Fake outrage and disproportionate action

Posted December 21st, 2013 in Rescue, Shelters and tagged , , by Josh

On December 19th I posted a photo that I had taken a day prior at the Carson shelter. It showed the dead carcass of a large dog laying across the top of 1 of their 3 intake cages, with 2 other dogs filling the neighboring cages after just being surrendered or picked up as strays. As expected, this immediately drew the ire of most people. You can see the photo below…


I posted the picture for 2 reasons. 1) Because it was highly unacceptable and spoke to many things that so often define the attitudes of select individuals that work at the shelter. And 2) As a social experiment of sorts. I knew full well what this picture would do, as I see similar reactions all the time.

Keep in mind, I was only at the shelter to visit with the dogs and photograph them for eventual networking. I do this because I want their adorable faces to be seen, and I want people to know that they are there and exist, and I want people to consider saving a life and adopting their next pet and family member from a shelter.

As I posted the picture of the dead dog I was also in the middle of editing and then uploading the many photographs I’d taken of the shelter dogs… This is always a process, as on any visit I come home with over 50 different dogs that I’d met that day. Instead of mass-uploading the pictures untouched I try to personally edit each photograph and then add an embedded informational tag that includes all of the relevant information for that specific dog. This takes me many hours, so the album began filling up throughout the day. By the end of the afternoon my new Carson shelter album consisted of a total of 69 pictures of 48 different dogs.

So back to my 2 reasons… The 1st should be obvious, as the placement of a dead corpse in the intake area is pretty damn unacceptable. Dead dogs shouldn’t be sitting out in the presence of other dogs or kids, both of whom were there on Wednesday to witness this.

Carson’s intake area is literally right as you enter the gate of the actual kennel facility, which lies directly behind the office and administrative staff, and numerous families with children were forced to walk right by this dog. Just as important are the dogs sitting next to the body, which were just surrendered and very likely already scared to death. In my opinion this type of stuff shows a lack of care and respect for the “sheltering” profession, the visiting public, and especially the animals themselves.

Some proposed the thought that maybe a member of the public simply stacked the animal there and left. My response to that would be that regardless of who put the body there, they were obviously instructed where to leave it by someone on the staff. A person just doesn’t drive a dead dog all the way to the shelter just to leave it anonymously on an intake crate. If they happened to be a concerned citizen they would have first went into the office and asked an employee what to do with the body. And if it wasn’t a concerned citizen then why would they even drive a dead dog’s body anywhere in the first place? That doesn’t make any sense to me personally. We can sit here and guess all day about who put it there–whether a member of the public or an AC worker or a staff member–but the entire circumstance just says a lot about a lot of things, none of which are good.

My 2nd reason for posting the picture is ultimately the reason why I now write this post. Almost 3 days after both the picture and my album were posted there’s things that have happened (and not happened) that just leave me shaking my head. As I write these words the picture of the dead dog has received 301 comments, been shared 804 times, and had a “total reach” (which Facebook classifies as “the number of people who saw your post”) of 35,860. By comparison, my Carson shelter album has received 6 comments, been shared 77 times, and had a “total reach” (throughout many different postings) of under 5,000. If I added up all of the comments on all 69 photographs inside of the album they would not equal the 301 comments that are currently on the single picture of the dead dog atop the intake cage. For someone that goes to the shelter to bring you the faces of these amazing dogs, in hopes that they be seen and considered, this is endlessly frustrating. Discouraging is a better word for it, especially when viewing the absolute frenzy that’s so often whipped up by pictures such as that of a dead dog. Many times it’s not even thoughtful commentary or action either, but rather some paragraph of curses and/or already answered questions. People threaten to do this or that, ideas are thrown about, but very few people ever do anything.

Further, there are more comments on the dead dog’s photo that are specifically criticizing me, the person who took the photo, and for “not doing anything” for the dog, than there are total comments on my Carson album’s link. There are photos inside of this album that, after almost 3 days, have not received a single lick of interaction at all (tag, like, share, comment). These are living dogs that depend on the networking! All of this matters to me, as this is how Facebook functions and the interaction is needed in order to push and promote these photographs into the viewable space of people’s Facebook walls. The algorithms are already less and less featuring fan pages, so minimal acts could have an effect, especially when added up. Yet live dogs are going basically ignored by the majority of people while so much enthusiastic traffic is being driven to me over 1 photograph, which is of a dog that is not alive.

As you can tell, I do not know how to deal with this. Other than voice my frustration in the most constructive way that I can. Many of you may not find it constructive. I apologize. I’m trying to be honest, while not being too critical, while also taking on a topic that demands I think critically. This is not directed at anyone specific, and I appreciate any help that can advance these dogs into a good home. But please consider the observation I’ve made.

Much of this same topic could be applied to the recent breed-discriminatory language coming out of Pasadena as well. You’ll see so many people against it online, up in arms, aghast over the gull of certain politicians, yet I’ve been the only public speaker on the topic at the last 3 City Council or relevant Committee meetings. This is the time to come! Not the hour before they vote! I only get 3 minutes to speak each week. No matter how good (or bad) you think I am at speaking on behalf of all of our dogs, I only get 3 minutes per meeting and that barely allows me to scratch the surface. This issue is so much bigger than that. Please help me oppose discrimination and please help me promote and network these amazing shelter dogs.