Tag: news media
Back when he was the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, Rick Scott and his staff did their best to let the public know his family adopted a rescue dog.
They even held a contest to allow the public to name the dog, who would become “Reagan.”
So, to some, it seemed strange that the Labrador retriever hadn’t been seen again since Scott took office, in January of 2011.
The Tampa Bay Times, albeit it two years later, finally solved the mystery — but not until after getting quite a runaround.
The Times last week asked both Scott’s current and former communications directors what happened to Reagan, but both refused to answer.
Brian Burgess, communications director during the campaign and for more than a year after Scott took office, told two Times reporters he thought it was strange that they would ask, and declined to answer.
When pressed, he referred all questions about the dog to Melissa Sellers, the governor’s new communications director. Sellers told reporters she was too busy to find an answer to the question.
A spokesman for the governor’s wife also declined to respond to questions about Reagan, saying only that they have one dog — a rescued 7-year-old Lab named Tallee.
What was the governor’s office trying to hide, reporters wondered. Why weren’t the communications directors, uh, communicating? And where was Reagan, the dog the Scott family made such a big deal about when they rescued him?
Commenters at the time praised Scott for getting a rescue dog, instead of a purebred like Bo, the president’s Portuguese water dog.
“The Scott family is proud to announce that the name (chosen by you) for their newly adopted pup is Reagan!” read Scott’s announcement on his Facebook page. “Thanks to everyone who participated in the fun contest.”
But apparently they were less proud to announce what became of Reagan, and how they ended up with a dog named Tallee.
This week, Times reporters were able to ask the governor himself, and learned that Reagan, due to behavioral issues, had been returned to the grooming and boarding business they got him from.
Scott said Reagan never bit anyone, but that he “scared the living daylights” out of people at the mansion. One kitchen employee threatened to quit because of the dog, he said, and photographer Eric Tournay was frightened when the dog “barked like crazy” every time he saw him with a camera.
“He was a rescue dog,” Scott said, “and he couldn’t be around anybody that was carrying anything.”
About a month after the family moved to the governor’s mansion, they gave the dog back to his prior owner, the governor said.
Tallee, he said, has a much different personality.
Based on his description, Tallee sounds more needy, submissive and controllable.
(Photo: Reagan, from Facebook)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 16th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, answers, avoidance, candidate, communications, contest, directors, disappeared, dog, facebook, florida, governor, labrador, naming, news media, politics, reagan, republican, rescue, retriever, rick scott, tallee, tampa bay times, whatever happened
I know from experience that, for a writer of news, the jaws of a cliche can be a difficult thing to escape.
You’re in a hurry, you need an image people can relate to, you need to somehow make the political convention you’re writing about seem exciting, as opposed to just a multi-day display of balloons and bluster, pomp and propaganda.
The cliche, often, is the first term that pops into your head, and once it latches on — legend has it they exert a force beyond any other words, something like a million pounds per square inch — you just can’t shake them off.
So, unless you find something you can describe as a “game-changer” — it having quickly risen up the cliche ladder — you pepper your reports with terms like “attack dog.”
This being convention season, “attack dogs” are everywhere.
Just in the first few days of this week — as the Democratic National Convention got underway in Charlotte – Vice President Joe Biden, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to name a few, have been described in the news media as attack dogs.
Rest assured, the pack will grow as the convention progresses, as will the use of the misnomer.
They are not attack dogs; they are attack humans. And it’s unfair to identify them by lumping them into a whole different species — a species that’s smart enough to eschew the back-biting world of politics.
I have no problem with the political parties designating certain politicians to be the tough guys, to say the things that — be they borderline truths, senseless vitriol or other comments deemed too indecorous — the presidential candidate himself probably shouldn’t utter.
But let’s leave dogs out of it.
Let’s come up with another descriptive term, like Clint Eastwoods.
A true attack dog, of the canine variety, is a dog that humans have done all they could, through breeding, through training, through constantly reinforcing aggression, to instill that behavior. It’s not, at least since dog was domesticated, their natural way.
With politicians, I’m not so sure.
Those creatures you see at the political conventions are growling, smarmy, snarling humans, doing what their masters tell them to do. That’s not a behavior learned from dogs; it’s a behavior learned from politics.
(Photo: West Highland terriers Ricky and Reba, who, like most dogs, aren’t attack dogs at all)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack dogs, biden, castro, cliches, conventions, coverage, democrats, dogs, eastwood, networks, news, news media, news writing, o'malley, pets, political, politics, president, quinn, reid, republicans, terminology, vice president, writing
It was one of those heartwarming dog-reunited-with-family stories: Rogue, a missing Peruvian herding dog whose owner was killed in a car accident, had been found and was to be returned to the owner’s family.
As Sara Quinn — the girlfriend of the accident victim’s cousin — hugged the big black dog, news media recorded the event, having been invited by the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Quinn, 27, said the family had been searching for the dog, and that she planned to bring him back to their ranch in Friant.
But Rogue, the allegedly missing dog was a she, and the dog Quinn was hugging was a he — and he wasn’t the Erickson family’s dog at all.
In fact, the Erickson’s dog was never even missing.
After the Monday reunion, the story — told by the Fresno Bee and others — began unraveling.
Joe Erickson, 61 — father of Richard Erickson, who died after the car crash – saw news reports about the reunion on TV. He called The Bee to say his family’s dog, Rogue, was safe at home and she never had been missing.
He said he had no idea why Quinn manufactured the story.
Tuesday night, Quinn said she wasn’t trying to trick anyone, and that she thought she was doing a good deed by orchestrating a reunion of the dog with its owner’s family, the Bee reported.
The false Rogue, after Quinn adopted him from the shelter, was returned to the SPCA, where he awaits his rightful owner, or adoption.
CCSPCA spokeswoman Beth Caffrey said Tuesday, “we do the best we can to give animals the right opportunity. Unfortunately, we were all misled by this adoption” The CCSPCA is “grateful to have the dog back in our possession,” she said.
The CCSPCA had sent a news release out on Monday, recounting Quinn’s story of having found the family’s missing dog at the shelter. At Monday’s news conference, Caffrey said police had found the dog on the streets on Aug. 13. He was taken in by the shelter and put up for adoption on Aug. 21. Quinn called on Aug. 23 to claim him.
At the press conference, Quinn said she planned to surprise Richard Erickson’s mother by taking the dog to the ranch that evening. She wept and hugged the dog when he was brought out to her.
Tuesday night, Quinn admitted she had “created a big mess.”
(Photo: Fresno Bee)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, adoption, animals, central california spca, deception, dog, dogs, fake, family, fresno bee, heartwarming, news, news media, peruvian hunting dog, pets, reunion, reunited, richard erickson, rogue, sara quinn, shelters, spca, staged, victim
“They have a reputation for vicious mauling,” he says in the first paragraph of his Monday column, written after serving as a judge in a costume contest that was part of last weekend’s Maryland SPCA March for the Animals.
That makes me wonder — not just about the SPCA’s choice in judges, but whether The Sun has changed its slogan. I’ve been away. Is it “Light for Some” now? “Light for Purebreds?” “Light for erroneous stereotypes?”
First off, if I may shed some light for all, it’s the news media (always so easy to blame) that accounts, in large part, for the pit bull’s undeserved bad reputation — along with fear mongering politicians.
Rodricks further trashes that reputation, calling pit bulls, among other things, “four-legged time bombs” — and at a time when much of the country, with exceptions like the Maryland Court of Appeals, is waking up to how wrong that stereotype is.
“Until they are banned outright, pit bulls should not be allowed in public, and their ownership should bear heavy, legal responsibility,” Rodricks wrote, adding that he was “pleased” with the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling declaring pit bulls and pit bull mixes “inherently dangerous.”
Rodricks talked about his admiration for the Maryland SPCA and its efforts to shelter and find home for dogs. And he praised the annual March for the Animals, saying the spectacle of people walking their pets around Druid Lake was “inspiring — city life at its top.”
If only there weren’t pit bulls in the crowd:
“The pit bulls make it weird … Of course, the pit bulls are all tethered or chained to their owners, and, given the nature of the event, you generally assume that the men and women who participate are responsible and educated pet owners; altruistic, too. Many adopted these animals to provide them a home and train them toward good behavior. They believe mistreatment of the pit bull by ignorant humans is the problem, not the breed itself.”
He then conveys the following misinformation:
“The evidence shows clearly that such attacks are disproportionate to the number of pit bulls in society, that they inflict far more damage than other dogs, and that their attacks are associated with a higher risk of death. Pit bull jaws are three times stronger than those of a German (shepherd).”
