Ten days ago, Topher Mackenzie reported that Pet Pardons Contributing Editor Cayr Ariel Wulff and her Managing Editor, Jeromie Williams, had violated Google News policy by posting an obviously false story about an Ohio dog shelter burning dogs alive. Topher and Wray Smith have been all over this story since then.
To recap, Topher has highlighted all of the death threats against shelter and county officials Mike Miller, Mike Kiger and Judy Shupe. Wray has noted that Cayr’s story makes no logical sense, and that no local media (such as the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette) have seen any evidence to support the claim that dogs were burned alive at the Fairfield shelter.
I would add that the Ohio SPCA wrote a letter to the shelter on August 3, 2012 threatening legal action, which actually led to the decision to switch from euthanasia by gassing to a policy of lethal injection. You may note that their lawyer does not mention dogs being burned alive at Fairfield, and indeed, the SPCA subsequently confirmed that they have no evidence this happened either.
As we have said all along, there is evidence some dogs were gassed twice. There is no evidence that they were burned alive.
So where did this story come from?
We asked Pet Pardons why they couldn’t just report on the facts and not make up emotionally devastating stories to get attention for themselves and boost donations. As usual my comments were deleted (screenshot here), but not before Missy Tee (a.k.a. Missy Uod), of Ohio Urgent Dogs, revealed that she, like Wulff, had two affidavits (from former deputy warden Bobbi Glass and a WEP worker). But this is beside the point, since according to the original Pet Pardons story, neither affidavit claims dogs were burned alive. The source of that claim is two unnamed “witnesses.”
Missy also passed along Topher’s post to Cassandre Miller, the
creator administrator and co-creator of a bizarre and offensive Facebook group which compares the Fairfield shelter to a Nazi concentration camp (and pit bulls to Jewish Holocaust victims). Cassandre’s group, in turn, begged its 386 fans to “attest to the fact that what we reported in the three articles about Fairfield [i.e., dogs were being burned alive] was true and factual … in their entirety” (in other words, to lie) to Google News, because “we need those articles to stay up and as proof of the autrocities [sic.] that have happened at Fairfield”:
Well, this little effort at deception and manipulation was unsuccessful. I am happy to report that their original article has been de-listed from Google News on the grounds that it was “not news,” and the rest of their articles will surely be de-listed soon.
And I’ll tell you why.
You might remember that both Cayr Ariel Wulff and Cassandre Miller claimed that Channel 10 reported that dogs were burned alive. Well, as you can plainly see here, Channel 10 reported nothing of the sort. On August 14, they interviewed one of the “witnesses,” Deborah Dorst, who complained that the shelter was “throwing [dogs] in the incinerator when they’re not dead… It’s like a third world country.” No doubt she had read this in Cayr’s August 10 article, and is less a “witness” than a victim who has been deceived by Cayr’s outrageous article. The fact that Cayr or Cassandre would point to this interview as evidence dogs were burned alive really tells you all you need to know about them.
But also note that standing right beside Dorst is Kim Gaffney, who quite articulately and reasonably commented that “we need people in here who can cut nails… these dogs are coming in here with nails as long as their fingers.”
So, Kim decided to reach out to Ms. Gaffney, and find out for herself whether there really was evidence of Third World, Nazi-style burning of live dogs in Fairfield, or (more likely) just a need to modernize their euthanasia procedures and add staff to deal with more mundane (but still important) issues like trimming long nails. Here is the relevant part of our conversation:
Kim Johnson: we need confirmation that there were dogs being burnt alive. I have a witness contradicting the story and saying that they would suffer the horrific gas procedure a second time, but not burnt alive. I cannot take the chance of running with it if it is not factual. I will contact the commissioners. Thanks so much
Kim Gaffney: the sad part is they can not prove they did not.. The only things they did was to look to see if the dogs were breathing…no other steps were taken to make sure the dogs were actually dead..this was plainly stated at the commissioners meeting with over a 100 people there. There are several steps that must be taken under the shelter of american veterinarians and Morris vet in Lancaster. ohio stated they take 4 steps to make sure cause they can go into a coma for up to 2 hrs after gassing..with out taking these steps they can not prove that the heart is NOT in cardiac stand still…
Kim Johnson: That makes sense. We were just concerned about the conflicting reports about witnesses viewing dogs being thrown into incinerators alive. I believe there was a picture of a puppy sitting in the oven in the story – very sensationalistic and not pleasant. I like to stick to the facts – as you mentioned above – rather than sensationalize … readers take that on board more seriously and the story lasts for a lot longer in peoples minds.
