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Dogs: Playing on Both Sides of the Fence

Dogs love nothing better than to have new territory to explore. Playing on both sides of the fence can be exciting: new places to explore, new friends to meet, new smells to sniff, etc.

But when it involves doing business, does playing on both sides of the fence matter? For instance, is it okay to promote rescue organizations while at the same time doing business with those people who contribute to pet over-population? Is it okay to do so if you are helping rescue organizations in the long run?

Those are the questions I am faced with today.

Recently, while working on some research for a friend, I discovered that someone I respected, and even promoted, was playing on both sides of the fence.

The Pet Web Designer, Michael Ayalon, has been active in the Twitter community, especially with pet-related Twitter folks. According to the ASPCA, he has actively helped “to broaden the reach of shelters beyond their local communities and allow potential adopters to see available pets through a live video website..” called AnimalRoulette.com. The site allows potential adopters to see a pet and his/her personality via live webcam thus helping adopters to determine if the pet would make a good addition to their family. Definitely a good deed.

But, as a fellow Twitterer, I guess I didn’t realize that the Pet Web Designer was also playing on the other side of the fence and helping breeders “to generate 300 new qualified puppy buyers per day” as stated in one of the testimonials featured on his website. Or that he had helped a breeder in the business for 12 years to “sell more puppies than we ever thought we could…” or to help another breeder (from the well-known puppy mill state of Pennsylvania) to sell “… more puppies than I thought was possible. Every day brings hundreds of customers looking for my breeds to my pet website.”

And, does it constitute playing both sides of the fence if you publish articles under different names (Ron Ayalon,/Michael Ron, Ron Ayalon)?

Certainly not illegal. Writers do it all the time.

But, what if many of your articles link back to places like this?

I want to be fair here and state that he has also helped some of my fellow pet sitters, a doggy daycare, a pet apparel store, an environmentally responsible lawn care service, and as I mentioned above, rescue organizations. He has also published some good articles on working with and caring for your dog/cat.

I am not naive, I realize that businesses play on both sides of the fence all of the time. The question is… does it matter if a business plays on both sides of the fence and is up front and honest about it? After all, the testimonials are there for all to see. Nothing is hidden from those who wish to find it.

What do you think? Is playing both sides of the fence ok?

P.S. I should mentioned that soon after I started writing this piece, Michael (or should I say Ron?) Ayalon, changed all the links at the bottom of his ezines articles to this. Luckily, I had already copied and pasted the ones I mentioned from knol.

Update: Since my original post Michael has decided to include the websites he has created as well as the domain names he owns on the Home Page of his website (scroll down). I think this is a step in the right direction. What he has also done is change all of his online articles by removing the links to this and this. Perhaps this is an altruistic decision, but only time will tell.

  1. July 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    I believe being upfront is always the best policy.

    For anyone that reads my blog, they know that I feed both my dogs a diet of raw meaty bones (which I write about and promote on my blog, Facebook, Twitter etc.)

    I feed raw meaty bones ONLY. I do not feed kibble and never will. You will never seen an ad on my blog (yes I need to make a living too), for a kibble company, it just won’t happen. Firstly, feeding commercial pet food quite obviously goes against what I write about and believe in, and secondly no kibble company in their right mind would advertise on my blog anyway. LOL

    I actually went as far as removing Google Adsense from my blog, as more often than not they were displaying ads for Big Pet Food. :/

    I don’t see a problem with writing under a “pen name”, as long as it isn’t to hide or disquise your identity because you don’t want someone reading “A” to catch on that it is you writing “B” for some particular reason.

    Of course from a business standpoint, it sometimes makes sense to use different pen names to promote your brand.

    All articles I write are under my own name, my Twitter account @DoggyBytes and my Facebook page both use my “business name”.

    Lastly, I have a Disclosure Statement on my blog to inform my readers that there are certain aspects of my blog that I intend to make money from. My ultimate goal is to spread the raw meaty bones message on a fulltime basis and make a living in the process.

    • Mel
      July 4, 2010 at 8:30 AM

      Thanks for your comments Jim.

      I agree that honesty is the best policy. I did not see an overt attempt to hide the facts here. They were there for anyone to find or see. It’s a matter of knowing if you want to play both sides of the fence or not.

      If I may be so bold, it appears you have chosen a side of the fence.

  2. JJ
    July 4, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I don’t feel comfortable playing “both sides of the fence” *especially* when you’re doing it for money. I looked at that site; the first thing I thought was… He’s in it for the money. Therefore, he is not someone I would trust. I do pick based on credentials, but anyone I work with must be in it for the dogs, not the $$. I don’t care about $$.

    I also don’t believe in whoring your dog to make money, firstly; so anything to do with breeding or puppy mills instantly ticks me off. I tolerate and help out responsible breeders with imprinting and other things, and it’s wonderful to see the puppies off to their new homes. I have very mixed feelings about it, and the breeders know and are very tolerant – I even learn a lot about why they breed and it makes me feel better about helping them.

    (I, of course, do not work with backyard breeders or puppy mills, I report them. Zero tolerance.)

    And hi, to the people who run the testimonials page. I appreciate that I know personally some of the dogs you have adopted out. They have been surrendered for abuse (way to go, checking out the parents) or given up because some of you apparently are not responsible breeders. When you’re in it for the money, the dogs suffer.

    Dogs are lifeforms. They need to be treated as more than a pretty chair you can sell for profit.


  3. July 4, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    To be honest, I don’t believe in breeding at all, it seems to me we have more than enough dogs of all breeds to go around, sitting in shelters all over the place.

