Random Blog Housekeeping Items

extra dusting power

I think of my blog kinda like this:

I’ve put up a sign outside my house that says “Public Book Club Meeting Here”.  My regular readers and commenters are guests at my house.  We have all read the same book (actually, just the day’s blog post) and we’re sitting around talking about it.  If someone new comes knocking on the door and wants to join in the discussion, he is welcome.  The more, the merrier.  Except sometimes the new guy busts in with mud on his shoes and immediately starts poking his finger in my chest and/or those of my guests, asking if we want to take it outside.  And he hasn’t even read the book.  This type of person gets the hose and is not welcome to return to my house, ever.  Then there’s the guy who reads the books but only drops by when he wants to say how hard the book sucked.  He never likes no books.  This type of person gets put on moderation so I can decide if and when I feel like foisting his negativity upon my guests.

I hope this helps to explain life.  Or at least some aspects of the blog.

***

A tidbit that I thought might be of interest from the 2013 year-end summary report that WordPress sent me about the blog:

2013 blog commenters

If your life goal for 2014 is to see your name here this time next year – and if it isn’t, obviously it should be – start commenting now.

***

I always love receiving tips from animal advocates.  Unfortunately my day job requires that I perform duties of benefit to the business owner and working on my personal blog apparently falls outside that realm.  (Totes unfair.)  As such, I do not have the time to research every story I receive.  But I try to do my best and want to let tipsters know how you can help me to cover your story by way of these fictional examples.

Here is a fictional story (fabricated for purposes of illustration) I would very likely be able to cover:

Dear YesBiscuit,

Last year, our local pound failed an inspection from the state.  At that time, several of us formed a group called Reform the Pound and here is the link to our page on Facebook.  Since then, we have been filing FOIA requests for the follow up inspections at the pound and found that the problems remain unresolved.  I am attaching copies of all the failed inspection reports to this e-mail.  Please let us know if you need any additional information.

Here is a fictional story (fabricated for purposes of illustration) I would not be able to cover:

Dear YesBiscuit,

Our local pound is a horrible place that kills 99.99% of its animals.  We need to expose what’s happening there and would like you to post about it.  I am attaching photos of an empty dog bowl, a dog’s paw and some cat food.  I have also sent you 49 additional e-mails that include forwarded e-mail exchanges between people complaining about conditions and workers at the pound, a link to a newspaper article from 3 years ago that isn’t about our pound but mentions the name of one of the former employees, a phone number of some person you can cold-call, as well as some other undated, uncredited photos depicting various items with no context.  Help!

Guess which type of story I receive more often?  The thing is, I would love to help increase exposure for both these (fictional example) reform efforts but the way the latter was presented prevents me from doing so.  The best way I can help you to gain exposure for your cause by posting on the blog is for you to take an active role:

  • File FOIA requests for the publicly available documents and photos that concern the problems at your pound.  The most recent year’s statistics report is an excellent starting point.
  • Send me one e-mail explaining the most basic points and including links and/or attachments of the relevant supporting news articles, documents and photos.
  • Give me one main contact person’s name, e-mail, location and phone number (this should be the e-mail sender).

Allow me time to review the information.  If I am able, I will review it immediately upon receipt and send you a reply.  Or I might need a couple weeks, depending on what the universe is throwing my way at the time.  Like most animal advocates, I am doing this on a volunteer basis and squeezing as many hours out of each day as I can (although I seem to have hit a plateau at 24).  A brief follow up note asking if I received the initial e-mail is fine and even helpful just in case I accidentally missed it.  Follow up letters telling me how much you hate me because I didn’t post about your pound even though you sent me 50 excellent e-mails full of super useful information are not helpful.

In short, I want to help you end the killing at your local pound.  Please help me to do that by taking some initiative and sending me only the most relevant information that you believe will help your current reform efforts.

Photo Call

Once again this year, I’d like to put together a post for Christmas day celebrating the human-animal bond in pictures.  If you would like to submit a photo for inclusion, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Photo should feature at least one pet and one human in keeping with the human-animal bond theme.  It need not be an entire human, e.g. just a hand patting a pet is ok.
  • Please include a brief caption identifying the pets, people, and what area you are from.  Your caption can be specific (e.g. “Shirley and shelter pet Fluffy in South Carolina”) or vague (“Neighborhood kids with our Pitbull in New England”).  If you prefer to remain anonymous, please clearly indicate that.
  • Photo should have no copyright issues – that is, the photo should be taken by you, a family member or someone who isn’t expecting payment for the use of the photo.
  • Please e-mail photos to me no later than December 21, 2013.

Take a look at ghposts of Christmas past:

Feedback Please

In recognition of the fact that there are a lot of blogs to read and limited time in which to read them, I am hoping readers would indicate their preference on how many posts they feel they can manage on YesBiscuit.  Please choose one answer from the poll below and feel welcome to expand your answer in the comments.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

Note:  This post may be considered off topic by some and if you are interested only in how this post relates to the blog, skip to the final two paragraphs.

 

Access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege to my mind.  The U.S. is lagging shamefully behind such countries as Colombia, Iceland and Cuba when it comes to healthcare access.  To make matters worse, there is a social stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare in this country which reduces further the number of people who receive needed services.

The reason I bring this up is because there are likely many people in the animal welfare community, as there are in all walks of life, in need of mental healthcare.  And with severely diminished access due to governmental and societal failures, there are probably very few receiving the care they need.

I am not in any way qualified to diagnose the mental health status of individuals who target someone for harassment on social media outlets and create multiple fake profiles to “agree” with themselves.  But as a human being, I know it’s wrong.  And as a friend, I know that this tactic has caused serious pain to some individuals in the animal welfare community.

There is an expectation in social media venues that one must be willing to slough off the haters because no matter what, haters gonna hate, right?  I agree with that sentiment to an extent.  No one should expect that everyone is going to support all their viewpoints and speaking only for myself, I would not want that.  How else can I continue to grow and learn unless I am challenged to expand my worldview from time to time?  And I can certainly deal with the occasional odd duck.

But there is a difference between someone responding to an individual with a comment such as, “Have you ever considered X in addition to Y?” and someone making personal attacks and creating fake profiles to inflict greater hurt by posting additional personal attacks.  That difference is obvious to me as I suspect it is to many here.

What I am coming to is this:  I fear it is only a matter of time before someone in the animal welfare community commits suicide after being relentlessly targeted and harassed by these fake profile idiots.  That may sound extreme to some but on the other hand, how does anyone know it hasn’t already happened?  And if I don’t say it outright and plain, I’m just as guilty of stigmatizing mental health as those I blame for doing it.  So there it is.

The relevance to the blog is that I am going to start restricting comments from anyone I suspect of maintaining a fake profile for the purpose of harassing someone in the animal welfare community.  I don’t like limiting discussion but I don’t want my blog to be the place that someone who’s been victimized by these anonymous cowards comes only to find more of the same they are trying to escape elsewhere.  Differing opinions and disagreement is fine.  Targeting an individual for harassment, and especially using fake profiles to do it, is not.  There will be zero tolerance for this kind of thing from here on out – no warnings, no nothing.  If you engage in what I view as harassment, you are out of here.

And a personal note to anyone who has been targeted by these fake profile asshats – you are not alone.  There are more of us than there are of them – that’s why they have to make up fake names, yo.  If you need mental health care and have access to it, take care of yourself.  The animal welfare community needs you.  Don’t give up.

The Blog’s Facebook Page Will be Inactivated

Good Morning,

Just a short announcement to start the day:  On Thursday, I will be inactivating the blog’s Facebook page.  As I’ve mentioned, I have limited time and the blog is really where I’d like to focus my attention.  I have been remiss in certain blog duties (not answering as many comments as I’d like, not updating the sidebar, etc.) and it’s been on my mind.

I am most appreciative of the 2527 people who have “liked” the blog’s Facebook page (as of this morning) and I hope everyone will continue to follow and engage in discussion on the blog.  Thank you to everyone who participated on the Facebook page and I look forward to seeing you on the blog.

See You in a Minute,

Shirley Thistlethwaite

Taking Care of Business

From time to time I post blog related guidelines and clarifications for the good of the order, as the saying goes.  This being one of those times.

Commenters are free to express their opinions and they do not need to agree with my views.  Trolling is not allowed.  There is a difference and ironically, trolls seem to be gleefully ignorant of it.  The trolling umbrella here covers people who are commenting without intent to contribute to a meaningful discussion but rather to pick fights, smear an individual or group, or further a personal agenda.  Comments might include ad hominem attacks, hate speech, or fake names.

The anonymous commenting feature is enabled primarily to protect whistleblowers who wish to speak out about their local shelters without fear of retaliation.  It’s not for cowards who won’t put their real names to their personal attacks or who think they’re crafty by creating multiple accounts in order to make their views look popular.

nbc news

As for the blog’s Facebook page, it’s not the favorite son.  The blog takes priority which is to say, I invest less time patrolling FB for animal hating comments.  As such, if I see someone on FB attempting to justify dogs and cats in the kill room of our nation’s so-called shelters, I may give a one time warning or I may simply ban the poster outright.  All that same nonsense about idiots creating fake profiles seems to be even worse on FB and I just don’t have time for it.

