The Walgreens pharmacy chain recently stepped in the doggie-do — if you’ll pardon the expression — and found itself under fire by outraged dog owners who don’t like stereotyping.
Stereotyping of dog breeds, that is. According to Dogster Magazine, the stores were marketing “Pit Bull Defense Maximum Strength Pepper Spray,” but lovers of that particular canine variety felt insulted that only pit bulls were being targeted.
“By the look of the package, it seems to be a pepper spray that you can use on a Pit Bull who is attacking you, but that would be stupid — would it not work on attacking Beagle? An attacking cat?” asked the dog-focused publication (with dog-focused capitalization).
“How did they make pepper spray that would only work on an attacking Pit Bull? Or, more likely, the company is simply using the Pit Bull’s unfair image as a violent dog to sell some more units of regular pepper spray,” Dogster continued.
It’s a fair point. Selling a spray formulated for dogs is one thing, but since there probably isn’t a super-secret, anti-pit bull chemical, the name of the pepper spray seemed to be basically fear mongering.
“It’s an idiotic product using a disgusting marketing gimmick, bolstering the misconception that the Pit Bull is a violent dog,” wrote the magazine. “The Pit Bull is not a violent dog.”
Like nearly everything these days, however, the controversy escalated. It wasn’t enough for dog owners to simply not buy the product. Instead, a surprisingly robust and widespread boycott was sparked.
The publication went on to explain that over 8,000 people signed an online petition, and managers of the well-known pharmacy chain were forced to issue apologies — though Walgreens also said that the product was only carried in a handful of stores.
“It was never our company’s intent to condone the inappropriate singling out of any one breed of dog,” said a statement from the corporation.
“Instead, a very small number of our stores obtained it for sale on their own. As a result of us becoming aware of the product, we have told those few stores who are carrying the item to stop selling it immediately.”
Mission accomplished, it seems. Another micro-aggression stamped out and a disturbing anti-dog injustice made right.
There’s nothing wrong with making people aware of a questionable product, of course, but this response does appear to be a bit over the top. After all, who exactly is offended by the pepper spray?
Pit bulls didn’t seem particularly slighted by the existence of a defensive spray marketed with their name, probably because they are dogs. Our furry friends have better things to do than get worked into a huff over questionable marketing. There are fire hydrants to mark and people to sniff.
What that means, of course, is that people in America are now so bored and easily offended that they’ve taken it upon themselves to form protest groups on behalf of animals who didn’t even notice the problem.
That says more about the state of our culture than it does about dogs. Making sure that these “insensitive” dog sprays are removed from shelves might be a win for pit bull lovers, but it seems like once again, the axiom that “somebody is always offended about something” still holds true.
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