Many people have been charmed by the animals we have seen on T.V, in movies, or even read about in books. Sometimes we have been so charmed we may have considered bringing home one of those seemingly intelligent, adorable animals as a pet. There is a link between the media and pet adoption trends. The Richest will examine eight instances of pet adoption trends brought about by the media. In these instances pet owners were often ill equipped to care for their new furry friends, or the pet was not as advertised.
8. 40,001 Dalmatians
Often, the phenomenon of adopting a fad pet has been called the 101 Dalmatians effect because of one of the largest instances of trendy pet adoptions. Dalmatians will not be the only dog breed on this list, as the SPCA reported that every year there is an increase in the number of pedigree dogs abandoned. This may be due to the rise and fall in popularity of certain breeds over others. With Dalmatians in particular, the popularity of the breed rose following the re-release of the 101 Dalmatians cartoon in 1985, and 1991, as well as when the live action movie was made in 1996. By the time the sequel to the movie was made, the Humane Society decided to have volunteers stand outside theatres where screenings were being held, handing out informational flyers on the dog breed. Over the eight years following the 1985 re-release, the American Kennel Club went from having just over eight thousand dalmatians registered, to over forty thousand. The biggest problem with the Dalmatian boom was that the puppy mills responsible for turning out these puppies were less careful of blood lines etc. so they could turn out litters faster. Inbreeding of dalmatians led to genetic problems such as urinary complications and deafness. On top of genetic problems the dogs may have had, many people who bought the dogs didn’t do their research. Dalmatians, while cute, clever, and playful, grow to be rather large, and are a high energy breed, which makes them not suitable for families in small urban homes. Like any dog they require love, training, and a lot of the owner’s time.
7. Rascally Raccoons
Currently Japan has a huge raccoon problem. Raccoons are not indigenous to Japan, but but have risen in popularity mainly due to a famous Japanese Anime series, called Rascal the Raccoon (Nippon Animation). Raccoons were imported as pets from North America in high numbers (1500 per year). In the last episode of the show, the Raccoon, Rascal, was released into the forest, instigating a mass release of the raccoons that were no longer wanted as pets. Since the Raccoons are not Native to Japan, they have no natural predators, and have been thriving there, which unfortunately causes some problems for famers, and building owners. Raccoons have been destroying buildings by digging their dens, and decaying the wood outside of buildings with their urine and feces. Among the things being destroyed, are Japan’s shrines (which have withstood ages in time). PBS reported that eighty percent of Japan’s Shrines had a raccoon problem. Too bad for these little guys, Japan is fairly proactive about solving their raccoon problem, so every year around ten thousand raccoons are captured and put down. Although Raccoons are not a popular pet in North America, after seeing an episode of this Anime, you may even be persuaded to get one as a per, but be wary! Raccoons are extremely clever and adaptable. They have very functional human-like hands which makes it easy for them to unlatch doors, open containers, and get into all kinds of trouble. Raccoons are opportunistic and eat almost anything, so as a house pet, they may be a handful. They are well known for breaking into garbage cans and treating themselves to feasts.
6. Tricky German Shepherds
After watching the adventures of RinTinTin in the twenties and thirties, everyone wanted their own loyal pooch. Rin Tin Tin was an actual dog turned animal actor after he was rescued from a bombing site by his owner in 1918. German Shepherds were the dog to have in the 20’s and 30’s, and even in the 50’s when the series was revived. The difference here is that unlike wanting a dog that looked like RinTinTin, Riny’s owner was flooded with requests for the legendary dogs offspring. The dog’s owner was discretionary and carefully selected a breeder who was to carry on his dog’s lineage, to ensure irresponsible breeding did not take place. I bet RinTinTin smiles down from doggy heaven, as now the breeder responsible for carrying on his bloodline has a charity called “A Riny For Kids” which matches German Shepherd service dogs to kids with disabilities. Those who could not get a hold of one of the dog legend’s puppies sought out breeders to get a look-alike. This led to a breeding boom, which in-turn allowed greedy breeders to profit from their poor practice, as they sold dogs with various disorders such as hip dysplasia. The dog breed has recently declined in popularity and people have opted for more hearty breeds, which means breeding for German Shepherds can get back on track, and the health of the breed can be improved overall.
