It 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.
I 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.
My 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.
I am humbled and honored to say that I won three awards today in the annual writing competition of Boating Writers International.
One was a third-place prize in the Seamanship, Rescue and Safety category for “When the Call Came,” the story of a harrowing rescue at sea that I wrote for Yachting magazine. (We called it “Rescue in the Atlantic” for the online version.)
My other two wins were honorable mentions for articles that I wrote in Soundings magazine. “Whales Return to the Big Apple” won in the Environmental Education and Awareness category, and “Voice Forensics May Help Nab Mayday Callers” won in the Boating Issues, News and Analysis Category.
Many other great writers won as well, including several at Yachting, Soundings, Angler’s Journal and Soundings Trade Only, all of which I do work for as a freelance editor.
Congratulations to all the winners!