The appeals court ruling — delving as it does into pit bull attacks over history, or at least attacks police attributed to pit bulls — “makes clear, if it wasn’t already, that pit bulls are four-legged time bombs,” Rodricks says
As you might expect, Rodricks is now getting the vicious mauling he feared might occur if he got too close to a pit bull — from readers.
You can find their comments here.
(Photo: From TheBullyBreedBlog.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, ban, breed-specific, breeds, columnist, costume contest, dan rodricks, dangerous, discrimination, dogs, images, inherent, judge, March for the Animals, maryland, maryland court of appeals, maryland spca, news media, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, reputation, restrict, ruling, stereotypes
We don’t know the story behind this video — it seems nobody does — but that isn’t stopping anyone from voicing opinions about it.
On the surface, it appears to show a dog saving a puppy from a swimming pool.
Did the puppy need saving? Was it thrown into the pool? If the pup was drowning, why didn’t whoever was doing the videotaping try to save it?
Don’t expect to find any answers. Every story we looked up was just assumption and conjecture. More and more that seems to have become the norm, online, for what we once called news: “Post first and ask questions later, if at all.”
“Hero Lifeguard Dog Saves Puppy From Drowning in Pool,” says the Huffington Post.
“Dog saves puppy in pool while owner nonchalantly films,” MSN’s headline said.
The accompanying stories contain no facts, but lots of speculation — even more of which can be found in their comment sections.
Our guess is it’s a backyard trick that dog and owner have done before — why else have the video camera at the ready? And based on the splash in the middle of the pool at the beginning of the video, it does appear the pup was tossed in.
So, unlike some commenters, we aren’t sure that the dog’s owner should be tracked down and arrested, or that the golden retriever should immediately be awarded a trophy — at least not until a fact or two surfaces.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, golden retriever, hero, life saving, lifesaver, news, news media, pets, pool, puppy, puppy rescued from pool, rescue, rescued, swimming pool, video
A basset hound named George, while no one was home, became entangled in a telephone wire, started choking, and somehow managed to dial 999 (the UK’s version of 911).
Hearing his gasps, emergency operators sent police to the home in West Yorkshire, where he was freed.
We’ll point out this report appeared in The Sun, a troubled tabloid that not everyone considers the UK’s most reliable source of news.
And we’ll point out that when we said dialed, we meant dialed. It was one of those old dialy phones that George, in his desperation, somehow mastered.
(You can click on the link above to see some copyrighted photos of George, and the telephone. The basset in the photo above is Mac who lives in Texas and, despite his outfit, does not have super powers.)
The Sun reports that George, about two years old, knocked the phone to the floor and got entangled in the wire, managing to get it wound around his neck.
“And he panicked so much he incredibly managed to ring 999 as he pawed at the phone trying to free himself.
“The emergency operator alerted police who dashed to the empty home of driving instructor Steve Brown and his daughter Lydia, 18 on Saturday night.”
A neighbor, Paul Walker, also went into the home and “ripped the phone apart to wrench the wire from George’s throat.”
“Incredibly you could see where his paw print was on the phone to ring 999 — he literally saved his own life,” Paul is quoted as saying.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 911, 999, alone, animals, basset hound, britain, choked, choking, dialed, dials, dog, dog dials phone, dogs, emergency, entangled, george, help, home, neighbor, news, news media, pets, phone, photos, safety, strangling, telephone, the sun, uk, west yorkshire, wire
Reports out of Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, say residents have been terrorized by a “bizarre pig-dog hybrid” with a doglike head and the body of pig.
That’s not him to the left — just the closest we could come.
For, unfortunately, there’s no photographic evidence — not even of the fuzzy, grainy, Chupacabra, Bigfoot sort — of the dog headed pig monster.
But legitimate news organizations, like MSNBC, and the Huffington Post, are reporting that the dog-pig hybrid (and no, dogs and pigs can’t successfully mate) have been spotted, chasing and attacking dogs, goats and other domestic animals.
One Namibian official, regional councilor Andreas Mundjindi, was quoted in Informante newspaper as saying, “This is an alien animal that the people have not seen before.” It seems to appear out of nowhere, he added. “We don’t have a forest here, only bushes. So, this must be black magic at play.”
Some villagers suspect the animal belongs to a reputed witch doctor in the area.
