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This week, an owner of a pet business posted a message on Facebook that she couldn't be associated with me, because I support and promote the TLC television program Boston Underdogs, which she finds to be irresponsible and a danger to rescue efforts. I was disappointed, because I have been a fan of the business and the individual, so I sent the below message…
“I sincerely apologize for offending you and it's doubly a bummer, because I'm such a fan and I truly believe that creating a fan page to spotlight rescue work was the right thing to do. I wish you well with your business, your dogs, and life in general. I truly love your page and follow your day with your big ‘ole dogs. ~ Kimberly”
Facebook Drama and False Accusations
Later in the day, the other owner of the business shared some facts as he was told about the rescue group, KickAss K-9 Rescue, who is featured on Boston Underdogs (a program that lasted for 1 episode). He felt that I hadn't done my homework before choosing to support the show and gave me the number for the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and passionately encouraged me to call them to get my facts straight. He went on to say…
“…those who support fake rescues in an attempt to gain publicity for their own gain in the pet industry are no better.”
Wow! How can my television viewing choices inspire such disdain from people? There has GOT to be more to this story.
The “more” is simply that Boston Underdogs has divided the dog lover world and we now have people who want to see this show shed light on animal welfare and others who feel this show will harm animal rescue and welfare. What do you think?
Conflicts on Facebook never get resolved to my satisfaction, so I sent him a message asking him to call me; I wanted to understand what was going on, it never occurred to me that this was a mistake. Our discussion spun out of control immediately as the business owner yelled at me for not being willing to write an article exposing KickAss K-9 Rescue based on his word, accusing me of supporting fake rescues and helping them raise money for their personal use, and not being willing to share the truth unless it benefited me. Double Wow!
In the face of this, I had to wonder, how many dogs were rescued today by this interaction? I tried to reason with this person, but he wasn’t willing to hear me out, choosing to yell over my words and attack my character and blog. We terminated the conversation. I just felt defeated.
Why I Like Boston Underdogs and Animal Rescue
I think this show is a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on rescue. Like others, I enjoyed the first episode, but was disappointed that there wasn’t more of a focus on the dogs, but I believe that this show isn’t for people like me or rescue workers. It’s for people who don’t know what rescue is really like and I hope that TLC is slowly introducing them into the world of rescue, which isn’t all happy endings.
Any show that inspires people to donate time and/or money to their local rescue is doing something. Already, this show has done this and it’s exciting to see. I launched an unofficial fan page not to stir up and answer to controversy, but to give fans a place to reach out to the KickAss K-9 Rescue ladies, to share their thoughts, and also to reach out to TLC with ideas on how to improve the show, its content, and its impact. That’s what’s happening.
I think this show can bring animal lovers together for a common cause and inspire other networks to do the same – I'd love to see the ASPCA, Humane Society, and other large organizations partnering with smaller rescue groups and television networks to shed the light on animal welfare and the human-animal bond.
I’m bummed that more people aren't taking this opportunity to share their thoughts with TLC beyond telling the network that the show is bad for rescue.
The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture
I did call the Department of Agriculture and they didn’t confirm the information shared with me. I called the pet store owner asking him whom he spoke with, because I wanted to clear things up and get the facts, but he told me he didn’t know who he spoke with and didn’t care what I learned, which was an unexpected about-face. How many dogs were rescued?
His side, her side, and somewhere in the middle, the truth…
I also learned that there's a list of approved rescues – this list includes rescues who are able to bring dogs in from out of state. KickAss K-9 asked to be removed from this list so they're not on it. This doesn't mean that they're not a legitimate rescue. As I’m writing this article, I have one of my favorite bloggers in mind; Carol Bryant. She has experience in journalism and regularly guides pet bloggers on how to navigate the world of blogging responsibly. I asked myself what I’d like to see accomplished and stopped stressing over the loss of a potential friendship and focused on how Boston Underdogs could be improved. It's not my place to judge others on how they choose to give feedback; so I decided to start making suggestions of my own.During the drama, The Four Agreements came to mind: be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, don’t take things personally, and always do your best. This was the best advice I can think of when dealing with online disagreements. Of course, everyone involved has a different perception of what went on – that's to be expected. But I do believe that everyone feels that they didn't do anything wrong – in the end, who cares?
When I ask the question, “how many dogs were rescued, because of our online drama?” The answer is NONE! I am so thankful for what happened, because it reminded me that it’s important that we all raise awareness so the world sees the beautiful soul behind the pretty brown eyes of our dogs.
Update about KickAss K9 – Monday 5/19/14:
Today I received an email from an individual who wrote that he worked for the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. I asked to be removed from their files (if I'm in there) and not to be contacted again.
I'm updating this post to make sure I'm very clear on this issue. I support rescue. I do not support puppy mills or large capacity breeding operations (aka puppy mills – in my opinion).
In the email I received today, the following comment was written: “I believe with this information, you will have a better understanding as to why some individuals had such guttural reactions to promotion of the show.” I was threatened repeatedly after I refused to libel Stacia Gorgone, Kick-Ass K9 and TLC. The harassment became so bad that I got authorities involved both in Washington State and Massachusetts. I thought it was over, but today's email prompted me to notify authorities that the harassment may be starting again.
This is disappointing on so many levels.
There is room in this world for both rescue and reputable breeders. I happen to know that the people involved in bullying me over this issue are not dog lovers, because dog lovers don't place their love of money over the health and welfare of the animals that are our responsibility. What Mr. Cahill thought he would explain that would make their aggressive behavior acceptable is beyond my comprehension; so I called him and asked never to be contacted again.
This is a passionate topic. I understand that there will be many people who hold opposing points of view. I ask that everyone share their thoughts respectful and refrain from personal attacks. Comments that detract from the discussion and seem to be an attempt to go after someone personally will not be approved and the individual(s) will be blocked from future commenting. I really want this to be an opportunity for us to share our opinions and experience on the topic in this post – by sharing, we are given the opportunity to consider a new point of view, which, in my opinion, makes us better dog parents. Thanks!