If you don’t believe in math or that the killing of shelter pets is wrong, it’s not my job to convince you.  I provide news and information, including proven methods, to those interested in saving shelter pets.  If you believe you have an alternative proven method that results in an end to the killing of shelter pets, good on you.  The more, the merrier.  But if you believe that killing healthy/treatable shelter pets is beneficial, necessary, or in any way a kindness, don’t come around here.  If I ban you for your comments supporting killing, you can be assured I will ban you even more quickly from my inbox so don’t bother wasting your time e-mailing me about your wonderful world of killing.  You won’t convince me and I won’t try to convince you.

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I am for truth.  I have investigated and exposed the killing of healthy/treatable pets in both pounds and shelters that call themselves no kill.  I do not discriminate based upon how the shelter describes itself.  If you have evidence regarding the needless killing of shelter animals, I will look at it, regardless of the facility.  While I do not have the time to post about every facility on which I receive information, I do as many as I am able.  And I do not dismiss credible evidence based upon the description the facility gives itself.

That said, simply claiming “I know because I saw it on Facebook” while posting under a fake name is not credible evidence.  While I might give you the benefit of the doubt and let it through as a single comment, don’t expect to post multiple comments of this nature.  I keep track of this kind of thing.  Post links to your evidence, even if it is a comment you saw on Facebook.  (Note:  If you don’t know how to link directly to a FB comment, try Google.)  Producing hard evidence goes a long way toward solidifying your credibility and will make readers examine your claims more seriously.

I hope this is helpful information that will make your blog experience smoother.  I’m all out of cupcakes but just know that I love you, man.

Search Terms

Some of the search terms that have brought visitors to the blog in recent days underscore the need for shelter reform in this country:

  • how to find out if your pet has been euthanized at spartanburg humane society
  • i don’t want to take my cat to a shelter
  • shelter dogs suffering from heat
  • killing room animal shelter
  • i would never work at a shelter

Look who’s asking questions and not just buying into the weepy TV commercial propaganda:

  • where does the hsus get their money
  • how much does hsus spend on animals
  • aspca joke

Ha.

Waxing Rhetorical

On my worst days as a blogger, it seems like most commenters don’t bother showing up unless they want to disagree with me on something.  And I wonder why I am not in with the In Crowd, despite my numerous appealing qualities, which my Mom reassures me I possess.

On my best days, I remember that the overwhelming majority of readers never comment and since I am lucky enough to have readers, at least according to WordPress stats, I feel grateful.  There are plenty of places to find reading material on the web and the fact that anyone drops by this little cranny regularly is both humbling and happying.  Welcome to My Pretty Secluded Location.  There are clean towels.

In between the worst and best days are all the other days.  And on those days I think about plants and birds and rocks and things but also that I believe.  I really do.  I believe that the killing of shelter pets could end today, as untidy and challenging as it may prove in the short term, and that it could be maintained long term.  I believe that shelter dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of whether they are being carried in their mother’s womb or have lived on the streets for 10 years.  I believe that no kill is possible and have resolved to live in accordance with its most basic tenet – that the life of every pet (and I use that as a general description meant to include feral cats and dogs) must be granted individual consideration and respect.  Sometimes it’s inconvenient and requires I make personal sacrifices.  I make them.  Because even if I didn’t want to, there are no reasonable alternatives.

So if there are days when you feel isolated, alienated, or helpless, or perhaps just find yourself wondering whether anyone in the no kill movement would actually stand by you and the homeless pets in your community if push came to shove, know that I will and I am.  This blog is a testament to that promise.  If you are fighting for the right of every dog and cat to live, go ahead and put me down as your +1.  And thank you for reading, which I should say more often.

master bedroom by andrew wyeth

Your Input is Requested

I need to update the blog’s sidebar.  Please let me know your suggestions for additions in any of the categories (or removals, if you notice a dead link for example) as well as any other sidebar related comments.  I’m all ears.

lolcat

A Note Regarding Olympic Animal Sanctuary and “Exposes”

In light of some of the comments regarding Olympic Animal Sanctuary, I think a point of clarification is in order:  I turn down stories “exposing” animal organizations, including pet killing facilities, all the time.  I use the same standards to evaluate all potential stories – a combination of evidence, my personal level of confidence regarding the information provided by the accuser and the accused, along with other factors.  What gets posted on this blog is my opinion of facts as they are presented.  I am not a journalist but a blogger and I consider my work to be an opinion based form of citizen journalism.  If you are looking for something else, there’s the door.

Based upon the available evidence against OAS, which amounts to some photos posted on a Facebook page by an unknown person, I normally would not consider covering this story at this time.  It’s a non-story, in my opinion.  The main reason I requested a response from OAS owner Steve Markwell was not because I thought the photos warranted an investigation by me, but out of fairness to OAS and to readers, many of whom have contributed to OAS in the past after reading about Steve’s good work here.  If any significant new evidence emerges, for or against OAS, I will share that.  Unless and until that occurs, I do not intend to cover the issue further.  As always, I encourage readers to form their own opinions based on the available information and how it resonates with you.

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