As promised: a new series of humorous public service ads (PSAs)  promoting spaying and neutering. I would have thought the message (if not the precise way it was conveyed) would have had unqualified reader support — but I was wrong.

Last week’s initial entry drew a bit of fire from people who said owners should be responsible for keeping their dogs indoors.

I agree — but too often they are not. And even a single accident can create a litter of, say, 3 puppies (to be on the very conservative side).  Unless you’ve got an oddly selective pooch, those puppies will be mixed breeds — the type that occupy three out of four places in shelters. Is One Strike You’re Out (of testicles), i.e., the policy that some shelters enforce of not returning canine escapees intact, fair? Maybe not. But neither is having to kill healthy dogs that can’t find homes.

Another issue to ponder. Today’s spay-neuter PSA, brought to you by the U.S. Marines at the Fort Pendleton, CA, base — see, even tough guys neuter! —  plays on the stereotype that castrated dogs will no longer hump. The latest medical evidence is inconclusive, however.

I got a little flak for Wednesday’s PSA, which depicts pit bulls as snooze hounds and doesn’t make it clear dogs need exercise. What do you think: Is it okay to paint the issue with broad strokes to get an important point across? Or do we need complete truth in advertising?

Update: This great cat “speuter” video created by the Alliance for Humane Action was sent by alert blogger Roberta of Dog Blessed @ Silverwalk. I was tempted to save it for a later contribution to this series but that wouldn’t be right… Thanks, Roberta! I particularly love the details of the kitty magazines.

28 thoughts on “Spay & Neuter with a Smile, #2”

  1. So I went back to see the comments on your sleeping pibble commercial–great job! You really got a lot of folks talking.

    I’ll just take a little step back here–I don’t believe 30 second commercials have to be packed with nuance and explain all the pros and cons and disclaimers for everything they say. That would make them as boring as a John Kerry campaign speech.

    Adopting agencies, rescues, bloggers, trainers, veterinarians, and informed dog people need to be the educators. Ads are only to get people’s attention. And I bet the video above kept people watching long enough to get the phone number for the spay/neuter program at the end.

    1. Had to laugh about your John Kerry speech comment. If the man had learned to talk in sound bites, he might have won. It’s a perfect example of how you have to get people’s attention and then rely on others — policy wonks? — to massage the message.

  2. i think some people need to get a sense of humor, take things toooo seriously… can’t be all things to all people all the time, ya know… and if there’s flack, there’s truth and people are in denial, ain’t just a river in egypt 🙂

    1. There are definitely different truths for different people — I’m often amazed that people I like have politics that are SO different from mine; don’t they know the truth! — but I did think the need for spay/neuter and for snappy ads was generally accepted. Ya’ never know!

  3. Heh, I liked this video, short and very memorable. I think that is the point of advertising. There is only so much one can convey in a thirty-second spot. We as consumers see hundreds of ads per day, in order to get noticed, advertisers have to stand out. The more they use humour and pithy statements like “real men spay and neuter their pets”, the more people will remember their ads. It gets attention. Which is what is needed. People often put things like spaying/neutering off. They know they probably should but they procrastinate. Hopefully commercials like this will be another reminder. It is not up to the ad to provide a full litany of information to educate the public. That’s the veterinarian’s job.

    I didn’t comment on Wednesday’s video but I don’t see a huge deal with it either. I agree, it did potentially portray dogs as not needing exercise, but I think people were missing the point. The ad wasn’t trying to get people to walk their dogs. The point of the ad was to get people to consider adoption. If it did that then it was successful. Hopefully the shelter workers and volunteers help educate people further on the benefits of exercise. Or maybe someone else will make a different commercial with a different catchy phrase.

    1. I particularly liked this video because it played on the notions of masculinity; the marine looked so discomfited by the dog humping his leg — the implication being that “demasculinizing” a dog may not be so bad after all. I thought the discussion about pit bulls related to last week’s ad was particularly interesting. No one was suggesting the ad not run because we may be oversoftening the pit bull’s image; it was just an issue to consider.

      As I always say, one of the best things about blogging is what I learn from others.

