We’re sure you’ve seen this movie before. A celebrity wears the wrong clothes, serves the wrong meal, goes hunting, or *gasp* buys a pet, rather than adopting, and before you can blink, PeTA has inserted themselves into the conversation, loudly denigrating the celeb’s choices with the organization’s distinctive brand of shaming and snark. It’s a fairly well-worn routine now, and a great way for PeTA, who are proud, self-described “press sluts,” to stay in the headlines.
The most recent row involves comedian Pete Davidson, who was so inflamed at being publicly shamed and (metaphorically) flogged by PeTA for purchasing a Cavapoo from a pet store, he sent them an angry, expletive-filled voicemail, much to the delight of PeTA, TMZ, and everyone else who makes a living off this kind of drama.
For what it’s worth, Davidson has stated that he regrets his choice of words and seems to have moved on. PeTA has milked just about everything out of this story that they can, too, so it’s likely just about out of the news cycle. Unfortunately, we, as an organization that cares about keeping facts straight and matching people with pets that are the right fit, we can’t be done with this quite yet. Because amidst the finger-waggling, there were two statements made by the organization regarding dogs and shelters that really should be addressed.
First, in response to Davidson saying he needed a hypoallergenic dog, they said that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. And second, they repeated the debunked claim that at least a quarter of dogs in shelters are purebreds.
The first statement – that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog – is factual, but it is also unhelpful and misleading to blithely wave someone off and leave it at that. Especially to an allergy sufferer who is seeking out a dog. While there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs, there are numerous less-allergenic dog breeds that may be a great fit for some allergy sufferers. For these people (as much as 20% of the population in western countries!), sticking to known, less-allergenic breeds is their best, and possibly only option for giving a dog a loving, permanent home.
The second statement, about 25% of dogs in shelters being purebreds is one of those claims that has been repeated so many times, a lot of people believe it as fact. However, anyone working in a shelter or non-breed specific rescue knows that this is an exaggeration. In fact, our shelter study, subsequently showed the number to be much lower – 5%!