Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Enjoy every moment of every day!

(all photos by Jere Alexander)

Continued from Part 3 here.

Hand in hand with writing this blog over the past few months, I've been spending a lot of time with various on-line communities, sometimes just reading posts and comments, sometimes contributing, and aside from learning about specific issues, dog related or not, I've come away with the sense that there is little I can take away from this vast ocean of information which I can confidently call truth. So much is spin, rumour, gossip, fabrication and outright lies repeated over and over until it becomes "common knowledge".

Of course this isn't at all surprising. An uncensored world wide web is a clear reflection of human communication and human communication is fraught - if not overrun - with unsavory, self serving sentiments.

I'm still fascinated by it, though, and sift through it because the one thing I do manage to gather from all this on-line reading is what the writing itself invariably reveals about the character of the author.

Here's an example. There is a huge debate out there about whether or not dogs should be fed raw food or cooked food or kibble. Everyone's got their own opinions, some of which are held with the strength of religious belief, and yet, as far as I know, no one has ever done strict scientific testing on any type of food so how can anyone know for sure what's good, better, best? We barely know what food we should be eating ourselves and what we do know seems to change every few years, so how can anyone be an expert on what another species should be eating?

I'm not suggesting that just because we don't know all the answers, we should throw away all common sense and start feeding our dogs melamine laced, cardboard based dog food. However, I'm convinced that an open but observant and discerning attitude is the way to go when determining what works best with any individual dog with regards to its diet.

The point here isn't about the dog food, though. It's about the manner of debate over something as inconclusive as dog food and what can be gleaned from the on-line conversations that take place. Because I don't believe that we've heard the final word on what is the ideal food for dogs, or if such an ideal even exists, whenever someone posts a comment defending their choice of dog food to the extent that they disparage someone else's choice, I have to wonder about the intent of that person's post. Is their intent to inform and opine as part of an on-going dialogue or is it just to ridicule with the aim of inflicting wounds?

In other words, for me, it's not just the information itself that is of interest but also the delivery of that information and what it says about the writer and the writer's intentions and how it colours the credibility of the information s/he is trying to convey.

This is forefront in my mind when I read through the comments posted on the blog hosted by Randy Travis and the Fox5 I-Team to promote audience feedback after his stories on FCAS and Jere Alexander aired.

From my experience, which is mostly limited to Canadian on-line media, comment sections tend to be moderated or semi-moderated so that if someone decides to start spouting off hate about Jews or Blacks or Asians or women or old folks or young folks or middle aged White men then they can be quickly shut down. On Randy's blog, there is no such regular oversight.

Like many of the comment sections of our "established" on-line news suppliers, the reactionary contributors start out somewhat civilized but very quickly degenerate into Lord of the Flies territory. Though Randy himself contributed to the comments, he felt no need to comment upon the tone of the messages being published. It got so bad in fact that eventually several pages worth of comments were removed, my guess, for fear of lawsuit.

(Before you read the following, please be sure to have read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.)

Here's a sampling of some of the remaining, less derogatory comments all written by people who have no more knowledge about the events which occured at FCAS than you or me.

From DogLuver222:

"Just because Mrs. Alexander is a pretty blonde who speaks with a soft voice does not mean she does not harbor viscous animals that could be used for sport. I suggest Fulton and Dekalb county put her under the same scrutiny as Michael Vick. There is NO other logical reason Mrs. Alexander would harbor KNOWN VICIOUS PIT BULLS unless she was KNOWNLY sending them out into the Pit Bull fighting community."

"The "Problem" with Pit Bulls is that the BREED, is a BREED of dog designed to fight until it kills (that's PRECISELY WHY they are used for "Sport"). It's part of their "genetics" to "Kill" it's prey. Unlike most dogs that will "Fight"---(and soon stop once dominance is established)--a PIT will NOT DO THIS...IT WILL FIGHT TO THE DEATH...."

From bewaresecretsandlies:

"animals sent to Jere Alexander's shelter would have a good chance of dying within 24hours, and not by euthanasia by getting ripped to shreds by pit bulls Also getting euthanized because Jere wanted room for the aggressive pit bulls"

"Pits bite more often, do more damage, kill more often. They are different. Part of the problem is that people like pitgirl sell dogs that have aggressive backgrounds, and new owners are unprepared/unwilling to deal with this. They falsely promote the idea that these dogs can be rehabbed."

