Sunday, January 4, 2015

Advocacy Bullies

Revised: January 4, 2015; 01:25 GMT
Revised: January 5, 2015; 19:27 GMT

In 1991 rumors circulated that the President of Proctor and Gamble, the multinational consumer goods company, tithed a portion of company profits to Satanic causes. Similar rumors had surfaced throughout the 1980s but returned with a vengeance in 1991 and continued to gain traction in 1994 and 1995. Evangelical groups called for a national boycott of P&G products.

In 1991 Procter & Gamble modified their logo to eliminate the supposed horns and 6's, and in 1995 they dropped the "man in the moon" logo entirely in favor of a simple stylized "P&G" rendered in blue letters.

In March, 2007 a jury awarded P&G $19.25 million after finding that four employees of a competing consumer housewares company had spread false rumors about P&G to advance their own business.

Rumor-based internet bullying has  been around since the dawn of the internet, but several recent cases show how the tactic has evolved in the age of social media.

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Pit bull dogs will be on earth long after you are being ate by worms and your soul burning in hell.
Bob Cronk (comment)
On November 4, 2014, citizens in Aurora, Colorado voted in the nation's first general election referendum on Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Newspapers from the Salt Lake Tribune to the Washington Times were poised to report the results. Aurora citizens voted in favor of keeping the ban by a two-to-one margin.

Among the papers which carried news of the outcome on November 5th was the nation's leading independent international journal of animal health and welfare, Animals 24-7. The article carried a photo of 14-month old Daxton Borchardt;1 the sidebar to the right of the article carried an advertisement promoting a pet adoption drive.

(Click image to enlarge)

According to a subsequent statement from Animals 24-7, the advertisement was jointly sponsored by:
. . . . 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.
Dozens of media outlets carried news of the Aurora results; all of them, including corporate giants like Fox News, carried advertisements in close proximity to their coverage of the Aurora vote. But some pit bull advocates took exception to the Animals 24-7 article. Or to the layout, or to the image, or to the advertisement. We may never fully understand exactly what provoked the advocates, but some of them snapped.

On the 5th, burning with indignation at their loss in Aurora, pit bull advocacy groups launched a campaign against Blue Buffalo and Animals 24-7. Among the advocacy groups that urged their devotees to boycott Blue Buffalo were Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals2 and ColoRADogs,3 the group that led the failed Aurora repeal effort. The response by pit bull advocates was so overwhelming that by noon of November 7th Blue Buffalo pulled the ad from Animals 24-7.

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I really don’t know what caused all of this hatred, 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.
Animals 24-7 has recently carried stories about the Gadhi Mai buffalo sacrifice (by Jim Myers of the Animal Aid Charitable Trust), Lithuania's planned wild boar cull, the plight of brickyard mules in Kathmandu, pangolins, camel slaughter, camel rescue, Toxoplasma gondi and the international trade in horse meat, among dozens of other articles of interest to animal advocates worldwide.4

Ms Tranzow of ColoRADogs publicly espouses respectful dialogue:
We believe that vitriol closes the line of communication.
Ms Tranzow must have forgotten her high ideals when she called for the boycott that harmed the Helen Woodward Center, Blue Buffalo, and Home 4 The Holidays adoption program. Ms Tranzow's elevated language does not hide the fact that she fabricated false claims about Mr Clifton's position on euthanasia. Her animus harmed several respected animal welfare groups, an international animal welfare journalist who is respected by everyone except advocates of fighting breeds, and ultimately harmed the pit bulls Ms Tranzow claims to love. Ms Tranzow allowed her personal animosity for Animals 24-7 to take precedence over her advocacy for pit bulls.

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The dust had barely settled on November 8th when ColoRADogs published an exculpatory post on Facebook titled Clearing the Air. The document exhibits a peculiar mix of evasiveness, contrition, arrogance, defiance, and as is often the case with pit bull advocacy, a fundamentalist self-righteousness. Clearing the Air also incorporates without attribution several of Clifton's statements from a November 7th article about the boycott.

Clearing the Air claims that Blue Buffalo, by advertising in Animals 24-7, asked pet owners to buy their products while supporting a page that calls for their death. This claim by Ms Tranzow is a corruption of Clifton's views, as any reader will discover for themselves by reviewing Clifton's articles on euthanasia.5

Ms Tranzow would have avoided her errors had she been aware of the history of the no-kill movement. The Directory for the original No-Kill Conference series (1995-2001) carried the following statement on page 1:
Implicit to the no-kill philosophy is the reality of exceptional situations in which euthanasia is the most humane alternative available. Those exceptional situations include irrecoverable illness or injury, dangerous behavior, and/or the need to decapitate an animal who has bitten someone in order to perform rabies testing. They do not include 'unadoptable, too young, too old, or lack of space.'
The statement was drafted by Merritt Clifton.

Clearing the Air further fouled the air by claiming that Clifton justifies the euthanization of family pets; this is a libelous misrepresentation. Readers who are familiar with Animals 24-7 and Clifton's writings on euthanasia will find this deceit contemptible.

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Both ColoRADogs and Wisconsin Voters listed contact information for Blue Buffalo and urged their readers to send boycott letters. Hundreds of readers, mistakenly convinced that Animals 24-7 promotes euthanasia, contacted Blue Buffalo with angry letters, forcing Blue Buffalo to pull their ad.

If any reader of this blog called, emailed, or commented to Blue Buffalo under the false impression that Animals 24-7 supports euthanasia, you were misled by Ms Tranzow or other advocacy groups.

Those who placed angry calls or sent angry emails to Blue Buffalo or the Helen Woodward Animal Center now have the opportunity to correct that error. Please take this opportunity to call, email, or comment on Facebook, thanking Blue Buffalo, the Helen Woodward Animal Center, and Animals 24-7 for their tireless efforts in behalf of our animal companions.

