~~~The Throw Before The Toss~~~
SOCIAL MEDIA AND ANIMAL SHELTER
By Ty Dirk
In an age where social media has become increasingly prevalent in society and with a touch of a button one can reach out to countless numbers of people to buy, sell, or express views…how can this awesome tool be anything but good for humanity? With that said, to have the power to affect public opinion without having any real knowledge on a particular subject…well, that is flat out scary. With these two obvious thoughts in mind let us delve into the Pros and Cons of how social media works with one (not so simple) aspect of our society…the Humane Society and animal shelters in general.
– Expanded outreach and awareness that would (normally) be limited to the local area. To me, this is the strongest and most obvious of the social media strengths. Talking to directors at various locations it is absolutely amazing at the number of people, groups, or organizations that can be reached as compared to even just 15 years ago.
– Interaction among larger diverse groups of people. In addition to the sheer numbers listed above, targeted and directional contact with likeminded institutions or groups can be done. These individuals or groups can connect and discuss immediate, long-term, or simply day-to-day issues.
– Shelter issues can now have instant visibility with possible quicker solutions at the click of a button. For example, when dealing with hoarder cases or an outbreak of some type of kennel disease this can be life and death in many cases.
– Social media has become the essential and preferred avenue for communication at all levels. Although, with the obvious benefits that come from this…to include those listed above, there are negative issues that tend to rear its ugly head from time to time.
– No accountability for what is written. Cowards of the internet are those that use this outreach to slander, defame, or even do harm to shelter employees and thru them, the animals themselves. There is a quote that I love from Mark McCormick: “Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You both get muddy and the pig likes it.” Many shelters use this approach when dealing with the naysayers on social media. Social media ‘slanderers’ can hide behind the safety of their computer and weave any lie they want without fact but only the basis to hurt others. Many likeminded people will jump on the bandwagon and work themselves into an internet frenzy. Nothing can be gained in trying to refute these falsehoods on line except for the one spreading the venom to ease their own guilty conscience by venting their hurt feelings or their own wrong doings.
– Opinion becomes fact to the uniformed. To those that are easily persuaded these malicious comments become the gospel. Once again, in the long run…only the animals are hurt because many of these people were possible donors to the animals. If they stop giving because of what they read and perceive to be true, in the short term…yes, it hurts the employees but ultimately, in the end, it hurts the animals when the funding stream dries up.
– Most readers of the attack comments don’t take the time to gather facts. If they did, then I probably wouldn’t have to even write this article.
– Like a fire or car accident, negative sound offs on-line tend to draw a crowd. After a while, the crowd all become experts as to what actually happened…offering their ‘opinions’ as fact when, in reality, they have no idea as to what happened. Experts by association. Thus, the story spins out of control with an on-line riotous mob feeding off of a ‘story’ to quench their own need to have a say and to view themselves as important.
After writing this I realized that social media may not be as bad for shelters or society as a whole…as I once thought. It is, in fact, people with hidden agendas, that are the problem.
“A lie travels around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.”
Here is some information about the Humane Society and Animal Services. Please read to be better informed as well as learn how you can help Click Here
This page will provide links to lots of good information about how to care for your pets.
Checklist to prepare for caring for your pets when there is an emergency, such as a tornado. Disaster Preparedness Checklist
New Euthanasia Policy Click here