Richard Ord: A polite plea: Don't shoot the messenger!
Were people over-reacting at the death of a dog in Hartlepool? I hope so.
If not, I may need an armed escort when heading to work this week.
My observations on police shooting a dog abandoned in the town turned me into public enemy number one in the eyes of a significant few.
There were demands for me to apologise, to be ejected from the building and, from some quarters, to be gunned down ... by the police no less.
I’m used to that at home, but to suffer that level of abuse at work was a surprise.
“He should be tide [sic] to a tree and shot,” said Kay Marie Show on Facebook.
She was not the only one to suggest I should suffer the same fate as the hound destroyed by police.
If these people are the calm voices of reason, I’ll have to dust down my Kevlar work shirt.
Such was the outcry that I had to re-read what I’d written. I half expected to find my copy had been hijacked. It hadn’t.
For the record, I didn’t shoot the dog. Nor did I egg the police on from the sidelines.
I just, in a roundabout way, suggested that the police took enough reasonable steps in seeking advice from the RSPCA, veterinary experts and even a re-homing charity before considering the best course of action in dealing with a dog that, for whatever reason, was becoming, in their words, “extremely aggressive and unapproachable”, was to destroy it.
They couldn’t locate the owner, and still, more than a week later, no-one has stepped forward.
I don’t blame them. The vitriol being spewed online at anyone not siding with the most outspoken of animal lovers is startling.
Even the RSPCA are getting it in the neck. Unless they have been hit by equal opportunities and now have to recruit a percentage of animal haters, we can safely assume they are pro-dog.
What keeps being thrown at me is the weight of numbers demanding justice.
Just because you have a lot of support, it doesn’t make you right.
There were thousands backing their cause online. The support is impressive. An online petition has already garnered 190,000 signatures.
Especially impressive given the population of Hartlepool is only 90,000.
There’s an animal outrage machine at work here, and it’s operating on an industrial scale.
Closer inspection of the petition reveals that the majority of the people signing are from overseas (more than 130,000).
If weight of numbers makes you right, it’s worth pointing out that as many as 20million dogs are eaten every year. Does that make it right?
I don’t mind a debate or an exchange of views and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but let’s be reasonable.
My message, like Thai chihuahua burgers, may be unpalatable to some, but hey, don’t shoot the messenger. Please. Don’t shoot!
* I think I’ll stick to less controversial subjects from now on. That new US president seems to be doing a good job so far, don’t ya think?