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Why I Won’t Donate to the ASPCA | And Why Their Commercials Work

The dog on the right is the mom of our dogs.  She was pregnant when this picture was taken.  I don’t like images like this and told myself I’d never share them on this blog, but I think this is a powerful image, especially when compared to the hundred that I have of our happy littermate puppies.

I can’t stand the sound of Sarah MacLachlan’s voice.  I the song “You Are Always on My Mind” makes me cringe.

I know that the ASPCA does a lot of great work, but those commercials just KILL me and don’t encourage me to donate to them at all – WHY? – because my donation doesn’t guarantee that I won’t see that sad commercial in the next 60 minutes.  Obviously these commercials send droves of people to their phone, credit card in hand, ready to rescue animals.  They just make me change the channel.

The ASPCA knows what their doing, because those commercials work!

It cracks me up and I imagine that the ASPCA is run by some brilliant people.  WHY?  Because I donate money to a local rescue group, Furkidz911 Connection (they rescued the mom of our littermate puppies) every year.  I won’t donate to the ASPCA, because those commercials are awful, but I still support rescue work and isn’t that the point?

Everyone time I see one of those commercials, I think of the image you see above and the image you see below.  Two generations of Australian Cattle Dog mix canines.  I’m so thankful for what we’ve been able to do to give our dogs such a great life.

I wish the ASPCA commercials looked like this image below…

It would be so nice to see some more happy endings.

Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Rodrigo & Sydney playing in the yard, cherry blossoms

This is Sydney and Rodrigo playing in our yard.  I love watching them play from a distance, because they truly love each other and play together today just like they did that first week we brought them to our home.

The ASPCA is a little bit brilliant!


  1. Well I came over here from your other site. Looking good Kimberly. I totally agree with you on those commercials! I am a animal lover period and I turn them immediately when they come on. They are to hard to watch or listen to. Unfortunately we cannot have dogs as my daughter has allergies to animals. Maybe a hypo allergenic poodle or something but I like sporting breeds and so does she. Labs are my favorite! All the doggies and kitties do give me lots of work at Carpet Cleaning San Clemente as you know. I find that most people love there animals as much as you would love a son or daughter. I think animal lovers tend to be the nicest people and the people you want to be around.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Bill – I appreciate the support. If you ever find the time you are more than welcome to write up a post about carpet cleaning and dogs. Our carpet cleaner (he comes 2x a year) recommended a solution that we used between visits that came in handy when the puppies were being potty trained. The reason I love small businesses is because of these little extra touches they offer.

  2. This is really thought-provoking. I’ve struggled with this myself. I don’t feel that people should be bullied or guilt-tripped into donating through these heartbreaking images. I’m very sensitive, and I find myself quite traumatised by some of the images I see from groups like the ASPCA. Then, I feel guilty for turning my gaze away from the images. On the other hand, the images might help people to donate more. I don’t know, I’m torn.

    • That’s how I feel too. Torn. I have nightmares after seeing a commercial. I started watching that new Kevin Bacon show, The Following, and there’s an AWFUL scene that they should have warned people about that gave me nightmares for a week. I get obsessive with our dogs, trying to protect them, because the thought of them ending up in one of these terrible situations freaks me out. I won’t donate to the ASPCA, because I don’t want to perpetuate those images; but I do donate monthly to one rescue group and quarterly to another. Those commercials and my experience with pet blogging showed me that I could help.

      • SO glad you warned me about The Following, because strangely enough, I was going to start watching it tonight! All we can do is do our bit. If we start worrying about all the dogs out there suffering, it’ll be too overwhelming.

        • I haven’t watched any more episodes so I don’t know how the rest go, but definitely DO NOT watch the first episode. I almost fired off an email to the network – I was angry and offended. You can get a point across without being so visual. I tried to watch other episodes, because it looks really good, but the first episode ruined it for me.

  3. If the ASPCA didnt use the gimicks it uses would you give a damn? most likely not, youd probbly change the channel to whatever popular bullshit your into and not give the animals a second thought. Its effective because not everyone is you, looking for others approval. Some people need a kick in the ass.

    • Either I’m missing the point of your comment or you’re missing the point of my article. I’m saying that I do switch the channel or turn off the television all together. But those images stick, hence the title “why their commercials work.” Because of those commercials, I’ve put more time and energy into dog rescue and I’ve changed my blogging practices to pull donations from businesses and brands to direct to dog rescue.

      You’re right, not everyone is like me, but that’s the bonus of the world we live in. If we were all the same, it would be boring.