    In fact a couple of weeks ago a family member wanted me to write about her 12 Blue Heeler puppies that she had for sale – for a 5% cut of the profits. I declined.

  4. July 4, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    I do see a problem here. IMHO, transparency is required when double dealing. If you want to operate with integrity anyway. I see no redeeming quality in befriending Anipals to get inside a culture and pass on information as monetized marketing materials at the other end to puppy mills. Am I wrong? Did I misread something? I don’t think so. Will Anipals want to associate with this guy when they find out he helps puppy mills hook customers? Betcha they’re gonna have a lot of questions for Michael Ayalon, or is it Michael Ron? None of the above?

  5. July 4, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Really disappointing. This is not ok. Unfortunately a lot of organizations joining in networks through Twitter and others are in it for the $ only. Because the CEO/founder said they should. And thats where they go terribly wrong. Social media and Twitter is exactly about a reverse of “power” and if you are not for real like this post reveals in the case of @petwebdesigner, you should suffer.

    Look for the warning signs: any time somebody tweets or posts about social media and what they can do for you or your business, they usually have another agenda. I noticed @petwebdesigner doing just that.

    • Mel
      July 4, 2010 at 9:20 PM

      Thanks Kenzo. I agree. I have always viewed Twitter more as the “reverse of power” too. It’s about the little guy having the power to decide, influence and connet.
      I like connecting with people of similar interests. If I get business from it great. If not, that’s fine too. I learn more from the info shared and use that in working with my clients. That is more valuable to me than anything else.

    • Gothicina
      July 17, 2010 at 11:11 PM

      “Look for the warning signs: any time somebody tweets or posts about social media and what they can do for you or your business, they usually have another agenda.”

      Sorry I think that statement is a bit too much of a generalisation.
      Dogs Trust, the largest Dog Welfare Charity in the UK had a blog just this week about using Social Networking http://bit.ly/digirehome

      They certainly don’t have another agenda.
      Their sole agenda is for the welfare of dogs, as it has been since 1891, they, along with the majority of our large, and many of our smaller animal welfare charities, have a “no kill” policy.

      They have been fighting against puppy farms for many many years, http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/az/b/batteryfarmeddogs/default.aspx

      Their use of social networking as a tool for making people aware of the dogs available for rehoming, doesn’t cut any of the corners in the rehoming process.

  6. July 5, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    Not hiding something doesn’t mean that it’s not hidden to people who don’t know what to look for. You and many of the people you (and I and the people who have commented here) associate with are sophisticated enough about the pet business to know what the warning signs of people who help puppy mills are. A lot of people are not as savvy and will take the ASPCA sanction as a sign that this guy has only good intentions, no further evidence required. So in a way I think it’s worse to do what he’s doing because it’s more insidious.

    • Mel
      July 5, 2010 at 3:28 AM

      Indeed we do know Edie.Thanks you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.

  7. Jodi
    July 5, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Whoa, that’s heavy. As a small business owner, I only realized recently that I can use social networking to get my message out there. I have found personally, being such a very small business (me and my ghod friend, that’s it), facebook has been useful for me simply to get positive messages out to people I already know, with them passing it along to friends of their own.

    I think that those people that are “double dipping”, and pushing their business ideas onto others, do so over-conspicuously. In the world of animal rescue, it is definitely bad karma, and I’d hope media savvy people would be able to pick out those that are less than virtuous in their “you should adopt” message.

    I guess the sad thing is that there are those out there that are not so savvy. Like we say in the dog training world, one success put of a thousand us reinforcing enough to continue to try for it again and again! Hopefully there will be more and more honest people out there that will expose and educate people about the not so honest ones on the Internet, where we’re all anonymous…or maybe not so much!

    • Mel
      July 5, 2010 at 9:45 AM

      Thanks for your comments Jodi. As another small business owner, I also use social media as a way to build my business, but I have found that more often than not I have used it as a resource, such as: when I have an unusual pet client and need advice or discover another pet food recall (and can share that info with my clients). I also use it as a way to connect with clients, like using Animoto to create videos of their pets or connecting with them on Facebook. After all, I am usually talking with their pet during the day! 🙂

      But that is my choice, and while it certainly is not the only way to go, it is what I personally choose to do.

  8. July 27, 2010 at 5:58 AM

    I have to agree with the above comments. You should never try to hide anything or play both sides of the fence. I am a huge fan of adopting dogs from shelters and rescues, both Sadie and Rusty are from our local Humane Society. A friend of mine started working at the Humane Society recently, he told me they have to kill 2-3 dogs a week due to over crowding and a lack of foster homes. I do not believe anyone who really loves dogs could ever promote breeding knowing how many dogs are killed each year due to over population.

  9. September 15, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    I COMPLETELY agree with every word that JJ said. After reading that comment I just scrolled down to leave mine to say that.

    Absolutely unacceptable. This man is greedy, cruel, dishonest, and by the way, not even a good writer. ( I am a professional SEO copywriter with 10 years of experience).

    He’s a money-whore and I cannot bring myself to let his attempts to “right” things LIKE THIS get in the way of that view.

    • Mel
      September 16, 2011 at 7:48 AM

      I haven’t seen what JJ said. Did she comment elsewhere? But, I would agree with you on your description. If you have SEO experience then you can see what I see. A lot of what is out there was created by him or the company he hired to create them – articles, fake websites, comments touting his work, etc. Not exactly what I would expect to see from a legitimate business owner.

  1. September 14, 2011 at 11:27 PM

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