What Can You Do If Spay/Neuter Mandate Comes To Your Town?
Also Breed-Specific Laws, Pet Limits, Tethering Bans
by JOHN YATES
American Sporting Dog Alliance
This report is archived at:http://eaglerock814.proboards107.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=15
It can be a terrifying experience for dog owners when animal rights legislation surfaces in the municipality where they live, and it’s a pretty sure bet that someday soon it will happen to you.
You will feel powerless. You will be very scared. You will feel like a victim of violence, and that is precisely what you are. The law is a loaded weapon, and you know it can be pointed at you and the animals you love. You also know that animal rights extremists want to point that gun at you and your dogs, and pull the trigger.
No dog owner can feel safe from these legal attacks. Within the past year, animal rights ordinances have arisen in communities as diverse as affluent Santa Barbara, rural Greene County, TN, small towns and farm country in Ohio, and inner city Chicago. It is fair to say that proposed ordinances that will harm you and your dogs will come to your community in the very near future. There is no escaping it.
This report is meant to be a clear and concise guide to defending yourself. Protecting your rights won’t be easy, but it can be done. I speak as a dog owner, professional dog trainer, and as an experienced activist working to protect dog owners’ rights.
However, I am speaking mostly from the background of 20 years as a reporter and editor on daily newspapers. During that time, I watched hundreds of local political issues rise and fall. I learned what works, and what doesn’t. I have seen how small special interest groups can impose their will on an entire community, and I have seen what people can do to stop them. I also have learned the kinds of political mistakes people have made that have allowed special interest groups, such as animal rights groups, to win. I have seen what it takes to beat them.
The first thing you must understand fully is that you will have two strikes against you by the time you even learn about impending animal rights legislation.
Animal rights groups are pros. They know exactly what they are doing. They have the backing of powerful, wealthy, skilled and experienced national organizations, such as the radical Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has nothing to do with local humane societies and exists only as a political weapon to push for the elimination of animal ownership in America. These groups are very well organized, have money to burn and have been working behind the scenes for several years in your community.
By the time you realize that something is happening, the animal rights groups will be close to the goal line. They will have the ordinance drafted, with guidance from HSUS. They will have formed a “citizen’s committee” that has had the ear of local officials for months, if not years. They will have controlled relevant data that officials need to make an informed decision, and carefully hidden any inconvenient facts. They also will have made alliances with local news reporters, and the press is likely to be against you.
While there may be only 50 or fewer animal rights activists involved in most communities, they are truly dedicated to their beliefs. They write letters. They show up at meetings. They contact elected officials. They have money set aside. They have contacts with many other groups in your state and nearby communities, and can turn out 100 people at a meeting masquerading as locals to create the illusion of public support.
In contrast, you and other dog owners are alone. Only a few of you know about what’s happening, and many of you will be afraid to step forward. You are not organized. You have no effective means of communication. You do not have access to facts and statistics that tell the truth. You don’t know how to reach elected officials, have been iced out of the phony “citizen’s group,” and you don’t have contacts in the news media.
If that isn’t enough, you will be portrayed as pure evil. You will be lied about, slandered and accused of things you would never even dream of doing. While you will be innocent of all of the accusations, you will find yourself on the defensive. The most difficult thing for a person to do is to prove her or his innocence, even if the allegations against them are completely absurd. The accuser always has the upper hand.
It sounds hopeless, doesn’t it?
But it’s not.
You have one ally that the animal rights groups will never have. The truth is on your side. Your job is to find the truth and communicate it effectively to local officials.
Six Absolute Rules
Here are six absolute rules that I have learned from 20 years of journalism, and an equal amount of time as an activist on animal and constitutional issues:
· You have to do it yourself. No one else will do it for you. No national or statewide organization can win your fight, including our organization. We can help you. We can give you information, statistics and research findings. We can help you organize and network with other local dog owners. We can tell you about the experiences of other communities. We can give you many bullets to take to the war. But only you can do it. Our job is to stand behind you and support your efforts.
