An animal welfare group in southern Ontario is apologizing for a cat adoption ad that made reference to a lewd comment by U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society received multiple complaints for its ad posted Wednesday morning on Twitter and Facebook that read: “You don’t have to be a star to grab a pussy … cat.”
The ad, which has since been taken down by the group, promoted adoption of cats over six months old for $50 this week.
Many people took to social media to criticize the ad, saying no one should make fun of sexual assaults.
Lisa Gretzky, who represents Windsor West in the Ontario legislature, said on Twitter that demeaning behaviour toward women should not be perpetuated.
She tweeted the humane society: “I am profoundly deeply disappointed and disturbed by this advertisement. When it comes to sexual assault #itsneverok.”
Executive director Melanie Coulter said they were not expecting that kind of reaction and the ad was intended to poke fun at the U.S. election campaign.
“We have so many cats here,” said Coulter. “We were really hoping for a good response and we thought, ‘What kind of tie-in can we use that will make people share (the ad)?’ A regular, boring adoption promotion doesn’t get shared, so we were looking for something creative and certainly did not intend to offend anybody or make light of sexual assault.”
Coulter said the humane society received 145 cats last week and that prompted the adoption promotion.
“We apologize because we never intended to hurt anybody, so that’s why we took (the ad) down,” she said.
Animal rights group PETA also faced a backlash earlier this week for posting a similar ad playing on Trump’s lewd comments. Coulter said her organization wasn’t inspired by that ad.
The Windsor/Essex Humane Society is no stranger to using humour to promote cat adoption. In a Twitter post Tuesday, an image of a cat that is up for adoption was digitally altered to make reference to the creepy clown phenomenon.
“We try to use what we can to draw attention to whatever is going on — whether it’s is fixing your pet, adopting or another message we’re trying to get out,” Coulter said. “Humour is often a good way to reach people.”
Mexican eatery La Carnita in Toronto also drew ire last week for posting a picture of food on Instagram under a caption that also referenced Trump’s lewd comment.
The restaurant deleted the controversial post hours after sharing it and issued an apology on Twitter.