While education is emerging as the top issue in the 2015 mayor’s race, candidate Lynne Abraham is featured in the first video of the primary season talking about animal cruelty.
But the web video wasn’t put out by Abraham’s campaign or by a political action committee.
It was produced by Bill Whiting, a Philadelphia resident whose dog, Edna was taken for ransom by neighborhood kids in 2007. Edna was tortured as Whiting listened over the phone. The dog was eventually killed and a 15-year-old was later arrested, tried and punished.
“I could never have realized justice without the help of Lynne Abraham who was Philadelphia’s District Attorney at the time,” Whiting said in the video, appearing with his new dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Winnie.
The ad also features Abraham sitting in a plush, red armchair, flanked by Winnie and two other small dogs.
“Part of how a society is judged, insofar as its humanity is concerned, is how it treats its animals,” she said, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi, although even dog-loving voters are more likely to judge the mayoral candidates on their plans for fixing Philadelphia’s schools.
Whiting produced the video himself with the help of some friends who donated their time and with the cooperation of Abraham’s campaign.
“The ad cost $14 in dog treats,” Whiting said. “That’s all there was.”
“This case is one of many that is emblematic of Lynne’s strong commitment against cruelty to animals,” Abraham’s campaign spokeswoman Cathie Abookire wrote in an email promoting the video. Abookire also noted Abraham appointed Philadelphia’s first prosecutor devoted to animal cruelty cases.
The video also attempts to promote Abraham’s other qualities, describing her as “a sharp, fair-minded elder stateswoman” and encouraging voters to elect Philadelphia’s first female mayor.
At about 525 views on YouTube, it hasn’t exactly gone viral. But Whiting hopes it will “humanize” a woman the New York Times called “America’s deadliest D.A.” because of how often she sought the death penalty. He said he also wants to thank the woman who called to check on him after his ordeal with Edna.
“People think of her as a very no-nonsense, straightforward district attorney,” Whiting said. “But I also wanted people to know that she has an extremely kind heart.”
Whiting is also planning a poster campaign in dog parks, pet supply stores and shelters.