· Local officials care only about one group of people: Local residents. They care about the people they represent and serve, and they couldn’t care less about outsiders. They care about the people who can actually vote for or against them. In local issues, only local people count. You must stand up and be counted. You need to bring together other local dog owners who also are willing to stand up and be counted.
· To bring people together, you must completely set aside your personal insecurities and biases about race, ethnic heritage and economic status. Every dog owner in your community is in this together. If you don’t hang together, you will hang separately. Never forget that a key part of the animal rights strategy is to divide dog owners from each other, so that all can be conquered. There is no room for elitism of any kind when an animal rights ordinance is introduced.
· You need friends – lots of friends. That means that people who actually live in your community must show support, even if the issue doesn’t directly affect them. You need people who have only one or two dogs, but respect your right to raise dogs. You need people who hate dogs, but respect your decision to love them. You need local veterinarians and the owners of local feed and pet stores. You need local businesses that rely on people who travel with pets. You need people who love freedom, and know that an attack on your freedom paves the way for an attack on their own.
· Some of the best friends you can have are local and statewide organizations for sportsmen and firearms owners, even if you don’t hunt and won’t own a gun. These groups will have dozens if not hundreds of local members, and they already have set up excellent communications channels for their members and supporters. They will be on your side. Sportsmen understand the real agenda of animal rights groups, and gun owners understand the link between animal rights and gun control. In rural areas, alliances with farm organizations also are very important.
· And you must always take the high road. There is no substitute for honesty and integrity. Always speak the truth. Never resort to dirty tricks. If you stay on the ethical high ground, you will quickly set yourselves apart from the animal rights groups, which rely on lies, distortions, secrecy and innuendos. Many political battles are won by the side that displays the most credibility, and credibility is based on honesty and integrity.
If you keep those six absolute rules firmly in mind, you are well on your way to protecting your rights as dog owners in your community. In every community in America where animal rights groups have won a political battle, dog owners have broken one or more of those rules.
What To Do?
Given those rules, what should you do?
The first step is to reach out to other local dog owners, both to inform them and also to ask for their assistance. Here’s how:
· Call everyone you know who owns a dog, used to own a dog, or who hunts, fishes or owns firearms. Specifically ask them to help, ask them what they are willing to do, and write it down. Don’t be shy. Get on the phone and burn leather.
· Search the Yellow Pages and Internet for local kennels, breeders and pet services. Contact them. Local kennel clubs and field trial clubs often provide good contact information for officers, members, breeders and judges. Write, email or phone club secretaries and ask them for help.
· When you get a few good people committed, organize a local dog owners association. It doesn’t have to be formal or highly organized. Simply put together a basic structure, and invite people to join. Membership should be free. If you occasionally need a little money, “passing the hat” works fine. Organize your group quickly, without delay. A local organization will be heard more easily than individual people going off in different directions. You don’t have to incorporate or become a non-profit. This is still America, and citizens have a right to form and participate in political groups. Just do it, and do it now.
· Create a website for your association with one of the free services, such as Yahoo Geocities or Bravenet. You don’t have to know anything about building websites. They have “paint by numbers” templates. On the website, describe the organization, write about what is happening, and add a blog or message board for breaking news. Get a free email address from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail or other services. Use it.
· Publicize your website by posting short articles on Internet message boards that cover your area, dogs, hunting and guns. Ask people who read these message boards to pass the word along to their friends who live in or near your community, and to crosspost your announcement on other boards.
· Get the word out in the community. Create simple posters with contact information (copy paper will do) for supportive businesses to put in their windows. Don’t be shy about asking for help or asking people to contact your organization. Hang posters in stores and veterinarians’ offices. Hang them in every part of town, and in every neighborhood. Post them on laundromat and grocery store bulletin boards, in union halls and fraternal organizations, and in churches and libraries. If you can get some help, pass out a few hundred in the local Wal-Mart parking lot or at community events.
