Winner! DWAA Writing Contest

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 9.01.22 AMI’m thrilled to share the news that the Dog Writers Association of America has named my article “Dog Fight” in The Washington Post the best newspaper article of the year, any topic.

“Dog Fight” was the most complex article I’ve reported and written since I graduated from journalism school in 1994. It required 18 months of research; involved an endless stack of documents from a whistleblower and open-records requests; and included more than 60 interviews. I worked under the direction of the great Jeff Leen, head of investigations at The Washington Post, and received all kinds of help from The Post‘s amazing team of editors, fact-checkers, photographers, videographers, graphic artists and more.

The story marked the first time that anyone has ever documented—in dollars and cents—the multimillion-dollar river of cash that is flowing from rescue nonprofits, shelters and dog-advocacy groups through dog auctions and into the pockets of breeders who are regularly decried as “puppy mills.”

Congratulations to all my fellow contest finalists, whose work also was recognized when the DWAA gave out these awards last night in Manhattan.

My Cup Runneth Over

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 9.01.22 AMJust two months after I learned that this article I wrote for Yachting won the Folio: Eddie award for best article in an enthusiast/hobby magazine, I’ve been notified that my article “Dog Fight” from the Sunday, April 15, front page of The Washington Post is a finalist for best newspaper article of the year, any topic, with the Dog Writers Association of America.

My article “It’s a War,” also for The Washington Post, was named a finalist for best newspaper article of the year, health or general care.

I’m of course humbled and grateful to receive this kind of acknowledgment, and I extend my sincere congratulations to all the other DWAA finalists.

And I must say, I’m especially excited to earn recognition for such different types of writing in a single year. The Yachting article, I’ve been told a few times, reads like a dramatic movie, with readers shouting at the pages toward the climax, hoping the main character will be able to save the lives of a family in distress. The Washington Post piece “Dog Fight,” on the other hand, is pure investigative journalism. That story has led to an ongoing federal investigation, a call on the U.S. Congress to act, and public outcry from leading dog-advocacy groups.

It’s one of my greatest pleasures as a freelance journalist to be able to report and write such a variety of pieces. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to earn a good living doing what I do, to have so many editors who support me in various genres, and to know that sometimes, my stories really do make a strong impact.

2018 Eddie Awards: A Winner!

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 4.28.11 PMI’m humbled, grateful and super excited to announce that my feature article “When the Call Came” (online title “Rescue in the Atlantic”) for Yachting magazine was named the best article in an enthusiast/hobby magazine at tonight’s Folio: Eddie Awards in New York City.

And I earned an honorable mention for several articles that I wrote for Soundings, in the category of best range of work by a single author.

What a night! I’m over the moon—and I want to say thanks here publicly to all the excellent editors and designers I worked with on these stories, including Patrick Sciacca, Kelley Sanford, Eric Powell, Mary South and Michael Labella. Awards like these, while one person’s name is at the top, really should belong to the whole team. It’s always a team effort behind the scenes.

Congratulations to all of tonight’s other winners, including Angler’s Journal, where I’m on retainer as an editor. That magazine earned the top award for best full issue of an enthusiast/hobby magazine.

Wow! An Eddie Awards Finalist!

Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 11.17.53 AM.pngI’m beyond excited to share the news that I’ve been named a finalist in not one, but two categories of this year’s Folio: Eddie Awards, one of the top competitions in all of U.S. magazines.

My article “When the Call Came” for Yachting (titled “Rescue in the Atlantic” online) is a finalist in the category of Best Single Article in a consumer enthusiast magazine, and several pieces I wrote for Soundings (including this one about artificial intelligence and mayday hoaxes, and this one about why whales are returning to Manhattan’s waters) earned a finalist nod in the category of Best Range of Work by a Single Author.

I’m also super proud to say that a number of finalist slots went to magazines where I’m on retainer as an editor, including Yachts International and Anglers Journal.

Many people, including some terrific editors and art directors, worked hard to help make my stories great. I’m over the moon to be a finalist, and I’m officially tipping my hat to the wonderful editorial teams I’m so lucky to work with every day.

Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists!

Into the World of Dog DNA

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 12.51.52 PMIt was exciting to work on this story for The Washington Post about controversy swirling in the world of dog DNA tests.

I had about 48 hours to learn everything I could about the emerging science of canine genetics testing, including interviewing more than a half-dozen people with Ph.D.s and figuring out how to translate their knowledge into something that the average, dog-loving reader could comprehend. In 1,200 words or less.

A good challenge, hopefully well-executed.

When a Boating Story is a Civil Rights Story

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 6.33.06 PMI was thrilled to write this article for Soundings about a boater who has challenged a $75 fine all the way up through the Pennsylvania court system, to the point that he’s attracted civil-rights attorneys who are promising to take the case even further if he loses.

So often in the national boating magazines where my byline appears, we are writing about, well, boats. Those stories are of course interesting, but in this case, I was asked to do a deeper dive into a privacy issue that frustrates many boaters—an issue with which even non-boaters, I hope, can identify.

Washington Post Feature About Rescuers Who Buy Dogs at Auctions

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 9.01.22 AMMy investigation into rescuers who buy dogs from breeders at auctions is on the front page of today’s Washington Post print edition.

This story is based on hundreds of documents provided by an industry insider and additional open-records documents from numerous states, and more than 60 in-person, phone and email interviews with rescuers, breeders, animal advocates and auctioneers.

It is the first time that anyone has ever documented—in dollars and cents—the multimillion-dollar river of cash that is flowing from rescue nonprofits, shelters and dog-advocacy groups through auctions into the pockets of dog breeders.

The insider documents came my way after my 2016 book The Dog Merchants was published. The insider read Chapter One, which described the phenomenon of rescuers buying dogs from breeders at auction, and then reached out to me. The insider said Americans would be stunned to learn how much money those rescuers had been spending. Then, during the following 18 months or so, the insider sent me $2.68 million worth of proof.

I’m deeply grateful to the huge team of people at The Washington Post who helped me bring this major investigation to light.