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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

Action Alerts

AAA: Damn dogs

"Car & Travel" is the offical magazine of the AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF NEW YORK, INC.  www.aaany.com .  I had issues with it some years ago, over pro-circus/rodeo coverage, in addition to unkind articles about wildlife, and I cancelled my subscription.  I recently rejoined, and was dismayed to see nothing has changed.  

In the October, 2005 issue is an article by the Editor, in which he proudly complains how dogs are 'favored' over people.  Especially distressing is his criticism (!) of "sources that list dog-friendly hotels in areas where people might need temporary shelter" - such cold-heartedness, coming on the heels of the horror of Hurricane Katrina, in which thousands of helpless animals were abandoned to starve and die, is mindboggling. The article appears below:

Email for editor Sy Oshinsky: soshinsky@aaany.com .  

Letters to the editor, 'Car & Travel' magazine:c-and-t@aaany.com 

Pet Peeves Unleashed

By Sy Oshinsky

I no longer mutter about the "starving people in Africa and Asia" as I roll my shopping cart past supermarket shelves stacked high with cat and dog food. Nor do I snicker anymore when I encounter pet-grooming salons bearing signs such as "by appointment only" and "organic herbal remedies." Nevertheless, I found myself emitting a few growls recently after receiving an e-mail newswire on behalf of the Amalfi Hotel Chicago announcing that the 215-room boutique property has taken "pet friendly" to a new level.

"Four-legged friends are treated to plush dog beds, a care package that includes Bobbi Panter's all-natural pet pampering products, ceramic bowls for food and water, and a specialty dog biscuit, "read the press release. Guests who must leave their pets unattended when going out on the town are provided pagers so that they may be alerted to "any disturbances or concerns the [hotel] staff may have regarding the dog's well-being."

Not that two-legged guests are neglected. The press release for the Chicago hotel notes amenities such as complimentary high-speed Internet service, DVD/CD players, plush bathrobes and "315-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens" on its king- and queen-size beds. No mention is made of Egyptian cotton linens for the dog beds, so one hopes that Fido, in comparing sleeping arrangements, is not made to feel like a declasse guest and suffer a restless night.

Coming on the paw-heels of the Amalfi news was another press notice from a public relations outfit citing six other lodging establishments with dog-friendly attitudes. One is Five Gables Inn & Spa on the Chesapeake Bay in St.Michaels, Md., offering a two-night "pooch-friendly" package consisting of a dog bed, water bowl and a "special doggie gift bag filled with lavender shampoo, conditioner, candle and a between-bath spritz." (Better to light one candle than to bark in darkness.)

Then there is the deluxe Bentley Beach Hotel, located in the exclusive South Beach section of Miami Beach, that caters to "fashionable pups," who are charged $50 per night--probably not unreasonable when you consider that the dog's owner pays about five times that amount. (But talk about exclusive: The hotel extends a welcome only to dogs weighing 15 pounds or less.)

Yet another oceanfront hotel, the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, Calif., includes "complimentary bottled water" with its dog food dishes. (A nice thick steak washed down with a glass of Evian--what more could a dog ask for!)

So what exactly is my beef? In part it's a feeling that the travel industry may be veering into ludicrous anthropomorphic territory. I mean it's one thing for the famed Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue to permit guests to dial Room Service for dog food. But the day may be coming when resorts will admit dogs--Rottweilers not excluded--to their spas so they can bathe in aromatic oils and discover their inner peace.

It's also a matter of priorities. Go to Google and punch in "child-friendly hotels" and "kid-friendly hotels" and you'll get about 28,000 results. Substitute "pet" and "dog" for "child" and "kid" and the search results total more than 1 million entries!

Besides, with nearly 5 million dog bites reported annually in the nation, travelers should be receiving assurances of people-friendly canine guests rather than a pet-friendly host when they check into a hotel.

It was a flurry of other pet-oriented press releases that had set me off on my Google-based fact-finding mission.

There was an e-mail about a new car-restraint system for pets, the Original FidoRido from Best Products of Indianapolis, which at least calls attention to the dangers to human as well as animal occupants in letting pets ride unbelted. The manufacturer also felt the need, however, to note that FidoRido uses "the same material as a child's safety seat," with foam padding that can be removed to allow the seat "to become a pet bath tub." Not a dog-sized Jacuzzi, thank goodness (even Chicago's Amalfi doesn't offer that amenity), but just a plain wash basin for Fido.

What stretched my tolerance level, however, was the announcement by DogFriendly.Com of "a free Web page designed to assist people who need to evacuate with pets during a storm." Yes, I know that people should formulate a plan of action in the event, say, of an imminent hurricane or a terrorist threat---a feature article in June's Car & Travel covered that very subject. But listing dog-friendly hotels in areas where people might seek temporary shelter takes emergency preparedness to an absurd level.

If you should find you and your family fleeing to Pismo Beach, Calif., please note that the Cliffs Resort mentioned earlier provides a dog-walking--but not a babysitting--service for its guests.


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