· Pass the hat (or dig into your own wallet) and run inexpensive classified ads in your local newspaper or swap sheet. Ads in the pets or announcements sections are appropriate. A fifty-dollar-bill can reach thousands of people this way. Also, see if your community has an online classifieds board, and use it. Many are free.
· Support and work with a national and/or statewide dog owners’ rights organization. Most importantly, ask them to help you. National organizations can be invaluable sources of advice and counsel, know what has and has not worked in other communities, have access to important documents, studies and statistics that can help you, and have a large number of contacts in every state. They can help you get the word out, gain support and locate local dog owners. Consider these organizations as valuable resources to support you. Good organizations exist for the sole purpose of helping you.
· Look specifically for local veterinarians and attorneys, especially if they own or raise dogs. Ask veterinarians to write letters opposing the proposed ordinance (many will refuse, but probably most will not). Ask attorneys to offer their services without charge to review the legality of the ordinance, and put their comments in writing. If any of you are members of the local Chamber of Commerce, formally ask for their support (remember that pet owners pour a lot of money into local businesses. It is an economic issue, too.). Tourism organizations also may be appropriate, if your community hosts visiting hunters, or dog show or field trial participants. For tourists, it is important to have the image of being a “pet-friendly” community.
· An important tool is the simple fact that a large majority of residents of your community will be on your side. Your task is to prove it. Informal petitions are vital, because it will give you a long list of community residents who oppose an ordinance. These should be presented to elected officials at an opportune time. The petitions do not have to meet the legal requirements for a petition for an election. They simply will show elected officials that a large number of local (repeat, local) people are on your side. People should sign, and then print out their names and addresses.
· And your most important weapon is the truth. The animal rights groups will lie through their teeth to paint a false picture of a community crisis. You must respond with the truth, and have the facts and figures to back it up. Finding and assembling accurate information is a vital part of your arsenal. At this point, you will be ready to take your case to the local news media.
If you follow those steps, you will develop a core group of activists and a list of hundreds if not thousands of local people who are on your side. Local residents who support you will include dog owners, their neighbors, veterinarians, attorneys, business people and community leaders.
What You’ll Face
The animal rights groups will have laid the foundation for a destructive ordinance long before you ever know about it. They won’t play fair. They won’t tell the truth.
Here is what to do:
· Most likely, your community’s animal rights activists will assemble around an existing organization, and may have even taken over the leadership of that organization. This could include local humane societies, rescue groups, and pet disaster response groups. Many of them also will have ties to national groups, such as HSUS, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and radical vegan vegetarian groups. You must learn the identities of local animal rights activists, research their ties to national groups, and then learn about the agenda of those groups. Don’t avoid these people. Meet them. Introduce yourself. Flat out ask them their beliefs and affiliations with animal rights groups. Many of them are proud of these affiliations. The profile you develop will be important to present to elected officials at the right time. Rescue and sheltering organizations also have to learn a hard lesson. Dog owners are their major source of their support, and it is unwise to bite the hand that feeds you.
· Most likely, local animal rights activists will have formed some sort of committee or task force. People who raise dogs will not be allowed to participate. Probably they have been working for years to manufacture a crisis in your community, have met with elected and/or appointed municipal officials several times, have painted themselves as a concerned citizens group to conceal their real agenda, have drafted an ordinance in cooperation with HSUS as a silent partner, and have found at least one sympathetic elected official to support and introduce the ordinance. Your job will be to prove that this group does not reflect the sentiments of the vast majority of residents of your community. You also will be able to prove that this group (and the participation of municipal officials) violates the spirit if not the letter of state open meetings laws or “sunshine laws.” It is an end-run around the concept of public accountability and transparency.
