How the Media Affects Our Choice of Pets… and Why It Needs to Stop

From turning female dogs into baby-making factories to wrenching fish from the ocean to satisfy a trend, it’s time we opened our eyes and looked at the real instead of the reel!

When Vodafone released its first advertisement, hardly any households knew of Pugs. What followed in the years to come has resulted in some of the most genetically-compromised dogs ever. Pugs as a breed, even when bred responsibly, come with their own set of issues. Being brachycephalic dogs, they are susceptible to respiratory and cardiovascular disorders. They are also unable to tolerate extensive physical activities and heat. So Vodafone promised you that like their network, the adorable Pug would follow you wherever you go. People fell for it, switched to their network, and went about looking to buy a Pug puppy too -- only to realise that these were just tall claims!

Breeders went to town breeding Pugs, litter after litter. They converted little Pug girls into factories to meet the demand. Nobody looked into the genetics, nobody controlled what kind of dogs should be bred, and more importantly, what kinds should not be bred at all. Families brought home a tiny pup during the children’s vacation, only to realise later that a pup cannot be turned off like a switch. 

It was only a matter of time before there was an epidemic of Pugs being abandoned. Breeders who found a female sterile, people who were just not ready to be pet parents -- in a world of instant gratification, something useless is tossed out!

Finding Nemo, a well-acclaimed, universally loved animated film is another such example. Funnily enough, the message through Finding Nemo was correct: encourage conservation and let animals thrive in their habitat. Somehow, human beings sometimes miss the true message and turn it on its head! That may be why we are so easy to fool through marketing gimmickry. Suddenly kids across the world wanted Nemo in their bedrooms, much like they wanted a Wonder Woman figurine!

While clownfish may make for good aquarium additions, what everyone forgot is that the ones for aquariums should be the ones bred in captivity. The people selling clownfish conveniently forgot to mention that they are marine-caught. More than one million clownfish are taken from reefs for home aquariums and as a result, organisations have asked for them to be put on the endangered list! 

The horror stories of Pug females being bred to death to meet the rising demands for Pug pups and them actually going extinct in some local areas, proves that we seem to be easily swayed by what we see on screen and forget to do our homework. It’s time we as adults educate our children and ourselves. Our greed to consume, to want everything we see, is destroying species and our planet at an alarming rate.

It’s time we opened our eyes and looked at the real instead of the reel!


Tanya Kane

Tanya Kane

Jeevoka member since Jul 2019

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved dogs! What started as a learning journey during my teenage years moulded into a full-time job in adulthood. 12 years ago, I shunned my Master’s degree to set up The Pawsh and RESQ Charitable Trust and have since then never looked back. A trained Canine Behaviourist and Hydrotherapist, I am very passionate about inculcating responsible pet ownership and working on dogs that need a second chance at the RESQ Rehoming Centre. When I am not working with animals, you will find me championing the sustainable life — another cause very close to my heart!