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Announcing the 2005 Barking Dogs Infamy in Media Award for Irresponsible Coverage of the Chronic Barking Crisis

The barking epidemic has reached horrific proportions in Arizona's Valley of the Sun, where a recent conflict over a barking dog ended tragically, with two men dead from gunshot wounds.

It is a common problem in Gilbert and other East Valley neighborhoods where a burgeoning population is finding itself increasingly shoehorned into lots too small to accommodate a screaming animal in the yard next door.

Gilbert police receive barking dog complaints in the hundreds, in a jammed-together town that has been described as a "poster child for neighborhood barking dog wars."

Nonetheless, despite a steady flow of calls coming in every year from frantic residents pleading for help, only once in the last six years have any of the offending dog owners been called to court to account for their irresponsible behavior.

In Gilbert, unenforceable anti-barking laws are compelling desperate bark-abuse victims to enter into contentious relationships with neighbors who believe they have a right to let their dogs bark uncorrected, regardless of the devastating impact of that behavior on the health and well being of those living nearby.

It is a desperate situation in Gilbert. People are dying. Lives are being destroyed. Marriages are coming apart. Sleep-deprived children are falling behind in school, and addictions are developing among residents overwhelmed by the relentless fusillade of noise.

In response to the barking-generated public health threat in Gilbert, the East Valley Tribune published a fluff piece that offered little insight into the problem and no solution to the crisis. Then, apparently in the belief that everything they read on the internet is true, the Tribune topped off the article by telling the bark-besieged people of the East Valley that the best way to quiet a barking dog is to feed and pet the animal every time he barks.

Unfortunately, research tells us that any response (like barking) that is consistently followed by a reward (like food and affection) will increase. Therefore, feeding and petting your dog after each bark can only serve to make the problem a thousand times worse. Saying that feeding and petting a barking dog will make him be quiet is like saying that the best way to put out a fire is to pour gasoline on it.

However, in a breathtaking betrayal of their readership and an apparent abandonment of their journalistic ethics, the East Valley Tribune has refused to print a retraction, despite repeated emails to them from this website pleading with them to do so. I suppose that next winter the Tribune will tell their readers that the best way to keep from catching the flu is to kiss someone who already has it.

The Tribune stepped into a public health crisis and succeeded in making it worse. Then, in an apparent attempt to demonstrate that they are, perhaps, one of the most slipshod organizations in modern media, they refused either to acknowledge their error or to provide their readers with the information necessary to quiet those dogs that had since begun barking chronically, thanks to the misinformation disseminated by the Tribune.

Therefore, in recognition of their having plunged to new depths in don't-give-a-damn journalism, hereby presents the East Valley Tribune with the 2005 Barking Dogs Infamy in Media award for irresponsible coverage relating to the chronic barking crisis.

Please send your nominees for next year's award to

This page is part of Section Fifteen:
the Kitchen Sink section of