· You will need to be able to counter every one of their allegations with the truth. If they say your community is full of “puppy mills,” for example, you will need to learn exactly how many (if any) commercial kennels really exist. You will need to know how many (if any) have ever been cited for violating any kind of kennel or animal cruelty law. All violations are matters of public record, and the information can be readily obtained. If they claim there is a problem with “pet overpopulation” in your community, you will need to obtain complete animal control statistics for several years, which also are public record. The simple facts will reduce the animal rights allegations to shambles.
· You also need to counter their outrageous allegations with a thorough knowledge of existing animal laws in your state, county and local municipality. For example, if a lot of loose dogs are picked up in certain neighborhoods, they may claim that the solution is a spay/neuter mandate. In reality, your community probably already has a leash law that is not being enforced. You must clearly point out a solution that fits the problem.
· You also must be able to counter the animal rights groups’ propaganda. You need to have access to documentation that similar ordinances in other communities always have increased shelter admissions and euthanasia rates, always have led to a decrease in license law compliance and revenues to operate animal control programs, and always have led to a decline in rabies vaccinations because veterinarians are required to turn over information about each dog to local authorities. In addition, you must be able to refute the animal rights groups’ claims that pet sterilization is completely safe. The bulk of the most recent research has shown increases in serious and sometimes fatal health conditions caused by spaying or neutering, especially at a young age, and the national association for veterinary reproductive specialists has come out firmly against spay/neuter mandates for this reason. In addition, these mandates violate the doctor/patient relationship, and also the veterinary code of ethics in many states.
· The essence of all animal rights legislation is making innocent and law-abiding animal owners pay for the sins of the tiny minority of people who flaunt the law. That is because their goal is not to solve a problem. Their goal is to make it difficult for you to continue to raise or own dogs. You must answer with the facts, showing how existing laws and appropriate enforcement of those laws actually will solve whatever problems your community may be experiencing.
· A very common animal rights tactic is to take an isolated bad situation, and then try to convince elected officials that it is the norm and all dog owners need to be intensively regulated. For example, if someone in your community has been arrested for horrible violations of animal cruelty laws, the animal rights groups will claim that this is justification for more and stricter laws for all dog owners. The truth is that the arrest and conviction prove that existing laws are working very well. This is a point you must make repeatedly, until the truth sinks in.
· They will not fight fair. Animal rights groups tend to focus on several communities in a state at the same time. If you start seeing a lot of news stories about alleged abuses of dogs in your state, you will know that this is a coordinated effort to “spin” reality that was probably orchestrated by HSUS. They are trying to paint an illusory picture to cause people to think dogs are in crisis, and new laws are needed. The truth once again is that these sensationalized stories prove that existing laws are working. Arrests are made, convictions are obtained, and the animals have been rescued. The laws work. The incidents are not a justification for laws that harm law-abiding and conscientious people.
· They will lie. For example, they will claim that a large number of dogs entering the local animal shelter are “purebreds,” and that this justifies laws restricting the ability to raise purebred dogs. But they lie by not telling you the full story. The full story is that most actual purebreds enter a shelter because their owners are seeking euthanasia services for dogs that are very ill, seriously injured or in advanced old age. They also won’t tell you that the few purebred dogs that are picked up escaped confinement and were immediately reclaimed by their owners. They won’t tell you that the few purebreds that are surrendered to the shelter are immediately taken by rescue groups, because of the high demand for these dogs. And they won’t tell you that they call a dog purebred if it looks “more or less” like a recognized breed. Many of these are labeled “pit bulls,” which is not even a recognized breed. See for yourself. Simply walk through your local animal shelter a few times. I can guarantee you that you will see few if any dogs that appear to be purebreds.
· They also will talk about shelter statistics as proof of the need for restrictions on purebred dog breeding. They are lying. Walk through your local shelter and you will find few (if any) puppies. There actually is a serious shortage of puppies in animal shelters, because these are the most easily adopted dogs. Sheltering organizations must expend considerable effort trying to talk people into adopting older dogs because of the scarcity of puppies.
