Maddie’s Fund Should Watch its Language

Anyone who has ever read some of Pet Camp’s more racy blog posts (Doggie Erection Gets Pet Camp Dicked Over comes to mind) knows that we have no problem pushing the envelope when it comes to the language used in blogs, but a recent blog by Maddie’s Fund reminded us that language still matters.

Ostensibly the blog was providing one more reason why you shouldn’t buy a pet store puppy (and no one here is suggesting you should): these puppies “can be particularly likely to develop severe or even fatal pneumonia if they contract kennel cough.”  The blog asserts that Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) is common in puppies from Missouri and Oklahoma puppy mills that are sold in pet stores.  Frankly, I have no idea if this assertion is correct or incorrect.  But if true, then steps need to be taken to ensure that everything is being done to limit the spread of CIRD in these environments.

But what I really want to understand is why a knowledgeable advocacy group like Maddie’s Fund referred to CIRD as “kennel cough” even while acknowledging that that “kennel cough is not a specific disease, but rather a complex of respiratory diseases affecting dogs, and more correctly known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD).”

For years, responsible pet care professionals have been trying to educate pet parents that CIRD or Bordetella (as the veterinarian quoted in the blog post refers to it) can be contracted anywhere dogs congregate including doggie day care and overnight care facilities, shelters and rescue groups, when out with dog walkers, or just visiting a public park or passing a dog on the street.  Rather than simply using common parlance, Maddie’s Fund should take the time to educate readers on CIRD.  The term “kennel cough” comes from a time when the only time dogs congregated was at a “kennel.”  Not only is this no longer the case as dogs congregate at a wide range of places, but today’s lodging facilities are nothing like the kennels of old and should not suffer the same kennel cough nomenclature.

I understand that this blog was part of Maddie’s Fund continued efforts to address the evils of puppy mills. While everyone should do what they can to support those efforts, care needs to be taken in supporting this worthy goal so that responsible doggie day care and overnight care facilities, dog walkers and pet parents who use dog parks are not painted with the negative tones used to describe puppy mills and the pet stores who profit from them.

Thanks for reading.