Kim Gaffney: I don’t know that anyone actually seen dogs being burned alive..i think it was those statements that lead people to believe that it could be a true fact…and they ran with it..because like I said they can not prove they did not….and Kiger(commissioner) said to everyone when asked the question..”how did you know the dogs were dead? when you watched the gassing…He answer “we just looked to see if they were breathing”…then it was asked..did you take any other steps?..he said NO..thats when someone said well according to the shelter laws of America…etc..
In other words, one of the Fairfield “witnesses” admits that no one actually saw dogs being burned alive. But since the shelter did not use stethoscopes to check for cardiac standstill, they reasoned, it was at least conceivable that the dogs were still alive — “it could be a true fact” — even though staff always verified that the dogs had stopped breathing.
You don’t need me to explain that this is, shall we say, significantly at variance with the August 10th Pet Pardons story written by Wulff and “edited” by Jeromie Williams, which included a disgusting picture of a fire in an oven and the words “BURNING DOGS ALIVE.”
As it turns out, not really.
We’re sympathetic to the goal of ending gassing (and, indeed, all euthanasia) in shelters as much as possible, but we cannot see how making up fake witnesses and phony stories can help advance those goals.
In fact, these sensational lies will almost certainly be counterproductive, as they divert much needed attention and resources away from the more mundane but very real animal rights abuses in other shelters, away from the (very real and legitimate) horrors of gassing animals (even if the proper procedures are followed), and even away from their own ostensible mission of ending all euthanasia in shelters by January 1, 2015.
In other words, with its demonstrably false, tabloid-style “reporting” of these ridiculous, sensational stories, Pet Pardons is harming the very animals it claims to be helping.
It’s actually quite easy to guess what happened here. Sometime after the County Commissioners’ meeting on August 7, 2012, between 11:44 am and 3:03 pm, local activists, including Missy Tee/Uod, and perhaps Cassandre Miller, decided that they couldn’t wait two more weeks for the County Commissioners to study the issue. They wanted immediate action, so, as Kim Gaffney said, they “ran with” a false story about dogs being burned alive, because it could not be disproven, and they figured it would force the Commissioners to act immediately to switch to a policy of euthanasia by lethal injection.
They “ran,” it seems, straight to Cayr Ariel Wulff and Jeromie Williams, who were apparently only too happy to print their lies.
What is scariest about this, though, is that they all appear to justify their lies on the basis that the end (of euthanasia by gassing in Fairfield County) justifies the means (of knowingly publishing false stories and inciting harassment and death threats against government officials).
Cayr, for example, is pleased that her article helped get “gassing banned at this shelter within three days”:
She also succeeded in inciting countless death threats against government officials, and shelter employees, very possibly putting their lives in real danger.
Of course, this is nothing new at Pet Pardons. Cayr’s own editor Jeromie Williams, for example, has a long history of criminal harassment and death threats, for which he is currently under investigation by Canadian and American police.
UPDATE: Cassandre Miller and Kim Gaffney have responded to us by demanding we delete this page, and insisting they have now found witnesses who presented evidence to the Commissioners that the shelter was burning dogs alive.
As far as we can tell, they are simply lying. As Jeff Baron of the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette wrote on August 18,
[County Commissioner] Kiger said there is no evidence to prove that [burning dogs alive] ever happened, and dog warden Mike Miller denied the accusations. The Eagle-Gazette found no record of that allegation being made to the commissioners, despite claims to the contrary.
[County Commissioner] Shupe said she is angry people won’t listen to the facts and believe only one mindset. But she said after being in politics for 20 years, some things come with the job.
“You don’t ever know what someone may do,” Shupe said. “You don’t take it personally, but you do wonder what someone may be capable of.”
As we responded to Kim, there were no witnesses there – full stop – who saw dogs being burnt alive. Jeromie Williams and now Ariel Wulff have been fabricating witnesses, events and stories for over a year, with the full knowledge of Pet Pardons. Also stealing thousands of dollars from chip in funds.
Needless to say, this post will stay up. We will continue to expose Pet Pardons and anyone involved with them who is not being 100% honest.