No Kill Advocates: The FAKE NEWS is Coming From Inside the Movement
As we head into 2020 we are inspired by the number of posts we are seeing on social media calling out some fake news in the animal sheltering world. Specifically, we are talking about recent false headlines that both Delaware and Michigan are officially No Kill states. Though shelters in these states are still killing healthy and treatable animals, headlines proclaiming them to be No Kill states were carried by well-respected news organizations around the country, like CNN and Newsweek.
We were among the first to report that these headlines were fake news. We are, therefore, thrilled to see a growing number of savvy animal advocates calling out these headlines for what they are. More often than not, however, people are laying blame for the fake news in the wrong places: the news organizations doing the reporting.
When shelters make improvements, they should be celebrated and they should let people and news outlets know about them. We believe, however, that they should be truthful. We join in celebrating the fact that most shelters in these states are achieving save rates of more than 90%, but that does not mean they are all saving every healthy and treatable homeless pet or that the state has achieved the No Kill goal. Transparently reporting this information helps gain public trust. That public trust engages the public to help shelters continue to push to achieve the No Kill goal. Falsely claiming success before it is achieved is counter to that goal.
We want to make it clear we are not suggesting that news organizations are not responsible for fact-checking their stories. However, in these cases, and in others in the animal sheltering world, the false information is being spread by organizations like Best Friends Animal Society and Maddie's Fund - organizations news organizations should be able to rely on as rock-solid sources of information relating to animal sheltering news. Sadly, these organizations are far from that.
Rather than simply chastising the media for spreading fake news, we need to take the message a small step further and point out the fact that the animal sheltering sources the media relies on will tell them states are No Kill when they are not, or that New York Animal Care and Control is No Kill (when it is most definitely not) because they have a vested interest in perpetuating that false narrative.
These organizations have built their reputations and raised millions of dollars on achieving a No Kill nation. It is a lofty and important goal. But it is one at which they are failing, because they are taking the wrong approach. Because of this failure, they are compelled to point to successes that are not real or take credit for the work of others, because they have no real successes of their own to point to.
The reality is that No Kill is on the move all across the United States, spurred on by animal lovers in every community in the USA. Grassroots advocates at the local level demanding reforms at their local animal shelters (like this) are bringing about revolutionary transformation of the nation's entire sheltering system, in spite of organizations like Maddie's Fund and Best Friends, who are all too willing to swoop in and take credit for their work after the fact, or even stoop so low as to spread fake news to make it look like they have succeeded where they have not. Continuing to call out the fake news will keep the movement going faster.