  4. Nice ad! I think what grabbed my attention most was the harsh correction the guy gave, immediately followed by the contact info for the speuter clinic. Clever marketing in more ways than one.

    1. Love it! I’m posting it here as an update because I — and I assume no one else — can access it via the comments.

    1. For some reason, this one really tickled me. Napping buddies made me smile; this one made me laugh out loud. Different strokes…

  5. Sometimes I think the whole country has lost its sense of humor. Humor is such a great way to get someone’s attention for a serious message.

    And I did think the “cut his balls off” was hilarious. In fact i think I’ll post it. What I liked about it was that the sponsor of the PSA was offering a free clinic and even transportation if it was needed. You can run all the motivational PSA’s in the world, but if people can’t afford to have it done, it isn’t going to get done.

  6. These are great. Although I wish the guy with the beer hadn’t been so HARSH in reprimanding his randy dog. Still, so many guys are so identified with their dog’s testicles. REAL men get their male dogs neutered.

    As for the napping pibble.. That PSA was fine with me. It’s only 30 seconds for heaven’s sake. Maybe they’ll make a companion PSA about finding an exercise buddy at the local shelter.

    1. I thought about the reprimand and the message it sent, but in the end decided it was ok because the guy didn’t move to strike the dog and he was clearly ineffective — you hear the sound of the dog breathing heavily after he yells “Down Boy!” The implication was neutering is the way to go!

  7. hey, i like that blokey commercial a lot. it’s not just clever, it’s simple and to the point, it highlights a behaviour that most people don’t appreciate in their dogs, and it features the kind of bloke that would typically be against neutering/spaying.

    i can see it working 🙂

    happy valentine’s day, ms jarolim xox

    1. Thank you, Georgia (also for not shaming me for my imaginary conversation with you and Johnny Depp). I’m glad you liked the “blokey” commercial (great word)!

      Happy (almost gone) Valentine’s Day to you too.

  8. I can’t really comment on this one as I just don’t think it’s very funny. I assume it’s a result of being around intact dogs all the time who just don’t display the stereotypical behavior – when it’s not part of your reality you just don’t really identify with it very well, I guess? I’m not sure.

    I recently wrote a post about things I do in an effort to keep my dogs healthy, not spaying/neutering too early being one of them. Perhaps you might like to read it to get a better understanding of where the “other side” is coming from. (The Spay/Neuter portion is the last one covered in the post)

    1. Here’s the thing. We’re talking about pet overpopulation, which is a HUGE problem. Having millions of animals put to death is not very funny either. Yes, individual male dogs may be healthier if they are left intact (though breast cancer, which is very common, is prevented in females by spaying). I’ve done the research too and I’m not going to deny health issues in males. That said, these are PSAs, which address a larger, and largely uninformed, audience. If there were no irresponsible dog owners who let their intact dogs escape and contribute to pet overpopulation we wouldn’t need to be discussing this.

      1. I’m not sure where the focus on males came from – the benefits are clear in both sexes.
        I understand there is a huge issue with the number of dogs who currently live in shelter and rescues. I don’t necessarily agree with the reason for this that many suggest, but it is a problem none the less.

        My argument is that when we attempt to educate the public, we need to give them ALL the facts. One sided information is what people whom I don’t wish to be associated with do – it’s dirty politician tactics. We have to ask ourselves if we truly wish to educate – or just tell people what to do because we’ve decided that’s best. I find the latter leads to no real solutions.

        *I* find that if we truly want to solve the problem of widespread homeless animals we should forget about spay & neuter and start educating people on how to spot bad breeders. If people know what breeders NOT to support by giving them their money, producing dogs by the dozens will no longer be profitable and they won’t be overproduced. Good breeders don’t contribute to shelters.

        1. Sorry, I was confused re: the male issue: Someone else must have brought up the question of neutered Rottweilers being more subject to cancer.

          Anyway, I think we can’t give everyone ALL the facts in 30 seconds– we can give them a general idea and something they can do. At this point spay/neuter is the best action currently available to solve the overpopulation problem. If it were possible to convey the “how to spot bad breeders” message in a sound bite I would say go for it, but as Pamela and others pointed out, there’s no room for nuance in these PSAs.

