Monday, September 28, 2015
A note to the person who attacked my animal shelter (and my reputation)
Someone that I met during my volunteer time at Willamette Humane used an innocent photo of an adoptable dog as a springboard for something really disgusting. And let me tell you something: I'm fighting mad.
The post, which I will NOT link to here, as I don't want to give this person any kind of traffic whatsoever, contains two photos of dogs. In one photo, the dog is in a kennel smeared with blood. In the other, the dog is in a kennel with more than a few logs of poo. Underneath the photos, this person suggests that these are snaps of a day in the life for animals at the shelter.
She suggests that animals are routinely neglected, abused and/or ignored by staffers who have no passion for the work that they do. At the moment, her post has been shared upwards of 179 times, so this is a message that's gaining traction.
And I'm absolutely, 100 percent baffled by that.
As the administrators of the Willamette Humane Society page (which I will happily link to here) have pointed out, both of these photos were taken out of context. The blood? It happened in the evening, after the shelter had closed up for the night. The poop? Same deal.
Both dogs had serious medical conditions that caused them to deteriorate overnight. They weren't neglected. They were ill.
And it wasn't routine. These were one-time, horrific examples of poor health in old dogs taken to an open shelter late in the day.
But as it turns out, the truth doesn't resonate. The explanation for the photos has only been shared 32 times. That means many people in my community think that I volunteer in a place that stands for animal abuse. That breaks my heart. And it also makes me feel a little like this.
Yep, I'm a little angry. And here's what I'd like to say.
I understand how a difficult job, such as one you might do at an animal shelter, might make you feel disgruntled about rescue work as a whole. I can see how you'd be so broken and upset at the end of a shift that you might just want to snap up all sorts of photos to shake things up and change the world.
But you know what you could do? You could actually--you know--do the damn work. Clean the kennel. Offer to take the sick dog home for monitoring. Go into the shelter late at night to sit with the sick dog. Or take photos of the dogs and ask for donations or added volunteers or knitted comfort blankets.
What you did instead? You're taking money and resources away from that organization. You're making the work harder. And shame on you: That little tantrum will cost animals their lives.
That goes double for everyone "sharing" this story without researching the facts. Ask questions. Donate. Sign up to volunteer. Knit your own damn blankets. If you want to do something, do something. Don't snap up a lie and spread it around.
I do the work, and I stand with Willamette Humane Society. And for those of you who believe pictures more than words, see the cats in this blog entry.
Harvey Dent at the top of this post was 10+, and he was adopted. Lucky mid-way down was also 10+, and he was adopted. Both of these cats went from less-than-ideal situations to beloved home lives, all because of Willamette Humane Society.
Is that abuse? Are you freaking kidding me?
It's time to redefine the word.