Before I begin, I should probably say that it all sounded a lot better in my head – I was one of those students who kept failing every single composition test anyway – but I’ll give it a try. Just this morning, I was answering some recent comments in my latest rescue video in Youtube and happened to notice that one of the suggested videos on the side was titled “Things to know before getting a puppy”, or something like that. It was a vlog and I realized that I know the girl – millions of people do. She is one of the youngest and most successful bloggers ever and her Youtube channel has more than ten million subscribers. For this article I’m gonna call her ” Abby”.
I clicked on it, and I wish I hadn’t, but on the other hand, we need to know where the problem begins in order to try and make a difference. So there she was, all cute, famous and with full make up on, holding a purebred puppy in her arms that she had recently bought from a breeder, explaining how you need to be careful when choosing the right breeder etc. The rest of the video was about tips on puppy needs and life with a dog, so I skipped it – I know all that anyway. I read all the comments below – her teenage subscribers were thrilled to see the “cutest puppy in the world” in the hands of their role model. I left my comment – probably marked as spam already – explaining how every time you buy a puppy you condemn a shelter dog to death, and started thinking about what it actually was that bothered me so much.
I started too late, that’s the first thing that bothers me. I discovered Facebook by the time I was thirty, I started my Youtube channel at thirty-four and just created my blog this year, at thirty-six. If you are wondering what it was I did until then, I traveled, read as many books as I could, tried to be a psychologist, an actress and a Spanish teacher. Until one day, I found and rescued my first dog, and I have never been the same since. Apollo made me spend hours on social media trying to find a solution to what to do with him and how to help him – I ended up keeping him of course. Through him I discovered animal welfare and realized that minimum knowledge on video editing, a lot of tutorials and faith could actually help me help them (the rescues) go viral and spread the word. And it did happen, and I was so thrilled about it, until I bumped into “Abby’s” video. And then it hit me: I can never compete with that. None of us can.
So here I am, trying to make a difference through whatever it is I do while having a channel doomed to be for “domestic consumption” only, and no matter how many subscribers, views and likes I get, talking, vlogging and blogging about animal welfare is like talking to myself. All of us animal lovers and rescuers are a small society, supporting each other and trapped in a vicious circle we can’t escape from, while on the other side there are those viral vloggers, like “Abby” forming the minds of people who are as young as she is. Her ten million subscribers are the future and she just convinced them to buy from a breeder.
I just realized today that my five million views of Blossom‘s video and the five millions views of “Abby’s” purebred puppy are totally apart. My five million viewers would probably never follow a teenage blogger and “Abby’s” five million viewers would never even bump into one of my “adopt, don’t shop” campaigns. And since I realized that, I can’t forgive her for guiding her huge, young teenage audience to buy a dog. I mean, she is a social media persona who has managed to go viral simply by vlogging about herself – and she’s one of the best. How come she never bumped into one of Peta‘s posts? How come google or Youtube search on “what’s the right dog for you” never guided her towards a dog shelter website? How come she never realized that buying a dog today tends (or should tend) to be frowned upon. Ryan Gosling adopted from a shelter – how come she never realized that this is the only way? Recently I was watching a movie trailer and fifty per cent of the thousands of comments below were from people who had followed the link from her blog – imagine what would have happened had she been blogging about a dog shelter. I got so angry with her. She should have known better.
Another thing I can’t stop thinking about is how on earth are we going to make those millions of teenagers turn towards the right direction? You might think whatever you want of them, but I only see them as potential future dog owners, and the only thing on my mind is how to get them to adopt. “Abby” had her chance and she blew it. Animal welfare is not mainstream enough – at least not yet. It hasn’t managed to infiltrate into those youngest minds who follow make up tutorials on Youtube and worship bloggers like her. So how can we approach them? How can we plant the seeds and form a generation or responsible and aware future adoptive parents? How do we become mainstream? I have no idea.
I sometimes get comments from teenagers like: “when I’m old enough I’ll adopt/I’ll build a shelter/I’ll volunteer.” Among all the “God bless you” and the “Faith in humanity restored,” the comments of those young kids are the ones that truly make my day. They are the future – no offence if you are over twenty, but it’s those kids that will inherit whatever it is we leave for them.
But those comments are never enough. My teenage Youtube viewers are far less than “Abby’s.” I’m too old for it I think. And too dedicated to what I do. What we need is for one of those young vloggers to keep doing what they do best – talk about their lives, guide us through their daily routine, advertise whatever make up brand or new gadgets they want and maybe, once in a while vlog about their new rescue puppy or their visit at the shelter. If they can convince those millions of teenagers to buy that particular lipstick simply by wearing it, maybe they can convince them to adopt in the future, simply by holding a rescue dog in their arms while being as honest as they always seem to be in front of the camera. If anyone can ever make adoption mainstream enough, it’s them.
Now that i think about it, maybe I should stop saying “them”. Maybe this article is a cry for help. Maybe instead of writing about you, I should be tagging each end every one of you and asking for help. Because if anyone could do it, it’s you.