By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.
An Android Dog Fighting App encouraging users to “feed, water, train and fight” virtual dogs was recently pulled off the Andorid market on April 28th, after protest from the Humane Society, thousands of animal lovers, and even from NFL player Michael Vick. By April 27th, over 100,000 people had downloaded the free app, according to the Twitter page of it’s developer, Kage Games. And yet, still on April 28, the website for Kage Games says “Coming Soon… Dog Wars. Raise your dog to beat the best.”
Don’t be fooled, if Dog Wars isn’t coming back on the market, a similar app with a different name is. Dog Bucks is a 99 cent purchasable item that gives your virtual dog 8000 “Dog Bucks” and an adrenaline shot to make sick, injured and dead dogs perform harder, faster, and meaner.
After just reading The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant, the story behind Michael Vick’s dogs and their tale of rescue and redemption, I am sickened that these apps were developed. And even worse, it was free for children to use without parental consent.
In the book, Gorant tells why people like Vick get easily seduced into the world of dog fighting. “They saw themselves in the dogs. In the exterior toughness and bravado, to a degree, but even more in the animal’s willingness to take on any challenge, to endure pain and injury, to never give up despite long odds and great difficulty. Viewed in such light, the dogs are noble and heroic, and that is how these men view their own struggle against the disadvantages they’ve had to contend with. Even more, there is a certain godlike feeling that comes with knowing that these creatures of superior toughness and strength and will are a product of their own making. The dog men have bred and selected and trained these animals, perfect symbols of their own triumph.”
Next: What you can do to discourage dog fighting apps
In essence, even the real life fighting of the Vick dogs was like a metaphorical game. The makers of Dog Wars are claiming that “it’s just a virtual game.” And they are donating a portion of their proceeds to animal rescue organizations. Well, the net effect is that rescues will need even more money than they currently need to rescue and rehabilitate the real life dogs that are affected by a virtual game. To make matters even worse, their virtual game only helps build the monster myth that Pit Bulls are aggressive. In a recent study of 122 dog breeds, by the American Temperament Society (ATTS), Pit Bulls achieved a passing rate of 83.9 percent. That even passes Golden Retrievers and Beagles, according to BADRAP (Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible about Pit Bulls).
Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle said, “Because Dog Wars actually instructs players on how to condition a dog using methods that are standard in organized dog fighting, this game may be a virtual training ground for would-be dog fighters. Its timing and message are all wrong.”
While dog fighting is illegal in all 50 United States, dog fighting apps are seen by Kage Games as a freedom of speech. Google owns the Android, and I’m very curious to know their thoughts. There is some irony in the fact that they appear to love dogs as their offices are dog-friendly, where employees are invited to bring their dogs to work. Online, I found a quote made by a Google employee, “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture.” With more than 23,000 full-time employees worldwide, Google has consistently ranked in the top 5 of Fortune Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for. “We recognize that dogs can be a valued and important part of employee’s lives and, in many cases, bringing them to work enhances their quality of life,” said Stacy Sullivan, Google’s chief culture officer.
Unlike Apple, which pre-screens its apps, Google relies on community monitoring to identify applications that violate its terms of service. Kage Games even states in all caps in their descriptions of the Dog Wars app, “A GAME THAT WILL NEVER BE IN THE iPHONE STORE!!!!”
All I can say is that I’m very proud to own an iPhone!
What are your thoughts? Are the Android Apps Dogs Wars and Dog Bucks merely virtual games that have no significance on real life behavior? Thanks for posting your comments below. If you believe that this is a damaging app, here are some call to action items:
1) Sign the petition to tell Google and Kage Games that dog fighting of any sort is never “Just a Game.”
2) Click here to flag this application as inappropriate. The application’s name is “Dog Wars,” the 2 add-on applications are named “Dog Bucks,” and the developer is Kage Games LLC.
3) Email Google at email@example.com and ask that they remove Dog Wars and both Dog Bucks packs from the Android Market. Share your concerns. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words, so feel free to attach a photo of a victim of dog fighting.
4) Email Kage Games at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them your thoughts. They have gained a huge amount of publicity over this app. This is a case where I really hope bad publicity is worse than no publicity.
5) Flag this application as inappropriate here. The application’s name is “Dog Wars,” the 2 add-on applications are named “Dog Bucks”, and the developer is Kage Games LLC
6) If you’re an Android device user, search “Dog Wars” and “Dog Bucks” in the Android Market application. Flag all 3 of them from your device as well.
As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.