later, people will become inured to the horror of your pictures. It’s inevitable. Maybe that’s why you are going after kids by advertising on places like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Perhaps the emotional well has started to run dry for the grownups. They know enough to immediately turn the channel when your ads come on. However, kids will be so upset that they’ll beg their parents to give money. And some of them will give in.
But some of their parents are starting to realize that your methods aren’t acceptable. They might have looked at the fact that only 65 percent of your budget actually goes to your programs. Most of the rest goes to fundraising and administrative costs.
Maybe they have learned that only a tiny percentage of the funds that you raise for your “national” organization actually go to state programs. Your ads certainly don’t make that clear. Your ads also don’t make it clear that the ASPCA only has ONE small shelter of its own.
And I’m sure that the people who donated money to help pets impacted by Hurricane Sandy didn’t know that your proposed solution for the ones whose owners didn’t claim them after a few months was to send them to the local (kill) shelter. That certainly doesn’t speak well for your commitment to the animals that you save from dire circumstances, does it?
It’s time for you to find another way to raise funds that doesn’t involve misleading your donors, horrifying animal lovers, and exploiting the very animals that you claim to help. You might as well do it now, before people get wise (and they will) and start holding your organization accountable for what it does with the funds it gets.