5. Lovable Great Danes
Great Danes rose in popularity following the film Marmaduke, with its star studded cast and comedic delivery. The problem is that Great Danes are a large pet (around 170 lbs.) making them require more space, and more food. Warnings were released by the American Kennel club prior to the movie’s release, urging people to do their homework before adopting a Great Dane.
4. Fluffy Guinea Pigs
It hardly has to be mentioned why these little furry rodents became a star. Like most of the other animals on our list, guinea pigs became a trend pet mostly due the the success of the Disney movie G-Force in 2009. They are small, relatively affordable, and don’t have as strict of ownership laws as the most of the other pets on our list, but they are still living animals. The real kicker here is that the animals in the G-force movie were computer animated versions of guinea pigs who were extremely dexterous, able to use weapons, and most impressively, were able to do martial arts. Kids were disappointed that their pets were not fur-clad black-belts.
3. Colorful Clown Fish
Although Disney’s Finding Nemo was a heart-warming tale of a father searching for his son, it is hard to believe fish could have that much personality or be that lovable. Regardless of their inability to be snuggled, like the other pets on our list, the clown fish is another trend pet. After the Finding Nemo movie was released, sales of clown fish rose eighty percent (as reported by Asiaone news). The populations of these fish in unprotected waters was on a steep decline (a reported twenty five percent downward trend). These fish look like they would be as easy to take care of as a goldfish, but in actuality they have a stricter feeding schedule, and must be kept in a fish tank that maintains a specific constant temperature, as well as salinity (saltiness of the water).
2. Cheeky Chihuahuas
Since the Disney Movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua made almost 100 million in its first two weeks in the United States alone, and held a top box office spot, it is easy to guess what that meant for puppy mills-get more chihuahuas, and fast! In the San Francisco Bay area, the number of chihuahuas in shelters doubled. The movie also made a sequel, making the popularity of these dogs endure. Disney and the Humane society did include a warning about pet adoption in the films credits, an addition not made to the credits of many other famous animal movies. Did it make a difference? This is not the first time these dogs were made popular. Celebrities flaunted chihuahua purse dogs, making them not only an ideal pet, but also a must-have accessory. In the nineties, the Taco Bell chihuahua (whose real name was Gidget) made people fall in love with the breed, and lead to an adoption boom. This boom made chihuahuas rise from being the 16th to being in the top ten on the world ranking of most popular dog breeds. Chihuahuas are a small dog, but their size does not make them necessarily convenient-they may easily feel threatened and act out if they are not treated carefully. As with any dog, Chihuahuas can be great pets if the owners put in their research before adopting, and put time and effort into their pet care.
1. Mini Pigs
Although not directly related to any specific media event (Although pigs have been featured in media such as the late Brittany Murphy’s movie Uptown Girls and movies like Babe, and its sequel), these pigs gained fame from having famous owners, and being well marketed by breeders. Allegedly, celebrities Rupert Grint (of Harry Potter Fame), and heiress Paris Hilton have owned these tiny pets. Breeders of these pigs have had a boom in business, and are finding a lot of success and joy in their pig breeding ventures. Mini and micro pigs are said to be great pets due to their size, non-picky diets, and hypo-allergenic hair, however since these pigs are bred using a tricky science, owners have been disappointed when their tiny friend grows to be a 350 lb. monster, as was the case reported by a British couple in the Daily Mail. The British Animal Health agency created a PDF entitled “Advice For Owners of Pet Pigs and ‘Micro’ Pigs” where it is made clear that a mini pig is not a puppy equivalent. They have unique needs, including several licences which make their ownership legal. Like the rascally raccoons we spoke of before, pigs like to root around and get into trouble because they are so curious. It is best to keep them somewhere where they cannot upset your house plants.