  4. People thinking the same way but rather than holding hands… ripping each other apart. I am an animal lover who has had a new one ripped on a couple of occasions for mentioning that I support the ASPCA. The ASPCA has been wonderful by keeping me informed about all kinds of animal rights issues, helping me write my council people, senators and representatives regarding issues at local, state, and federal levels. I <3 the local animal shelters AND I <3 the ASPCA but my feeling get hurt due to the negative… almost hostile tone that develops when I mention my support of the ASPCA. I do love Sarah MacLachlan. Maybe that helps, too. Please, let's stop ripping each other apart and hurting each others feelings when we're all members of the same choir!

    • Well said, Alben

      I agree 100%. People at the ASPCA have been so generous with their time in helping me build content for this blog when I first started out. They are amazing. But I don’t care for the images in the commercials or on their ads. But that’s a personal opinion and I agree that it’s okay for us to disagree with a marketing campaign without attacking people who may feel differently. We ARE all on the same team, we’re all animal lovers, so we need to learn to agree to disagree on the small stuff so that we can focus on the important stuff, like writing to our council people.

      Thank you very much for your contribution!


  5. It’s so nice to see you being supportive of the ASPCA in return. Why even go to the place of getting nit picky over their marketing? It just seems so ungrateful to those who have given of their time, money, and resources to say you can’t donate because the ads show too much of the ugly side and you don’t like Sarah’s voice. These are the kinds of things our mamas told us to keep to ourselves, IMHO.

    • What you see as nit picky is something that’s very important to me. Commercials showing abused animals give me nightmares. I get very stressed by these images when they’re shown on television and on social networking sites. There are many people who feel the same way. I’m not saying that the ASPCA is wrong for using these images, I’m expressing how I feel about them. I’ve come to associate the music to these images, so it makes me cringe too. I’m not making a judgment about the artist, I’m sharing how I feel.

      Everyone has a right to their opinion and I’m sharing my thoughts and feelings about a subject that is not only important to me, but is important to others as well. You may not agree with me and you’re welcome to judge me as being petty and nit picky. Since we’re strangers, I won’t have hurt feelings when you call me names. But I will continue to ask questions and express my thoughts.

      Thank you for sharing.

  6. Of all the big organizations, I do prefer the ASPCA. I won’t get into why the Humane Society is corrupt (the corporate side of things, NOT the local Humane Societies) but I also choose to give my time, resources and money to local rescues. I volunteer my services as a dog trainer, I foster dogs when I can and donate food and supplies often. Fortunately, I don’t watch much television but I am on Facebook a lot. Being deep into the dog world, most of my news feed is dog related posts. When people post photos of sad, abused, bloody dogs behind the bars of shelters, I block them from my news feed. I don’t need to see theses images to know what suffering is happening out in the world. I understand that it works and many people don’t know how to donate to local rescues and shelters so at least these commercials are nudging folks to do something.
    I always appreciate your point of view, Kimberly. Keep fighting the good fight. There will always be someone out there that disagrees with you. We only hope that we can all remain civil and discuss these topics like grown ups and agree to disagree when necessary.

    • That’s exactly my point. I didn’t write this article to bash anyone. I was sharing my thoughts on those images; (1) I can’t tolerate them and (2) they did inspire me to do more so I see why the ASPCA has those commercials. I’m fully aware of the need for rescue groups and the animal cruelty that goes on so I don’t need these images to inspire me to do more; but they did inspire me to start this blog, to adopt instead of buy puppies, and to support local rescue groups.

      It’s sad that someone glanced at an article and then attacked me for sharing my thoughts on my blog.

  7. I didn’t call you names. IMHO, people need to see those ugly truths. The reason for them is because of what ASPCA stands for…

    Society for the
    Prevention of
    Cruelty to

    They are about public awareness of animal cruelty and that is what they show in their public awareness ads. Their mission is to concentrate on what we can collectively do to stop animal abuse. That is their emphasis and the reason they were created and exist. They are not in competition with the local pound or any other pro animal organization. They are part of the same family. I found your post to be very negative in tone and I dislike it even more since you expressed how much support they gave you and you turn around and say something that could discourage support of the ASPCA. It just seem ungrateful. I’m sorry, but it does!

    • Calling someone nit picky isn’t nice and I found it interesting that you’d tell me how I should behave and judge how I was raised while judging me in the same comment. It’s YOUR opinion that people need to see those images. It’s my TRUTH that I’m aware of the cruelty that goes on, because of my relationship and involvement in local rescue, so I don’t need to see those images.

