Taking Care of Business

From time to time I post blog related guidelines and clarifications for the good of the order, as the saying goes.  This being one of those times.

Commenters are free to express their opinions and they do not need to agree with my views.  Trolling is not allowed.  There is a difference and ironically, trolls seem to be gleefully ignorant of it.  The trolling umbrella here covers people who are commenting without intent to contribute to a meaningful discussion but rather to pick fights, smear an individual or group, or further a personal agenda.  Comments might include ad hominem attacks, hate speech, or fake names.

The anonymous commenting feature is enabled primarily to protect whistleblowers who wish to speak out about their local shelters without fear of retaliation.  It’s not for cowards who won’t put their real names to their personal attacks or who think they’re crafty by creating multiple accounts in order to make their views look popular.

nbc news

As for the blog’s Facebook page, it’s not the favorite son.  The blog takes priority which is to say, I invest less time patrolling FB for animal hating comments.  As such, if I see someone on FB attempting to justify dogs and cats in the kill room of our nation’s so-called shelters, I may give a one time warning or I may simply ban the poster outright.  All that same nonsense about idiots creating fake profiles seems to be even worse on FB and I just don’t have time for it.

If you don’t believe in math or that the killing of shelter pets is wrong, it’s not my job to convince you.  I provide news and information, including proven methods, to those interested in saving shelter pets.  If you believe you have an alternative proven method that results in an end to the killing of shelter pets, good on you.  The more, the merrier.  But if you believe that killing healthy/treatable shelter pets is beneficial, necessary, or in any way a kindness, don’t come around here.  If I ban you for your comments supporting killing, you can be assured I will ban you even more quickly from my inbox so don’t bother wasting your time e-mailing me about your wonderful world of killing.  You won’t convince me and I won’t try to convince you.

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I am for truth.  I have investigated and exposed the killing of healthy/treatable pets in both pounds and shelters that call themselves no kill.  I do not discriminate based upon how the shelter describes itself.  If you have evidence regarding the needless killing of shelter animals, I will look at it, regardless of the facility.  While I do not have the time to post about every facility on which I receive information, I do as many as I am able.  And I do not dismiss credible evidence based upon the description the facility gives itself.

That said, simply claiming “I know because I saw it on Facebook” while posting under a fake name is not credible evidence.  While I might give you the benefit of the doubt and let it through as a single comment, don’t expect to post multiple comments of this nature.  I keep track of this kind of thing.  Post links to your evidence, even if it is a comment you saw on Facebook.  (Note:  If you don’t know how to link directly to a FB comment, try Google.)  Producing hard evidence goes a long way toward solidifying your credibility and will make readers examine your claims more seriously.

I hope this is helpful information that will make your blog experience smoother.  I’m all out of cupcakes but just know that I love you, man.

Search Terms

Some of the search terms that have brought visitors to the blog in recent days underscore the need for shelter reform in this country:

  • how to find out if your pet has been euthanized at spartanburg humane society
  • i don’t want to take my cat to a shelter
  • shelter dogs suffering from heat
  • killing room animal shelter
  • i would never work at a shelter

Look who’s asking questions and not just buying into the weepy TV commercial propaganda:

  • where does the hsus get their money
  • how much does hsus spend on animals
  • aspca joke

Ha.

Waxing Rhetorical

On my worst days as a blogger, it seems like most commenters don’t bother showing up unless they want to disagree with me on something.  And I wonder why I am not in with the In Crowd, despite my numerous appealing qualities, which my Mom reassures me I possess.

On my best days, I remember that the overwhelming majority of readers never comment and since I am lucky enough to have readers, at least according to WordPress stats, I feel grateful.  There are plenty of places to find reading material on the web and the fact that anyone drops by this little cranny regularly is both humbling and happying.  Welcome to My Pretty Secluded Location.  There are clean towels.

In between the worst and best days are all the other days.  And on those days I think about plants and birds and rocks and things but also that I believe.  I really do.  I believe that the killing of shelter pets could end today, as untidy and challenging as it may prove in the short term, and that it could be maintained long term.  I believe that shelter dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of whether they are being carried in their mother’s womb or have lived on the streets for 10 years.  I believe that no kill is possible and have resolved to live in accordance with its most basic tenet – that the life of every pet (and I use that as a general description meant to include feral cats and dogs) must be granted individual consideration and respect.  Sometimes it’s inconvenient and requires I make personal sacrifices.  I make them.  Because even if I didn’t want to, there are no reasonable alternatives.

