Game of Thrones, HBO's hit fantasy epic, is responsible for starting trends among its dedicated fans, but not all of them have positive consequences. Since the show began in 2011, the show has sparked newfound interest in adopting dogs that have a strong resemblance to House Stark's iconic sigil - the Direwolf. The creatures caught the hearts of fans thanks to their loyal companionship and beautiful aesthetic, inspiring fans to adopt Siberian Huskies due to their similarities to the Starks' famous pet.
However, in light of the recent Husky adoption boom, the well-known animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and even those connected to Game of Thrones have asked the show's devoted fanbase to avoid adopting Huskies without appropriate care.
Real World Direwolves Are Facing Dire Times
While adopting animals is generally praised, doing so entails a huge responsibility. Apparently, this was something a good number of #GameOfThrones fans missed as they are often surprised by the pet's demanding nature. This has led to record numbers of Huskies being abandoned, with the UK-based animal shelter Blue Cross reporting that it took in a staggering 81 abandoned Huskies last year. In comparison, Blue Cross only had to deal with 10 abandoned Huskies in 2010, the year before Game of Thrones made its groundbreaking debut on #HBO.
To help alleviate the problem before it worsens, animal rights advocate #PeterDinklage - the acclaimed actor who plays the fan-favorite character #TyrionLannister in Game of Thrones - teamed up with #PETA to urge fans of the show to not adopt a Husky unless they were really ready for it.
PETA's collaboration with Dinklage has since gone viral on social media, but its lasting effects on the group's online followers and fans of the show have yet to be seen.
Please, to all of Game of Thrones' many wonderful fans, we understand that due to the direwolves' huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying huskies. Not only does this hurt all the wonderful homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are reporting that huskies are being abandoned - as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding the dog's needs.
Please, please: if you're going to bring a dog into your family, make sure you're prepared for such a tremendous responsibility and remember to always, ALWAYS, adopt from a shelter.
The Accidental Negative Ramifications Of Fictional Pets
Game of Thrones' unintentional impact on real life animals is only the latest example of a popular form of entertainment inadvertently kick-starting a harmful trend among pets. Previously, there were massive spikes in adoptions and subsequent abandonments of dalmatians, chihuahuas and pugs due to the popular movies that featured these specific dog breeds. Specifically, these happened during the releases of 101 Dalmatians, Legally Blonde and Men In Black.
Similarly, Pixar's Finding Nemo made the consumer demand for the exotic clownfish rise to dangerous levels. The demand got so high that record numbers of clownfish were "kidnapped" from their natural habitats, resulting in a near-extinction event of Nemo's kind that also left lasting damages on coral reefs.
In response, #Pixar made sure that the promotional campaign of the sequel Finding Dory advised audiences not to buy blue tang fishes (Dory's species) for home aquariums. Dory's voice actress Ellen DeGeneres also joined this call, telling her audiences to leave the real life Dory and her ilk in their home, the Great Barrier Reef.
The real-life version of the Direwolves may be adorable, but they're not official Game of Thrones merchandise to purchase and eventually sell when the show is over. Huskies, like every other animal featured in popular entertainment, are potential life-long companions that deserve both love and care from their would-be owners.
Will you be taking Peter Dinklage's advice? Let me know with a comment.