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Cool it on Ice Bucket Challenge, and keep Gov. Brown's dog out of it

Droughts and Heat WavesJerry BrownHumane Society of the United States
California's First Dog, Sutter, survived the Ice Bucket Challenge -- but enough already

As if the parade of publicity-seeking celebrities, newscasters, tech billionaires and past and present politicians dumping pails of ice water on themselves wasn’t tiresome and annoying enough, now we must watch California’s First Dog subjected to this humiliation.

And he didn’t have a choice in the matter like the humans before him.

Yes, someone (perhaps Gov. Jerry Brown, himself?) decided that Brown’s Welsh corgi, Sutter, needed to get in on the gimmick of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the ALS fundraising drive and latest gone-viral craze. A short video on his -- Sutter’s, that is -- Facebook page shows a mysterious hand appearing in the frame with a mini-bucket of water poised over the pooch’s head as he (Sutter again) grumpily barks, knowing nothing good can come of this. The water is dumped,  Sutter shakes it off and looks none the worse for the whole experience.

There was some mild outrage on his Facebook page. “That’s really mean!” someone wrote. But there were more comments along the line of “How cute!” But anyone who thinks this is animal cruelty is off-base.

“I wish people would worry  more about serious animal abuse issues,” Jennifer Fearing, deputy director of the Humane Society of the United States who is based in Sacramento (and has been known to hang out with Sutter), told me. “Would you like a list? It’s unfortunately long.”

The stunt also raised some eyebrows about water-wasting in drought-stricken California. (It was a tiny bucket, however.) The ALS Assn.’s website urges ice bucketeers: “Please be thoughtful about water usage! If you’re in an area of the country or world affected by drought, repurpose the water for later use.”

I just think the entire “challenge” is ridiculous. It started with people getting dumped with ice water if they did not make a contribution to the ALS Assn. Now it’s morphed into just a bunch of video clips and TV shots of people dumping water on themselves and making contributions.

Of course, it goes without saying that it’s good to give money to an organization that funds research on this horrible, degenerative disease, advocates for public policy, and provides services to people with ALS. And the Ice Bucket Challenge has certainly gotten the ALS Assn. a lot more funding. It reported on Wednesday that it had received $31.5 million in donations from July 29 to Aug. 20 compared with $1.9 million that came in over the same time period last year. And the association said that came from existing donors and 637,527 new donors.

But the ice bucket dumping is silly. (President Obama wisely declined but will write a check to an ALS charity.)

And there’s something vaguely skanky and lurid about watching female celebrities and TV personalities drenching their hair and plastering their clothing with water. It’s just one step removed from a wet T-shirt contest.

So, fundraisers, think of some other way to raise money that doesn’t look like an episode of “Wipeout.” If you want people to do something daring, challenge them to dance and sing in the middle of their business meetings. Or let them spend a day with someone suffering from ALS in exchange for getting a check from a donor. And save the water for your lawn.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Droughts and Heat WavesJerry BrownHumane Society of the United States
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