People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has stopped its billboard campaign in Sedona, Arizona that was going to relate the deaths of three people at a sweat lodge ceremony under the leadership of self-help guru James Arthur Ray with the fatal consequences of people leaving their dogs inside their vehicles in hot weather.
Ray was convicted of negligent homicide on June 22, 2011 for the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, James Shore, 40, and Liz Neuman, 49. The victims paid $9,695 each to participate in Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” retreat near Sedona on October 8, 2009, in which Ray reportedly urged participants to stay inside and scolded them to overcome their weakness. Following the ceremony, another 18 people were hospitalized for burns, respiratory arrest, kidney failure, loss of consciousness and dehydration.
PETA planned to compare the devastating effects of heat on humans and dogs. Its billboard campaign was going to feature a distressed dog in a parked car with the caption, "A sweat lodge can kill you. A parked car can kill him. Dogs overheat faster than humans."
But family representatives of two of the sweat lodge victims contacted PETA and asked the animal rights organization to stop the campaign.
One family member of a sweat lodge victim commented on the quote saying, "[T]hey get what PETA is trying to accomplish, but trivializing the deaths of three people isn't the way to go about it," reported KPHO.
PETA decided to honor the families' wishes, although they "will continue to bring attention to the truly life-and-death danger of leaving dogs in parked cars in summer," said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president.
"Our billboard was intended to turn a tragic and preventable occurrence into something positive by stopping further tragic and preventable heatstroke deaths," states PETA.org. "However, we understand the concerns of the family and will not be putting up our billboard in Sedona."
PETA's press release explained that it regularly receives reports of dogs being locked in cars for long periods of time on hot days. "On a 90-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 160 degrees in 10 minutes," PETA warns in a blog.
PETA will replace the ad with a new quote, "Too hot for spot? In hot weather, leave dogs at home," with an animation of a dog in a vehicle.