So if there are days when you feel isolated, alienated, or helpless, or perhaps just find yourself wondering whether anyone in the no kill movement would actually stand by you and the homeless pets in your community if push came to shove, know that I will and I am.  This blog is a testament to that promise.  If you are fighting for the right of every dog and cat to live, go ahead and put me down as your +1.  And thank you for reading, which I should say more often.

master bedroom by andrew wyeth

Your Input is Requested

I need to update the blog’s sidebar.  Please let me know your suggestions for additions in any of the categories (or removals, if you notice a dead link for example) as well as any other sidebar related comments.  I’m all ears.

lolcat

A Note Regarding Olympic Animal Sanctuary and “Exposes”

In light of some of the comments regarding Olympic Animal Sanctuary, I think a point of clarification is in order:  I turn down stories “exposing” animal organizations, including pet killing facilities, all the time.  I use the same standards to evaluate all potential stories – a combination of evidence, my personal level of confidence regarding the information provided by the accuser and the accused, along with other factors.  What gets posted on this blog is my opinion of facts as they are presented.  I am not a journalist but a blogger and I consider my work to be an opinion based form of citizen journalism.  If you are looking for something else, there’s the door.

Based upon the available evidence against OAS, which amounts to some photos posted on a Facebook page by an unknown person, I normally would not consider covering this story at this time.  It’s a non-story, in my opinion.  The main reason I requested a response from OAS owner Steve Markwell was not because I thought the photos warranted an investigation by me, but out of fairness to OAS and to readers, many of whom have contributed to OAS in the past after reading about Steve’s good work here.  If any significant new evidence emerges, for or against OAS, I will share that.  Unless and until that occurs, I do not intend to cover the issue further.  As always, I encourage readers to form their own opinions based on the available information and how it resonates with you.

Photo Call

(Crossposted from Hell YesBiscuit!)

I would like to put together a post of children demonstrating proper animal handling techniques for the Hell YesBiscuit! blog.  The idea being to contrast with the mishandling of shelter pets by animal shelter workers so often seen in photos online.  If you would like to submit a photo for inclusion, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Photo should feature at least one pet and one child in keeping with theme.  The child need not be entirely visible, e.g. just hands holding a pet is ok, but it should be obvious that the person is not an adult.
  • Please include a brief caption identifying the pet, child, and what area you are from.  Your caption can be specific (e.g. “Sally, age 5, and shelter pet Fluffy in South Carolina”) or vague (“Neighborhood kid with our Pitbull in New England”).  If you prefer to remain anonymous, please indicate that.
  • Photo should have no copyright issues – that is, the photo should be taken by you, a family member or someone who isn’t expecting payment for the use of the photo.
  • Please e-mail photos to me no later than April 30, 2013.

I hope lots of readers will consider participating.

Poll Regarding Post Preferences

I would appreciate some reader feedback regarding post preferences so please participate in the poll and expand in the comments if necessary.

Slumblog Millionaire

This blog has always been and always will be free for anyone to read.  I do not accept advertising although WordPress does post ads in exchange for the free service.  There are however some expenses associated with the blog.  WordPress charges for such things as the ability to post video and file storage beyond the allotted amount that comes with the free service.  And on occasion I have to pay for FOIA requests.

In the past, I’ve created Chip Ins specifically for these expenses and I’ve paid some of them myself.  Today I wanted to try something different.  As such, you will now see a link on the sidebar that says Kick In for Blog Expenses.  It takes you to a page with the mailing address to donate any amount you wish to contribute.  My idea is this:  by keeping the page up year round, I can hopefully collect small amounts here and there to keep in an account which I can draw from when needed to pay blog-related bills.

I want to reiterate that the blog remains free to all.  You are not being asked to pay a subscription fee or anything at all.  But if you are financially able to kick in any amount and you feel inclined to do so, the information is there.

If I wind up short on the expenses, I will make up the difference myself.  If I have extra, I will hold on to it for future expenses (maybe even pay WordPress the ransom to kill the ads they put on here).  If someone kicks in $50 grand or their inheritance or something like that, I’ll quit my job and take up blogging full time!  In other words, I will use any donated dollars and cents responsibly.

The Gap Between Rescues and Adoptions

I posted on the blog’s Facebook page yesterday that I wanted a beagle but was exasperated by so many restrictive and invasive requirements from the various rescue groups I was seeing on Petfinder.  I have visited this topic often on the blog and as regular readers know, I am all for reasonable screening (picture ID along with a 1 or 2 page adoption application which provides enough information for the group to search for animal cruelty convictions and call the vet reference) but I am opposed to most of the other arbitrary requirements (e.g. signing a contract that allows a representative of the rescue to inspect your home at any time during the pet’s life and repossess the pet if they so choose).  I also favor free or pay-what-you-wish adoption fees.