      Why is it that if someone doesn’t agree with an ad campaign, they’d bashing an organization? Where do you get this in the post? I have my doubts that you read it at all and you’re just attacking me for fun.

  8. Kimberly, such “lively” discussion!

    As a Fundraising Professional, I can honestly say these types of commercials are not so much marketing strategy as fundraising strategy. Many of the big nonprofits (not just animal rescue) use this type of commercial – you’ve seen them: “for 10 cents a day you can feed a starving child”, “for just $20 a month, you can provide hope to a child suffering with cancer”, etc.

    It is a fundraising strategy to get a potential donor to connect, not just with the organization, but the people (or animals) it serves. Each donor is different – some need the “big emotional push” (an image of a suffering child or animal) to move them from a bystander to a donor and some, like you and many others, just need to be shown the benefits of your donation. Everyone should remember that it takes all kinds of donors to get any and all of the work done at a nonprofit and the nonprofit needs to figure out how to reach each and every one of them.

    In regard to the ASPCA commercials, I cannot watch them without tearing up – I also cannot watch the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital commercials either (and I am a “Partner in Hope” donor). I am a former employee of Habitat for Humanity (and I still volunteer regularly both at home and across the world); what I loved about Habitat’s videos (never really have been commercials) is that they start just like the ASPCA, or St. Jude…with scenes of poverty housing but they always conclude with Habitat’s success stories in that region/area/etc. If only some of the other nonprofits would follow suit….then, I may be able to watch their commercials (though I would probably still tear up).

    Just my opinion. And I agree we are all entitled to our own opinion so I hope no one tries to bite my head off. LOL (Sorry for the long comment.)
    Gina (and Oz)

  9. I think it is a misunderstanding Kimberly has regarding the whole purpose of the ASPCA. When taken in light of why the organization was created, I think their ads are spot on message. BTW, because I AM a member, I can tell you that they do not stop with animal rights issues for dogs and cats. They even go into issues like what types of fish we should avoid eating for a while due to overfishing… anything and everything regarding mistreatment of animals … even outside of the USA… they care about and work hard to make positive changes for animals all over the world. I can’t understand how ANY animal lover could discourage donating to this fine organization just because they reveal an ugly truth to the public that is visually horrific to see. Anyway, we are on the same team so let’s all support each other. I’m not going to say anything bad about the humane society because they’re part of our family, too.

    • I didn’t discourage anyone donating to the ASPCA – I explained why I won’t donate to the ASPCA. And by the way, I’ve shared this with them too. Guess what – they don’t care. I’m ONE person. What they care about is that we do something, which I’m doing. I’m proud of the work that I do. I love that I can donate the money I earn and the products I receive to local rescue. I love that I can in a small way help them with their costs of rescuing animals and finding them homes.

      I would think that this would be important for everyone. Why is it that it’s okay for you to share your opinions, including your opinions of my character, but I’m not allowed to say that commercials are upsetting to me? So your saying that I’m not allowed to share my thoughts on my blog? That’s an interesting standpoint.

  10. My point is I don’t even understand the disagreement. I take exception to this blog because it has lately become a habit for people to trash the ASPCA and when I say I love animals and speak of the ASPCA, people tell me I DO NOT SUPPORT THE ASPCA and then say they choose instead to support the local animal shelter. I wish that instead, we’d say something like, I’m so glad you do that! I also support animals through the local animal shelter. Instead, we divide. BTW, I have NEVER heard and ASPCA person tell someone they don’t support the local animal shelters. There are all types of support. I am aware that you used the word donate rather than support so I’ll give you credit for that. Now, please, let’s stop the disagreements and start supporting each other and just keep it to ourselves about the animal organizations we choose not to donate to. Unless you have a real beef with something they are doing that is contrary to that organizations core mission. Deal?

    • Alben, I agree with you. Publishing a headline like this one is a form of slander. It’s dirty journalistic pool.

      Kimberley has a large blog and Facebook following, and this is ASPCA bashing on a level that could actually influence people to stop donating. The world is now getting down to only reading sound “bytes,” and a headline like this is unacceptable.

      It would be quite different if it stated: “I have deep seated issues with abuse, and am personally triggered by animal cruelty commercials,” then discussed how awareness and fundraising are accomplished with these images, and why this is personally distressing. That is responsible journalism. Well, responsible enough for an a letter to the editor, anyway. Your personal issues don’t belong in journalism.

      The ASPCA educates on serious issues. They don’t focus on cute fuzzy puppy photos for Facebook popularity. They attract people who give a damn about what’s really happening out there. They get laws changed. They are often a first point of information for people who want to see crucial animal welfare legislation passed. Posting fuzzy feel good photos all the time doesn’t accomplish that. You’re also right, Alben, in spelling out what the ASPCA’s letters really mean.

