A new twist on the popular Facebook Ice Bucket Challenge, which raises money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, has animal rights activists up in arms, legs and paws alike.
The trend, which started amongst celebrities and athletes and spread to Facebook, involves the participants dumping a bucket of ice or ice water over their heads and posting a video of it online to openly challenge their friends and foes to do the same.
If challenged and you don’t do it, you’re supposed to donate to charity. The campaign has raised over $13 million dollars for the ALS Association in the last two months.
The newest twist to the challenge is only three days old, and so far it’s raised an additional $64.75. It involves getting your cat in on the action, or your neighbor’s cat, or the neighborhood stray, or just any old cat in general.
Originated by 14-year-old Sam Teeter of Omaha, Nebraska after he got in a fight with his sister, the newest challenge is similar to the old challenge. Dump a bucket of water or ice over the head of a cat, video tape it, post it on social media, and proclaim yourself a philanthrophist on Facebook.
Those who do not play along are supposed to donate to the ALS. The young Sam Teeter volunteered his sister’s cat, Mittens for the game and his video has been viewed over 400,000 times on Youtube. But many have objected to the new challenge, insisting that it’s a form of animal cruelty since the cats can’t consent to the act. Not to mention the fact that cats usually hate water.
The ASPCA has issued the following statement in response: “The Ice Bucket Challenge for Cats is cruel and inhumane. While donating to the ALS Association is a good cause, we do not condone the improper treatment of animals for any cause.”
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” said Charlie Sanford of Williamsburg, Iowa. “My dog did it and he loved it.”
But others pet owners disagree. “I would like to contribute to the cause but my cat Sparkles clawed me so bad when I poured water over her head, I can barely afford the gauze and triple anti-biotic,” commented Michigan resident Sandra Moore.
“I am boycotting it,” said Carrie Froehlich of Illinois, owner of 6 cats and 2 birds. “No way could I bring myself to harm my pets for some disease only baseball players get.
“If my cat liked cold water poured on his head, he would go out in the rain,” added Tony Greyson of Seattle, Washington, as he pulled a ten dollar bill out of his pocket to donate anyway.
There has yet to be any formal charges come against those who perform the Ice Bucket Challenge on their cats, and there are likely to be none as long as the game stays relatively harmless and videos posted online don’t go to extremes. But the animal activist community is keeping a watchful eye out for those who cross the line. After all, it’s like George W. Bush said, shortly after former First Lady Laura dumped cold water over his head.
“It’s no big deal. It’s not like being water boarded or anything.”