“Perception is Reality.”

I’ve heard the phase, “perception is reality” too often at executive meetings, indicating that if someone has a specific perception, it is their reality.  In some way, there was an expectation that we manage people’s perception; even though they created the perception to manipulate reality.  Let me explain:

Only in the realm of politics do we see greater misuse of manipulation to manifest a false reality.  Our generation will be known as the keepers of fake news.  We live in a world in which people create their own reality my falsifying  the events around them to drive their own agenda.

Fake news for animal welfare began with the no kill movement and was fuled by social media.  Social media became the number one place to obtain false information.  People pushed fake news either for attention or to bully.  Unfortunately, the ploy was fairly successful.  Organizations were bullied into making decisions that were not in their own best interest to mollify the social media noise.

Evidence of those bad decisions are documented on PETA’s website:  No Kill Policies.  It saddens me to see what shelter managers are going through as a result of caving to the outrageous demands of a few people.   My mantra was to “do the right thing.”  Today, the “right thing” is different for every person.   I always believed that keeping the community safe was the right thing.  Now there is an expectation that shelters should save every animal.  Saving animals is a good cause, but shelters must not compromise the safety of their community or the care of those animals in that effort.

The officials who oversee the operation of their community animal shelter are frequently more concerned about what people say on social media than they are worried about the safety of their community.  They want to cater to those who make the most noise.  It has never been a more difficult time to manage an animal shelter due to the competing demands and unreasonable expectations.

Where Credit is Due

Every animal shelter has a volunteer who works from the comfort of his/her home computer using social media to move animals.  This person develops a gift of embellishment that portrays the animal in such light that anyone familiar with the animals would not recognize it as the same animal.

Not only do these folks misrepresent the animal, they want credit for all of the animals that have been placed as recognition of their salesmanship.  To them, it doesn’t matter that there is a high return rate, their job is to push animals out of the shelter.  Their placement rate is more important than finding a good permanent home for animals.

It is important for an animal shelter to recognize that having someone like this representing your organization is a detriment and although their enthusiasm is contagious, they place you at risk.  More and more animal shelters are being sued because volunteers or staff have misrepresented an animal to a prospective adopter.

Petition Sites

Two things that petition sites prove is that some people will believe anything and that they will want to sign their names to it.

Although Petition Sites have no requirement for the poster to be factual, erroneous information follows the “postee” throughout their career.   Many jurisdictions will want “clean” applicants for leadership positions and would prefer to have someone without any experience, than to deal with an experienced person who has incurred damaging social media exposure.

Social Media – Aggressive Dogs, A Bad Mix!

I am so grateful that most of my career was prior to social media. Social media has created such a mean spirited group of people online. It is most frequently used to bully others. In the animal welfare arena, social media is used to bully shelter staff into making questionable animals available for adoption. The no-kill movement used this bullying tactic to facilitate high adoption numbers.

In recently years, I discovered that shelter staff was more concerned about having a positive social media presence, than to do their job to protect the community. The constant pressure that is placed on shelter staff is forcing extremely foolish decisions.

Adoption councilors are becoming more and more like used car salesman, asking potential pet owners to purchase an animal without looking under the hood. We are entering an era in which shelters are being sued for misrepresenting the aggressive backgrounds of dogs in their care.