• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry

Photograph Source: Jason Meredith – Flickr – CC BY 2.0

Mars Petcare US—purveyor of pet products including Whiskas®, Greenies™, Sheba®, Cesar®, and Iams™—is a division of the $35 billion Mars (M&Ms) chocolate empire.

Mars chocolate is problematic in its own ways—serious ways—but today I focus on the corporation’s pet fetish.

Mars’s 2019 BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ gimmick was announced at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Summer Meeting in Honolulu. How did Mars pull that off? The corporation had only to dangle $60,000 in “grants” in front of the mayors ($160,000 in total since 2017 when this scheme was concocted).

Mars no doubt laughed all the way to the bank as three high-profile city leaders trotted off, as directed, to start setting up amenities for “pet parents and their furry loved ones.”

So here we are, in the midst of a dual crisis of extinction and climate breakdown, and mayors are Paving the Way for a More Pet-Friendly Future at their summer conference.

The release attributes its “paving the way” slogan to a corporate affairs VP at Mars, who likely means it in the concrete sense. Mars quizzed cities that sought these funds on how much pet-friendly infrastructure they planned to create.

Rest assured it is not my intent to insult the pets themselves. And I’m all for rescuing dogs, cats, and other pet-industry refugees in need of care and love. But let’s grow up. “Pet-friendly infrastructure” is another word for sprawl.

Aw…Now Who’s a Good Mayor?

Now, to look at how the 2019 grant awards play out. Three cities qualify for “city-specific guidance” to enable their populations to revolve more completely around breeding, owning, and spending money on pets than they already do.

* St. Pete, Florida got $30,000 for dog park construction. This is touted as “much-needed green space” in the press releases. Earth to Mayor Kriseman: The burgeoning dog park trend is a subcategory of sprawl—even if the hue of the pee-soaked grass happens to be green.

* Dayton, Ohio collected $20,000 to teach “responsible pet ownership to kindergartners and first-graders.” In other words, Mars is marketing to children. How could little kids without pets not feel out of step? And Mars plans to expand this “curriculum” from coast to coast.

* Key West received $10,000 to support affordable vet care. Funding to help people afford to keep their animals is the most benign payment of the three. But from the world’s wealthiest pet food company, it’s not much.

Mayors Council CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran called the mayors “grateful to Mars Petcare” for the handouts, and lauded the winning contestants as “national models for other cities to follow.” The marketing coup was complete.

Behind the Scenes at Mars Petcare

Mars owns the Waltham™ Centre for Pet Nutrition labs, which it presents as “a leading innovator of enriched environments for animal accommodation” that “provides appropriate socialization, exercise and play.” Waltham supplies grants for university labs that help develop its products for cats, dogs, horses, and other privately owned animals. Waltham has funded studies of cats on high-fat diets, portion-control tests on kittens, and studies to enhance racing horses’ performance.

And Mars Veterinary (now Wisdom Health™) is active in genetic research on dogs on behalf of breeders.

Mars, Inc. also owns several vet chains, including Banfield Pet Hospitals. In 2017, Mars paid $9 billion to acquire VCA Inc., which has about 800 vet businesses throughout North America.

With this background, let’s get back to that press release, in which Mars describes itself as a family business using its “privilege” to “fight for A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.”

Nothing like a corporation grabbing the language of social advocacy to further a booming global commerce in animals, and its own beastly profit.

More articles by:

Lee Hall holds an LL.M. in environmental law with a focus on climate change, and has taught law as an adjunct at Rutgers–Newark and at Widener–Delaware Law. Lee is an author, public speaker, and creator of the Studio for the Art of Animal Liberation on Patreon.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Jonah Raskin
Here’s Hoping
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
Jonathan Cook
Israel Prepares to Turn Bedouin Citizens into Refugees in Their Own Country
Stan Cox
Healing the Rift Between Political Reality and Ecological Reality
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail