Among many “old school” and unprofitable practices here at ohmidog! is my tendency to treat advertisers like well-trained, perhaps overly-trained, dogs — insisting they stay in their place and don’t dare venture into our editorial columns.
I will let my big old dog in bed with me, and I gladly do so every single night. But when it comes to advertisers, don’t even think about it.
So what’s this T-shirt doing here — in the space that I, way too ethical for my own good, so haughtily reserve for news matter?
For one thing, it’s kind of cool.
For another, with these T-shirts being the biggest ad ever to appear on our pages, I thought it would be a good time to explain this website’s approach to advertising.
(It is not one I recommend to anyone seeking to make money through their website.)
Basically, this middle section of the website is for news, and despite many requests from advertisers to link to their services and products here, I just don’t do it, because it strikes me as sleazy and deceptive.
The rightside column, with all those logos, is for non-profit animal welfare and animal rescue groups, and serves to link the public to their websites. There is no fee for that.
The leftside column, the one clearly marked “advertisements” is for, you guessed it, advertisements.
When ohmidog! started, seven years ago, the hope was that advertising would cover the costs, and maybe even lead to a profit.
That almost worked when we were headquartered in, and focused on, Baltimore.
Then we went and hit the road and ended up living in North Carolina. A few of those local Baltimore ads remain, but I no longer charge those advertisers — partly out of gratitude for helping us get off the ground, partly because fewer Baltimore eyes will see their ads.
Today, most of our ads, including the t-shirt ad at the top, are what are called affiliate ads.
The advertisers pay nothing for them, but if a reader clicks on one of them, and ends up buying something during that visit, the company sends a percentage of their profits my way — generally pennies on the dollar.
So far, those pennies haven’t amounted to much. And as business models go, ohmidog! — even when I wanted it to make money — has always been a prime example of how not to run a website.
We’ve always been all about the content (though I prefer the word “stories), and, while I don’t promise much else, we always will be — without any ads popping up on you, without any links misdirecting you.
What I started out doing for fun and profit, is pretty much becoming just about the fun.
In the months ahead, I’ll qualify for — and plan to start receiving — early social security. So I can only make so much money before having to turn over all the rest to the government.
So, if you must buy a T-shirt, go ahead and click on it, or any of the others now featured in our banner ad.
Just don’t buy too many.
(Photo: The I Love Dogs Site / Sunfrog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ads, advertising, affiliate, animals, business, dog, dog websites, dogs, editorial, ethics, love, ohmidog!, pets, profits, rescue, t-shirts, websites
For those businesses in North Carolina that have something to hide, hiding it became much easier this week.
Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that muzzles whistleblowers who call public attention to anything from agricultural atrocities to elder abuse.
Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces.
Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed brutal and abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
But House Bill 405 (click on the link to see its final version) could curb far more than that.
Nursing home employees might be discouraged from reporting possible abuse cases. Animal shelter staff could be dissuaded from reporting horrid conditions or cruelty to dogs and cats. Even journalists could be hauled into court for simply doing their jobs.
Only government agencies would be safe to shed light on criminal corporate behavior — whether it’s stomping on chickens at poultry farms or mistreating veterans in need of medical care.
Concerns that the bill reaches too far were behind Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill.
The governor said he agreed with curbing the practice of people who get hired merely so they can film undercover or gather corporate documents, but he said the bill doesn’t protect those “honest employees who uncover criminal activity.”
The House voted 79-36 to override his veto, and the Senate quickly followed suit, voting 33-15 to override.
Among those against the bill were animal rights groups, journalism organizations, the Wounded Warrior Project and the AARP, which said the law could have a chilling effect on those who might come forward with evidence of elder abuse.
“To give one relevant example, allegations surfaced last year that employees at Veterans Affairs facilities in North Carolina had been retaliated against for whistleblowing,” wrote Steven Nardizzi, chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service members, we are concerned that this legislation might cause wrongdoing at hospitals and institutions to go unchecked.”
The sponsors of the house bill said critics were wrongly characterizing it, WRAL reported.
“It doesn’t stop good employees from reporting illegal activities to other authorities,” said Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland.
That much is true. All the bill does is make it easy for large companies and their lawyers to go after those honest employees and ensure that, when they open their mouths, they’ll be stomped on too.
Republican backers of the measure said it was important to protect businesses from bad actors.
As for who’s supposed to protect us from bad-acting businesses engaged in harmful practices, well, that’s not covered in the bill.
“Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply, said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”
(Photo: Inside a North Carolina poultry plant; by Bethany Hahn / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, ag gag, agriculture, animal shelters, animals, business, companies, corporations, criminal, dogs, hb 405, house, lawsuits, legislature, mistreatment, neglect, north carolina, nursing homes, override, pets, poultry, senate, veto. mccrory, whistleblowers
Amid continuing backlash over a video that showed him abusing a dog on an elevator, Des Hague has resigned as CEO of the giant sports catering company Centerplate.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based company announced the appointment of a new CEO yesterday.
In a statement, the company’s board of directors didn’t say whether Hague’s resignation was requested — only that “the decision comes as a result of Hague’s “personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.”
Since the video surfaced in August, dog lovers have been calling for Hague’s firing and threatening to boycott food offerings at stadiums serviced by Centerplate.
In Canada, protestors took to the streets to urge sports team to end their associations with Centerplate.
And a change.org petition asking Centerplate to fire Hague has accumulated close to 200,000 signatures.
Experts being quoted in the media are saying Hague’s fall shows the tremendous power of social media.
We like to think it shows the tremendous power of dog lovers, who happen to be using social media.
Centerplate provides food services to sports venues around the country, holding contracts with teams in the NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
The video — which shows Hague kicking the dog and jerking her off the ground by her leash — was recorded in July by a surveillance camera in the elevator of a Vancouver apartment building. It was turned over to the BC SPCA, which seized the dog, a one-year-old Doberman named Sade.
Hague initially told investigators the dog was his. Later, in a public apology, he said the incident was “a minor frustration with a friend’s pet” and that he had apologized to the dog’s owner.”
The BC SPCA says it’s now clear the dog wasn’t Hague’s, and her owner is seeking to regain custody.
Centerplate initially had little comment on the incident, calling it “a personal matter involving Des Hague.”
But as the backlash from animals built up it issued two more statements — one to announce that Hague had agreed to undergo anger management counseling, another to say he had been put on probation by the company, and had agreed to donate $100,000 to an animal charity and serve 1,000 hours of community service, according to Fortune.com.
In a statement announcing Hague’s resignation and the appointment of Chris Verros as CEO, the chairman of Centerplate’s board of directors said, “We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals. Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”
The BC SPCA has recommended abuse charges, and the case is now before Crown Counsel.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, business, catering, centerplate, ceo, company, cruelty, des hague, desmond hague, elevator, resignation, resigns, sports, surveillance, video
It’s not every day that you find Fortune magazine covering a dog abuse story.
But when the apparent abuser is CEO of a prominent sports catering company, and the abuse is captured on an elevator surveillance camera, it raises some questions — including, in this case at least, whether he should remain in that position.
Many a dog lover is calling for the immediate firing of Des Hague, CEO of Centerplate, a food service company that runs the concessions at several sports arenas nationwide, including those that are home to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.
Many are suggesting a boycott of the food served by Centerplate at the stadiums it has contracts with.
So, in a way, it is a business story — Hague’s atrocious behavior, public as it has gone, could play a role in the future of the company.
But it’s also a dog story, so you should know that the pup was not seriously injured (at least in a physical way) and has been removed from the care of Hague.
While some reports say Hague was watching the dog for a friend, a spokesperson for the BC SPCA said Hague appears to be the owner of the year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade.
The BC SPCA is keeping the dog in an undisclosed location, either a shelter or foster arrangement.
This week, Hague released a statement of apology, through his attorney, calling the incident “completely and utterly out of character … I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”
Centerplate, based in Connecticut, says it “does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees” — that’s good to know — and that it was conducting an internal review of the matter.
“Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior,” the statement continued. “He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multiyear financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”
The company’s board of directors says it has ordered Hague to donate $100,000 toward the establishment of the Sade Foundation, named after the dog he mistreated in the elevator, Fox 12 in Oregon reported.
In addition, the board is requiring him to serve 1000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization.
While those steps might be an attempt to cut off any criminal prosecution, they don’t preclude charges being filed. They do show that the company’s board members — by appointing themselves judge and jury — are aware how serious the public is taking his misdeeds.
Whether the financial donation and community service are voluntary or company-ordered, they still seem a little like Michael Vick’s “redemption” song, which not too many people bought as sincere.
Sorry, rich guys. But forgiveness can’t be achieved by writing a check. Nice as it would be to see Hague pay, and pay, and pay, money doesn’t erase misdeeds. And, as Vick’s dogfighting case showed, dog lovers have a very long and unforgiving memory.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, apology, arena, bc, business, cam, camera, caterer, centerplate, ceo, company, corporate, cruelty to animals, denver broncos, des hague, dog, dogs, elevator, food, image, indianapolis colts, jerked, kicked, memory, pets, public, sade foundation, san francisco 49ers, spca, sports, statement, surveillance, vancouver, video, yanked
Dogs. (Then again, they see the bright side in pretty much everything.)
With their owners spending more time at home, the pets of furloughed federal workers are likely getting more attention, more dog park time, more time to snuggle while watching daytime TV on the couch.
Let’s just hope no one gets too used to it.
The shutdown, while already hurting some pet-related business, is helping some others. The Huffington Post reports that business is booming, for example, at Muddy Mutt, a self-serve dog wash next to Shirlington Dog Park in Northern Virginia.
“I’m getting more business because people aren’t working,” said Andrew Low, owner of the Muddy Mutt, where dog owners commonly bring their dogs in after romping in the river. Low said the business is usually quiet during the week. But since the furlough? “Twenty-five on Monday, 14 on Tuesday, 23 yesterday… We don’t even ever come close to that.”
The furlough might be bad news, though, for professional dog walkers in the DC area.
Christina Bell, owner of Doggy Daze DC, said that business is down by about half since the shutdown went into effect. JJ Scheele says her business, Dog Walking DC, has also taken a hit.
“All the walkers are down anywhere from one to three dogs,” Scheele said.
At Just Walk DC, a dog-walking cooperative, Meg Levine said the decrease of customers, three days into the shutdown, has been slight. But between government-employed pet owners having more time, and less income, a protracted shutdown could hurt dogwalkers badly — not to mention the rest of the country.
“There certainly is a sense of frustration from a lot of my clients, who feel that this is just needless roadblocking,”Levine said. “For the most part, we are continuing to chug along and feeling very hopeful this will end soon. I like D.C. when it functions. Oh, this town.”
(Photo: Dog walker Meg Levine, courtesy of Just Walk DC)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, business, dc, dog walking, dogs, dogwalkers, dogwalking, economy, effects, employees, federal, federal government, furlough, furloughed, government, government shutdown, home, pets, politicians, ripple, shutdown, washington
Breed: Pit bull
Encountered: In a parking lot in Cave Creek, Arizona, where her owner sells cowboy hats at a roadside stand.
Backstory: Everyday, Michael Chazan, of Phoenix, sets up his tables on a dusty parking lot and hawks hats from Guatemala. At first, he would bring his daughter’s dog with him — partly for company, partly because, he’s found, dogs can help bring in business.
When she moved away, he debated whether he should bring along his dog, Sarah, who he’s had since she was a pup. While amazingly and unwaveringly friendly, she is a pit bull, and while he knows she’s a sweetheart, some customers, he feared, might shy away.
He gave it a try anyway, and Sarah proved to be as good for business as she is at being a friend.
I had no choice but to go over and say hello. And now — though I’m not the cowboy hat type — I’m wearing a cowboy hat.
Michael says Sarah is good at luring in customers, and while he sometimes tells customers that his dog will eat them if they don’t buy the hat they tried on, one look at Sarah’s smiling face lets them know, if they didn’t already, that it’s a joke.
He, as is usually his way with assertive females, all but ignored her.
I, on the other hand was smitten — and not just because we both have big heads. It was her sweet disposition that hooked me, reeled me in and sealed the sale, with a big sloppy lick.
(To see all of our Roadside Encounters, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, attracting, breeds, business, cowboy, customers, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounter, hats, misperceptions, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, roadside stand, sales, salesman, sarah, stereotypes, travel, travels with ace, vendor
“The beaches are clean where once they festered with fish guts and flies. The canneries which once put up a sickening stench are gone, their places filled with restaurants, antique shops and the like. They fish for tourists now, not pilchards, and that species they are not likely to wipe out.”
John Steinbeck’s return to a much-changed Monterey in 1960 was more bitter than sweet — he found it much improved cosmetically, and economically, but its old fishing character and its saltiness were gone.
It wasn’t home anymore.
