Puppy Mills and Real Change: You Give Us Your Two Cents

Don't worry, we'll get to the hate mail shortly

DEAR EDITOR: Hallelujah! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You've done a very good job of presenting both sides of rescue ["The Incorrigibles," April 11]. Some choose to "save them all," and some choose to "do what they can with what they have."

My Simon was a "death row dog" in Spokane County. He was deemed "unadoptable" and slated for euthanasia two years ago. He had curled up in the back of his 3-by-5 kennel and given up on life. By the time an [Australian shepherd rescue] volunteer got to him, he was covered in his own mess, emaciated, hungry, and almost nonresponsive. After two hours of talking to him and coaxing him with meaty treats, he slowly stepped out and never looked back. There is hope. Recently, my previously petrified dog spent two days at the Aussie Rescue booth at [an American Kennel Club dog show] and showed off his tricks at their "Meet the Breed" event. He walked up to every person, and if they ignored him, they got a wet nose to the hand. Every time someone said, "We'd love a dog like Simon, but I bet you got him from a breeder," I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to talk about rescue, the matching process, temperament testing, and how the dog you start with is rarely the dog you end with.

Thank you for the article. We're painfully short on foster homes and would love some help. After all, we can only do the best with what we have.Amy Bradley

Fall City

Beware the "nightdrops"

DEAR EDITOR: I was most impressed with your article about the dog rescue groups. I am a volunteer down here in Olympia at Thurston County Animal Services working in dog adoptions. We have absolutely wonderful dogs that go wanting. Some we receive via our "nightdrop," which allows those who no longer want their pet to avoid a face-to-face, but at least the animal is not just turned loose or left to starve, unwanted, in someone's backyard. Many are "field strays" or "owner surrenders." If I could, I would take them all home.

All unwanted dogs deserve another chance for happiness. Not all get it. Nor do some pet owners "get it" that they are responsible for a life. I have never in my 62 years met an ugly dog. Because of circumstance, I see the results of ugly people.Pat Arnone

Tumwater

Hi from puppy mill–ville

DEAR EDITOR: I just want to say THANKS for your article. It was well-written and comes across as sincere and compassionate. Too often stories done about animal people have an undercurrent of cynicism, as if the writer was smirking the whole way through. I live in Missouri, the puppy mill capital of the world, so I completely understand the concerns of the people you interviewed. I hope this article helps people understand how important it is to adopt a pet instead of buying one or breeding one.Mary Chipman

Saint Ann, MO

I don't make the decision

DEAR EDITOR: I was interviewed for Brian Miller's article on rescuing and fostering dogs. I have Jordan, the pit bull, and seem to hold the record for fostering a single dog. I would like to correct the impression given in the article that I am in charge of finding a home for Jordan. The Pit Bull Project (www.pitbullproject.org) handles the application and screening process for the dogs on its roster. The director, Anne Holt, makes all decisions regarding adoption. I'm glad she does, because it's easy to get attached to foster dogs, no matter how long you have them. So why has Jordan been with the project so long? Obviously, there are far fewer people eager to adopt pit bulls, and far fewer who are good matches for the breed.Maureen O'Neill

Seattle

Story did nothing to help

DEAR HUAN HSU AND BRIAN MILLER: It was very disappointing to read your article because the misinformation that was printed in the article will do nothing to help save the lives of orphaned animals in our community. I would like to address some of the inaccurate information in your article as it relates to this organization:

1. Morgan, the staff member quoted, was not aware that she had ever been questioned by a reporter, and the quotes and information attributed to her were not things she said.

2. The dog, Zelda, was never in any danger of being euthanized at the Seattle Humane Society. We often transfer dogs to breed rescue groups or to foster homes on their way to homes of their own.

3. The article did not include any information from the Seattle Humane Society about Jake, but rather assumed that the facts were accurate as presented by the person from Ellensburg you identified as "Hardin."

I know that your hearts were in the right place when you wrote your article and that you wanted to help animals. It is not always easy to extract the facts from emotions when talking with people who care so deeply about any topic.Brenda F. Barnette

Chief Executive Officer,

Seattle Humane Society

(The editor responds: We stand by the quotes from shelter staffer Morgan Faber, who was informed she was speaking to a reporter and who—along with Ellensburg shelter volunteer Betsy Hardin—gave us the information about Jake. Ms. Barnette is right that we should have checked with the Humane Society about Zelda's potential for being euthanized.)

Ah, finally

DEAR EDITOR: Huan Hsu's piece on Real Change ["Street Smell of Success," April 11] is perhaps the definition of cheesy journalism. He attacks a hardworking nonprofit, and with what as evidence? Interviews with a few vendors and the organization's executive director and a quote from Real Change's mission statement. I have volunteered as a writer for Real Change, and their editor would not let me publish anything so bold with such limited research. All you've done is highlight the high quality of this sweet little Dickensian paper (and simultaneously showcase your own tackiness).

