Saturday, August 14, 2010

Should the daily newspaper be taking sides?

I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News in response to an "Our View" in the paper this past week where the paper's editorial staff came out against the ASPCA's offer to help our shelter get on the right track. The paper has been in the shelter's pocket, so to speak, for some time now, but I question the validity of their views and what they are based on. I don't see how they can weigh in on an issue they know so little about, and wouldn't they be doing the public more service by covering this story fairly and presenting the facts as they get them and all sides to the issue?

Here's the letter I sent. I hope it makes it to print in the paper, but in case it does not, I wanted to share it with everyone.

The real elephant in the room
(submitted as a letter to the editor to the Las Cruces Sun-News on August 11, 2010)

With all due respect, perhaps the editorial staff at this paper should not be writing an “Our View” about a subject you know little about—animal sheltering. Perhaps you’d do better to cover the facts and give equal opportunity to all sides without taking a side of your own.

We who raise the voice of shelter reform do so from a place of wanting the best for our homeless animals. Telling us our efforts do more harm than good won’t guilt us into silence because we know that from silence, nothing changes.

The real elephant in the room is the one you don't see—the lack of accountability for proper shelter operations. You scoffed at shelter reviews by different industry experts since 2006. All point to the same repairs needed for the kennels/ventilation system and the lack of adhering to well-documented best practices regarding shelter medicine and humane animal care. To this date, none of these issues have been addressed.

In any industry, we’d expect best practices to be applied; why not with our animal shelter? The standards should be applied no matter how many animals enter the facility each day/month/year. At the same time, our shelter should ensure each animal in their care is living according to the Five Freedoms and being equitably routed through the system. It’s a challenging job—but not impossible.

Instead, our shelter is housing more animals than they can properly care for, and they are releasing unvaccinated/unaltered animals into the public they chastise for such practices. Yet, the only progress that has been made under new management working with a vastly higher budget is a small drop in the kill rate for dogs.

For those who want an animal-sheltering education, start here:,,,, and