Fucking Crazy Animal People


Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingI used to pooh-pooh the people who used to claim that the animal activism aimed at eliminating puppy mills and backyard breeders was the first step on a slippery slope of animal activism that would lead to crazy people trying  to control every aspect of an animal’s care and welfare.

I say “used to” because now I’m not so sure that they were that far off from the truth. The advance of social media has created some wonderful new and inventive ways to help animals in need. More dogs are being networked and finding homes, many lost dogs are finding their way back home, but social media has also given rise to little pockets of reactionary and aggressive vigilantes who are willing to take whatever action they deem necessary to save a pet, even when that information is based on hearsay and mistaken assumptions.

When someone posted a picture of an injured dog in a private Facebook group a month ago, my first thought was to get the dog (who was hit by a car) posted on Lost Dogs MN so the owner could find him more quickly and know he as injured. Others turned to finding out where the dog was taken (a local animal hospital) so they could donate money for his care. Awesome community action right? It was, until it turned into something else. And, it happened very quickly.

Shortly after the call for help in finding the owner went out, someone posted that the vet clinic would euthanize the dog (vs. treating it) if the owner wasn’t found. (There was no evidence that this was the case, but within minutes the feed was filled with people demanding to know where the dog was and that the clinic’s number be posted so they could call and demand they care for the dog). The animal hospital was inundated with calls from people demanding they take care of the dog, and if they couldn’t, to release him into rescue. Mind you, the dog hadn’t even been in the vet clinic’s care for two hours and already all sorts of assumptions had been made about the dog’s condition, vet care (or lack thereof), and where he should go next. It was mass hysteria turned into animal activism that bordered on ridiculous. I shook my head as I watched people, effectively, lose their fucking minds. I cannot imagine what the people at the animal hospital thought.

After an hour of craziness, a rational person was able to find out that not only was the dog fine, but he had been released to an animal control center for the night. (Even then people were demanding to know if the care center would be keeping the dog under observation through the night. What if he wasn’t okay? Who would make sure he was saved?). The calls to the animal hospital ceased, but calls to the care center did not. Thankfully, the calls ended the next day when we found out that the dog had been reunited with his owner.

I’d like to say that this is the first time I have seen this type of out-of-control activism, but sadly, it is just one of many I have seen lately. Mostly it starts with a single posting seeking help for an animal, but very quickly it devolves into crazed assumptions and people wanting to take decisive action without all the facts.

I couldn’t help but shake my head when I saw this one (Rescue Groups Impersonated SPCA to Confiscate Dog: Owner) recently pass through my news feed. It left me wondering how long it would be before everyone was suspect in the eyes of the crazy and uninformed animal activist. It concerns me.

I love when people can come together to help an animal that is really in need. When the authorities are slow to act, animal activists can push them to take action sooner. They can get them to intervene before something serious happens to the pet. But, when individuals become both judge and jury in a pet-related situation, they better have more than just hearsay and speculation to fall back on. Or in the above case, more than ONE poorly taken picture taken from a bad angle.

Presenting yourself as a legal authority in order to steal someone’s dog is not only wrong, but illegal. It also makes the rest of us in animal rescue look bad. Calling a vet clinic over and over again to demand they care for a lost and injured dog (because you assumed they would not) is crazy and ridiculous.

I am all for saving animals in need. I know our country’s laws are woefully inadequate when it comes to saving injured and abused animals; they allow too many animals to suffer before they intervene, but this kind of animal activism is not helpful. It hurts the animals and it hurts those of us who are serious about helping them. It makes all of us look like crazy animal people.

I don’t want this to become the slippery slope that ends up hurting our fight to stop puppy mills, or to prosecute those charged with animal cruelty.

Stop the crazy people. Just stop. You are hurting all of us with your crazy.

Breathe. Learn the facts. Work with the authorities.

You don’t like the laws? Work to change them. Don’t break them.

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  1. February 7, 2016 at 11:30 PM

    Very well said! I’ve been troubled by the vigilantes on social media for a while now. Seeing people fly off the handle when they don’t have any of the facts and getting hysterical over stuff… It’s pretty insane. 😦

    • Mel
      February 8, 2016 at 6:11 AM

      “It’s pretty insane.” Yes. Beyond insane sometimes. Thank you for your comment.

  2. February 8, 2016 at 5:33 AM

    Well put. And if you figure out how to stop the crazy in this area, let’s bottle your solution and share it around.

    I’ve seen one other disturbing side of “we know best for this animal” that plays out in social media. And it’s the racism and classism when people assume that because a pet’s person is poor or a person of color that they can’t possibly take as good care of their animal as the concerned stranger.

    It was a major dynamic in Hurricane Katrina rescues over a decade ago. And it plays out in little internet dramas every day.

    I think this kind of “activism” is what happens when people are motivated by fear instead of by love.

    • Mel
      February 8, 2016 at 6:07 AM

      I wholeheartedly agree Pamela. I hate that kind of racism and classism. It definitely happened with Hurricane Katrina.
      While agree that much of this can be rooted in fear, I also think that many people like to be a hero and some of this stems from that. I definitely have seen it in the case of lost dog searches.