  9. I had my dog fixed… and he still mounts other dogs. Should I have them put back?

    Does Paul McCartney support the spay/neuter campaign? Or will he be demanding royalties?

  10. You don’t have to be irresponsible to inadvertently contribute to pet overpopulation. Take a look at’s post from earlier this week and you’ll see her two male dogs escaped their back yard (over a 4 foot fence) thanks to the snow and ice accumulation in their back yard. In no way could Kim be considered an irresponsible dog owner – accidents happen. Luckily her dogs are both neutered so no pregnancies resulted, but they could have – and that’s the point.

    I have no idea if there are statistics on how many accidental litters are born in a year, but judging from the number of mixed breeds in the shelters, I’d say it’s a lot. If bad breeders were the primary cause of pet overpopulation, wouldn’t the shelters be filled with pure bred (if not well-bred) dogs?

    1. Good points, Amy — all of them! Many circumstances are beyond our control — including snow drifts. We need to deal with things that we can control if we want to stem pet overpopulation.

      And now I’m going to go read about Kim’s dogs!

  11. I’m typing with my left thumb due to the fresh stitches in my right hand because this is important. After two days of search and rescue, which was frightfully taxing for our escaped dogs and for us, I spent two day chipping 2 1/2 foot layers of freezing rain covered snow with a pitch fork around a half acre of fence while my husband removed it with a shovel down to the ground to prevent another escape. In 20 years at this house, we’ve never experienced so much snow all at once. Nor have we ever had any of our own dogs or fosters leverage it to escape.

    Yesterday, as I was walking our new mote with the dogs, because we don’t let them even in the fenced yard unsupervised now, and our Newfoundland jumped the fence from the ground without a thought or care in the world. I ran downhill to grab the hound before he followed but my body was jerked backward. I thought I had caught my sleeve on the fence. Instead, the meat of my finger was caught on the hooked top of the chain link, unrecognizable.

    I managed to drag the hound up the hill with my good hand, call my husband to come home from work to find the Newf, and an ambulance to take me to the hospital before I passed out. Since this happened yesterday afternoon, my husband is strictly leash walking.

    Dogs do get out from responsible pet owners too, which is why we had our purebred Newf neutered, rescue or not. And our hound had already been neutered by our local rescue or we would have petsonally had him altered too.

    That said, now I can go back to my Loritab and put the iPhone down. (I hope this even makes sense.)

    1. First, um, YIKES! You and your dogs have certainly been through hell in the last week! I’ll bet you are wishing yourselves back to Mexico and a time when you didn’t have internet/didn’t know such escapes were possible….

      I’m so sorry and hope your hand is better soon (I must say I’m impressed how well you type with your left thumb though).

      Thanks for taking the time to impress upon us, very clearly, that irresponsibility often has absolutely nothing to do with dog escapes.

      Now take it easy, y’hear!

  12. I liked the cat one the best just because I thought the lines and video was cleverly done, but both have a good message. I remember one of the vets in our city educating folks at our shelter on the dangers of not spaying and neutering. The truth is that for BOTH males and females, the risk for certain kinds of cancer goes up when they are left intact. That is not to say all intact dogs will get it, but the risk is much higher. My brother was against neutering (that whole stupid “guy” thing about ruining his manhood or something) so Remy wasn’t neutered until he got testicular cancer at age 10. It saved his life. The funny thing is that as it turns out, the neutering also took care of his need to destroy the house while they were gone. Vet said he likely had high testosterone levels and the neutering took are of it. I wonder how much money my brother could have saved if he had just neutered Remy in the first place?

    Amanda – I am sure you are a nice person, and I am all for educating folks on ALL the facts (however you define that) but it’s okay to just laugh at the humor of the commercials too. I’ve met many an intact male who didn’t fit the stereotypical behavior (as you mentioned above) and then I have had bruises and scratches from the ones who did. I still was able to laugh. Personally. I don’t think one solution is THE answer. Bad breeders, spaying/neutering, educating – all are good ideas and should be considered.

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