      I’ve seen Kimberley state on forums that she has no compunctions about slandering small businesses, either. There’s a level of passive aggression here that I find really disturbing. It isn’t limited to the ASPCA. She bashes others on forums in a disingenuous way that is quite cutting. When confronted, out comes the, big eyes, the “Who meeee?” and the First Amendment. What you need to know about the First A: Free Speech is NOT slander nor innunendo. Free Speech is a right; slander is legally actionable.

      I realize anyone can have a blog and, without training in ethics, consider themselves a journalist. It’s unfortunate that some build a personal following on their cutesy animal photos, then feel free to slander organizations that do a lot of good.

      • Obviously you didn’t read the headline. It says why I don’t donated to the ASPCA and WHY THEIR COMMERCIALS WORK. This article goes on to state that their commercials have gone on to inspire me to not only donate to local rescue. I save money all year so that I can donate $500+ each summer to sponsor local events that support dog rescue. Why? Because the ASPCA commercials are hard to forget.

        If I’m bashing the ASPCA, why did they help me with the health pages of my site? Why are they currently helping me with an article on vegetarian diets for dogs?

        And in what forum did I say that I have no problem bashing small businesses? I support many small businesses, creating pages on my site to support mom and pop businesses who source treats locally and I promote them free of charge. I have never attacked a business or a business person. But you have obviously come here to slander me with your lies.

        I find it hilarious that you can hide behind a false name, spout lies about me on MY blog and call yourself educated. I cracked up at your comment “big eyes” you don’t know me – what are you talking about? And the best part is ” Free Speech is NOT slander nor innunendo. Free Speech is a right; slander is legally actionable” – I take it you’re immune to your words. You can come here and spout lies about me and NOT read my blog post where I share how I was inspired by the ASPCA commercials to do more in my community.

        Because you’ve come to my blog to attack me with your lies, I will go ahead and block you from commenting here in the future. I welcome different opinions; I love them, in fact, because that’s how I learn. What I don’t welcome are people who tell blatant lies.


  11. To all the commenters , I have to agree with Kimberly on this one. Sad part about the ASPCA is that only about 1-3% goes to shelter, most of their money goes to advertising or padding the pockets of their leaders.So for every dollar you give maybe and only maybe will a penny go to a shelter.PetSmart Charities and such they give their money to shelters to help.
    I had a discussion on Facebook about a something similar topic. Those who rescue only extreme abused animals. Unfortunately more people will give their money to those animals who need thousands of dollars worth of medical help and some will even die after those thousands have been spent but they will let those who have been abused or those that are healthy die in shelters all over. Those rescues are the ones with the most fans and get the most donations yet if more of your local shelters had that many fans or those donations could save so many more.
    I don’t agree with everything that I read on this blog but I am sure you don’t agree with everything I say. That is what makes bloggers real. Thank you for donating to your local rescue, those are the ones that need it the most.
    For those who are reading this comment , before you write that check to the ASPCA think “is it really going to help the animals I just seen” then write the name of your local shelter on it , send it to them and I am sure that they will send you a thank you note thanking you for your generosity. Most shelters such as Humane Societies etc are ran by donations only. Do your research and see if they are funded by state or local government. Those are the animals that benefit to get vet care, vaccines, food and water because of your donation.

    • Thank you so much, Carma Poodale – I agree that our differences are what makes it great. Blogging rocks simply because we have a community of people who love animals sharing their personal experiences. We have to be able to share without fear of being attacked for an opinion. Instead, it’s important to open discussions. Personally, many of the opinions I held a year ago have changed drastically.

      I now feed our dogs raw food; but that doesn’t mean I think all kibble is evil. We adopted littermates and would do it again; but I won’t encourage others to do so. And I choose to support local rescue groups, because you can see the good that those donations do than when you send them off to an anonymous organization. The ASPCA isn’t being hurt by this choice; but local rescue groups are being helped.

      Thanks for the support.

    • i never got help for the abused animals next door until i filed suit

  12. This will be my last post, however, I sincerely wish you would consider removing this entire thread from your blog and instead putting one up regarding how all of these wonderful organizations have overlapping, though slightly different objectives and that you are thrilled that people support them all. This is not because I beleive in censorship but rather because the only time I would ever talk about not donating to or supporting an organization is if their principles ran counter to my own. I KNOW you aren’t saying that and we need to all stand UNITED! UNITED WE STAND… DIVIDED WE FALL!!! Enemies of animal rights groups would love to create divisiveness amoung the various groups so that we fight one another. We ABSOLUTELY can not allow that to happen. I would suggest that you put up another blog about how you think ASPCA can change their marketing for the better but just leave out the part about not donating to them because most of us aren’t financially able to support them all even if we wanted to and that’s ok!