The town’s transition from a sardine-based economy to a tourist-based one was well underway by then, and while that would ensure that Monterey would continue to thrive, seeing how much had been erased — fish guts and all — returned Steinbeck, a native of the area, to the kind of funk he seemed to teeter on the edge of, periodically, in “Travels with Charley.”
“My return caused only confusion and uneasiness,” he wrote. “… Tom Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.”
If he were to return again today to this spic and span city by the sea, he’d likely be even more displeased. Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf are now full-fledged tourist attractions that, while giving nods to the past, no longer have much connection with it.
And, quite possibly, he’d be downright irate over how his name and likeness have become an integral part of the area’s business and tourism marketing.
He probably wouldn’t think much of the way his name has been seized by business operations large and small: Steinbeck Garden Inn, Steinbeck Jewelers, Steinbeck Mortgage, Steinbeck Travel, Steinbeck Credit Union, Steinbeck Country Bail Bonds.
Steinbeck shunned publicity. In fact, he once moved out of the area to avoid it. Maybe he’d be OK with his bust being on display, in Steinbeck Plaza, but to see his face flapping in the breeze on banners above the streets in Cannery Row? I’m guessing he wouldn’t care for that.
The Steinbeck bust is right in the middle of things, and tourists regularly stop and have their photos taken with it. It faces away from the bay, toward the traffic, which probably wouldn’t have been his preference, either. He stares, somewhat solemnly, into the distance. Not even Ace could get him to break into a smile.
Monterey, and the surrounding area makes much of its Steinbeck connection — Steinbeck Country, they call it — from the flatlands of Salinas to the hilly bayfront of Pacific Grove.
It was in the family cottage there, purchased by his father as a family retreat, that Steinbeck wrote several novels and got started on “Of Mice and Men.”
He visited old haunts, at least those still standing, and old friends, at least those who were still around. Between the people who had died or moved away and the makeover the city had received, Steinbeck felt out of place.
“The place of my origin had changed, and having gone away I had not changed with it. In my memory it stood as it once did and its outward appearance confused and angered me.”
Monterey was a new place. And Carmel, he wrote, “begun by starveling writers and unwanted painters, is now a community of the well-to-do and the retired. If Carmel’s founders should return, they could not afford to live there…They would be instantly picked up as suspicious character and deported over the city line.”
Ace and I visited Cannery Row, then drove by Steinbeck’s former cottage in Pacific Grove to snap a quick photo. We found a nice spot, cliffside, near Lover’s Point, to rest our weary paws.
We walked Fisherman’s Wharf, which once served as the major port on the Pacific and whose fishermen once set off daily on quests for huge whales, and later tiny sardines — until overfishing brought the sardine industry, which thrived during the Depression, to a grinding halt in the 1950s. By 1960, as Steinbeck noted, tourists had become the city’s salvation.
In the 50 years since, the supply of them has not depleted. I’ve visited Monterey several times, first in 1987, and a couple more times in the early 1990’s, once for a story at Ford Ord, the once massive military base that was shut down in 1994. This visit, I was surprised to see mostly emptiness on the massive Army base by the sea, built in the 1940s to train soldiers for World War II. And surprised, too, that, given our times, it hadn’t been reopened.
Funny how sardines are limited, but we seem to have an endless supply of wars. Even over-warring doesn’t seem to bring an end to that industry.
Ace and I stayed at Motel 6 near what used to be Fort Ord, in a town called Marina, which I don’t even remember existing when I was last here. But we spent most of our time in Monterey, which, despite all the tourists trappings, despite never being my home, still never fails to touch my soul.
It’s not because of anything man has built; it’s not because John Steinbeck slept here. It’s the pockets of nature that still exist between the seafood restaurants and wax museums and souvenir shops and boutiques. It’s the topography, the way the peninsula stretches into the bay, and the wildlife that, despite all man’s tinkering, still call it home.
The pelicans, the gulls, the seals and sea lions and all the other squirmy sea life you can see, not just in the confines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but in their natural habitat.
If I ever return — and I hope I do — that will be why.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bay, business, bust, california, cannery row, carmel, coast, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fisherman's wharf, fishing, history, home, home again, industry, john steinbeck, legacy, memorial, monterey, name, nature, pacific grove, pelicans, pets, salinas, sardines, statue, steinbeck, steinbeck country, tourism, tourists, travels with charley, wildlife