Please read the story below and tell us what you think. Do you believe the neighbor or the shelter owner? Is the city correct to delay the contract and tell people not to attend the fundraiser? Does a news organization have a responsibility to prove or disprove allegations before publishing them? Your comments and Twitter survey responses may be used in an upcoming podcast and article.
Owner of No-Kill Animal Shelter Strangled My Cat, Neighbor Says
Weekly Reporter, Staff
Bedford - September, 24th 2018
One week before the highly anticipated “Cause for Paws” fundraiser to support the expansion of the local animal shelter, the event’s organizer and shelter owner, Sally Forth, stands accused of killing a neighbor’s cat and possibly other animals left in her care at the shelter.
“I found my cat dead along the property line in our backyard the morning after I saw Sally push, Patches, as he walked along our shared fence top,” said Boe Goss. “Sally is not who she seems. Ever since she learned I voted for Trump she has been out to get me, and she took her anger out on my poor cat.”
Speaking anonymously for fear of reprisal against their own pets, others in the neighborhood say that Forth and the Gosses used to be friendly and partake in the quarterly cul de sac barbeques, but after the presidential election in 2016, things took a bad turn. One neighbor told the Weekly Reporter that Forth has not been the same since the election.
“Honestly, Sally has kinda of lost it, she use to be kind, but now she is angry all the time, especially if you didn’t vote for Hillary.” said the Neighbor, “I didn’t see her do it, but yeah, I can believe she strangled that kitten.”
“I heard her say she’d kill any pet dropped at the shelter by a Trump voter.” said another neighbor after being told of the charge.
According to a veterinarian report obtained by the Weekly Reporter, Patches the calico died of asphyxiation due to strangulation last month. Goss said he was worried his neighbor was responsible from the start, but when he saw that the city was reviewing Forth for a city contract he couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
“I didn’t say anything before because it was just hurt too hard, I have to live next to this woman.” Goss said, “But now, with people about to give her more money, and the city a contract, I had to come forward to make sure no one else’s pet faces the same fate.”
Forth is well known in the community for her more than two decades of work with the county’s abandon pets. She owns and operates, Pets Finding People, an award-winning no-kill shelter. Her honors include a lifetime achievement award from PETA.
When asked about the allegation, Forth proclaimed her innocence but could offer no proof of her claim. “I would never hurt an animal,” Froth said. “But no, I don’t have a witness that I didn’t do it, I live alone.”
Even though it is likely to cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in penalties, city officials say, in light of the allegations, the vote on the Shelter Contract will be delayed indefinitely and an investigation will be launched to see if animals at the shelter have been killed. City employees are also being advised to skip the fundraising event on Friday.
“We just can’t be involved in any way with that type of behavior,” said Mayor Ed Wurmer.
Please note: The story above is provided merely as an academic exercise to explore society's need for concepts like innocent until proven guilty, the burden of proof, the media's responsibility when presenting allegations, and how our biases color the information we process.