Police chief writes lengthy social media post on animal control accusations

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay responded to recent accusations that have been posted about Wichita Animal Control staff and the Animal Control Advisory Board on Facebook. Here is following statement on his Facebook account.

Social media: the good, the bad and the untold
Facebook and other social media have proven to be useful tools in the animal world – connecting many unwanted pets with welcoming forever homes. Nextdoor.com has been used to help solve neighborhood crime. Social media has also proven useful in holding people and institutions accountable for their responsibilities. However, it is also possible to misuse these social tools, to lose sight of facts and fairness, and in the zeal of rescue, to be disrespectful and just plain mean. This, of course, is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, some well-meaning animal lovers recently have crossed over that line, posting some inaccurate and unduly hostile items about Wichita Animal Control staff and members of the Animal Control Advisory Board.

Consider these facts before rushing to judgment:

FACT: City of Wichita Departments don’t have staff devoted to monitoring social media 24-hours-a-day in order to respond to and correct inaccuracies and tell the other side of every story. Thus, situations are often misrepresented by a single storyteller, because even if they contain some facts, they only tell a portion of the story.

FACT: The Wichita Animal Shelter has one of the lowest dog euthanasia rates in the country. It was only 8% in 2015, and the rate for the first 10 months of 2016 is 7%. The ASPCA estimates the national average at around 31%. It would appear to be in everyone’s best interest to work together to improve this rate even more.

Here are some more facts about two cases in point:

1. A story was recently posted on social media regarding an underweight Malamute, accusing Wichita Animal Services of not taking action. There were photographs included that would have moved even the hardest heart. But, as is often the case, there is more to the story. Animal Services Officers investigated this situation and learned that a stray dog had jumped the fence and impregnated the female Malamute. Sadly, she suffers from a serious dietary condition for which she is under a vet’s care and has to be on a special diet. The birth of the puppies and their nursing further exacerbated the mother’s condition. The Animal Services Officer entered the residence and examined the prepared raw food for the mother dog’s diet as prescribed by the Vet. Additionally, the Officer contacted the Veterinary Clinic where the dog is being treated and confirmed the information that the owner provided. Animal Services also educated the owner on the City ordinances regarding breeding dogs and selling puppies.

2. Another heart wrenching story was shared about a dog that was put to sleep, portraying Animal Services staff as “ruthless killers.” When in fact, a diverse group of animal rescues regularly pull animals from the City Animal Shelter. Some of the rescues are breed specific, some take animals that have extensive medical needs and solicit money from the public to help defray the cost; other rescues only pull animals with minimal health issues in order to make their dollars stretch and save more animals. Regardless of how each rescue chooses to operate, it is imperative that they tag the animals that they want to pull from the Shelter in a timely manner. If the animal isn’t tagged, it will be humanely euthanized as the City cannot hold animals indefinitely. If a rescue doesn’t tag an animal, then it’s unfair to blame Shelter staff when it is later euthanized.

Facebook and other social media can be useful tools in the hands of public servants, pet lovers and animal rescue activists – but only if these tools are used responsibly. The opinions, feelings, and information shared must be fair to all concerned, and align with the facts. There’s an old adage, “It doesn’t matter how thin you make the pancake, it still has two sides.” The same is true here. Experts advise Internet users to carefully examine the credibility of all online information. In other words, when you see something posted online, it’s a good practice to test it before swallowing it whole. Consider the story being told, and ask yourself what might be left untold?”

Capt. Allred oversees animal control and says recent claims made on Facebook against his department are false.

“There’s things people don’t see. A lot of people don’t see, but they see every day and that they have to deal with and they do a good job,” said Allred.

One complaint on Facebook involved a dog, Talia that critics say was needlessly put down.  Capt. Allred admits his department could have communicated with animal rescue groups better, but has a much lower rate of euthanizing dogs than most shelters.

“Do we make mistakes? Absolutely. We make mistakes and we want to know about those mistakes, so we can correct them,” said Capt. Allred.

Randi Carter with Beauties and Beasts, Inc. tries to save animals lives daily, but says some do get lost in the system.  She says though Wichita Animal Control doesn’t do everything perfectly the staff needs to be treated with respect.

“When we make a post, we try the best to be the most polite that we can be, very careful because we know that the public can take it in a different perspective and it go to the bad verses the good,” said Carter.

She’s hoping the police chief’s Facebook post will give some in the community a reality check.

“That’s not right that the community puts it all on them. Look in your own back yard. It’s out in the community. It’s bad like this because of the community,” Carter explained.