There aren’t many organisations who would choose the subject of Adolf Hitler and the ‘Master Race’ to promote its campaign, but Peta (The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has never been a stranger to controversy. Peta recently created a poster for display around the UK showing a pedigree Maltese dog sporting a Hitler style moustache, together with the slogan:
“Master Race? Wrong for People. Wrong for Dogs. Boycott Breeders. Adopt.”
The poster was meant to target dog breeders by suggesting that the ‘breed standards’ adopted by Crufts and the Kennel Club were to the detriment of all dogs. The idea is that you should adopt rescue dogs rather than trying to seek out one organisation’s ideology of a master race.
That’s just what Peta thought. However, when the poster was displayed around Birmingham in the run up to the Crufts show it caused quite a stir, and generated a few complaints.
One of the complaints came from the Kennel Club, naturally, who commented:
We put a complaint in to the ASA on behalf of all of the responsible pedigree breeders – and indeed pedigree dog owners – who love and care for their dogs and who know that they lead very healthy and happy lives. We believe that to these people the advert is highly offensive and very misleading.
A great many pedigree dogs breeders take steps to ensure that they health test their dogs so that healthy genes are passed down through the generations and as scientific knowledge develops more and more of these tests are becoming available.
The Kennel Club is leading pioneering research at the Animal Health Trust’s Canine Genetics Centre that will enable us to understand more about dog health and help us to further improve the health of both pedigrees and cross breeds alike.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rejected the complaint and has allowed the poster to remain.
The ASA carefully assessed three complaints that we received about Peta’s advertisement but did not consider there were grounds for a formal investigation.
We acknowledged that the image and text were emotive but did not consider the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence or to mislead. Consumers were likely to understand that the advertisers were expressing their opinion.
A spokeswoman for Peta defended the ad, claiming that the advert itself is not offensive. Poorva Joshipura, on behalf of Peta, added:
It is not our ad that is offensive but the false and dangerous belief that some breeds or races are superior to others.
We are asking people to take a bite out of cruelty by boycotting breeders and saving the life of a dog or a cat from a rescue shelter instead.
The BBC and the RSPCA both withdrew from Crufts last year following the television programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
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