Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"All The News (or Press Release) That's Fit to Print?"

(Picture Left: "Yogi" -- Rescued from slated death at the pound. The question to ask: "Is is more comforting to a cat or dog about to die (or to us) to think s/he is not dying for 'population control?"' According to a recent article in the NY Times, the answer to that question is "yes." Better for animals to get sick in the shelter and die for Kennel Cough, then for us to admit that we don't have the homes for all of them -- or, that we simply don't have enough shelters.)

"All the News That's Fit to Print" is the logo for the New York Times.

But, sometimes the Times simply runs with straight press releases from press conferences with little if any research, investigation or even question.

Such is seemingly the case with an article in the Times from last week.

The article, entitled, "Percentage of Animals Put to Death Reaches Low" published on April 12th represents sugar-coated spin at its very worst.

"There's never been a better time to be a dog in New York City!" proclaimed Mayor Michael Bloomberg according to the article.

Bloomberg (and the New York Times) is apparently unaware of the extremely negative impacts of a new rule in City Housing making it very difficult for people to have dogs over 30 lbs. Since the ban went into effect last year, hundreds of dogs (mostly Pitbulls) have been abandoned to Animal Control with the reason, "NYCHA Ban." Many of these Pitbulls (mostly family pets) are later destroyed, as they are so overpopulated and generally hard to place.

While true that the number of animals killed in city shelters has been slowly declining for decades, this is primarily due to the various programs providing low cost spay/neuter, as well as a law passed a few years ago, requiring that all city animal shelters neuter animals before adoption. Obviously, lower breeding rates result in fewer animals coming into shelters and fewer killed.

Moreover, the efforts of more than a hundred rescue groups that have sprung up over the years results in more animals going out to rescue than are actually adopted out or killed. Of course, as said in this blog many times, this puts enormous pressure on the rescue community and can often mean too many animals languishing too long in boarding facilities and/or overburdened, overcrowded fosters.

Steve Gruber, "a spokesman for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals" is quoted as saying, "The economic downturn may have contributed to the rise in adoptions. In troubled times, people look to pets for comfort."

One has to wonder if this gentleman ever looks at the primary reasons animals are dumped at shelters, among them, "can't afford," "cost," "lost home," and "housing won't allow" rank among the very highest in this economic climate. That does not even take into account the thousands of owned cats and dogs falsely tuned into shelters as "strays" because the people don't want to pay a modest "Owner Surrender Fee." Mr. Gruber goes on to add, "Tough economic times also may have made people more inclined to adopt a free pet from a shelter than to buy one from a breeder."

"Free pet?" This might explain why rescue groups are constantly asked the question, "Do we have to pay anything to adopt a pet?" -- This, after we have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to secure vet care for rescued animals or pay boarding fees.

No animal should be given away "free" from rescues or shelters (even if we didn't have vet or boarding bills to pay.) One has to be very concerned about animals going out as potential "mousers" or worse, Pitbull bait. At the very least, most people tend not to value what they get for "free." -- Easy come, easy go. The first time that cat or dog runs into any "cost" (such as needing veterinary attention), the people will find it easier to simply dump the pet in the street or a shelter. "Why should I have to pay?" they ask. "It's only an animal!"

But, the very worst example of "spin" in an article that was full of it, was when Mr. Gruber of the Alliance apparently says, " (We are) on target for a “no-kill New York” in 2015, not meaning that there will be no animals put to death, but that euthanasia will not be used as a measure for population control."

What in God's name does THAT mean?

We are either killing animals or we aren't.

Regardless of the "reason" one is supplying for the regular killings of dozens of animals a day, the animals still die. -- We cannot truthfully call that, "No kill!"

After reading this revolting heap of spin, one has to be very skeptical of the stuff coming out of the mouths of various political and other "leaders." That of course, has been true for a long time.

But, what's really troubling is that we also have to be skeptical of believing the stuff on the pages of the newspaper that brags it only publishes "All the news that's fit to print."

What happened to journalistic integrity?

What happened to investigation and presenting BOTH or all sides of an issue?

What happened to simple, QUESTION -- or even common sense? -- PCA


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