Before leaving this topic and getting back to building the New New New Media, I thought I’d compile a list of links and sources into one post for ease of use. (I will update the "factcheck" post as new information comes to light, and will note it here.)
Also, for those who don’t have the time and/or energy to delve through all of this, here’s the synopsis: Last Friday, 20/20 ran a piece that was very critical of several local SPCA’s, most prominently featuring the SPCA of Texas.
I am not involved with the Texas SPCA in any way whatsoever: I’ve never given them a nickel; I don’t know their leaders; and I’ve never adopted an animal from them. However, I was amazed that no local media organization was really diving into this issue, so I decided to investigate.
I found that the 20/20 piece was filled with inaccuracies, half-truths and misleading statements that unfairly portrayed the Texas SPCA as a group profiteering on seizing animals from owners. ABC is not responding to me, or to other groups trying to get their response on this. I found no evidence to support various conspiracy theories on the Internet as to the motivations of the producer or the undercover vet on the piece, so I am left to surmise that this was just a case of shoddy journalism motivated either by laziness, lack of resources or hunger for ratings.
The one thing that the 20/20 piece did bring to light that concerns me is that Texas law does not allow appeals in animal seizure cases where the animal is turned over to a rescue group or killed. I think that’s an arbitrary distinction and violation of due process and I intend to write to my legislators to encourage a revision allowing appeals to the County Court in all cases.
Trouble with the law doesn’t mean trouble with the SPCA. But I take the line of reasoning in an LBJ quote I picked up on a message board on the topic: "You do not examine legislation in light of the
benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs
it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."
Now for the links:
- The web version of the 20/20 piece. It differs slightly from the aired video, which is not available online.
- Response on the 20/20 Message Board and the largely duplicative John Stossel Message Board. (Abandon reason, all ye who enter here!)
- SPCA of Texas Site (includes their original response; pictures from the cases; a letter from the president; and their rebuttal.
- My first post, in which I hope that a local media outlet will investigate.
- A letter from Dr. Gaylon TeSlaa, the undercover vet in the piece, plus my attempts to understand the state of the law.
- Letter of response from SPCA attorney Claire Schwarz.
- I grow frustrated.
- Main post assessing the validity of the claims made by 20/20. (Updated 6/22/05)
- Coverage at Best Friends News.
- Legal information and resources: