What makes a scandal?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

Over the past decade, the following issues have become the
focus of 219 public scandals involving 101 U.S. animal shelters, of
which 60 were municipal animal control facilities; 18 were convention-
al humane societies, some of which held animal control contracts; 14
were no-kill shelters; and eight fell into other categories.
The total number of scandals is quite small, considering that
there are more than 6,000 shelters and animal control holding facilities
in the U.S. However, an evident pattern of repeated scandals at the
same shelters reflects a combination of administrators unwilling to rec-
tify problems and a resulting growth of public mistrust, so that eventu-
ally even relatively minor problems become scandals.

The list indicates the frequency with which problems become
uproars, not the frequency with which they occur. Note that some of
the problems shelter administrators most often worry about barely make
the list, e.g. insufficient adoption screening. The only public concerns
pertaining to adoption screening that have produced scandals are the
release of vicious dogs and adoption screening perceived as excessive.
In three of the five cases where stringent adoption screening became a
scandal, the shelter refused to adopt to otherwise qualified people who
had no one at home during working hours.
It is also noteworthy that lack of a low-cost neutering program
doesn’t make the list. While activists sometimes protest the failure of
various shelters to provide low-cost neutering, this issue apparently
hasn’t ever caught the public imagination enough to produce a scandal,
the essentials of which may include media exposes, a public policy
review, the replacement of key personnel, the reorganization of over-
sight, a successful lawsuit, and/or a successful criminal case.
Only cruel euthanasia ranks above pound seizure as a cause of
public outrage. Of the 19 scandals pertaining to pound seizure, all of
them involving animal control shelters, 10 brought an end to the prac-
tice at the municipal or county level. Nine scandals (partially overlap-
ping) led to statewide pound seizure bans. Eight shelters in four states
continued to sell animals to laboratories despite public opposition. In
one case, a rapid rise in euthanasias brought outrage after pound
seizure ended––but the pound seizure ban remained in place.
Cruel euthanasia 29
Pound seizure 19
Overcrowding 16
Aging facilities 13
Filthy conditions 12
Inadequate food/water 12
Lack of veterinary care 11
Embezzling 10
Premature euthanasia 10
Rough handling  9

Dogs stolen from shelter 7
Cages exposed 7
Improper corpse disposal 6
Improper fecal disposal 6
Whitewashing problems 6
Animals fighting 5
Improper wildlife care 4
Understaffing 4
Abuse of authority 4
Labor disputes 3
Pound closed to save $$ 3
Refusing adoptions 3
Workers injured 3
Inadequate fencing 2
Rodent infestation 2
Excessive noise 2
Muzzling activist staff 2
Nonresponse to crisis 2
Overcrowded trucks 2
Dead and live animals kept together 2

Fires killing animals 2
Racial/sexual bias 2
Vicious dogs adopted out 2
Bounty hunting ** 1
No recordkeeping 1
Poor adoption screening 1
Premature adoptions 1
Prolonged transport 1
Public injured by ACO 1
Uninsured 1
Unpaid bills 1
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