Reactive Overreaction – Let’s All Just Calm the Hell Down, OK?

I’m getting kind of burned out on advocacy lately. Well…not advocacy exactly, but advocates. Specifically, advocates whose outrage is disproportionate to reality.

Recently, a story and photo started circulating on social media sites. The story is about a mother and son in New Mexico who were arrested on animal cruelty charges after they posted a photo of their puppy on Facebook and somebody called the authorities.

Stupid is as stupid does

Stupid is as stupid does

Just about every advocacy page is blasting these people, and I am by no means excusing their actions…but…

While it’s absolutely true that what they did was stupid, is it true that it was felony animal cruelty? I think we all need to just calm the hell down. I’ve read half a dozen articles about this story;

( here are a few of them: TheRepublic , KRQE, WNEM. )

Essentially, what happened was that Mary Snell put her 8 week old Chihuahua puppy in a Ziploc bag, held it open, had her son take a photo, and posted the photo to Facebook. The reason she gave was that they were trying to show how tiny the puppy was, and it wouldn’t hold still. So Frick and Frack solved the problem by putting the animal in a see-through bag.

Stupid is as stupid does.

I agree that a Ziploc bag is no place for a puppy…but there is no indication that there was malicious intent. There is no indication that they kept the puppy in the bag for any longer than it took to take the photo. The puppy, by all reports, was not injured. Witnesses say that they treat their pets well.  So why all the outrage?

Authorities said the puppy couldn’t lift his head to get air and could have suffocated. But…he didn’t. And I don’t believe that Stell would have let the puppy suffocate. There’s no indication that she meant the puppy any harm.

There was a similar case last July, when Amanda Beals found her dog with his head inside her sandwich bag –caught red-handed stealing her lunch – and picked the dog up, (bag still on his head) and took a photo. I’m sure she thought it was hilarious. (ha ha, look at my doofus dog, caught red-handed!) But animal advocates weren’t amused then, either. They made a big fuss and she was investigated for cruelty. (To the best of my knowledge, she was not prosecuted) Beals didn’t put the bag on her dog’s head, she found him that way and simply recorded it – but advocates crucified her.  Their fuss stretched from accusing her of purposely suffocating her dog to  ‘take the damn bag off the dog’s head, don’t take a photo!’, but Beals loved her dog. If she thought he was in danger, do you think she’d have left the bag on his head?

There are so many horrible stories of animal abuse on any given day:

…I don’t understand why people waste their time and energy getting all worked up over cases like this – cases where the animals weren’t hurt, weren’t in real danger, and the owners meant the animal no harm.

There’s kind of a lunatic fringe in advocacy, where people have completely lost their ability to put things in perspective; where people jump to the worst possible conclusion even when there’s no evidence.

It’s not just these two stories, either. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone comment that if a pet’s owner can’t afford some outrageously expensive veterinary procedure the pet needs, they shouldn’t have the animal. Is that really fair? Does anybody adopt an animal and expect that it will have a catastrophic health issue?  Does anybody have a crystal ball that shows whether they will lose their job, or become ill themselves, or experience any number of financial setbacks that will render them helpless to pay for emergency vet care? Many pet owners find themselves in just this sort of situation, and the animal’s condition gets worse, and then people start shouting ‘NEGLECT!’  Before we start pointing fingers and assuming that the pet’s owner doesn’t care, wouldn’t it be better to get all the information, and assess the situation first? Maybe offer to lend a hand, instead of criticizing and condemning?

All this wasted energy could be so much better spent if it were redirected to criminal cases of abuse or helping those pet owners who need help.


About yelodoggie

C.A.Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. She has written two books about her true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also writes a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and is a contributing editor for She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
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10 Responses to Reactive Overreaction – Let’s All Just Calm the Hell Down, OK?

  1. Well said, Ariel! Sometimes, political correctness gets out of hand.


  2. catcrazy1782 says:

    Sorry cousin, these are examples of human stupidity rather than overdone political correctness.  These stories/pictures only give idiots ideas to try to duplicate what they see/hear, but with disastrous results and harm to animals.  When it comes to treatment of animals, I say bullshit to political correctness!


    • yelodoggie says:

      I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. While I agree these are examples of human stupidity, I believe that the rescue community overreacted. I never said anything about political correctness, that was a comment by a reader.


  3. anonymous says:

    Hello Ariel,
    What a sensible post! In my eyes it was totally irresponsible to spend any time, waste so much energy when there are so many real, serious cases of animal abuse which deserve attention. I don’t know, why people do it, maybe because the need for them to feel self-righteous outweigh the need for productive action which will bring results. I personally did not see anything malicious or even dangerous in what the lady was doing, even if it was not the smartest thing. It seems like a bad case of people not being able to judge a situation in context.

