Death of Oprah's Puppy Raises Questions, Such As ...Is This News?

BlogHer Original Post

Between Oprah's dog, Gracie, choking to death on a ball last summer and Martha Stewart's chow, Genghis Khan, recently perishing in a kennel fire - it's been a hazardous stretch for celebrity pooches. Now, Oprah has also lost one of her 8-week-old puppies, Ivan, to Parvovirus. Oprah had adopted two puppies from the PAWS Chicago shelter and introduced them on her March 6 show. Sad, of course, but the media coverage has also raised some questions about priorities during a time of national crisis.

First, some info on Parvovirus, an infectious disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract. It is transmitted from dog to dog through contact with feces, usually when the animal steps in it and then licks its paws. Parvo symptoms resemble the effects of cholera in humans and early signs are lethargic behavior and diarrhea. The veterinarian blog, Dolittler, has a wonderfully fair and informative post on this matter:

"It’s a subject veterinarians hate to raise. But it’s a fact: Shelter dogs can harbor diseases we’d rather not think about when recommending shelter adoptions over other means of pet acquisition. Not if we want the unwanted to be granted loving homes. Mitigating the pet overpopulation crisis through increased adoptions from shelters and rescues is crucial to these efforts. That’s why when Oprah’s pups get Parvo it’s not exactly welcome news––on many levels."

Fact is, anything related to Oprah - and her dogs - is news. Whether you are a bookseller or a cattle rancher, many welcome and/or fear what messages may come out of that powerful mouth. Animal folks are hoping that she educates the masses on the dangers of Parvo but continues to adopt from shelters, a gesture much needed during this era of 'foreclosure pets'.

 

 

Fact is, anything related to Oprah - and her dogs - is news. Whether you are a bookseller or a cattle rancher, many welcome and/or fear what messages may come out of that powerful mouth. Animal folks are hoping that she educates the masses on the dangers of Parvo but continues to adopt from shelters, a gesture much needed during this era of 'foreclosure pets'.

However, 70 percent of the reader comments of the Chicago Sun-Times' Oprah blog - people that read it because they so love all things Oprah - have a different viewpoint. A sampling of comments:

"Why is this a top story? Front page news?"

"who cares"

"If she would just stop eating all of their food"

"Sorry, but this time I have to add my 2 cents. Why is this worthy of more than a passing sentence in a gossip column? This simply is not news. It's not even interesting."

"This is a joke right? American's losing their jobs, their homes and this is what passes for news?"

"Pathetic."

"This is not news. Just because it is Oprah it is in the newspaper."

"Are we sure she didn't eat him?"

"I love dogs, I have dogs - but since when is this a Front Page news breaking story?!"

"Slow news day?"

Many of the reader comments at the Chicago Tribune's Breaking News blog (mixed in with those expressing true sympathy) echo this confusion and, in some cases, rage:

"Why is the death of Oprah's puppy being given as much attention as the shooting death of another Chicago teenager? How insensitive and irresponsible can you be? Don't journalists have standards?"

"I wonder if Col. Tribune would call this "Breaking News". Great one more story that affects 1 person..... how is that news."

"the tribune should be ashamed of themselves for actually calling this news. People are losing jobs, we are in a recession and this is news?"

Of course, among my least-favorite things, sick and/or dead puppies - regardless of owner identity - is pretty high up there. However, even when crafting a serious attempt at this post, I had to ask myself: "If this were your neighbor's dog, would you be writing this post?" Maybe. Maybe not. If it were my dog then yes, for sure.

One level-headed reader on the Tribune blog, C.M.C., jumped in to offer an explanation:

"It's news because the dogs were on Oprah and millions of people watched it and connected with the story. It's called follow up. It's also news because millions of people own dogs and need to know about the seriousness of Parvo. News doesn't always have to be about murder or a failing economy. I know, hard to believe right?"

And so, I'd like to call a random poll. Please state the letter that best matches your thoughts on the matter:

A) This is awful! I saw those puppies on TV and it breaks my heart!
B) Parvo sounds terrible. Thanks for the info.
C) I feel bad for Oprah and the dogs but this should not be news.
D) All the s**t going down and Oprah's pets make headlines? Seriously??

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