20/20 v. SPCA of Texas

Last night, 20/20’s John Stossel ran an investigation of local Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA’s) entitled "Animal Rescuers or Thieves?" Although I didn’t see the spot, it’s clear from the web version that the "money shot" was a sting run on Dave Garcia, head VP of Operations/Rescue of the SPCA of Texas (headquartered in Dallas). A 20/20 crew followed Garcia on a raid with a cameraman who was secretly a vet. The vet concurred that there was some neglect, but said that it wasn’t severe enough to justify a seizure.

This morning, I got an email from SPCA (I’m on their list) telling their side of the story.

There’s a lot of spin from both sides. I’d love to see a local reporter get to the bottom of it. (I also wish that ABC would post the video of the segment on their site.) ABC does have a message board  where there is lots of discussion of the issue. People are clearly passionate on this matter, but there’s lots of noise with little signal.

As an aside, here’s the reason that just throwing up a message board doesn’t do much good. All the posts should be available, but it would be nice if an editor could cull the ones that either have new facts or firsthand experience amongst the hundreds of "me too" shouters.

What is clear is that unless there was more to the report aired than is on the website, Stossel and company didn’t do the best job of reporting. Also, that whether or not Garcia et al. are abusing their position, there are some due process issues here that need to be looked at because of the potential for abuse.

An enterprising reporter could probably get some good stuff at tonight’s SPCA Pet Film Festival.

UPDATE: The SPCA has some pretty compelling pictures they say are from the cases documented on 20/20. If they’re legit, Stossel has some ‘splaining to do. Warning: Some of this is pretty disturbing.

And a letter from the President.

And, their general rebuttal.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.