Would you want to eat your dog? No, of course you wouldn't. Look at him. Or her. Right now. Look. Just look at that face.
Now, would you eat a turkey? Chances are, you probably have.
So, you wouldn't eat a dog, right? Then why would you eat a turkey?
This is the question PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is asking this Thanksgiving in a billboard ad campaign aimed at children. The advertisement that will protrude from billboards in seven targeted cities features the head of a Jack Russell Terrier juxtaposed onto the body of a turkey, thanks to the miracle that is PhotoShop.
In the advertisement, PETA asks kids a pointed question that has begun to cause some controversy: If you wouldn't eat your dog, why eat a turkey? before adding, Go vegan.
Turkeys may not be as familiar to us as dogs and cats, said Ashley Byrne, PETA's senior campaigner, in an interview with the International Business Times. However, they have the same capacity to suffer, to feel pain and to fear, she said.
We know there are lots of kids who don't want to see a dead bird as their Thanksgiving centerpiece. We thought it would help spark discussions with parents.
PETA said in a release Tuesday that more than 250 million turkeys are killed in the United States each year, which includes more than 40 million for Thanksgiving.
Byrne said none of the billboards have been erected yet, as the organization is still in discussions and negotiations with billboard companies in several cities. PETA plans to put up billboards in Salem, Ore.; Tulsa, Okla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Salt Lake City; Omaha, Neb.; and Albuquerque, N.M.
We would like to get them up in as many cities around the country as possible, Byrne said. We selected a handful to start with.
Mike Martin, a spokesman for Cargill, the third-largest supplier of turkey in the U.S., said he wasn't surprised PETA released what has quickly become a controversial advertisement.
This kind of advertising this time of year is to be expected from that organization, Martin said in a phone interview with the IBTimes. PETA does that. ... I can only speak for Cargill, but we have all kinds of certification in place for animal welfare and animal care.
We have standards and certifications that have to be made. The animals are handled with the greatest amount of care and humane handling that's possible.
Martin said Cargill had sold its entire supply of turkeys to vendors this Thanksgiving, and said the demand hasn't decreased. He said the issue comes down to differing points of view. PETA will have theirs, and meateaters will have theirs. Since the demand is there, Cargill is not going to ignore the market.
Animal protein is nutritious, it is healthy, and it has been consumed for many thousands of years, and I suspect the 97 percent of the population that consumes meat is going to consume turkey this Thanksgiving, Martin said.
PETA is no stranger to controversial ads, especially around Thanksgiving. In 2009, NBC rejected PETA's ad to run during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast, saying it wasn't up to the network's standards.
That advertisement also featured a child, who said Grace at her family's Thanksgiving dinner. (Grace was also the title of the ad.)
Thank you for the turkey we're about to eat, she begins, before launching into a sarcastic giving of thanks for what PETA says are inhumane treatment of turkeys in their lives.
In 2009, music producer Mark Ronson appeared in a PETA ad involving a dog. It said, If you wouldn't wear your dog, please don't wear any fur.
PETA also issued a press release Monday, taking issue with Nintendo video game icon Mario's Tanooki suit in the new game Super Mario 3D Land. The organization said Mario and Nintendo are taking a pro fur stance while wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers.