There’s a story like this in every state, virtually every week and they’re all are slanted pretty much the same.
Courtesy of the Kitsap Sun newspaper, here’s the headline from the most recent “Animal Tragedy” story, which occurred in Olalla, Wash., a rural area about 30 miles southwest of Seattle:
“More than 180 animals seized from Kitsap County property”
The story continued: “Investigators hope to wrap up their investigation by next week and submit their findings to the prosecutor’s office, according to Jake Shapley, the [Kitsap County] Humane Society’s animal rescue chief. The seizure, which stemmed from an investigation that started in April, is the society’s largest rescue effort to date, Shapleysaid.
“Authorities seized rabbits, birds, miniature horses, cows, goats and llamas from the property, with the most exotic animal being a golden pheasant.Veterinarians said the animals were not living in sanitary conditions, with multiple animals in one cage.The animals were treated and remain at the Humane Society’s facility in nearby Silverdale, Wash., until the investigation is completed.”
Now here’s the problem—actually, multiple problems—with this story.
First of all, it’s not at all clear from either the reporting or accompanying photos (made by local ABC affiliate KOMO 4 TV) whether the “investigators” were county animal control officers or Humane Society personnel. There is one photo that shows somebody wearing what looks like an official uniform, but mostly the images show what appears to be Humane Society personnel and/or volunteers.
In fact, the KHS website notes that the society operates its own animal control service: “Borrowing a very successful code enforcement and criminal investigatory model from local fire departments, the Animal Rescue Department at Kitsap Humane Society provides communities with specialized ‘Animal Control’ code enforcement and animal cruelty investigations.”
That’s fine, but their “Animal Rescue Department” isn’t an official public agency, and the news coverage doesn’t make that distinction—which I have to believe is just fine with society officials.
Second, even a cursory review of the photos—several taken by circling news helicopters, no less—shows significant clutter on this farm(if that’s what it is), but interestingly, no apparent mistreatment of any of the critters that were seized. Infact, every animal appearing in the photos seems healthy, well-fed and well-groomed.