After reading lawyer Carol Goyal's take on Vodafone's use of pug dogs
in its advertisements, I do not understand why anyone, especially a pug guardian, would support exploiting pugs for sales ("Counter Opinion: Why PETA is wrong about the Vodafone pug" April 13, 2018).
Unlike Goyal, I am a veterinarian with two decades experience. My training affords me the knowledge that pug dogs are genetically modified, and often inbred, for exaggerated features that humans find endearing, including tiny heads, short snouts, big eyes and furry folds of skin. But these traits bring about serious medical issues-including skin infections, spinal deformities, eye and dental diseases and respiratory disorders-that guardians are often unprepared for and incapable of dealing with, which results in people abandoning pugs on the streets or in shelters. India's climate is particularly inhumane for pugs because they are susceptible to heatstroke and to collapsing and dying in high temperatures. Who knows how hot it was the day Vodafone forced 30 pugs to run around in the sun and for how long.
PETA India is urging Vodafone to leave animals out of its ads because we don't want more pugs to suffer, a sentiment we hope Goyal shares. We know how many pugs already need loving homes in India, and we don't want more dogs susceptible to painful conditions being bred to be sold, or used as props. Speaking up for pugs is just the right thing to do, neither "blackmail" nor a "shock tactic". It is an ethical attempt to raise awareness and protect animals from the cruelties of breeding and entertainment industries. A genuine animal rights advocate would give animals-not a corporation-the benefit out the doubt with regards to welfare.
One controversy is clear: India already has an dog homelessness crisis and commercials like Vodafone's perpetuate it. As a pug guardian, I strongly encourage Goyal to educate herself on the serious and complex medical threats pugs face and to support businesses and organisations that work hard to safeguard animals.
(Dr Manilal Valliyate is the CEO for PETA India)