We can pass along information with the click of a button. Some of it helpful, some not so helpful to our cause. Now every time a dog has been abused, starved or beaten - we share it so that the whole world can see the horrors of animal abuse. We have demonized the American public.
Pretty soon, every time I glance through my Facebook newsfeed I see the same stories being shared and reshared. Don't get me wrong, animal abuse is horrible and the perpetrators need to be severely punished; when they are found guilty. Plus, it's nice to see the public enraged and willing to act.
The problem is that since the No Kill philosophy has a basic premise that most people are good and should be trusted with animals; when we overpost cruelty, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We need adopters, foster homes, volunteers, and staff to make the programs of the No Kill Equation work.
Our common sense tells us that 95 percent of people in the nation are good people. But it's kind of boring to share and reshare the stories of the good people. It's far more satisfying to share the horror stories of the 5% evil. It is much more dramatic to post a cruelty story than a kindness story.
You would think, we of all people, animal welfare advocates would have learned from history. Isn't this what happened to pit bulls? They were demonized by the press. They became victims of an overzealous media seeking sensational stories to sell newspapers. A few bad stories and pretty soon the whole breed has to bear the burden of the crime.
If you want more background on the plight of the pit bull and how the media played a part in their downfall, check out the National Canine Research Council and Karen Delise's book - The Pit Bull Placebo, The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression. It is available as a free download.
Another good reminder is that the number one cause of death to companion animals in America is not dogfighting or animal abuse or puppy mills. It is shelter killing. Let's focus our energy on that.
Maybe, it's time to think before we click that share button on an animal cruelty story. Is it credible? Is it local? Has the perpetrator been found guilty? Are we helping our cause? Or hindering it?
There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience,
and that is not learning from experience. ~Laurence J. Peter