The piece on MSNBC — from the website Life’s Little Mysteries — says it’s not the first time unusual animals have been spotted in rural parts of Namibia. In July 2009 concerns arose over unknown creatures reportedly sucking the blood out of livestock, including nearly two dozen goats.
Nobody ever saw them though, and those who tried to track their footprints said they mysteriously stopped, as if the animal had vanished, or been beamed up, or spontaneously combusted.
Is it black magic, or just yellow journalism?
Only the dog headed pig monster knows.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: africa, alien, animal, animals, attacking, beast, black magic, body, chasing, chupacabra, creature, dog, dog headed pig monster, dogs, head, hybrid, legends, monster, mystery, myths, namibia, news media, pets, photographs, pig, reports, terror, yellow journalism
There will always be a sourpuss or two who points out “it’s only a dog” and complains it’s a waste of taxpayer money, but I like this trend of rescue workers saving dogs — and capturing their own heroics on video.
It’s happened at least twice on Wednesday, so I can officially call it a trend.
In Fargo, North Dakota, a dog named Jake, clinging for dear life to a chunk of ice, was pulled from the partially frozen Red River by a fire department rescuer wearing a cam.
And in Lincoln County, N.C., the unidentified dog above was carried to safety after being stuck on a dam in the fast-moving South Fork River — all captured by a fire department member filming from the riverbank.
“This is B-Roll video that was shot at the scene of a rescue of a dog off of a low head dam in Lincoln County,” reads the description of the rescue. ”Rescue crews successfully rescued this dog off of the dam and he was taken to a local vet for evaluation and treatment of a head injury and possible hypothermia.”
The video, like the one in Fargo, was posted on YouTube, for the public to see and the media to grab.
What with cutbacks to staff at newspapers and televisions stations, and an increasing reliance on reader/viewer-submitted news, this works out well all the way around. Citizens get served and protected and entertained. Firefighters, police and rescue personnel get some good publicity. The news media gets somebody else to do its work for free.
Come to think of it, it serves us bloggers pretty well, too.
So keep saving those dogs, and putting out those fires, and don’t forget to send us some B-Roll.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, b-roll, cameras, cams, communications, dam, dog, dogs, emergency, fargo, fire departments, government, heroes, heroics, lincoln county, lincolnton, news, news media, north carolina, north dakota, personnel, pets, rescue, rescued, river, saved, saving, south fork river, supplied, trend, video
A story about the dog’s disappearance appeared in Friday’s Burlington County Times, and another story in the paper on Sunday reported that Midnight had been found alive.
Actually, Midnight had been found dead on Thursday evening — before the first story even appeared – apparently struck by a car, according to Delran police. The dog’s body was returned to the pet store Thursday night.
On Thursday afternoon, store manager Josh Salyer said the dog was being walked outside when it slipped out of its collar and crossed a busy six-lane highway. The store offered a $500 reward for Midnight’s return.
On Friday, the Burlington County Times says that when it called to get an update on the dog, it was told by Salyer that Midnight had been safely located and returned.
A story to that effect appeared in the paper Sunday — and, though they knew by then their dog was dead, owner Monifa Wilson and her daughter received text messages all day long congratulating them on the dog being found.
Wilson, of Delanco, called the newspaper Monday to inform it that Midnight was dead, and that the corpse had been in the pet store’s freezer since Thursday.
The Burlington County Times ran an article yesterday about the mix-up.
The Times says when it contacted the store Friday the manager said: “I was just notified that he was found a few blocks away. He’s OK … We’re ecstatic, and thanks to all the people who helped search.”
Barbara Johnson, general manager with the Pets Plus chain, based in Fairless Hills, Pa., denied that Salyer said the dog was alive, and said he was merely thanking the community for helping in the search.
“That’s all it was,” she said. “The only thing Josh was happy about was that the search was over, and he wanted to thank all those who helped. We weren’t trying to spread any mistruths.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alive, bichon, burlington county times, car, dead, delran, found, groomer, grooming, josh salyer, killed, lies, lost, manager, midnight, mistruths, misunderstandings, mix, monifa wilson, new jersey, news media, newspaper, pet store, pets plus, ran away, runaway, truth, yorkie
It’s not often that I share the personal frustrations of being a dog-blogger — especially one who tries to stand out from the crowd by keeping a lid on the pablum and fluff, and presenting from time to time some stories of depth about important dog-related issues.