Most people find it too awkward to even talk seriously about homelessness, let alone craft real solutions. Why not critique King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness, instead? What about examining whether tent cities are a lesser-evil, a good Band-Aid solution, or simply a delay of the inevitable work of finding a more permanent solution? Those are great issues for a weekly to delve into.Jessica Knapp

Seattle

Welfare-queen hysteria

DEAR EDITOR: Of what serious, pressing concern is it that a few vendors spout problematic opinions likening Real Change sales to panhandling, or that they are willing to engage in turf wars? Would Real Change have to police the vendors in order to gain mainstream legitimacy? Moreover, can we apply the same standard to the cutthroat nature of, say, most corporate law firms, where the most aggressive attorneys are often those best compensated? We do, after all, have to survive in a capitalist society, no matter what our occupation.

To even suggest that low-income people who are finally able to afford an apartment should have to give up selling the paper or be subject to other restrictions harkens back to the "welfare queen" hysteria of the 1980s. (The only requirement you should pay attention to is that the person selling the paper possesses a vendor's badge.) The severity of our present-day class schism is an outrage, no matter which way a portion of the "haves" might try to spin or slice it. If you don't give a damn about the struggles occurring on the low end of the survival continuum, I would suggest letting the people who do care go on with their work to do so without the need to deal with inflammatory, unsubstantiated coverage.Silja J.A. Talvi

Seattle

You owe an apology

DEAR EDITOR: Your article reminds me why I have stopped reading your paper. I picked it up when I saw the cover promo re an article on Real Change. What I found was a cheap shot, poorly researched, uninformed article that inconsistently slams its target. The author revealed no understanding of homelessness and/or of those living persons under 30 percent of the median income save the stereotypes. The author took the tack of institutionalizing fractional vendor frustration as organizational fact, and simultaneously questioned responses from those who have recognized value in Real Change as a street paper and income source. Then the author took license in his article to slam the Real Change E.D. for having a very expected reaction to a preview of this hit piece.

Among several outcomes, you have now inserted hesitation into the Real Change newspaper selling-buying experience by suggesting something untoward by the seller. You owe an apology to every Real Change vendor, its staff, its readers, and your own readers.The Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett

Director, The Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, Seattle

Get a job!

DEAR HUAN HSU: If you were a real reporter, you'd be covering the lack of affordable housing, medical care, and job training that keep the poor in their miserable condition. But that would be work! I guess it's easier to piss on the poor and those who try to make their lives better. Get a real job, would you?David Baum

Bellevue

Not among the key issues

DEAR EDITOR: If you asked a thousand Seattleites to each name the thousand local issues most crying for coverage in the Weekly, I'm not sure exactly what you'd find. There might be significant overlap in the lists. You might get a million different answers. I do know that nowhere on any of the lists would you see anyone worrying that Real Change vendors might not be sufficiently destitute to merit our support.L.A. Heberlein

Seattle

Healthy discord

DEAR EDITOR: First let me disclose that I worked at Real Change coordinating the vendor program for more than a year. Second let's all acknowledge that no organization is picture perfect, neither Real Change, Tim Harris, Seattle Weekly, or myself. Lastly, let's admit that if you look for criticism or dissent among any group, you will find it just as you will among the vendors of Real Change. That in fact is a healthy process, and I can testify that any opinion you could seek about Real Change you will find among its vendors, and all opinions are often vocally expressed both within and outside the organization.

Now let's consider the news-flash aspect of your article. "All vendors are not homeless." This is a fact well known to the weekly and never concealed from the public. I have done interviews and talked to media during my tenure and talked about the demographics of vendors. I know Ed McCain and know that he does not lie about having housing and that he works hard to accomplish what he does. What is interesting is that out of the 250 vendors, your article focuses on who makes the most money rather than what the average vendor makes, what their histories are, how many hours they have to put in to earn anything at all, what an amazing collection of diverse and interesting people they are. The fact that Real Change consistently presents weekly articles about poverty, homelessness, issues of real social importance, and people, both vendors and activists, who are striving to make a difference is entirely ignored.Peter N. Verburg-Sachs

Seattle

Zut alors!

DEAR EDITOR: In his review of the Gonzales CD [April 4], Brian J. Barr refers to singer Jane Birkin as French. I have no idea what the reviewer is soaking his Gauloises in, but Birkin is English, regardless of where she lives or how many times she snogged Serge.Bruce Partridge

Tacoma

CORRECTION: In last week's Longenbaugh on Theatre column, our photo caption misidentified the production shown. It was The Water Engine.

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