Call it emotional manipulation, or just call it good campaigning. But as of last Thursday, when Measure 5 supporters started putting out the word for pet portraits from supporters of the cause, the images for the campaign started to reach a whole new level of effectiveness.
And they've been picked up on websites all over.
"They did! Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post," says Kristie Skunberg, Measure 5 campaigner. "It's been a great experience."
The portraits poured in from animal lovers around the country. All urging voters to say yes on Measure Five, and all featuring an adorable pet holding a placard that carries campaign messages like "Vote to protect my furry friends in North Dakota."
However effective the images may be in appealing to animal lovers, the Fargo-Moorhead Humane Society's Nukhet Hendricks says it's not that simple.
"My concern is that this initiative is too narrow in scope," she says.
Hendricks says the measure only protects dogs, cats and horses -- no other species, including the many other types of companion animals people keep as pet. And, the measure covers only the very worst types of abuse, but not the routine types of neglect and garden-variety cruelty that are most likely to land animals in her shelter.
"It's not about just getting laws into the books. It's about making changes to benefit all the animals." Hendricks also says once the measure were to be law, it would require a two-thirds majority of the state legislature to toughen it. And that could be tough, she cautions, in a state legislature that hasn't embraced the issue in the past.
But Measure Five supporters say the law would be at least a start.
"I think with a big public vote it sends a strong message to the state legislature. That's why we took it to a public vote. So it's a win win," says Skumberg.
And with images like the ones in the campaign coming in from all over the country, voters might not remember the controversy -- just the cute.