Remembering ’93 NBC 7’s Pet Overpopulation Story

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of NBC 7 this month. So we’re looking back at the people and events that shaped our place in San Diego.

Today I’m remembering one of the stories I produced that took a terrible fact and turned it into a positive outcome.

In 1993, we took the controversial step of showing pets put to sleep at the County Animal Shelter to draw attention to the need for spaying and neutering pets to prevent unwanted pets from being euthanized.

I’ll never forget the morning we shot the story. We started early, around 6am. It was my birthday. We spent the morning documenting the last moments in the lives of dozens of animals. It was heartbreaking.

Yet what stood out to me was the incredible love and caring shown by the staff at the shelter whose unenviable job it was to deliver a fatal dose of medicine.

Some people might have thought they were heartless. I saw the opposite. These were people who loved the animals and wanted nothing more than to never need to spend another morning like that.

The story generated a huge reaction. Some people were angry that we would show the process unfiltered. But the overwhelming response was positive. It was the kickoff to a drive to get pets spayed or neutered and thousands of pet owners took advantage.

There would be fewer unwanted pets showing up in the shelters in the future. After the story we also started our weekly pet adoption segment that continues to this day and has even expanded with this year’s groundbreaking Clear The Shelters effort. It was a case when a story really did make a difference.

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