· Another way that they will lie is to try to hide the successes of animal control and sheltering programs, in order to “spin” a false picture of a crisis. They won’t tell you that national shelter admissions have fallen almost 60% over the past 15 years, while euthanasia rates have been cut by 75-percent. They won’t tell you that 70-percent of the dogs in America already are spayed or neutered voluntarily by their owners. They won’t tell you that most shelters in the northeast, upper Midwest and on the West Coast already are close to “no-kill” for healthy and adoptable dogs. You need to learn the truth and make the truth the centerpiece of your rebuttals. To counter these claims, make use of your local and statewide open records laws and “sunshine laws” to get the full facts. Sometimes all you have to do is walk into your local animal control office and ask for them. Other times, these reports are filed with a state agency, and you can obtain them there. We can help you find this documentation.
· They will say awful things about you. They will tar you by creating imaginary links between dog owners and dog fighters. They will link you to the drug culture and to people who abuse animals. They will accuse serious and conscientious dog breeders of being “puppy mills” or “backyard breeders.” Someone who raises animals because he or she loves them will be accused of being a “hoarder.” People who sell puppies will be accused of being greedy, or exploiting animals for profit. People who buy a purebred puppy will be accused of causing the death of a shelter dog. These claims are both absurd and outrageous. We can help you learn how to answer them with the truth.
· Never forget the real agenda of the animal rights groups, which is to eventually eliminate all animal ownership. They are trying to make people into the guardians of their animals, rather than their owners. This makes animals into wards of the state, rather than private property. This reduces you to proving to the state that you are a fit guardian, and gives the state ultimate control of your animals. Stand up for American values, including the right to honorably seek profit. Don’t buy into the socialist belief that profit equals greed or that you are responsible to “society” for problems you didn’t create, and don’t be afraid to say that many of the leaders of major animal rights groups enjoy their six-figure incomes and multi-million-dollar facilities. They are as phony as a pile of three-dollar bills.
· And spend time studying the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and your state’s constitution and bill of rights. Almost all animal rights legislation infringes on human rights by denying due process of the law, equal protection under the law, and protections against illegal searches and seizures. Quite simply, almost all animal rights legislation is anti-American and reflects Marxist principles of state authority. You need to say this loudly and clearly, because it is the truth. In addition, many state constitutions define a right to own and enjoy private property, and many states have laws that clearly say that animals are private property. Learn the law and educate local elected officials.
Divide and Conquer
A favorite tactic of animal rights activists is to divide dog owners so that we won’t stand up and fight for each other’s rights. Unfortunately, many dog owners play right into their hands through a misguided sense of elitism.
Animal rights groups try to make certain categories of dog owners into “untouchables,” so that other dog owners will be afraid to defend them. They also will attempt to exploit racial, ethnic, cultural and economic differences and insecurities, which keeps us apart.
Make no mistake about it, animal rights groups are utterly unscrupulous. Racism is one of their major tools, especially in urban areas. They exploit fears of crime by talking about dog fighters, links to the drug culture and “gangbangers” who own “pitbulls.” What they are really doing is exploiting racial fears and prejudices, sometimes by fanning the flames of naked hatred.
The divide and conquer strategy was a major part of what happened last year in Dallas, which passed a tough spay/neuter mandate, and it is happening now in Chicago, which is considering one.
When animal rights groups say “gangbanger,” they actually mean “Black” and “Hispanic.” They say “dogfighting,” but they mean “Black” and “Hispanic.” They say “pitbulls.” They mean “Black” and “Hispanic.” The animal rights activists are using racist implications to manipulate and exploit fear of high crime urban areas, thus dividing dog owners by race and neighborhood. They reduce anyone who is not like them to “those people.”
When it comes to regulating the breeding of dogs, the animal rights groups usually link “puppy mills” to Amish people, thus encouraging and exploiting ethnic differences. Conservative Christians who live according to the old ways are no longer politically correct, and their religious beliefs forbid them from fighting back or filing a defamation of character suit. Some of the inaccurate and bigoted comments I have heard from animal rights supporters about Amish people sound exactly like what the Ku Klux Klan says about racial minorities. It is hate speech at its worst.