Yesterday was a case in point.
I posted three items — about the daily average for ohmidog!
One was a mention of an upcoming motorcycle ride, sponsored by a motorcycle club and Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, to raise money for abused and abandoned dogs.
One was a story about a day of global protest against eating dogs in South Korea.
One was an update on a story I wrote a few years back after meeting in Los Angeles a homeless man and his three legged pit bull (her fourth leg was lost as a result of a police shooting). Both have fallen ill and need help.
I was especially proud of the latter two, as they both contained some original reporting, and original photographs, and displayed a little first hand knowledge I had gathered, mostly during the year and a half I was working on my book.
Checking my Google Analytics, as I do from time to time, I saw this morning that the dog-eating post (of global significance) drew 116 views; the post on Michael and Topaz (of national significance) got 46 views; and the post on the fundraising motorcyle ride (of local significance) got 16 views.
What drew most readers to ohmidog! yesterday — 676 of them — was a post, nearly 50 days old, about Jennifer Aniston getting her dog Norman’s name tatooed on her foot.
Thereby showing you the significance of celebrities. It blows my mind.
How people try to remember and memorialize their dogs is a legitimate story — and a large part of the book I wrote — and the fact that more people are going the tattoo route, as the New York Post reported this week, is worthy of note.
But let’s face it, it was Jennifer Aniston that brought me those readers — and while I appreciate her, and those readers who dropped by, it bugs me that her foot tattoo so overshadowed two stories of deeper importance and deeper humanity. But, despite all that’s in the bowl, they chose only that.
My little corner of the universe, or the Internet, serves it seems as a microcosm of what’s happened to the news media, which, to survive, has caved in to the pressure to give readers easily consumable, barely newsworthy bits of what they want, rather than fully fleshed out stories on topics of greater importance to the species, be it human or dog.
Looking at my Analytics — and I think it’s OK to share this proprietary information, given that I am the proprietor — a total of 435 pages and posts were viewed yesterday, 1,941 views in all.
The vast majority, though, were focused on Jennifer Aniston’s foot.
For those consumed with numbers, and getting them to increase, and paying the bills, the thinking would reasonably follow: We need more Jennifer Aniston, more tattoos, more feet, or more of whoever or whatever else is, at this given moment, “trending.”
Here’s one of the things that has happened. News organizations, and bloggers, see what’s “trending” and base their coverage on that, thereby making it “trend” even more, while items of higher significance — worth some digging up — fall unseen by the wayside.
Add to that the fact that those who write strictly for the Internet, often, are no longer writing for humans. Instead of writing for quality, instead of writing, even, for readers, they’re writing for robots — those search engine Peruse-a-trons that scan our words, mathematically determine their import and influence how many readers come our way.
Add to that the fact that average online writer now spends more time touting what he has written via social networks and elsewhere than actually writing what he has written. Time once spent on research and the craft of writing is now mostly absorbed by shouting about and hyping what one has written, even if that “writing” was little more than a cut and paste job.
We’ll even admit to doing some of that — what is now called “aggregating,” what was once called plagiarism. We’ll admit to touting stories we’re proud of on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll even admit to, once in a while, posting a story because we think it will draw a crowd.
Were ohmidog! a true money-making venture — which in some ways would make more sense than being poor and principled — we might follow the route that so many have, bringing you a steady diet of the cute, the happy, the adorable and the celebrity-related.
But, Jennifer Aniston aside, we plan to continue to vary our fare — presenting the cute, from time to time; the uplifting, as often as we can find it; but also the cruel and depraved acts of humans that lead to animal suffering.
If, in the three years we’ve existed (did I mention we’ve just turned 3?) and in the 3,000 posts we’ve posted, ohmidog! has shown anything, it is this: the depths to which humans can sink and the heights to which they can rise when it comes to dogs.
We’re going to keep doing that.
And you can tattoo that on your foot.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggregating, analytics, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, blogging, blogs, cute, dog, dog inc., dog stories, dogs, eating dogs, facebook, fluff, foot, google, internet, jennifer aniston, korea, michael, news, news media, newspapers, norman, ohmidog!, online, page views, pets, readers, robots, search engines, social networks, tattoo, topaz, tout, touting, trending, trends, twitter, visits, websites, writing