“Chicken dog, Mommy, chicken dog!”

This was my 2-year-old’s excited reaction to this hybrid dog-turkey, left, featured in PETA‘s latest ad campaign urging kids everywhere to “go vegan.” (My 6-year-old just laughed hysterically.)

Of course, I didn’t bother telling either that the ad is by a bunch of extreme wing-nuts who compare eating a Thanksgiving turkey to eating the family pet (“If you wouldn’t eat your dog, why eat a turkey?” the ad reads). First, I didn’t want to traumatize the kids. Second, I’m irritated that PETA is marketing towards kids. (Paws off, PETA.)

To me, the issue isn’t even about morals or ethics. I spent half my adult life as a vegetarian and would be fine if I never consumed another morsel of meat again. And I won’t even get into the fact that in some cultures, eating dog (and cat) is perfectly acceptable. What bugs me is that PETA is trying to scare our children – or at least shock them – into going vegan. It’s a lame approach. Fortunately, most kids will see this dog-turkey (dogurky?) image as being totally hilarious. In fact, one colleague’s 3-year-old, upon viewing it, starting laughing, “Mom, the dog has a chicken butt! CHICKEN BUTT!”

Of course, PETA is no stranger to shock tactics and poor taste. That’s kind of their thing. PETA’s manager of campaigns Ashley Byrne explained the thinking behind the ad: “Turkeys may not be as familiar to us as dogs or cats but they have the same ability to suffer and that’s something people innately understand, especially kids. There are a lot of kids out there who don’t want to see a dead bird as the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner.”

PETA plans to run the ads on billboards near public schools in Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Utah. (Phew, am I ever glad to be Canadian.)