Guest Blogger: Stephen Raulli

Puppy Love

I’m an animal lover and devout vegetarian. I think any abuse a person inflicts upon an animal should be inflicted upon them. But, a cynic at heart, I can’t help but notice not only people’s connection to animals, but their disconnect from people.

Think about Independence Day; the scene in the tunnel. Mother and son are safe in the tunnel as a fireball rolls through–but the dog has yet to make it. The audience edges closer to their seats as the dog leaps across cars like a gymnast and land to safety. But–what about the dozens of people who died a fiery death?

Let’s look at perhaps the world’s most heartbreaking commercial:

Many people I know can’t bear to watch. The one-eyed kitty, the slipping dog–heartbreaking. I’m not being sarcastic. But, is this commercial making a good argument? Certainly it applies to our pathos. But ethos? What is it assuming? Obviously that we love animals. But, when asked to “be an angel,” is it implying we’re horrible if we don’t call and donate? It is a heartbreaking commercial–but a lousy argument. Where are the statistics of how many animals are rescued and placed into good homes? Could I see that follow up story? The commercial implies the animals will die if we don’t pick up phone.

For such a lousy argument, this commercial seems to effect a lot of people. But, why is it animals bring people to tears, but not this?

Perhaps there are others more disturbed by this commercial than the ASPCA. But, this one is not as talked about. Is the puppy worth more?


10 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Stephen Raulli

  1. kelly olney says:

    From a personal aspect i feel that the animal cruelty video would bring me to tears rather than the story of Alex and his struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that the story of Alex is terribly saddening and brings me to tears but the animal video just catches my eye. Aside from myself, I believe that others may feel the same as I do for several reasons. It’s not that the “puppy is worth more” but rather that the puppy is only an animal, a helpless creature against humans. For example, I can kick and scream at my dog or cat but seconds later I can pet them and their tail will be wagging like crazy. Animals are mentally and somewhat physically defenseless towards humans, but more importantly they are as innocent as new born baby’s and don’t deserve the punishments that they may suffer. Someone may see the animal cruelty video to be sadder than the other story for the fact that they relate to animals more. When i see a video like that I think of my dog and can’t even imagine something similar happening to him. When someone may see the the other video, obviously it is heartbreaking but they may not relate to Alex’s struggles resulting in the puppy having more worth in a sense.

    • I’m failing to see your point of view, unfortunately. Animals are defenseless, yes; but so are children being asked to sponsor. Animals are abused but the people in those countries are born into those conditions. Why are we still inclined to feel for the animals, is my question.

    • Conor Callahan says:

      Personally, being a dog lover I cannot watch the video with the animals. I understand the point you’re trying to get across but at the same time, you have to consider our perspectives. How many of us actually know what’s going on outside of the U.S. If you were to ask me I would have no clue, call me an ignorant American if you want but I’m being honest. Seeing pets and animals suffering is devastating when you relate to your own animals. Obviously we should do anything we can to aid those in need, but many of us will have instant sympathy for suffering pets because we can immediately relate to our own and those we see daily.

      • Stephen raulli says:

        Looking over the post I definitely failed to present my argument correctly. I didn’t mean to invalidate any charity or cause. What I meant to ask was why the animal commercial generates more talk. Ask anybody, “Do you know that ASPCA commercial?” and they’ll most likely know this one specifically. But like the PLAN commercial, it provides few facts about what happens to the abused. So why does the ASPCA more remembered? It’s hard to do this over blogging.

    • Ryan Waffle says:

      I’m also failing to understand the point of view here. Yes animals are mentally and physically defenseless against humans, like newborns. But its not like the poor and starving children we see on the commercials are college age students looking for some extra cash. These children, are just that: children! They have grown up with nothing and no one. Often many of them are born into countries in the middle of immense conflict and they are the subject of genocides, forced military recruitment, and loss of family/friends. How are these kids not helpless creatures against humans to?

      Yes we often relate to animals more because many of us are pet owners. But what about our younger siblings, friends, or even children of our own? If we have our close children to relate to when we see the starving children in a poor country, why do we still fail to make that connection?

      Also, the argument that animals bring nothing upon themselves so they deserve more aid than we do, I think, is ludicrous. These children have done NOTHING to bring this upon themselves. They were born into a harsh world, with absolutely nothing. Yes, humans can be cruel and evil. We may lie, cheat, kill, and steal. But holding these poor innocent children, who have done nothing but struggle to survive, accountable for our transgressions and our wrongdoings is not only cynical, its just wrong.

  2. Ashley Yang says:

    Yes. Puppies, kitties, any animal of any kind are always worth more, and any commercials involving animals will move me to tears in an instant, whereas human poverty commercials tend to make me question (somewhat cynically), “So if I were to donate, how much of my donation would ACTUALLY make it to the people who really need it, as opposed to supporting the middlemen?”

