Animal Rights

James Corden Slammed by Animal Rights Activists for Offering Comfort Puppies

The Grammys host has faced a chorus of criticism on social media.

L: Ivanova N; R: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

At the Grammy Awards Sunday night, host James Corden gave "consolation puppies" to losers of the Best Comedy Album award, sending some people into a frenzy.

Corden said:

I should say to all the nominees who are not going home with a Grammy, I don't want anyone to go home upset tonight. The good news is nobody goes home empty-handed because all night we'll be handing out consolation puppies. So if you didn’t get a Grammy, you get a puppy.

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

After losing to Dave Chappelle, comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and Jim Gaffigan were given puppies. They appeared fairly ecstatic to receive the cute animals.

Other celebs sitting nearby were also gleeful about the "consolation prizes," like Anna Kendrick:

But Corden's stunt was not well received by animal protection groups.

"We live in a click-and-collect culture that encourages impulse buying and even if the puppies were handed back, the Grammys' stunt perpetuates this notion," said John Fishwick, president of the British Veterinary Association. "Puppies are living beings, not trophies or toys. Dog ownership is a life-changing commitment, not something that should simply be done on a whim."

PETA tweeted the following:

The Animal Welfare Foundation chimed in with a tweet of its own:

Animal Justice said Corden's stunt was "wrong on so many levels."

"We've been working with the British Veterinary Association to try to educate people about how to buy pets responsibly," said a spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare Foundation. "When you take on a pet, you need to be aware it’s a big responsibility. This gives out completely the wrong message."

Other Twitter users were also unhappy with the move.

Dr. Marc Bekoff, author of Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do, told AlterNet:

Dogs are not consolation prizes, nor should they ever be given as gifts. This is one of the most demeaning things one can do, and when I watched part of the award ceremony it was clear that the dogs were stressed and didn't like it one bit. And, the laughter in the audience showed that we have a long way to go in getting people to realize that dogs and other nonhumans are fully sentient beings who have a wide range of emotions and don't like being thrown around as mere objects. The very thought of giving dogs as a consolation prize shows how people thoughtlessly think of them as second-class beings.

The fact that the #MeToo movement was a big part of the awards helps maintain the ongoing public debate about personal and professional ethics. But James Corden's misguided stunt, and the support it received, reveals that as a society, there's a lot of work to do if we want to achieve a world where the rights of all beings are respected.

Reynard Loki is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He was named one of FilterBuy’s Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016. His work has been published by Salon, Truthout, BillMoyers.com, EcoWatch, Truthdig, National Memo, Green America, Regeneration International, Revelist, Resilience and BlackBook, among others. Reynard is also the co-founder of MomenTech, an experimental production studio based in New York and Prague that has presented dozens of projects around the world exploring intersections of culture, history, politics, science and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @reynardloki or email him at reynard@ind.media.