Nadya Suleman, the “Octomom,” who gave birth to eight babies last year, bringing her total number of children to 14, likely isn’t the first person you think of when it comes to responsible birth control, but she has agreed to place an ad reading, “Don’t let your dog or cat become an “octomom”—always spay or neuter: PETA,” on her front lawn.
When PETA staff members heard that Suleman was facing foreclosure on her La Habra, California home, they cam up with a clever idea to promote animal birth control: PETA offered Suleman a single payment of $5,000 and a month’s supply of veggie burgers and veggie dogs to help feed her supersized family in exchange for displaying the ad on her property.
My co-workers knew that the media wouldn’t be able to resist the irony–and they were right. So far, the ad has run (for free) in dozens of media outlets and blogs, including CNN, USA Today, NBC, the New York Post, AOL News, and E! Online, reaching millions of people with a lifesaving spay-and-neuter message.
PETA often attempts to make deals of this nature, urging individuals, communities, schools, or businesses to promote attention-grabbing, animal-friendly messages in exchange for free vegan food or other things that may be of special interest to them. Not surprisingly, the offers are often ignored–by the recipients, not the media! Perhaps Suleman was able to relate to the plight of millions of homeless animals across the country.
Regardless of her motivation for accepting the offer—and everyone’s opinions about her, which I’m betting aren’t favorable—I have to say, it wasn’t a bad deal for PETA—especially now that “kitten season” is starting.
Spaying and neutering is crucial to ending animal overpopulation. As I mentioned in a previous post about euthanasia, between six and eight million animals enter U.S. shelters every year. Half of them must be euthanized. That means that, even with three to four million animals finding loving new homes—or being reunited with their guardians—there are still not enough homes for millions of other animals. (And, of course, rescue workers who take in mostly unsocialized, sick, and/or abused animals have an even lower percentage of adoptions than those attempting to find homes for healthy, friendly puppies and kittens.)
Eight million a year is more than enough. Until “professional” breeders stop breeding and animal guardians stop allowing their dogs or cats to have “just one litter,” there will be way more homeless animals than anyone can care for. In a satiric way, and for her own reasons, the “Octomom” is at least helping to spread the word about spaying and neutering.