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Tag: franklin

Feel-good story about homeless man’s reunion with dog took some strange turns

patrick

Getting your Huntsvilles confused is one thing, but one website really screwed the pooch when they published a story about a good Samaritan who helped reunite a homeless man and his dog.

In September, in Huntsville, TEXAS, Wilma Price was driving through a Walmart parking lot when she saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, “Dog in pound. Need help.”

Price, who runs a rescue called Mr. K’s Pet Shelter, stopped to find out his story. She learned the homeless man, named Patrick, had been arrested and jailed for trespassing, and that, because of that, his dog ended up in the animal shelter.

She took Patrick to the shelter, and paid the $120 necessary for him to get his dog — named Franklin — back.

The story was picked up by the website Life with Dogs, CBS News, People.com and many more.

Dozens of other websites reprinted or rewrote it — most of them doing a decent job of passing along the facts.

Then there was the Alabama Observer.

patrick2It reported that the story took place in Huntsville, Alabama, that the dog’s name was Wilbur, that the homeless man’s name was Mark Spencer, and that the good Samaritan’s name was Elizabeth Masterson.

The story had no links to actual news sources, and little attribution.

It wasn’t the only website to get the facts askew, but it was the only one that appeared to be making up entirely new names for everyone involved. At least three other websites published versions of the story with those erroneous names.

One wonders what might be the motivation for substituting illegitimate names into a legitimate story.

Might the exact same story have happened with different people at a Walmart in Huntsville, Alabama? Clearly not. Might the website be trying to cover its rear, legally? Maybe. Might there be something more nefarious going on, such as diverting donations intended for Patrick (whose last name isn’t Spencer) to some guy named Mark Spencer? We hope not. Might a computer program be doing the website’s writing? Highly possible.

Apparently, a bogus Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for Patrick was launched by someone neither Wilma nor Patrick knew, and, using photos from Wilma’s Facebook page, it raised $3,000 before the page was removed from Go Fund Me.

That’s $3,000 Patrick and Franklin didn’t get. Wilma Price, meanwhile, started a campaign for him too, and it has raised more than $15,000 for Patrick on GoFundMe.

Price said Patrick has been helping her organization with rescue efforts since the two met, and her Facebook page documents their adventures together.

Snopes.com looked into the story and couldn’t figure out how or why the Alabama Observer version had new names inserted into it.

There is no contact information on the Alabama Observer’s web site, and no description of who operates it. Snopes reported it appears to accept stories submitted by users, as opposed to having its own reporters or freelancers.

We think there’s a good possibility it’s one of those websites that runs news stories through computer programs that rewrite them (with mixed results, or should I say “stirred outcomes?”).

How else could you explain the opening of this recent Alabama Observer story about clown sightings in Ohio?

“The developing rash of reported dangers including clown-faced villains has law authorization offices crosswise over Ohio and somewhere else attempting to recognize true blue dangers while cautioning deceptions are no giggling matter.”

(Photos courtesy of Wilma Price)

Homeless man wants his dog back

William C. Leonard Jr., who lives underneath a bridge in Jersey City, wants Franklin back.

Jersey City animal control picked the dog up last month after finding it tied to a post. The beagle-basset mix was taken to the Liberty Humane Society, and later adopted by new owners.

Leonard, 49, a former county and city worker, said Franklin was given to him by a homeless friend, along with a bag of dog food and the dog’s veterinary records. “I fell in love with him,” Leonard said, describing Franklin as his “friend” and “baby.”

The dog was taken away on Aug. 6 after neighbors noticed he had been tied to a pole next door to the EZ-Market Liquor Store, said Joseph Frank, the city’s animal control officer.

But Leonard turned up at the animal shelter the following day, demanding the dog be returned. Leonard said he provided the dog’s veterinary records as proof of ownership, but was not given the dog because he is homeless, NJcom reports.

“I’ve got all my faculties about me. I’m not an idiot. I’m just homeless,” said Leonard. “I want my dog back.” 

The dog was adopted by new owners on Aug. 18.

Freeholder Bill O’Dea tried to help Leonard. “He shouldn’t be punished because he happens to be homeless,” O’Dea said. “Obviously he was able to care for the dog for a substantial amount of time before (Animal Control) got involved.”

Liberty Humane Society Director Nikki Dawson — appointed after the incident — said the shelter did not release the dog to Leonard because he is homeless, but that the shelter has since changed that policy.

“I would have returned the dog and from now on, if someone has proof of ownership, the animal will be returned to them,” Dawson said.  She said it’s possible that Leonard and Franklin could be reunited — if the new owner gives up the pet.