A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jul 21, 2016

Pokémon Go - AWAY

courtesy Google Images
When my kids were younger I spent a good deal of time assisting them in their frenetic need to have complete first edition sets of Pokémon cards. A graduate of the previous "have to have the original green power ranger" school of mom, I knew the ins and outs of where to score these items. To my horror, they are now into Pokémon Go, where they walk transfixed, staring into a phone screen looking for these mythical characters loitering in our world. 

Also interesting in this "Go" round, is the assertion by some that this game supports animal research (when you send a Pokémon back to the professor), animal fighting (when they engage in combat) poaching, (capturing the characters from the wild) and other animal cruelty conduct. While absolutely understanding the importance of messaging and the fears of desensitization, I also recognize the difference between real and imaginary harm. 

I have received complaints in the past that Ariel (the Little Mermaid) is a hoarder, and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) is an animal abuser. Again, their actions definitely provide food for discussion, but no actual injury has occurred, and I lack the jurisdiction to prosecute cartoons. (Notwithstanding websites devoted to diagnosing psychotic Disney characters, it frankly bothers me more when Disney films kill off a parent within the first 5 minutes of almost every film!)

What is real about Pokémon Go is the danger that, completely distracted by the game, a child or adult  can walk into the street while walking a dog, drive into another car while searching for Pokémon, and/or simply become so oblivious to their surroundings that they are no longer safe. We should talk, teach and learn about the animal welfare issues lurking in the game, but we must take steps to prevent real harm.

If you want to help animals for real and organize safe pretend Pokémon searches, start a ResQWalk in support of spcaLA. You can download the App (free) from the App Store or Google Play and choose spcaLA as your “ResQ”.

Then promise me to PLAY RESPONSIBLY!