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PETA wants that dog to kill you – the PS3 Attitude Opinion

Submitted by on Thursday, 26 March 20095 Comments

cod-frisbeeEvery now and then it is good for us to exhibit some of the ‘attitude’ that the name of the site represents.

Following PETA’s recent comments with regard to the dogs in Call of Duty: World at War, now is one of those times…

On March 23rd, PETA – via their blog – released their thoughts on the ‘barbaric treatment of dogs in video games’ courtesy of their views on Call of Duty: World at War. Here’s the full opening quote from their post:

Not since we were pitted against Nazi attack dogs when we first escaped from Castle Wolfenstein 17 years ago have we seen such barbaric treatment of dogs in video games as we did in Call of Duty, World at War. During the course of the game, you are forced to shoot attack dogs and you can actually unlock a “reward” that allows you to unleash a pack of attack dogs on enemies. In a post–Michael Vick world, you’d think that Activision Blizzard, which publishes the popular game, would take abusing dogs for entertainment purposes more seriously.

There is a clear statement here that the virtual canines in Castle Wolfenstein are ‘Nazi attack dogs’, and that the ‘reward’ in CoD:WaW is a ‘pack of attack dogs’. Yet PETA clearly believe that games designers should represent such vicious animals in games by buying them a virtual squeaky plastic bone and petting them relentlessly until they give up their life-threatening attack.

We can imagine giving real Nazi troops the same treatment during WWII. Instead of shooting the enemy, either as an act of war or in self-defence, in PETA’s world you would be tasked with stopping them in their tracks, giving them a hug and talking about your differences until you both agree to go back to your respective homelands.

PETA go on to say:

To help the folks at Activision Blizzard learn about the ethical treatment of animals (something we’re sorta experts on) we’re offering to let them take PETA’s “Developing Empathy for Animals” seminar free of charge, and we’re sending a package of dog-friendly Nintendogs games to their office.

With a little Nintendogs influence, perhaps the next Call of Duty game will have you unlock achievements for petting the dogs you encounter and going on walks or playing Frisbee with them.

We wonder if PETA understand how truly nonsensical their misplaced disgust is?

Going back to the root cause of why these dogs are sent out to attack your character offers some explanation for the need to shoot them. The enemy have trained these dogs to kill you. They are, at this point, nothing more than another gun, tank or bazooka in the enemies eyes. Maybe PETA were created in the wrong age, because surely they ought to have sent their “Developing Empathy for Animals” seminar invite to Adolph Hitler instead.

The underlying problem with PETA’s outrage is that, once again, video games are brought to task just because they are video games.

For example – would PETA complain about a historically accurate work of fiction that depicted the shooting of dogs in the Second World War as a means of self-preservation?

Call of Duty: World at War’s use of attack dogs is based on sound historical information. According to ‘World War II: A Student Encyclopedia’*, Germany mobilised an estimated 200,000 ‘war dogs’ whilst Japan – who trained their attack dogs in Nanjing (Nanking), China – used 25,000 dogs. The Japanese even went as far as training black dogs for night attacks and white dogs for snow missions.

Forgetting that these animals were trained to inflict injury and cause death in a time of war, there are ‘attack dogs’ available to dog owners today, in the form of German Shepherds, Dobermanns and other similar breeds. Do PETA complain when a dog is shot because they have ‘snapped’ and are attacking humans? Of course not, and in many countries a dog that has attacked a human is put down by law. PETA would be contradicting known and accepted legal requirements if they dare suggested such a thing.

You can imagine the conversation now – “don’t shoot the dog that is mauling your child… instead, why not try playing Frisbee with it. Here’s a copy of Nintendogs for you to ease the pain”.

There are countless books that recount, both in fiction and in reference, the shooting, killing and general self-defence against attack dogs. Books, however, do not have an age rating so children of any age could read such material and let their imaginations run wild. Movies that show these actions are less problematical, because not only is the action spelt out for you by the film director, but there are age rating systems that stop children seeing such acts. In addition, we are assured at the end of every movie containing such content that ‘no animals were harmed’.

Video games are also protected by various rating systems, so PETA are attacking the very thing that adults hold dear – the ability to choose and self-censor. Of course, if you are a parent and you do not take notice of such things, allowing little Johnny to play Call of Duty when he is 13 years old, the only people to blame are yourselves.

According to PETA, the outrage against CoD:WaW’s historically accurate attack dogs sparked a student protest. The student in question, Breanna Lucci, actually spoke some sense although she does miss the point overall:

“Killing dogs as a form of entertainment … over and over again. That’s one of the objects of the game. Parents need to know what they are buying their kids. Killing animals should not be a form of entertainment.”

Lucci gets one thing right – parents do need to know what they’re buying their kids. Call of Duty is an adult franchise, and is clearly marked on the box as such.

As for PETA, we have absolutely no respect for their thinly-veiled attack on video games as a medium for entertainment. The extra low-blow of suggesting that these virtual characters have anything whatsoever to do with Michael Vick and his evil dogfighting further distances PETA from any grasp on real life.

*Published in 2005 by By Spencer C. Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, Jack Greene, Cole C. Kingseed, Malcolm Muir, David T. (DRT) Zabecki and Allan R. (FRW) Millett