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City officials rip newspaper’s animal control coverage

Barnesville mayor Peter Banks and city manager Kenny Roberts appeared before a meeting of the local humane society July 27 to address concerns regarding the local animal shelter. Roberts read and distributed materials to the approximately 30 people in attendance in which he was highly critical of coverage of recent issues at the shelter in The Herald-Gazette. ”They were pretty defensive. They didn’t offer much in the way of solutions. I’m not going to let this go. I want to see some change,” reported Julie Whitten who attended the event. Whitten’s dog, Honey, was needlessly killed at the shelter, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Both Banks and Roberts apologized to Whitten for her dog’s death. Here is the portion of Roberts’ remarks circulated at the meeting critical of The Herald-Gazette. No one from city hall had previously aired any concerns regarding the coverage with anyone on staff at the newspaper. ’There have been many accusations and charges in the past few days that are totally unfounded. It is obvious the majority was (sic) provoked by a disingenuous, deceptive and intentionally misleading photo story and caption published in the July 21, 2009 local newspaper and online edition. The article and subsequent online threads posted by the newspaper made no attempt to explain the deceitful and misleading photos but rather knowingly allowed the mistruths to fuel the flames of misplaced indignation. The facts are astonishingly different. The photo of emaciated dogs in the newspaper and the 18 photos online are of five dogs dumped illegally at the Animal Control Center when no employees were present. They were fed and watered by the Animal Control Officers until they could be caught and placed in the facility. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Irresponsible people routinely dump their dogs and cats at the facility after hours and on weekends. Remember the facility has averaged over 1000 dogs and cats each year for the past 10 years. ’The caption under the newspaper photo read ‘˜A visit to the local animal shelter on Sunday, July 19, revealed an apparently unsecured facility…’. The animal shelter was absolutely not ‘˜unsecured’. The photos used were not of the shelter but the old water treatment plant which is not now and never has been a part of the animal control facility. The news story was ‘˜doctored’ with a misleading and blatantly incorrect caption that had no relevance to the content of the story. One might think a more appropriate headline would have been ‘˜Help us identify the owner/abusers of these dogs which were illegally dumped at the Animal Control Facility’.’ The Herald-Gazette stands by its coverage as accurate. for the original online story.

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