From 3-legged-pit:

"Alexander's website "pitarchive.org" horribly glamorizes the old family fighting pit bull. She's sold herself to game dog men of the past and present. How many other "animal directors" and shelter workers share her beliefs? More specifically, how many people are in a position to keep or adopt out dangerous pit bulls? People like Alexander do NOT CARE about the animals or people that are victimized by these dogs. This issue is VERY breed specific because the only dog selectively bred to kill other animals -- after their skull has been cracked, a lung punctured and a leg ripped off -- is the game bred pit bull."

From greylady9:

"Isn't it interesting that owners of aggressive dogs will verbally abuse other posters here that don't agree with them? That's because aggressive people don't see a problem with owning aggressive dogs, unlike the majority of society that realizes this is a safety issue. What we see here is pit bull owners whining about their beloved dogs being shown in a negative light when that isn't being done, and ignoring the real story of community safety. Pit bulls are genetically dog aggressive ..."

There's this poster, embarrassed, who apparently still works at FCAS but thinks s/he's in high school:

"tony, i hear that you have moved from sleeping with Dana (in jail now) to DeDe. should a manager be sleeping with his employees? are you (jojo and banks helping you) still taking dogs out at night and giving them away? see, told ya i work in the kennel....."

"melissa, seeing how you were homeschooled in a commune, it's understandable that you are sheltered. why did jere hire you when you failed the drug test? did you share that with her?melissaa, one more thing - you need to change that maroon and pink hair - it looks like a clown.....see, told ya i work here..."

The most prolific stone thrower is Purrcat. The following constitutes probably less than a tenth of this commenter's on-line splatter.

"Even if we give Jere the benefit of the doubt, she has been caught in huge lies, she has committed fraud, she had insisted that she knew more than an experienced vet and employees with 27 years. She snuck cats out in the middle of the night without documentation and then made it up the next day, and then changed it at a later date. You may be dumb enough to believe every word. But those are not the actions of a person that is really try to save animals. I'd like to believe that she did just release unfixed, unvaccinated, untested ferals back into the wild because at least some of them will survive. BUT I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD SHE HAS SAID. SHE HAS BEEN CAUGHT IN SO MANY LIES."

Here Purrcat implies that Jere prefers fighting dogs:

"Beast must have been some special fighting pit, if Jere took him for rides and walks. She said he was just not happy in the shelter. Yeah I bet the dogs that got mauled to death by the other pits just weren't happy there either. Where was Jere for those poor souls. Would you rather have a quick painless death or be ripped limb to limb unitl you are not recognizable and bleed out in immense pain. Yeah, right Jere loved the animals. What planet do you live on?"

Here Purrcat implies that Jere is a hoarder:

"If Jere really loved animals, why the heck does she have her dogs chained in her yard. Shouldn't they at least be in the house. You know hoarders love animals. They do. But at some point they lose touch with reality and collect more than they can care for. Is that her problem?"

Here Purrcat implies that Jere supports Pit Bull fighting:

"I have no idea whether Jere supports pitbull fighting. Sure looked like there were kenels in her yard though and there definitely chained out dogs. Her first hire was a pitbull enthusiast whose husband was endited for animal trafficing. Hmm based on the lies she told and the company she keeps, it sure does appear mighty likely that this is the case."

"and if Jere has profited from the pits in anyway, she should be paying dearly for it. It seems like the more aggressive the dog was, the more enchanted she was by it."

"Jere was available. She was morally corrupt enough to take a job she wasn't qualified for and ballsy enough to fire anyone that questioned her mismanagment. Oh yeah, and she liked pitbulls. That was probably her bonus plan - she could have all of the aggressive pitbulls she wanted for herself and dog fighting enthusiast mentors and friends."

Here Purrcat starts the rumour about Jere sending off feral cats to be used as bait for Pit Bull fighting:

"I agree with bewaresecretsandlies. Best case scenario is that the ferals were just released mostly likely without being vaccinated, tested, or fixed... Worst case, they wound up in the hands of her [Jere's] pitbull fighting enthusiasts acquaintances."

Here Purrcat qualifies her rumour:

"And who know, maybe they didn't get used for bait for top dogs. Maybe just the wannabe's."

And just to make sure everyone knows what a sensitive person s/he is, Purrcat posts this gem:

"Remember, if a dog were the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy..
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Seriously, you've got to read this shit to believe that functioning adults actually put this stuff out there. Hatred and viciousness spew forth like vomit from the egos of these anonymous bullies. This is no longer "about the animals" as the devout like to kid themselves; this is just plain old vindictive rumour mongering aimed solely at causing the most damage to whoever they choose to victimize.

