Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's a Dog's Life

There are certain rags that are published and available here in NY (I won't dignify the trash they print by calling them newspapers) that are not on my reading radar. In the supermarket yesterday, however, I overheard a few women on line excitedly discussing an article printed in one of these publications. I refused to believe that even that particular rag could possibly be reporting as news what the women were talking about, so I walked over to the stand where the rag was displayed and took a look. Yup, there was the article, in all its glory. I saw it and I still refuse to believe that the contents are what occupy the minds and hearts of thousands of people in this city.

The story? Apparently a two-year-old pit bull by the name of Snoopy, encarcerated since January and scheduled to be put down for having bitten a man and that man's child, has had its life saved four times now. As the rag put it, a stay of execution has been granted four times. Why? Well apparently this dog has a very effective lawyer who has been arguing that the dog's rights are being violated through an arbitrary ruling that it must be put down. Yes, you read that correctly. That dog has a lawyer, and one who is working pro bono at that. A lawyer, furthermore, who believes that all of our rights are at risk if we do not protect the weakest among us, if we do not all arise in horror at what is being done to this poor, "harmless" little pit bull. The lawyer is demanding a hearing before an administrative law judge, a hearing which has not yet been scheduled.

Words fail me. Thousands of children in NYC wake up every morning crying from hunger and that doesn't make the "important" news section of this rag. And it sure doesn't get pro bono attornies lining up to defend the rights of these kids. In fact, nothing that I consider might actually be putting our rights at risk is worthy of being reported. But a dog with a lawyer is right up there as a must-read, must-react article.

You want to know how future generations will judge us? Let's hope it won't be on what some tabloid journalistic embarrassment published as must-know news.

Note to Readers: I happen to be an animal lover and have had many pets over the years of all different types. I am NOT anti-dog.


Tuvi said...

A hearing before a judge? Your tax dollars at work. What's next? A suit against the city for unlawful imprisonment? Added monetary penalties to compensate the dog for unnecessary pain and suffering? A push to amend the state constitution to include dogs as among the protected class of state "citizens"?

Had to be the Post or the Daily News.

Ari said...

Newspaper credo: "If it bleeds, it leads." So it should surprise no one that a homicidal dog who lawyers up is going to make headlines in a tabloid.

In fact, you might look at the tabloid's behavior much the way you would a pit bull: It is in their instinct to bite people; they just can't help themselves. That's what they do. So why are you surprised?

As it happens, I do think a lawyered-up pooch is newsworthy for a tabloid newspaper. That said, I will readily agree that the news itself, as well as its reportage, has no socially redeeming value. (That's why many people read it!)

As for children in poverty -- that's certainly not news or unusual, unfortunately. I would spend my energy helping people and newspapers understand why each case is uniquely tragic; then you may get press coverage in the right newspaper. Fact is, average people don't have the capacity to worry for thousands of poor kids, but if you can make people focus on one "interesting" example...