PETA auto show protest, aimed at FCA, is misdirected


DETROIT — I’m a huge animal lover who admits to being a card-carrying member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the past. I’m especially fond of dogs.

And I was ready to get behind PETA’s latest planned protest of the Iditarod dog-sled race in Alaska. But, then I read on and had to shake my head in embarrassment for PETA.

On Saturday, PETA says its protesters will mimic the conditions hundreds of dogs raised for the Iditarod endure by chaining themselves to barrels and brandishing signs proclaiming, “Chrysler: Stop Driving Dogs to Their Deaths,” outside the Detroit auto show.

In a statement Friday, PETA said the Detroit protest was hatched because “a Chrysler franchise still plans to sponsor the 2018 Iditarod despite the race’s recent doping scandal and a veteran musher’s revelation that trainers in the industry have killed ‘hundreds on top of hundreds’ of dogs who didn’t make the cut.”

So I did a little research. The sponsor PETA is referring to is Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Alaska. A car dealership, not the company, FCA, which engineers, builds and markets Fiat Chrysler products.

“No reputable company should want its name attached to a race that’s synonymous with dog-doping and killing,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in the statement. “PETA is calling on Chrysler to cut ties with the Iditarod and all the drugs, death, and abuse that come with it.”

PETA’s intentions are good but it’s directing its agenda at the wrong party and by so doing it is soiling Chrysler’s reputation. PETA is overlooking a single truth: A car dealership and the car manufacturer are two distinctly different entities.

Chrysler cannot tell its dealers which events they can or cannot sponsor. A dealership is an independently owned business. So while FCA might not want its name attached to the race, it is powerless to tell its dealer otherwise.

I called the dealership and asked the general manager if FCA had approached the store about the race. Nope. He said the dealership continues to sponsor the race because it is a “cherished” Alaskan tradition.

“We’re in Alaska and it’s an Alaskan race and the whole state is behind the event and it’s a nice event here,” said Corey Meyers, GM of Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram’s. “PETA just doesn’t like it. But it’s a historic race and we’ve sponsored it for roughly 20 years. It has nothing to do with Chrysler.”

If PETA is going to charge a business with being disreputable for its ties to an event, it has to target the right party. Otherwise, PETA is unfairly throwing Chrysler to the dogs.

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