Petition Sites

We are a society that likes to complain about everything.  For those who complain, we have a way to make things right; even if nothing is wrong.  This post is triggered by a new petition on Change.org to redo the last season of Game of Thrones.  To be honest, I think this is the only petition on the site that has any merit.  As with social media, these sites attract mean people attempting to bully an organization.

The basic premise of a petition website in the animal welfare arena  is that it is a place where people can throw tempter tantrums  and have an audience that will enable your tantrum.  People all over the world have nothing better to do that to sign your petition.  As a result, petition websites are the worst aspect of social media.

I have been the subject of petitions and I have learned that to create a petition, you can invent any truth to serve your purpose.  People want their fifteen minutes of fame and they can gain it by fabricating some story that might strike a nerve is other people.

People go to the website and the site become like a black hole in which the intelligence of the readers are sucked out of them and they will sign their name to any or all of them.  Many of the petitions are scams, but if you get enough signatures, they take on reality.  It is this reality that we constantly face in animal welfare.  In stead of working to solve your community’s problems they decide to armchair quarterback from the comfort of their home computer.

You can do all of the good in the world, only to offend one person and have the entire “change community” shoved down your throat.  There is no forgiveness in our business.

What good will changing the final season of Game of Thrones do after that season has so firmly been burned into our heads?  I am a strong advocate for change, but let’s be active participants in stead of being those mean folks who become keyboard activists.  But if you cannot find yourself climbing up from you keyboard, then at least make sure your claims are righteous.  Find the truth, don’t invent it.

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.

If you are doing your job correctly in protecting the public, you will always have this threat hanging over your head because the most common use of petition sites is to attack animal shelter employees for euthanizing aggressive dogs.

Pitbulls

The first pitbull arrived in my city in the mid 1980’s. The owner wanted to have a breed with a reputation; this dog did not live up to that reputation’ it was a very friendly dog. The original desire to own a pitbull was for owners to claim that their dog was the meanest on the block. For that reason, breeders began breeding dangerous characteristics into the breed. Clearly, the breed was attracted to the worst pet owners.

Since bad pet owners do not believe in sterilizing their pets, pitbulls have become the most dominant breed in animal shelters. This has created a difficult time for shelters trying to become no-kill; to maintain their adoption numbers with their shelter intakes being 50% pitbulls.

Pitbulls are not necessarily a bad breed, they just require an unusually responsible pet owner. As pet owners have become increasingly lazy, finding a good owner for a pitbull is problematic. It is not a breed that you can just take to the dog park and turn loose; as with any powerful breed they require constant oversight.

Incidents of dog bites is proof of poor pet ownership. Foolish pet owners fail to realize the bite potential of their pet.  There is a growing group that will try  to tell unsuspecting potential adopters that the pitbull is no different than any other breed.  This is a false narrative.  Although pitbulls are one of the most loyal breeds, the breed has genetic traits towards aggression.  The aggressive traits can be controlled, but require a watchful pet owner.  Most acts of aggression by pitbulls are the result of the owner being too lazy to accept their responsibility for keeping the breed.

Due to the unpredictability of the breed and the bad owners that were attacked to the breed, many communities decided to protect themselves by banning the breed.  Pitbull owners were eventually able to circumvent the ban by identifying their pitbulls as a service animals.   Due to the abuse by reckless owners, many airlines stopped permitting “emotional support animals”  in the passenger section of the airplane unless the animal is “professionally certified.”  This brought a new internet business of pet owners being able to obtain fake certifications.

There has been a great effort to turn people’s attitudes away from seeing the pitbull breed as a potentially dangerous breed.   The problem that this breed faces is that they belong to owners who fail to accept the dog’s potential to do harm.  We continue to see incidents of people injured by the breed and it all due to the stupidity of the dog’s owner.

I appreciate seeing news reports of pet owners being charged with reckless endangerment when their dogs have repeatedly bitten people.  I hate to see animals destroyed for the stupidity of their owners, but euthanizing an aggressive dog is the only way to protect the community from an ignorant pet owner.  Unfortunately, we have far too many of them in our communities.

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 has become 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; just so that animal shelter staff can be praised on social media.

Why?

In a few days, I will celebrate one year of retirement.  The past year has allowed me to settle down and reflect on animal welfare as a profession.  I witnessed the era before pitbulls and social media.  This profession is much more challenging today for those who wish to make a career in this profession.  The purpose of this blog is to prepare a person for the world of animal welfare.