    Also, in this economic hard time, or when people deal with personal tragedy, extending compassion to human beings as well as animals would go a long way in avoiding outrageously harsh judgement and instead direct action toward solutions. I consider myself lucky to always have been in a position to provide the care for my pets, but sometimes stuff happens that is not in our control. When I was hospitalized, I was very fortunate that friends took in my pets until I got better. A community which extents compassion and understanding to both humans and pets would go farther to insure the well being of all.


  4. Kaoss Green says:

    Well, 1st off, I’m the owner of he dog that is mentioned above not Beals, the photo was loaded to FB by accident when she logged onto her fb w the new phone she had just gotten, we were not stupid enuf to want to post it! It was a default setting for mobiles to sync pix when logging in from one and amanda wasn’t aware of that. 2nd, it was put on the animal advocate site (CAUSES) by HER SISTER, cuz it was only able to be seen by her friends on her timeline, or it would’ve been just a moment for us in the photo album, except her sister didn’t even ask what the circumstances were in the photo b4 doing so, nor did she even ask her why it was posted&looked wrong. Point: Riverside PD got over 5,000 calls from 5 diff countries for requests that criminal charges be brought against us…We got SEVERAL DEATH THREATS! Channel 2&9 sent a reporter out & showed up at sum other ladies house w a very similar name and due to that, she was harassed w phone calls, ppl calling her a puppy killer….and the report stated they’d tried to find “the correct person to answer for this” and showed her profile pic on national tv! A friend of mine had seen it when it aired and text me that I needed to watch the news cuz Zigg (my dog) was in a story only it was amanda’s name not mine…he’s 14yrs old…not a puppy…but still bcuz ppl took the photo at face value, they didn’t care what ACTUALLY happened. They wanted blood. HERS&it’s not even her dog! I called PD myself to see if there was any charges filed and talked to the detective assigned to investigate the situation…he met w me after I VOLUNTEERED to take him into the shelter (that had also claimed they tried to find her but after being flooded w to many calls they contacted the cops) to have a vet check him out. The vet that looked at Zig, thought he was only 3yrs old till he looked at his eyes….my dog is spoiled…has a wardrobe of his own even! No joke…ne1 that knows me would tell u he’s the only being in my life that I’d give my life for pretty much. I’d never harm him…DOESN’T MATTER THO! DON’T EVER POST SHIT LIKE THAT ON FB IT CAN & WILL PUT UR FAMILY IN DANGER! The fact this person INTENTIONALLY PUT HER DOG IN A BAG IS NOT OK AT ALL…A RULER WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME RESULTS TO SHOW HOW SMALL IT WAS! This lady is an idiot for thinking it’s ok to post sumthing like that where the world can see it…I’m still getting shit for that drama that Amanda was accused of. Not to mention…the dog in this pic, doesn’t look alive and she’s got a smile on her face!! THIS, even after my issues, is not the same as what happened to us,not even close…a pic that shouldn’t fo gotten out did..she did it on purpose w a smile on her face…take my advice when I say ppl will stop at nothing to make an example out of ppl…and since animal abuse is such a known issues….ppl go overboard…take the pic down and hope it didn’t get put on another site. She’s lucky if nothing horrible happened due to her lack of common sense!


    • yelodoggie says:

      Thanks for posting, I’ve wondered what happened since that photo hit FB. I thought the community reaction to Zig’s photo with the sandwich bag on his head was totally unrealistic. And you are correct…you have to be careful what you post because of the crazies that will take it out of context, or jump to conclusions about what is happening. I was very careful not to post photos of one of our dogs who had a tumor, for just that reason. You can read about that in my post “Lammy Lamb and Lana Tumor”.


      • Kaoss Green says:

        It was FB that was giving me the most problems…not till channel 2&9 aired their report on it, which wasn’t accurate either considering that they got the info from ‘CAUSES’, the animal rights advocates, that have done nothing to check on the well being on my DOG at all, but want to rip me to shreds over a photo that wasn’t intentionally posted in the 1st place.Then DISQUS has a message board about it all too…they say it’s an open safe forum but it’s full of death threats and insults, again not one concerns for the dog! These ppl are f*ckin nuts!


  5. Please correct an error in your post. The woman who did this is “Mary Snell,” not “Angela Stell.” (;;; other links can be found by Google search “new mexico ziploc puppy”).
    Angela Stell is the President and Director of rescue organization NMDOG, based in Rio Rancho, NM, and was not the woman who did this.
    Thank you


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