Friday, September 16, 2011

Dog attack incident reveals mis-placed values

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Last Sunday evening, a Piqua woman suffered horrific injuries at the jaws and claws of two dogs.

Ms.Sandra Getzendiner was minding her own business, peddling her bicycle over a bridge, when out of nowhere, the two Pit Bull Terriers attacked her and were in the process of tearing her to pieces. If not for the brave actions of several passers-by, it is doubtful that Gentzendiner could have survived the attack.

As is usual for me after covering an event, I came away with some observations.

It never ceases to amaze me when a situation such as this occurs, the number of people who seem to be far more concerned with the animal than the human being.

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I love most all animals. Unlike some folks, however; I believe that I can put things into perspective.

I was at the scene of the incident. (The Piqua Daily Call was the only news organization there, by the way.)

After the investigation and activity related to the attack wrapped up on Sunday evening, I proceeded to do our "newspaper thing" of checking facts and details, along with gathering more information as it became available. Part of thiswork flow was to post what we knew on our Facebook page, along with a photograph.

We were quickly besieged with responses. One of the first was from a reader who demanded that I apologize for running a photograph of a dead dog surrounded by officers who had just shot it. Before I had time to form a response, a number of readers offered a differing opinion. The comments were interesting. I am pleased that many were sound and reasonable. A few of them just left me scratching my head.

I quickly saw two thing happening. First, I noted the few people who were flat-out more interested in "the poor animals," than in the fact that those two dogs had nearly killed someone.

I literally had more comments concerning a photograph of a dead dog than we received the last time we published an image of a deceased human. That fact alone turns my stomach more than any photograph ever could.

The second thing that I noted was, in these days of "I-Witness Reporters," an appalling lack of accuracy to "I-Witness" reports and just flat-out unsubstantiated incorrect information. It did not take long for me to wonder if I was covering a totally different dog attack.

Posts ran a gamut of whether, or not, the second dog had been apprehended or killed to people stating that they "had heard" that the dog attack victim had died of her injuries. I even heard someone claim that police found torn-off human limbs in the woods. Where do people come up with this stuff?

What is most sad is that many news organizations are using the "I-Reporter" route in an ever-increasing fashion. Why? They do it so that they can save money. They do it to make the general public feel "connected" to the station.

All that is happening is that, in exchange for an individual getting his thirty seconds of fame, the public is getting everything from incomplete facts to flat out lies.

The bottom line? Their company management cares less about covering news and doing so ethically and accurately than they do about their own bottom line.

The good news in all of this is that Getzendiner is reported to be doing well following surgery and is on the mend. She is proving to be a very popular lady and the outpouring of support and prayers for her is heartwarming.

I hope that we can all learn something from this near-tragic incident. Most importantly, a human life is far more important that any animal.

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