But even more incredibly, people believe it.

On December 7, a group gather in front of the Fulton County Animal Shelter for a vigil for the "missing" feral cats. They pound stakes into the ground with a cat silouette on each one. They hold candles. They demand to know what's happened to the cats.

There is no end to this story. Those who caused the most harm are still out there doing their thing, perhaps oblivious to the turmoil their actions have caused or perhaps happily wallowing in it, upstanding citizens every last one. It's about the animals, they say, but it's not about the animals at all. It's about media manipulation; it's about prejudices and stereotypes; it's about ragged toothed little people who would rather bite, scratch and squeal than actually help out in any concrete way. All this wasted time and energy and every day more cats and dogs are dying at FCAS.

I don't know everything that happened at FCAS. No one does except for those directly involved. Maybe Jere Alexander was too hasty with her firings. Maybe the staff was too old school and treated the animals inhumanely. We may never get the full truth on these things. What we do know is that there was obviously bitter friction between staff and management at FCAS. And really, that's all we know. All the other criticisms are conjectures, rumours and lies.

There is one bright light in all of this, though. Now that Jere Alexander has stepped back from the firing line, she can finally finish her dissertation, take some photos with her leaky plastic camera and spend more time with the companion animals on her farm. The nightmares will stop and normalcy will return.

Addendum: Epilogue, sort of, here.


Caveat said...

It's just the pitchfork and torch crowd - again - the same bunch of drooling know-nothings who have held us back throughout history. Jere just happened to be the witch this time.

People of a certain ilk are very afraid of intelligence or unconventional approaches to problems. It reminds them of how pedestrian and stupid they are, a reality from which popular television nicely shields them.

Some of those comments are libelous, others border on libel. Were it my comment board, I'd be policing it much better than that because letting comments stand is technically publishing them.

On a side note, the spittle spewers seem to be obsessed with dog fighting - a horrible but fairly rare occurrence. I presume a lot of them are from that stupid website in Seattle, they get around and promote hatred whenever possible, as does that pencil-neck in Denver.

But 'pit bulls' are dangerous, right?


Fred said...

I believe libel laws in Canada might be different. If these types of statements were posted on a site up here and not removed, the site owner would be open to one big lawsuit for allowing defamation. Plus the posters themselves could find themselves in court as well.

Good example is this case here, although here it's the good guys being sued by the bad guys:


Anonymous said...

The world has always had morons who think that the anonymity of a mob or an online forum gives them license to revel in their basest instincts. Flamers and Lamers get off on the attention and the trouble they stir up. I am personally of the Do Not Feed the Trolls school. Ignore them and, eventually, they go away, or at least somewhere else.

Unfortunately, that can sometimes be your local School Board, or the Humane Society volunteer program, or even the water cooler at work.

Railing doesn't get us anywhere, imho -- it just puts us on the same level. Better to turn away and get back to work doing the stuff that matters.

Like Ms. Alexander is doing. More power to her.

Caveat said...

The thing is, this type of biased, unsubstantiated reporting is exactly what tried and convicted 'pit bulls' in Ontario.

The largest part of the government's 'evidence' consisted of media reports.

It's time for a Truth in Journalism Act - and I'm also sick of the media game whereby if you have someone who is an expert presenting actual facts around an issue, you have to dig up some troglodyte who has the opposing (and usually unfounded, unreferenced) view to provide 'balance'.

It's nonsense. It's dishonest. It's often downright dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the legalities of what can or can`t be said I hope this Lady has been able to find peace in her life.

I can`t imagine being the target of all that hatred.

No one is perfect but NO one should be subjected to abuse like that.

I hope she realizes that all that ugliness says more about the Reporter and the Posters than it does about her.

Someone on another Post said they`d like to buy her a drink,I`d like to send her an online HUG and thank her for helping so many animals and for being strong in the face of all this.
She`s obviously a compassionate caring person.

Anonymous said...

This blog is the biggest bunch of crap going. Anyone with 1/2 a brain can clearly see that it is Jere writing about herself in 3rd person. I have gone from seeing her as a pit bull breeding, gamedog loving nut to really questioning her sanity! Stop trying to blame Randy, the kennel manager and everyone else for the fact that you and your "boss" were incompetent and arrogant enough to think you could take on the responsibility of that shelter with no experience. Give us all a break Jere and climb back under that Rock or should I say Rocky!

Fred said...

Dear Anonymous, yes you're probably right, only someone with half a brain would think this blog is written by Jere Alexander.