I rescued dozens, possibly hundreds, of pets from certain death the other night.
But before you call me a hero, or saint, you should know I only did it on Facebook, and only in a video game.
Pet Rescue Saga is the popular new puzzle game, downloaded more than 150 million times and playable on Facebook and through apps. It’s free, at first, but then, like a drug dealer who has handed out samples to get new clients hooked, it starts charging you to play more, or play more effectively, or to reach greater highs.
The game comes from King.com, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, which is similar and reportedly equally addictive.
When invitations to play Pet Rescue Saga first started showing up on my Facebook page, I wrongly assumed — given most of my Facebook friends are die-hard, do-gooding animal lovers — that it was a game that somehow was related to, or benefited, animal welfare causes.
It’s not, and it doesn’t.
There might be some unintentional similarities to the real world of animal rescue, such as walls being put up in front of you, and things piling up faster than you can handle them. But “Pet Rescue Saga” isn’t about rescuing pets in the animal welfare sense of the word. It’s mainly about busting blocks, and then more blocks, and then more blocks, by clicking on them to ensure that the “adorable” little pets atop them don’t get squished.
Given video games have a reputation for catering to our basest instincts — chopping off heads, running people over in cars and the like – I had hopes, especially when Facebook friends kept inviting me to play, that this one might actually be about a noble pursuit, or might even be educational.
No such luck. What it teaches us about pet rescue is that we can save animals by matching two or more blocks of the same color.
Still, I ended up spending an hour playing it on Facebook, which annoyingly notified me to “share” every time I passed some friend’s record, before it got to the point where further play would require an investment of money. (That — having to fork up some money — generally prevents and/or cures any addictions to which I might fall victim.)
There are hundreds of levels of the game, and the higher you go (or the more you spend) the more tools you get to “save pets” – like sizzling rockets, hammers and exploding bombs.
In playing it, one becomes so focused on the blocks that he forgets about the animals. The endangered animals really seem a well-contrived afterthought, as if the gamemakers thought putting pets in need of rescue atop the stacks of blocks — as opposed to pots of gold or damsels in distress – might give it some relevance, or, pet rescue being a popular cause, add to its popularity.
“Wait! Don’t forget about the animals! ” says a review of the game on gamezebo.com. “Some levels of Pet Rescue Saga have dogs, pigs, and pigeons trapped on stacks of blocks, or wedged in columns. When you successfully clear away blocks, said animals drop safely to the ground. However, since many levels of Pet Rescue Saga scroll vertically, the animals on tall columns are in constant danger of getting squished on the top of the screen. Nothing ruins your day like the anguished squeal of a piglet.”
Squishing aside, it’s nice to see a game that’s seemingly about rescuing and saving, as opposed to killing and maiming.
It would be much nicer to see a game that was really about rescuing and saving animals, or that really taught compassion, or at least tried to.
I’m not necessarily saying the makers and marketers of the game are trying to capitalize on tender-hearted pet lovers, or that they mislead people to think the game might have some legitimate connection to the actual world of animal rescue.
But, after playing the game, I did start receiving emails from the gamemaker — far too many emails — with subject lines like: “Pets in danger. Help them now!” Clicking on the link in the email took me directly to the game’s Facebook app.
I don’t keep up much anymore with the latest developments in video games. So I don’t know if phony altruism is the latest video game trend: Bust up the blocks and find a cure for cancer. Bust up the blocks to feed the starving children.
Maybe there are some truly altruistic video games out there. The Game Show Network came close to that last month when it introduced Pet Pals Slots, a limited-edition game on Facebook. It earmarked a portion of money made from gameplay in November — up to $30,000 — to go to Best Friends Animal Society, providing food, medical care and shelter for animals at the organization’s Utah sanctuary. In other words, while playing a mostly mindless game, those who played Pet Pals Slots, at least in a way, were saving pets.
Video games, with exceptions, are rarely educational, and I don’t really expect them to serve as our moral compass. (More often they seem aimed at sending that compass haywire.)
And of course they’re not obligated to share the wealth they make with any deserving causes they borrow their themes from.
But how cool would it be to see — in addition to less squishing — more of that?
Posted by John Woestendiek January 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rescue, animal welfare, animals, app, blocks, bombs, candy crush, cause, contributions, crushed, dogs, donations, exploit, exploiting, facebook, game, games, hammers, king, levels, mission, money, pet, pet rescue, pet rescue saga, pets, philanthropy, pigs, profits, reality, rescue, rockets, share, video
A trooper agreed to tie the dogs to the bumper of a patrol car, but within 30 minutes, the trooper drove off to another call, dragging one of the dogs behind him.
Terry’s dog Lois had to be euthanized after suffering a broken pelvis and spine, according to the Albany Times Union.
The second dog survived.
“The trooper feels terrible,” said State Police Capt. William Keeler. “The owner is rightly upset.”
“I do plan on seeking justice for Lois,” said Terry, who was charged with driving with a suspended licensed. “She was the only innocent victim here.”
The incident happened Saturday as State Police conducted a roadblock to check on whether drivers were wearing seatbelts.
Terry, after he was stopped, was worried his dogs would overheat in his pickup truck, and asked a trooper if they could be let out. Because it was a shaded area, officials said, the trooper tied the dogs to his patrol car’s rear bumper, using the dog’s leashes.
When Terry learned he was being arrested for having a suspended license, he called his parents to pick up the dogs. Authorities said that the trooper, seeing Terry’s family had arrived, assumed they had taken the dogs when he returned to his vehicle and sped off to another call.
“He was under the belief that the dogs had been unsecured,” a state police spokesman said. “He proceeded approximately 10 feet. Unfortunately, the dogs were still secured.”
While the leash of the second dog, Liz, detached as the patrol car pulled away, the leash securing Lois to the patrol car did not. She was pulled under the Ford Crown Victoria cruiser and was run over by its rear wheels.
An internal investigation is being conducted, and the trooper will remain on duty pending its results.
When the accident occurred, Terry was handcuffed in a patrol car parked in front of the one to which his dogs were tied.
“I heard the screech of the car taking off,” he said. “I was in the cop car. There was nothing I could do. I was screaming ‘Get me out of here!’ A cop came over and let me out. I ran over and held Lois. I knew something was wrong. Lois was crying, and her legs weren’t moving,”
Another trooper picked her up and took her and Terry to the Latham Emergency Clinic, where veterinarians recommended euthanasia.
(Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, crushed, dogs, dragged, euthanized, james terry, law enforcement, leashed, liz, lois, overheated, patrol, pets, police, roadblock, siberian huskies, state, stop, tethered, tied, traffic, troopers
Officials say that 300 Tibetan mastiffs were crushed to death in the small Tibetan town of Yushu when their kennels collapsed in, and those that survived have been running wild and terrified without their owners.
Yushu, the breeding center for Tibetan mastiffs, is believed to be home to as many as 20,000 members of the breed.
The dogs — a status symbol in China, where they can sell at upwards of $100,000 — were once housed in elaborate kennels that lined the only road on the edge of the town. Now, the Times of London reports, they, like their human masters, are homeless.
The relief effort has seen about 8 tons of dog food have arrived in Yushu, where all local supply shops were razed in the earthquake.
(Photo: Joe Chan / Reuters)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, china, crushed, deaths, dog food, earthquake, effort, homeless, kennels, news, ohmidog!, pets, relief, status symbol, tibet, tibetan mastiff, yushu