With tethering issues or restrictions on hunting with hounds, they paint a picture of “redneck” white people who fit every possible stereotype of hillbilly degenerates. “Crazy old ladies” are fair game, too, under the label of “hoarder.”
All are reduced to “those people.” They are objectified and dehumanized, which to the animal rights fanatic is a justification to destroy them and their way of life.
They try to divide the world between “people like us” and “people like them.” They know that most people won’t support people that they can’t identify with.
It’s also a dirty trick. It causes too many of us to take our eyes off the ball, which is how the regulations or laws will affect us and everybody else. The animal rights groups say they are targeting dogfighting, puppy mills or hoarders, but read the fine print. It always will come down to targeting you.
A major goal of dividing us is to make some of us show a willingness to “compromise.” By “compromise,” I mean they are encouraging us to sell out certain kinds of dog owners who fail the political correctness test.
There is no such thing as compromise with animal rights groups, because everything they stand for requires us to make all of the sacrifices, in order to give them what they want. They have nothing to exchange.
A true compromise is when both sides give up something in order to gain more important things. Animal rights groups have nothing to trade except the gun pointed at your head. They can shoot you in the heart, shoot you in the leg or simply shoot off one of your toes.
It is like an armed robber who demands your wallet, takes the cash and offers you a “compromise” of letting you keep your credit cards.
Playing on our fears also means we are not likely to seek support from all racial, ethnic and economic groups. This was a huge reason why Dallas dog owners lost their fight to stop a spay/neuter mandate.
Although a majority of Dallas residents are Black or Hispanic, their assistance was not sought in defeating this ordinance. To put it bluntly, most of the people who fought against the ordinance were white and of well above average means.
They simply were afraid to go into poor neighborhoods, or seek support from Black and Hispanic people.
A majority of the members of Dallas City Council are Black or Hispanic, and represent districts that are predominantly Black or Hispanic.
To put it even more bluntly, the dog owners they saw at City Council meetings were upper middle class or wealthy white people. Most of them raised show dogs, which were portrayed by the animal rights activists as toys for the rich. In contrast, animal rights groups succeeded in portraying themselves as nice people who love animals, when exactly the opposite is true.
Thus, dog owners were immediately branded as elitists.
That kind of label is suicide in big city politics, and Chicago dog owners are falling into this trap today.
But it’s not true. The truth is that dog owners, including people who raise, show and compete with dogs, extend across all racial, ethnic, cultural and economic lines. We really are all in it together. If we unite, we can defeat the animal rights extremists. If we fail to unite, we will lose.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance recognizes that dog owners have failed to bridge ethnic and economic differences. Thus, we are taking immediate and forceful steps to reach out to and support many other groups of dog owners, and have recently added inner city, Black and Hispanic dog ownership advocates to our leadership team.
We have made a formal alliance with a newly forming group called the National Association of Canine Experts (NICE), which is working to break down many of the barriers that separate dog owners. NICE founder Ami Moore now is a member of our advisory board, and I am a member of the NICE board.
Ms. Moore is a professional dog trainer from inner city Chicago who has superb credentials as an obedience and behavioral trainer. She is articulate, exceptionally intelligent and insightful, and passionately dedicated to preserving the rights of dog owners. Moreover, she is streetwise and as a Black person fully understands how subliminal racism is being used by animal rights groups to divide dog owners, as it has been used to divide Black people from their community in many other ways.
Dog owners everywhere also owe Ms. Moore a debt of gratitude. Animal rights groups went after her personally because she uses electric collars in dog training, as do most professional and amateur trainers everywhere. The animal rights groups took her to court, alleging that the use of electric collars is animal cruelty. She didn’t back down, fought back through the legal system and won. All charges against her were dismissed and the use of electric collars as a humane training tool was fully exonerated in Illinois.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance also has dedicated funds to advertise in Chicago newspapers to gain support from urban dog owners to fight against the proposed ordinance.