    Why do I feel that way? Because animals don’t do anythign to bring misery upon themselves. Not that innocent children do, either, but humans in general definitely do. They lie and cheat and steal and bomb and shoot, whereas all an animal does is try to survive. And I definitely can’t help but feeling worse for those who have never, ever in their lives done anything to ask for the circumstances thrust upon them–nor WILL they ever do anything to deserve them. I’ve always said that if I win the lottery, the first thing I’m doing (after student loans and all that realistic nonsense) is opening up a no-kill cat shelter, and adopting all the cats I can find (shut up, Stephen). Donating to a human charity never really even crossed my mind, but I would spend every cent of my big win just to ensure another kitty never got euthanized just because there was no room for it to live.

  3. Sarah Drapela says:

    I certainly follow the trend in that I refuse to watch anything having to do with animal cruelty because it will make me cry. I have always had a soft spot for animals and even have spent the last four years here helping at a no kill shelter (Beverly Animal Shelter in Waterloo). Yet, a commercial about helping children tends to just annoy me. But, I love children and working with them, and I think programs such as Doctors without Borders or others that send people to help those in need are invaluable. I think the reason I respond this way to the commercial has more to do with the approach taken to get donations rather than me picking puppies over kids. After all, both animals and children are helpless regarding the situations they are in and both deserve to be saved.
    When I see a commercial about donating to the spca or a similar organization, the commercial shows all animals and talks about how your money can make a difference for all. The ones asking me to sponsor a child tell me my money will only go to one child, the one whose picture and life story they send me. But how do I know that the child whose picture I have is actually getting the money I have donated? How do I know their story was not just made up by the organization? Or, what if I want my money not to go to just one child? I have always been a little put off that these organizations ask for money but then they spend the money to send all of the donors pictures and stories. If they are so desperate for money I would rather not get a packet about “my child” and instead have that money go towards helping the child as well. Maybe I am incorrect in my thinking but I have always felt that if I were to donate to help a child it is not a sure deal that that is where my money is really going where as I am familiar with the spca and trust giving them my time and money. And while animals do deserve our help and attention, there really is no excuse that so many people seem to value them over other people. But if an organization is going to get me to help save the children they are going to have to find a better way to get me interested in their cause.

  4. Salvador Forte says:

    I feel Americans are affected more by the ASPCA commercial because they can relate to animal cruelty more than impoverished third world families. The common American image of the nuclear family having a son, a daughter, a mom, a dad, and “Rover”, the lovable dog, makes us empathize more with “Rover” than a complete stranger in a different country. The ASPCA definitely hits closer to home.
    I also agree with Ashley with the skepticism of donors of how much money is actually going where they want it to go. I feel donors are more likely to donate to an organization that supports a local cause rather than something in another country; they feel a certain comfort and safety in where there money is going. I’m not saying that Americans are Xenophobic, but rather that they are more concerned about themselves and especially their money.

  5. Jr. Woodard says:

    The animal cruelty punishment is very much upsetting. However, that commercial doesn’t strike a nerve to me like the other video of the poor child Alex. Those commercials of poverty around the world and the struggle people have to endure in countries over sea is something that bothers me when I see the commercials. It makes me wonder why that nonsense occurs in our world and nobody can help them. I actually see the pain in Alex’s face during the commercials and it all feels so real for me to care more about a human being than a animal. Humans are more important and worth more than an animal if you ask me. Some of the stuff that happens to animals is downright wrong and horrific but I was born in Georgia and so was my father. He grew up there all his life and we had visited this summer and we actually seen stuff like dog fighting rings and places where rooster fights, which are called cock fights, go on. My father said its something that a bunch of southerners do especially in his area. They were normal to see and traditional. After hearing that and realizing that it doesnt make me feel for the commercials that go on with the animals as much as humans. But then again, it all depends on the type of person you are emotionally.

  6. Michael Kane says:

    In order to make a comparison between animals who don’t do anything to bring misery upon themselves, and humans, who I assume one must argue, do. One must be clearer in defining “animals”. Clearly, animals do things everyday to bring misery to other animals. Nature is full of predator prey relationships that result in the misery of other animals. If given the opportunity, even your household cat (regardless of how many eyes it has) will eat the family gold-fish.
    While it is true that man does cruel things to his own species, and is probably more guilty than any other species in that category. It seems unfair to judge the child vs the animal at a level that evaluates the species as whole’s intrinsic “goodness”.
    If these commercials are instead viewed from the perspective of the victim (ie. injured animal, or poor African boy) it becomes a difficult argument to make that somehow the child is less worthy of tears. Certainly a child cannot be responsible for the mistakes of his species.
    I understand that there may be an argument that all animals should be treated with the same love and respect. I respect that train of thought and see no reason why one would be just as moved by both commercials equally. But that somehow one can take away from the child commercial because of faults of his species takes the individuality of the African boy from him and indirectly makes him a scapegoat for their faults.

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