SPCA update

UPDATED and corrected 11:02 AM

Just a couple follow-up notes on the SPCA coverage a couple weeks ago:

I never heard back from the SPCA on my outstanding questions. But,
to be fair, not being a full-time reporter, I never pursued them beyond
our last email exchange. And there’s not much they’re likely to tell me that would change my opinion at this point.

Today, Gretel Kovach at the DMN followed up on the issue, answering a couple of the questions I’d asked:

  • An SMU law professor thinks that the law precluding appeals in surrender/execution cases is unconstitutional.
  • The SPCA testifies on the winning side 90% of the time, which
    (depending on your point of view) means that they only pursue good
    cases or that justice is skewed.
    I go back to my old saw here:
    2,308 investigations.
    13 seizures.

I do have one quibble with the DMN piece, though…

A significant passage about Dr. Gaylon TeSlaa (which I originally posted incorrectly– see update below):

      A veterinarian who posed as a cameraman when the ABC newsmagazine
20/20 accompanied the SPCA of Texas on what he called an unjustified
animal raid said it was easy for shelter staff to convince authorities
of cruelty even when it’s not warranted.

      "Get a picture of an animal behind a chain-link fence with a pathetic expression and a few close-ups on some un-scooped poop … and you can  pull at anyone’s heartstrings!" Dr. Gaylon TeSlaa wrote in an e-mail circulating among animal owners’ groups.

  Dr. TeSlaa said he has donated significant time and money to
animal welfare programs in California, where he practices. But he is
troubled by the aggressiveness of some private rescue organizations
that start to resemble what he called animal "collectors."


The quotes and information above are directly from an original post on this blog.
That post was widely emailed by rescue groups. Although the third graf
above makes it sound like Gretel spoke to TeSlaa, she tells me that she
did not. She also tells me that she was unaware of our coverage (even
though we’re the top Google result for "Gaylon TeSlaa" and in the top
three for most other searches related to this issue).

So how, I wonder, was the source of the email verified?

UPDATE: Gretel answers:

is the way we handle attribution for material from other sources, we don’t
repeat it with every sentence. We are not blessed with unlimited space like
Internet journalists.
And if
you must know… I left several messages for TeSlaa, including one on his cell
that mentioned the email and said I wanted him to elaborate on it. I actually
thought it was an email exchange between him and one of the animal owner
advocates, but since I got the info second-hand from an animal owners group I
was planning to ask him who had originally emailed him.

When I
did a quick google of your name last week it wasn’t clear which group you were
with, because something came up that I thought was referring to feedback from
the 20/20 news show , whose reporting we had already attributed.

UPDATE: When I originally quoted from the DMN piece, the paragraph order was inadvertently garbled through my carelessness in correcting a formatting glitch in Typepad. It was unintentional, and unfortunately made the attribution in Gretel’s piece seem far different than it was. But that’s no excuse, and I offer her and anyone who read the old version my apologies.

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.