I heard of the My Fat Pet project a month ago. At first I was a little shocked because they seemed to be celebrating obese pets, which we know is very unhealthy and leads to a degraded quality of life for your pet.
I looked into it further and came across a press release said the project ” began as a dog lover’s “silly idea” to raise pet health awareness.” According to their very vague and mysterious website this project involves Joan Rivers in some capacity and encourages owners to upload photos of their fat pets to Facebook and Twitter.
It’s unclear of what the goal of the project actually is. The press release above was written in October 2012 and said this: “Pet owners are encouraged to submit creative photos of their beefy dogs and cats to become eligible to win one of three gift certificates from a nationally recognized pet supply store. Photos will be accepted through November 15, followed by 30 days of public voting. Winners will be announced in mid-December.
Well, December is come and gone and fat pets are still being uploaded to their social media sites regularly. I am not clear whether winners were even picked but, regardless, I don’t see how winning a gift certificate from a pet supply store does anything to curb the pet obesity problem or raise awareness. I did find an article (I can’t remember where now) that eluded to some exciting initiatives in 2013. I haven’t heard anything about those initiatives yet though.
A little hope can be found on the Joan and Melissa show website. In a recap of a season 2 episode I found this: “Joan [Rivers] goes dog walking with her friend, radio personality Peter Tilden. Peter’s dog, Lilly, is a bit of a porker, and when Joan comments on her weight Peter defends her, saying “She might be a fat dog, but she’s my fat dog.” Joan gets an idea. Joan thinks that a reality show about weight loss for dogs would be a hit. She and Peter decide to pitch it all over town.” (you can read a little more about the episode and project my going to the Crossing the Line recap and selecting the “recap” tab).
I still can’t say what this project is about though. Not to brag but I consider myself a pretty connected and savvy pet owner so if I can’t figure it out I doubt the average pet owner can. Without a clear goal and message, I think the purpose of raising awareness for healthy pets has been lost here.
I have been following the engagement with the My Fat Pet Twitter and Facebook pages for a while. I am not seeing people submitting photos and saying “please help my pet lose weight” or “help my pet get healthy”. Instead, what I am primarily seeing resembles more of a celebration of the cuteness of fat pets. It feels like people are proud of how fat their pets are.
This one particular post disgusted me (sorry for the blurriness):
You can see here that even the page manager did not leave a comment indicating that having a 98 lb. dog was unhealthy.
I do have some hope for this project because a few of the photos on their Facebook Page (select “post by others” at the top to see the user submitted photos if it’s not on that view already) DID mention their pet is on a diet.
Under the About section on their Facebook Page it does say this: “A recent survey indicated that over 50 percent of America’s pet population is overweight or obese. If your pet is overweight, snap a photo as their starting point, then start them on a diet and exercise plan!” The problem is that you don’t see that part until you click on the actual about section. Those of us in social media know that most people don’t go that far or even return to the main page often. Also, as I pointed about above, the page manager is not making efforts to drive that message home.
This post is part of the Fit Dog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy, Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. I encourage you to visit their blogs to learn more keeping your dog fit, healthy and at the proper weight. You can also join the community of proactive pet owners and healthy pets by writing your own blog post and linking it to the hop.