Contact Blue Buffalo:
Phone: 800-919-2833

Contact the Helen Woodward Animal Center:
Email: Marcie Grube;
Phone: 858-756-4117

Forthcoming: Advocacy bullies in Madison, Wisconsin, Australia, and New Orleans; Blowback; The Pit Bull Third Rail

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1 Daxton Borchardt was killed in a fatal pit bull attack on March 6, 2013. His father, Jeffrey Borchardt, participated in the Aurora campaign to retain BSL.
2 Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals is an euphemism; the group advocates solely for pit bulls.
3 ColoRADogs was formed in 2012 by Nancy Tranzow and her partner Melanie Schweder
4 The founder, editor, and lead investigative journalist of Animals 24-7, Merritt Clifton, has also written extensively about the tragedy of euthanasia and related subjects, including sheltering, no-kill policies, and Breed Specific Legislation. Clifton also compiles dog attack statistics. It's doubtful that the pit bull advocates who flooded The Helen Woodward Center and Blue Buffalo with hate mail for advertising in Animals 24-7 are familiar with any of Clifton's work, except through rumors circulated by pit bull advocates.
5   See Resources on Euthanasia, Sheltering, and No-Kill.

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SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163. As pit bulls are increasingly crossed with exotic mastiffs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs and other breeds, the vernacular definition of "pit bull" should be made even more inclusive.

Sources cited by news media sometimes refer to "Animal Advocates" or sometimes "Experts." In many cases these words are used to refer to single-purpose pit bull advocates who have never advocated for any other breeds or species of animals. Media would be more accurate to refer to these pit bull advocates as advocates of fighting breeds.

Similarly, in many cases pit bull advocates refer to themselves as "dog lovers" or "canine advocates" and media often accepts this usage. The majority of these pit bull advocates are single-purpose advocates of fighting breeds.

Sources for Aurora and Blue Buffalo:
Colorado town considers repealing pit bull ban in landmark vote
   October 18, 2014; Christian Science Monitor
Aurora, Colorado, to reconsider pit bull ban in general election
   October 18, 2014; World News
No on Proposition 2D: Putting an end to Aurora’s dangerous pit bull charade
   October 23, 2014; Aurora Sentinel
Aurora overwhelming votes to keep pit bull ban in place
   November 5, 2014; Fox31
Animal advocates vow to keep fighting after Aurora votes to maintain pit bull ban
   November 5, 2014; Huffington Post
Pit bull ban survives in Denver suburb
   November 5, 2015; Washington Times
Aurora right to keep pit bull ban
   November 6, 2014; Denver Post
Attempt to repeal pit bull ban crushed in Colorado
   November 5, 2014; Animals 24-7
Blue Buffalo dog food supports breed discrimination through advertising
   November 5, 2014; WI Voters for Companion Animals
Update on Blue Buffalo Dog Food Ad
   November 6, 2014; WI Voters for Companion Animals
   November 7, 2014; Animals 24-7
Clearing the air
   November 8, 2014; ColoRADogs
No surprise that pit bullies won't let election loss go
   November 18, 2014; Aurora Sentinel

Sources for Wisconsin:
Merrill girl, 2, recovering days after pit bull attack
   December 16, 2014; Wausau Daily Herald
Madison will consider major animal control changes
   October 17, 2014; Wisconsin State Journal
Pit bull attack brings plea for tighter controls
   September 13, 2014;
Committee votes to end Pitbull ban in Cambridge
   September 5, 2014. WKOW
3 Pit Bulls Attack 5 Children, 1 Adult in 2 Days in Racine
   August 27, 2014; Wide Awake America
In Cambridge, a pit bull named Sherlock triggers a rancorous showdown
   August 17, 2014; Wisconsin State Journal
70-Year-Old Uses Revolver to stop Pit Bull Attack
   24 July, 2014;
Victim in pit bull attack wants breed banned
   July 10, 2014; Wausau Daily Herald
Madison drops proposed mandatory pit bull neuter/spay law
   March 21, 2014. Wisconsin State Journal
Madison pit bull proposal off the table
   March 21, 2014; WMTV NBC15
Sponsors pull controversial Madison pit bull ordinance
   March 21, 2014;
Walworth County toddler dies after pit bull attack
   March 6, 2013; WISN

Sources for New Orleans:
Westwego councilman pulls his pit bull ordinance proposal
   July 8, 2013; Times-Picayune
Westwego woman lost eye, ear and both arms after pit bull attack
   March 14, 2013; Times-Picayune

Sources for Miranda Divine:
Times up for deadly dogs
   August 6, 2013; Daily Telegraph
How did I end up in a race war over dogs?
   August 10, 2013; Daily Telegraph

Sources for Rhode Island:
Rhode Island Introduces Statewide BSL Measure
   February 7, 2013; AKC News
Rhode Island pit bull bills withdrawn
   March 1, 2013; Bless the Bullys

Sources: Other Advocacy Bullying
Pit bulls, Ann Landers, & Dr. Laura
   by Barbara Kay
   Animals 24-7; December 24, 2014
Dr Laura sorry she said pit bull dogs at shelters "should all be put down"
   Fox411; December 23, 2014
Pit-bull cartoon sent me on journey of understanding
   by Charles St Amand
   Sentinel & Enterprise; August 21, 2014
Dog lovers protest Sonoma councilwoman's pit-bull comments
   Press Democrat; August 23, 2011

2014 Year-end report of dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; January 3, 2015
32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

This page may also include information fromDogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

2014 Dog Bite Related Fatalities on Daxton's Friends
Index of canine fatalities on Daxton's Friends