LAST CALL: PETA makes sure TBC doesn't enjoy its life in a fishbowl

We thought we smelled something fishy in a New York Post Page Six item last week which described "panicked publicists" for Harlequin Gen-X imprint Red Dress Ink frantically calling around New York newsrooms to make sure that the aquatic ambassadors they'd sent as part of a book promotion had made it safely.

We thought we smelled something fishy in a New York Post Page Six item last week which described "panicked publicists" for Harlequin Gen-X imprint Red Dress Ink frantically calling around New York newsrooms to make sure that the aquatic ambassadors they'd sent as part of a book promotion had made it safely.

It smelled like PETA, to be precise.

Red Dress Ink's agency, Trahan, Burden & Charles (TBC), had delivered copies of Sarah Mlynowski's latest work of 20-something feminine angst, Fish Bowl, to 30-odd reporters, bundled with - you guessed it - fishbowls containing Betta Splendens, also known as the "Siamese fighting fish."

Last Call contacted TBC, which glossed over the PETA panic and said that, motivated rather by concern for all things scaly and piscine, they had done their homework at the local pet store and determined the self-oxygenating Betta to be the fittest fish for traveling and newsroom living.

TBC further hand-delivered the fish, calling before and after to ensure that they had been expected and arrived safely.

All well and good. But unlike most fish tales, the truth here is a bit longer than its telling.

Turns out PETA was on the case, after all. Tipped off by an animal lover at another PR firm, the group fired off a letter demanding that TBC cease and desist from using live animals in promotions.

Last Call is happy to hear that TBC has sworn off using live animals in their stunts, but cautions reporters working the dog-show beat to be on alert for copycat Puppy Chow promotions.

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