Yet even more SPCA. Again.

As promised, here’s the additional SPCA info I was sent during the transition period:

First, an anonymous reader sent me the following email:

Hi Mike!
After reading your article and the SPCA’S response to some of the
allegations I decided to go over to Pam Chennaults home and see for myself.   
Since I live in Sulphur Springs, Texas and I am a dog breeder myself.   
We called Pam, and asked about the story and then asked if we could come
see for ourselves.   I had already told her that it was reported that she had
deplorable conditions "again".    She invited my husband and I over with about
30-45 minutes notice.   We went, and
I asked Pam if I could take pictures and she said  "please do".  I told her
what I planned on doing with the photos, and she said that she wanted me to.
SO, you will find pictures of Pam Chennaults place that I took last week
attached.  Today is June 22,2005 just for a reference. 
Please respond!

It was followed almost immediately by the following email:

I hope you look at these, and see that she doesn’t have 75-100 dogs.  She
has approx 45 dogs, and they are in good shape. 
Pam’s neighbor is giving her fits, and that is who is causing all the
problems.  He hates her, and he is trying to sabotage her.  If you will look
closely at the photos you will see his red truck parked next to the fence.   He
will sit in that truck and honk the horn for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, and
keep the dogs tore up.  He & his wife take video footage everyday of  her
and her dogs.   
Pam’s friend Debbie spoke with Butch Adam’s, the sherriff of Hopkins
County, and he said there is no ongoing investigations into Pam Chennault’s
activities.  Pam actually invited the sherriff out to her place last week after
we were there, and although Mr. Adam’s couldn’t go, he did send another deputy
out to see.    The deputy said the place was clean, and the dogs looked good.
Also,  in your reporting you have mentioned calling to speak with people
involved in the reporting of this case…. have you called Pam??   Her number is[redacted].  I am sure she would welcome you to come see for yourself.    Her
email is [redacted]

I’ve included the relevant photos in the continuation. Emphasis on relevant, as some of the pictures are of desks, random furniture, etc.

These anonymous emails bring up two points, one actually relevant to the business mission of this blog:

  1. To me, these pictures only prove my earlier point that this debate is largely a matter of individual standards. To me, who just got done sharing a late dinner with my dogs after swimming with them in our pool, the pictures that the reader sent are appalling. Dogs in small cages, whether clean or not, don’t impress me.
    BUT, can I say that these dogs, as pictured, need to be rescued and taken to different cages at an SPCA facility? No. Whether I personally approve or not, there is not legal "abuse" in these pictures.

    (To be fair, nothing about these photos indicates how many dogs there are, or were at the time of the raid.)

  2. I did not contact Pam. Because I am so busy with issues related to our business, I don’t intend to do any more direct research on this matter. And yet this is the point relevant to our business as relates to citizen journalism:
    If a journalist I was paying hadn’t tried to talk to Pam Chennault, I’d be hopping mad. It’s reporting 101. But, I, acting as a citizen journalist in this case, didn’t find the time to make that extra call or visit. Can I be blamed for that? If I’m holding myself out as a professional reporter, absolutely. As an unpaid, interested party, I don’t know that it can be expected.
    There is, of course, a certain "If you can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen" argument that says that I shouldn’t have jumped into this fray if I wasn’t prepared to go all the way. And, if you’re a journalistic ethics purist, that’s probably true.
    But if that’s the standard, you can’t expect many people to participate as citizen journalists. You can expect honesty; reasonable diligence; etc., but you can’t expect the same time and resources.
    This is a primary reason that we don’t believe in a "pure" citizens journalism model, at least as a substitute for the mainstream media.
    BUT, put the energy and agitation of citizen journalists in the same room as the paycheck and obligations of professionals–
    That could be revolutionary.

The same anonymous reader followed with another email:

Hi Mike!
I promise that I am not going to be a crazed person that emails you with
every little piece of information, but I think this is noteworthy for you.
Mr. Sam Stephens  Posted the following to your site on June 16, 2005, and
on Monday, June 20th  the SPCA was at his door following up on an anonymous
complaint.   I think it is more than coincidence, do you??           For this
very reason, I do wish to remain anonymous and hope that you will grant this
request.     I realize that you are listing to the SPCA side, and that is fine
by me. 
But, you need to ask yourself just one question…. Why are
there more animal shelters in this country than those for the homeless, or
battered women & children???
ANSWER:  Animal Shelters bring in more money $$$$$$$$$$$$$

I emailed Sam, and he confirmed that he was investigated and says that he passed with flying colors. He pointed out that it seems a strange coincidence, and complained that when the SPCA comes out based on a complaint, the complainant is anonymous.

The anonymity of complainants is a tough issue. In the end, I don’t think it it justified, as it leaves open the possibility of abuse, or the appearance thereof.

Finally, to the anonymous reader’s money argument, I still can’t find any credible evidence to suggest that the SPCA makes big money off of seizures. $150/dog minus expenses? Not a business I’d jump into, and I’m a pursuer of Quixotic media launches.









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.