Animals in TV series can speak, make gourmet meals, and even perform detective investigations. We adore them for being cute and smart, and after watching an animal-featured movie, we immediately have the urge to buy a pet. But once we find one, we soon realize they can’t cook like the rat from Ratatouille, nor do they have a wonderful sense of humor like the guinea pig from G-Force. The veil of charm falls down, causing people to abandon their pets — and unfortunately, this happens often and is a cruel statistic nowadays.
We at Bright Side couldn’t help but share some stories about how important it is to think realistically when getting a pet after watching a pet-featured film. There’s a bonus at the end of the article proving not only movies influence people’s decisions.
1. Game of Thrones fans started buying huskies like crazy and then abandoned them with the same enthusiasm.
When you go for a walk, you can see huskies everywhere and probably have wondered how their owners cope with them in their houses given that they’re not tiny dogs and are likely to bring some inconvenience to people’s everyday lives.
These dogs are bred for sled-pulling rather than for living in apartments. They bear a strong resemblance to the “dire wolves” that are in Game of Thrones, so they’ve become popular among the fans of the series.
As a result of this fad, Blue Cross noticed a sharp rise in abandoned huskies that have been surrendered at animal shelters since the first season of the show in 2011. There was one husky named Alaska whose story was very sad: she was surrendered 6 times over the 4 years she’d been alive.
Huskies are known for being vocal and having major separation anxiety. When they’re left alone, they start crying so loudly that your neighbors, who probably love peace and quiet, may become unhappy.
2. The Harry Potter books and movies made people want owls as domestic pets.
While watching the Harry Potter movies, we can’t help but admire how Harry gets along with his adorable owl, Hedwig. It may seem like there’s nothing easier than taking care of an owl. But in reality, owls are not like domestic parrots, and keeping them is a real challenge. But this fact didn’t stop fans from buying owls during the 2000s.
After the film was broadcast in its final version in 2011, many owl owners became disenchanted with these trendy pets and decided to abandon them. It turns out that to be able to keep an owl, you have to be aware of all the “surprises” that this freedom-loving, wild bird may bring to your life. For example, owls can’t stand cuddling or coming into frequent contact with humans because it’s entirely against their nature. You’ll have to feed them with fresh meat and yes, you’ll need to buy them rats to eat. They hunt at night, so you’ll need to be prepared for this as well.
A worker at an owl sanctuary in North Wales said that before the movie’s release, they only had 6 owls in their care, and later that number shot up to 100. This is the price that was paid by the innocent birds who were not to blame for people’s ignorance.
3. Babe (1995), an adorable story about a pig, caused people to forget that the animals actually grew.
During the ’90s, this movie about a cute little pig who longed to be a sheepdog mesmerized audiences, and many people thought to themselves, “I want a pig here and now!”
Babe, the sweet little heap of pink perfection, was played not by one, not 2, but 48 piglets! The team had no real option except to continue changing the piglets out, as they grow so rapidly.
Many people didn’t pay that much attention to the fact that pigs start out tiny and cute before growing to be several hundred pounds. The year of the movie’s release, an animal foundation in Las Vegas had 5 pigs for adoption and were worried that even more were coming.
There’s a sad story of Puggy the pig, who at 12 weeks old, was abandoned by his previous owner who moved and just left him there without caring that the animal would die of starvation. Luckily for Puggy, he was discovered by the animal rescue group, but similar cases don’t always have the same happy ending.
4. G-Force (2009) has inspired parents to buy guinea pigs for their kids.
Disney’s 2009 film, G-Force, gave birth to the adorable depiction of guinea pigs. They were like smart kids who performed tricks, laughed continuously, and invited children to join them on their lovely adventures. It’s no wonder that thousands of kids all over the world started pleading with their parents to buy them a guinea pig as a pet. But disappointment was quick to come: real guinea pigs cannot laugh or jump, and instead of going on adventures, kids need to clean up after their new friends.
Sadly, over the next year, one animal shelter reported a 25% to 30% increase in the number of guinea pigs that were surrendered by families.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) gave birth to the cruelest abandonment of turtles.
During the late ’80s and mid ’90s, ninja turtle craziness hit pretty much every family with kids. The cutting edge films, as well as the animated series, inspired an increase in the fame of these reptilian pets, huge numbers of which were later deserted or even flushed down toilets.
This “turtle mania” was sad to the point that, in 2014, compassionate groups encouraged families not to repeat the past mistakes, before the most current release.
“Unfortunately, children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts, or do any of the exciting moves that fictional movie turtles do,” the co-founders of the American Tortoise Rescue said, in an open letter to parents.
This turtle was rescued from a busy street.
6. 101 Dalmatians (1961 and 1996) caused people to buy Dalmatians and then leave them because they were “inconvenient.”
The aftermath of 101 Dalmatians was like a bomb for dog-breeders who started receiving numerous orders for the Dalmatian dogs.
As you can likely guess, huge numbers of these dogs were later deserted after people discovered that Dalmatians are extremely energetic dogs and grow to become big balls of playfulness. Seeing them on the big screen didn’t translate to real life, as the dog owners would likely have to sacrifice costly furniture and fancy wallpaper.
In the year following the 1996 cutting edge remake, one Dalmatian rescue team in Miami claimed to have gotten 130 Dalmatians by September, a number that would regularly have taken them 2 and half years to reach. Cruella de Vil herself would be stunned by these figures.
7. Ratatouille (2007), the charismatic rat, inspired people to buy rats as pets.
The smart, incredibly gifted rat from Ratatouille filled people’s minds with false expectations regarding real rats, leading them to believe that they were cute by nature, but of course, the real deal couldn’t compete with the animated depiction.
As reported by the British pet chain, Pets at Home, their rat sales increased twofold after the movie went live. We hope the new pet owners didn’t let their rats hang out near their cooking supplies!
Believe it or not, abandoning pet rats isn’t all that rare. In 2017, the Larimer County Humane Society had to open an investigation after they found more than 77 abandoned domestic rats in 2 open spaces. According to CBS Denver, the humane society said that all the rats were once pets and were abandoned in cruel living conditions.
8. Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Finding Dory pushed the species of clownfish to a threatening place.
Clownfish met a sad destiny when, after Pixar’s Finding Nemo, the demand for this already endangered species threatened to push it to extinction, as 90% of the clownfish that were sold were taken from the wild. Many were collected using cyanide and the species seemed to be on the brink of a disaster until the Saving Nemo Foundation started to breed clownfish in captivity to take the focus off of the wild stocks.
9. The Men In Black movie sparked the purchasing of pugs.
The Men in Black movie first sparked our obsession with pugs after Frank, a talking dog in a suit, appeared alongside Will Smith in 1997 and sales skyrocketed. Frank was a very charismatic dog, so the audience, being enchanted by his skill, started obsessively buying pugs.
Peugeot, a stray pug who was adopted by a good family. But not all abandoned pugs are so lucky…
Bonus: The “Dulux” paint advertisement inspired the immense sales of Old English Sheepdogs.
Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko noticed something sad about Old English Sheepdogs following the popularity of Dulux advertisements that were first released in 1961. “People thought they’d be good to breed and didn’t think about their temperament. Bad breeders, only interested in saving money, didn’t care about the breed’s peculiarities. Many ended up with ill temperaments and the breed’s reputation suffered as a result,” Kisko explained.
Kisko claimed that people’s desire to spontaneously buy a pet after seeing them in a movie can contribute to the suffering of animals afterward.
“With the expectation of instant gratification in our society, we expect to get a puppy over the weekend. On the radio, when you hear a track you really like, you order it on Amazon and it arrives the next day. It’s the same with dogs on screen. People aren’t willing to wait and think. They make snap decisions.”
We buy pets because of “trends” that are driven by popular culture rather than their “functional traits.” In other words, no matter how big it may grow, how much it slobbers, or how much of your belongings it may eat, if it looks attractive in a movie, we want it regardless of the repercussions. But we need to remember that any living creature has its own right to live a happy life and doesn’t deserve to be someone’s temporary toy.
Have you ever felt the urge to buy a pet after watching a pet show or movie? What pet was it and did you eventually buy one?
Preview photo credit GOT / HBO.com