    • What’s sad is that YOU started this disagreement, yet you’re blaming me for the divide.
      You didn’t read my blog, because you would have read that “I know that the ASPCA does a lot of great work.” and “I imagine that the ASPCA is run by some brilliant people. WHY? Because I donate money to a local rescue group.”

      The point of this article is to show that the ASPCA knows what they’re doing with those commercials. Although I don’t like them, they inspired me to do something. I donate money, I donate supplies, and I do donate my time. I meet with leaders of rescue groups to discuss how I can support them in boycotting stores that sell puppies and kittens. I’m currently working with another group on gaining support for legislation to ban the sell of puppies and kittens in stores in our State. And I write many many articles a week sharing how dog parents can raise happy, healthy dogs. When they do that, whey they are part of a community that supports them, then we see fewer animals being surrendered to shelters.

      It’s unfortunate that you missed the message of both this article and my blog; because you’re obviously a passionate person and that is the type of person I want to connect with, because together we can do more. On that, I agree with you. What I don’t agree with is coming here, attacking me, my blog, my character, my readers, and my right to express an opinion (I never told anyone not to donate to the ASPCA), and then turning around and blaming me for today’s disagreement.

      I’m sorry to lose you as a reader and I wish you well.

  13. BTW, most of the ASPCA donations wind up buying things that help animals. And, they ask their members to support local shelters.

    It’s so easy to lie when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  14. I didn’t know I wasn’t a reader anymore. What happened?

  15. My apologies to Kimberly. I didn’t accomplish anything here except probably make people dislike the ASPCA. Maybe it’s better not to respond to these types of posts because my attempts to bring about harmony and unity seem to go the other way, instead. Please support any and or all of the animal shelters, animal rights organizations, etc. It’s all good.

    • No worries. This is a passionate topic and I think I hit on your hot button with my post and you hit on mine with your comments. It happens all the time.

  16. i dont watch tv but i do alot of computer sweeps and so on and see those ads from the aspca and YES it did lead me to become a monthly guardian at 20$ a month..i dont know exactly where my money goes,i do know that i feel i am helping them and it is a small percentage of my rescue donations..with that said i believe one purpose of having your own blog is to be able to express your opinion and to encourage discussion not attacks.

    • Thank you, Dixie

  17. Kimberly is free to express her opinion. I didn’t like the negativity of it and thus my comments. I was trying to be constructive about people with common causes maybe being more supportive of each other. It was in that spirit that I wrote, actually expecting to introduce a different perspective and promote a spirit of harmony. That what I hoped to accomplish… not making Kimberly feel attacked. I love the ASPCA, the local animal shelters, and many of the others. The only ones I would bash are the ones that are fronts for corporations that butcher animals, but I won’t mention the names here. Nevertheless, those are the ones that should be exposed.

    • And this is what’s so difficult for me to understand. How was I bashing the ASPCA? Because I don’t like their commercials, I’m bashing them? Because I won’t send money that may in some way go to the creation of commercials that I don’t like? NOT ONE TIME did I encourage people not to support them. And in my article, I shared that they do good things and they know what their doing. But I’m being called names and attacked for days by strangers, because I shared that I don’t like their commercials.

      I can understand people being upset if I posted a slanderous article claiming that they killed pets, embezzled money, or lied about their cause. I didn’t do any of that. I just said that I don’t like their commercials. I’m not alone. But apparently, I’m the worst person on the planet for sharing an opinion.

      I can’t take this anymore. Why bother trying to do good through blogging when people are only going to attack me day after day after day – putting words in my mouth and twisting my message.

  18. I am so disappointed that the ASPCA has to show such terrible images and stories. I resent this type of education on animal abuse. I want to contribute to their cause but refuse to because of their offensive solicitation/images. When will they get it? I never open anything from them anymore as I know it will be the same. I wrote to them regarding this but never received a response. Sad!

    • What I find interesting is that those commercials bring in a lot of donations; someone shared this with me a couple years ago. I think a study was done to see what inspired people to reach for their wallets and it’s sad stories. If you think back to all the commercials that shows sad animals or children – not many are happy commercials. :(

      I understand that what they’re sharing is reality, but for me, I just change the channel.


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