  3. February 8, 2016 at 5:38 AM

    It is a horrible thing puppy mills. I do agree it is a slippery slope as all rules and laws even ordinance’s we have to be diligent and speak up calmly and articulately as you have here. I am hoping more regulations for those who breed would be set in place. Problem is there is not enough money and man power to enforce the regulations we have now. That leaves the policing up to we the people and organizations like the Humane Society and PETA. So we need to be careful of their agenda. Always be vigilant

    • Mel
      February 8, 2016 at 6:09 AM

      You are so correct Christine. The laws in many states, like my own, are not being enforced as written. Some of it is due to funding and some of it is due to people not doing their jobs and following the letter of the law. In those circumstances, we can help to apply pressure to make sure they do so. We just need to do so legally and stay grounded in the facts.

      • February 8, 2016 at 10:45 AM

        And sometimes laws are written in a way that they are just not enforceable. Or, budgets have been cut so badly that there’s no one left to enforce them. In my city (the one where I live, not where I work) there are 13 animal control officers where there should be 35.

      • Mel
        February 8, 2016 at 11:12 AM

        Valid point!

  4. February 8, 2016 at 5:46 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to just make an assumption and react to it as opposed to taking a step back, trying to gather all the information available, and THINK before judging.

    • Mel
      February 8, 2016 at 6:02 AM

      Agree Barbara. I think we all have to slow down and seek to know more before going into full crazy mode. Thanks for your comment.

  5. February 8, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    Well said!

  6. February 8, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    Thanks for this – unfortunately, this happens in many areas with social media and we don’t see it until it happens to us or someone we know.

  7. February 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM

    I belonged to a lab rescue page on Facebook that started getting out of control with people being judge and jury, so I left. When this type of fighting begins, it ends up being the animals who suffer. People need to take a step back and think things through.

    Sadly I feel like this same situation could apply to almost every issue society is facing today.

    There are some many good things that happen through the process of Social Media, and then they are some very bad things as well.

    Great post Mel!

  8. February 8, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    That is perfect. Sadly there are crazies everywhere and reining them in will never be easy.

  9. Deb
    February 8, 2016 at 9:54 AM

    This is why I can only take doing rescue in small doses. I have infinite admiration for you and others who can maintain their sanity and stay engaged in the face of such damaging vigilantism.

  10. February 8, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    As an animal control officer, I totally agree with almost all of what you said. My job would be a lot easier if some of the craziness would just subside. I spend more time with people than I do with the animals. However, I do take exception to one of the things you said: “When the authorities are slow to act, animal activists can push them to take action sooner.” I am often that authority. And more often than not, I’m “slow to act” for legal reasons. Please note that these animal activist that are yelling at me to move faster, are often the same ones that’ll turn around and sue the City if I misstep.

    To the activists: I have to investigate all claims thoroughly. Just because you think the dog is being abused doesn’t mean it really is. How do you know there isn’t an underlying medical condition? I need to make damn sure you’re right before I pressed charges. That takes time.

    Just because you want me to confiscate someone’s animal doesn’t mean I can violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (illegal search and seizure) without exigent circumstances. There are procedures that must be followed. Warrants take time.

    Just because you want the animal in my kennel doesn’t mean that I can override the prescribed hold time while looking for the owner. Legally, animals are property. I can’t let a stranger hold a cute little dog for safekeeping any more than the police can let a stranger hold a found wallet. What if it was your dog in my kennel?

    Just because someone doesn’t love an animal the way you would, doesn’t mean the animal’s being neglected under state statute. I hate the minimum standards of care too. Instead of yelling at me, why not direct your energy towards the lawmakers?

    No, our laws aren’t perfect. There’s lots of places where I think they could be better. But that’s what I’ve got to work with. And calling me a “fucking dog.Nazi” isn’t going to make it any better.

    If people would just take a moment to check the facts, then come up with a game plan based on reality instead of emotions, things would be a lot better for everyone involved — including the animals.

    You can have your soapbox back now.

    • Mel
      February 8, 2016 at 11:14 AM

      Yes! Thank you for bringing that up. I meant to include it in my post, but forgot. That’s what drives me most insane, the people who don’t know the law and assume action can and will be taken immediately. I don’t envy you your job. You probably deal with the crazies daily.

    • Frank
      February 9, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      How dare you use logic and reason to support your position! Now I have to get all red-faced as I scream unintelligible things at you amongst slurs about your lineage, intelligence and also remind you that I, and apparently I alone, pay your salary and you must do everything I say. 🙂

      • Mel
        February 9, 2016 at 8:37 AM

        Thanks for adding a little humor to a heavy topic Frank. Much needed. 😊

  11. February 8, 2016 at 2:04 PM

    Unfortunately the crazies have been given an easy access platform and will only get worse over time. Luckily we who have fully functioning brains are able to recognize the crazies and will work to get them under control. I have to say though, now mind you that this is my opinion, the benefits certainly outweigh the bad. We “normal” folks just have to be a bit more vigilant in our postings and actions.

  12. February 8, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    Wow, this was very informative as well as a little depressing. I know a guy who works in animal control, I never realized he has to deal with all of this. I tend to give everyone (even the crazies) the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t have to deal with them regularly. I am cautious with what I share because I usually am depending on others for information. It is a shame that people want the same thing (animals that are safe and well cared for), and yet they attack each other for having different ideas about how to accomplish the same goal. I was just reading and commenting on another blog about the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop,” I had NO idea that it was controversial.

  13. February 8, 2016 at 3:14 PM

    There is something about the anonymity of the ‘Net that brings the worst out in people. It’s incumbent upon the rest of us to out & hold them accountable and spread accurate news. Only then can we hope to be the appropriate advocates for the critters that need us most. ღ

  14. Joyce
    February 8, 2016 at 3:36 PM

    Sad to say, these stories are no longer unusual and we are well past “The Slippery Slope” stage. People are making judgements every day and it shows up in the cavalier decision not to find the home of a lost pet or actively hiding a pet from its owners. I recently read a story about an owner that was finally was vindicated when they were accused of animal abuse for a pet that choked in the back yard. The neighbor literally videotaped the dog as it died because it had gotten its chain caught on stick in the yard while she was at work. I’m trying to wrap my mind around what kind of person would watch and do nothing while something like that happened. But then to have to owner charged with animal cruelty is beyond my comprehension. These are every day occurrences now.

  15. Frank
    February 9, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    The problem isn’t animal fanatics, it is fanatics in general. Social media just emboldens crazy folks to be crazier. We have telepresence based courage as well. The internet and phones make folks feel invincible. They can rationalize their actions because they don’t need to demonstrate any sympathy to the people they view as evil. As a fanatic, their motivations are not to be questioned.

    Please don’t mistake the above to think I don’t know there are truly evil people out there that do unspeakable things to animals and need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Every single time a fanatic crosses a line, it is the sane people of the cause and the victims that suffer the most.

  16. judy
    February 9, 2016 at 9:18 PM

    Excellent article, and I certainly appreciate the comments from the ACO and other rational folk. I too get tired of dealing with the vitriol spewed by activist crazies when I dare to speak up for someone being unfairly targeted by animal rescue fanatics; venomous tirades do nothing for their cause, nor does condemning someone who only needs a little assistance do anything to help a single animal. But I am also troubled by governmental bodies that are passing animal rights backed laws and ordinances that have resulted in overzealous enforcement activities that are no better than theft under color of law. And when I see real law enforcement agencies and heretofore legitimate animal charities partnering with self-styled animal cops to do these seizures/raids, I wonder why I even bother to keep fighting.

  17. February 10, 2016 at 7:11 AM

    Reblogged this on Mel's Musings (aka bersain1) and commented:
    Good article 😉

  18. February 11, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    Great information & very insightful. I do a lot of cross-posting for urgent/deathrow & lost pets on social media but am not normally involved directly with the cases. I am a strong advocate against puppy mills and pet stores that sell animals, this would include exotic pets and small animals as well. If pet stores are going to harbor animals, it should be done via adoption only, no breeders of any kind involved. Many shelters in addition to the high surplus of unfortunate dogs and cats, also receive plenty of other animals like rodents, exotics, rabbits, etc. There is no reason besides preference, greed & profit to breed any kind of animal these days. People need to expand their way of thinking and extend their circle of compassion to animals in need. I know I’m asking a lot of the world just sharing my two cents.

  19. February 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    People are very quick to jump on the vigilante bandwagon these days. It can be pretty scary to watch, especially on social media.

  20. Jeannie Parker
    February 12, 2016 at 10:05 PM

    Social media is the slippery slope. There are far too many armchair quarterbacks who will shout, “save that animal,” but who will not step up to do anything about it. There are animal advocates, like myself – not activists – who will help. Attacking a person who is abiding by the law, but who is not caring for their pet in the way you think is acceptable, doesn’t do anyone any good. Offer to help, if you feel it’s necessary, but be prepared to be rebuked. Not everyone has the same thought process. Social media is a platform that can destroy even the best animal advocate’s work by telling half truths. Go sponsor an animal…. go adopt an animal…. give to those organizations that truly help the animals…. Put your muscle and your money into it. Go walk a shelter dog, give them the socialization they need. Go physically or financially support those organizations that are working to reduce the euthanasia rates by adoptions, rehoming, or transporting. Not all of us are vigilantes. Many of us are organized, fiscally responsible, and socially acceptable organizations.

  21. Kay
    February 15, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    I think its YOU who has the facts wrong. With mindsets like YOURS animals will continue to be beaten, euthanized and bred in the horrible conditions they are now. You sound like a lazy fat loser sitting on the couch and letting life pass them by while waiting for others to take stand. Instead of being so critical of people who want to help why dont u make some kind of contribution to save these animals instead of waiting on greedy politicians to make it happen.

    • Mel
      February 15, 2016 at 8:55 PM

      LOL! Thanks for proving my point Kay.

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