There are millions of pets being sent to the landfill every year in this country and rescue groups literally begging for adopters and fosters while imposing all manner of restrictions.  There is a gap here.  A gap the size of Oklahoma.  By imposing the arbitrary requirements and/or high adoption fees, rescues are not only turning away good people, they are turning off good people from considering or recommending rescue in future.  And meanwhile, rescues continue to issue daily pleas because they have no cage space or foster space for more pets and shelters continue the killing.  There is a gap.

Rescues have the right to impose all the restrictions they desire.  They have the right to charge any fee of their choosing.  And they have the right to fund raise in any manner they wish in order to cover their expenses.  None of this is in dispute.  It’s all legal.

But to my mind, if rescues are in fact driving adopters away with their restrictive and invasive requirements and their high fees, they do not have the right to continually beg for adopters and fosters.  Because it’s wrong.  There is a gap.

Many people replied to my comments on Facebook.  Some shared their experiences trying and failing to adopt from a rescue group.  Others posted statements of support.  Still others felt that because I am poor, I should not have pets.  One commenter wrote:

How do we know that the best of her ability is some little dog hut in the back yard with a 5 foot chain. I’m sorry, but this is the last person I would give a dog to.

Another person added:

I might as well give an animal to a dog fighting group, and that isn’t going to happen EVER…. I will make sure to tell anyone and everyone that these people and this “blog” are to be avoided when ever and where ever possible.. I have seen enough.. you anti-rescue people deserve to be fleeced and rejected by anyone with a conscience .. enjoy being second rate pet owners and second rate human beings..

I want to clarify for the record that the posts on this blog and on the YesBiscuit! Facebook page are attributable to just one person:  me.  I further want to clarify that I am not anti-rescue.  I am pro-rescue.  I have evaluated and pulled pets from shelters for rescue, adopted from a shelter myself, and I continue to support various rescue groups both on and off the blog.  I am trying to support rescue right now by adopting a beagle but I haven’t yet found one with reasonable screening processes and fees.  Thus my posts on Facebook yesterday.  There is a gap.

I am not ashamed of being poor.  I may be a “second rate” pet owner and human being in the eyes of some, but the question rescues ought to be asking themselves is this:  Is a pet better off dead than living in a home we consider to be “second rate”?  Because even though most rescues don’t kill pets, many do leave pets on death row because they have no space for them.  Freeing up space using reasonable adoption screening processes and fees is a win for people and pets.  The other way – well, we see every day of the year how well the other way is working.

None of this is to say that rescue groups are responsible for doing the job the municipal shelters are supposed to be doing.  None of this is to say that pet killing is ok, under any circumstances.  I’m just saying that rescues should be part of the solution to the pet killing problem in most communities and if you’re going to be part of the solution, why not be the most effective you can be?

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And:  Many people have sent me leads on beagles and I would like to thank everyone who did.  I will let you know what happens.  I love you guys.  (Also, if any of you want to take shifts wearing Billy down on this, I’ll post a sign up sheet in the hall.)

Buyer’s Remorse

The anonymous commenting feature is enabled on this blog in order to allow whistleblowers the protection they need to speak out about cruelty in animal shelters and provide information in a public forum without fear of retaliation by their employers.  It’s been abused in the past but that has been the exception, not the rule, and since I have a pretty liberal comment policy, I’m not displeased with the feature overall.  Like all things internet though, it does have its drawbacks.

Someone who made use of the anonymous commenting feature has decided that she (or he, I don’t know either way) no longer likes what she wrote in those anonymous comments.  She contacted me, still masking her identity, and asked me to delete them.  Considering the fact that both the comments and the e-mails are anonymous, I have no way of verifying that the e-mailer is in fact the author of the comments on the blog.  It could simply be one faker attempting to subvert another.  But to be fair, I explained that I don’t delete comments unless they fall outside the posted guidelines and that she should feel welcome to post an additional comment clarifying her opinions.  She apparently felt that wasn’t good enough and now says I am causing her to suffer and that, stay with me here, by forcing her to contact her attorney regarding her intellectual property rights (lawl), I am taking money away from saving kittens.

Dude.  We have all, myself included, posted stuff on blogs that, upon reflection, could use some editing, clarification or in some cases napalming.  That’s the nature of online discussions.  Think before you post.  If that fails, clarify/apologize/explains it betters later.  Or just take your fake identity and go home since no one knows you anyway.  Options – you haz them.  But do not attempt to bully me.  That will get you banned from the blog.  Think of the kittens!

Photo submitted by reader Ashley, who writes:  "My foster kitten, Ollie, at 1 week old, right after a feed."

Photo submitted by reader Ashley, who writes: “My foster kitten, Ollie, at 1 week old, right after a feed.”