An important part of the strategy that dog owners must learn to use is to be able to state clearly and categorically that we are the mainstream of America.
A reported 37-percent of American households own at least one dog. National polls from mainstream publications, such as Parade Magazine and MSN/NBC news, show that the vast majority of the American people oppose spay/neuter mandates. Opposition was at 91-percent in the recent Parade poll, for example.
Animal rights groups are the real minority, and probably represent less than five percent of any community, and probably are less than one percent in most places. But they are organized and vocal, and they turn out in droves for meetings before elected officials. This has given them the appearance of being a large segment of the community, when that is purely an illusion.
That’s why local dog owners must organized and get a large turnout of their supporters at municipal meetings.
We are the mainstream. Animal rights groups are the radical fringe.
Elected officials need to know this.
So do news reporters.
Dealing With The News Media
Sooner or later (and probably sooner), every local dog owners’ organization will have to deal with the news media. In many cases, it will not be a pleasant experience.
Animal rights groups have a well-developed strategy of identifying and cultivating friendly contacts in the news media long before an ordinance arises. All news reporters are under intense and continual pressure on their jobs to come up with a steady stream of news stories, and also to come up with stories that will have high sensationalistic appeal to attract readers.
Animal rights groups have learned how to exploit this.
News reporters who are sympathetic to the animal rights groups know that they will be given leads to many stories every year, as long as they don’t work too hard to be fair and objective.
In addition, stories about controversial animal issues tend to cause a strong emotional response with readers, which assures them prominent placement in newspapers or on TV news shows.
Both are important to a reporter’s job security.
The animal rights groups are pros at plucking emotional heartstrings by their portrayals of animal abuse or euthanasia at the local animal shelter, and then in using those horrible examples to further their own agenda against every dog owner.
The finger always gets pointed at us, and news reports often are hatchet jobs on dog owners. Fair and balanced news coverage takes a backseat to sensationalism and emotional response.
Our problem is that good news is inherently boring. A story about someone who takes good care of her or his dogs usually is as dull as lukewarm milk. It lacks drama. It lacks impact.
But the news story about the one dog owner in a thousand who is abusive has plenty of drama, impact and reader appeal.
Dog owners’ first recourse should be to appeal to the sense of journalistic professionalism in some reporters and editors. A worthy news story must be accurate, fair and balanced between opposing points of view. Any story that fails this test is poor journalism.
I strongly believe that dog owners always should take the high road, by advocating what is right and fair. I don’t think we should use the animal rights group strategy of trying to manipulate the news through “tame” or personally biased reporters.
Instead, we should formally object to poor reporting to the publisher, station manager, editors and the parent company of local news outlets.
We also should state our objections in pointed letters to the editor, and try to convince editors to give us space for an “op ed” column or an equal time rebuttal to poor news coverage.
In dealing with reporters, it is essential for us to be armed with the facts. We need to have the correct information, and state our case clearly and effectively. We also have to be prepared to answer some downright nasty questions, such as: “How can you breed dogs when many dogs are euthanized by animal control.”
We have truthful and honest answers to those kinds of questions, and dog owners have to be prepared for them. We can help.
The “news value” of a story depends on drama and conflict, which creates high reader response.
Thus, we must learn to use drama and conflict in an effective and ethical manner to answer the allegations of animal rights groups.
We must learn to set aside “good manners” and “call a spade a spade.” That means confronting the lies and distortions of the animal rights groups with the facts, and sometimes at public meetings we have to be prepared to speak bluntly. It means objecting to the secrecy of the so-called task force meeting, talking publicly about the real agenda of the animal rights groups and their assault on American values, and defending freedom in a clear voice.
Dog owners definitely face a tough fight and a stacked deck when animal rights ordinances are proposed on a local level.
But we believe we have shown how these bad ordinances can be defeated by truth, honesty and integrity.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence.
Please visit us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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