By Jennifer O'Connor
The popular Facebook game Mafia Wars has just introduced a new game "tool": animals to use in the fights, including but not limited to snarling pit bulls.
Sure, it's just a game, but perpetuating the image of pit bulls as fighting machines is reckless and wrong. It is particularly troubling in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a law banning the distribution of videos glorifying such cruelty to animals. Pit bulls already face a public relations battle and are the most abused breed of dog. PETA's fieldworkers see pit bulls in horrific conditions every day. They are frequently kept chained or penned, they are taunted and trained to be aggressive, and they are beaten and starved—sometimes to death.
This is a rare, er, misfire for Zynga, the maker of lots of popular online games (you might have heard of a little one called Farmville). Zynga recently started offering special bulldogs in YoVille, the proceeds of which are donated to the San Francisco SPCA. So let's hope that it will listen to our appeal. You can also send the company your own polite comments asking it to leave animals out of Mafia Wars.
This is not the image of pit bulls that people should be promoting: