Jaxx, a 4-month old German shepherd, was surrendered over a $10,000 veterinarian bill. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Mullen / CBS 13

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Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

That’s the moral of the German shepherd saga. For those not paying close attention, WGME reported last week that the Maine Veterinary Medical Center refused to return a 4-month old puppy to its former owner. The Bangor Daily News carried the story.

It sounded awful. The pup — Jaxx — needed surgery that was estimated to cost more than $10,000. Heartbroken, his owner made the fateful decision to surrender the dog at 5 p.m.

But then, through force of will and the help of friends and family, Jaxx’s now-former owner managed to scrape together the $10,000 to pay the veterinarians. At 9 p.m., she says, she called and said she could pay and wanted her dog back.

The clinic refused.

Cue the outrage.

This was held up as the example of awful businesses abusing people in need. They miserly refused to return the dog even after Jaxx’s owner managed to corral a large sum of money on short notice. They refused to respond to media inquiries defending their actions.

Outraged people hurled death threats and epithets cursing the business. Big, tough keyboard warriors apparently said they would burn the hospital to the ground.

In the immortal words of Paul Harvey, it was time for … the rest of the story.

Earlier this week, the Maine Veterinary Medical Center told their side of the story. As is always the case, the world is a lot more complex than simple “good” and “bad.”  

They outlined their efforts to care for Jaxx. They said Jaxx’s owners assured them that he hadn’t gotten into anything. Their ultrasound report said a skewer appeared inside the pup, piercing his intestine and liver. It was a gruesome diagnosis; you can read it yourself.

The original news story on Jaxx did not include any of these details. Rather than some horrid, evil corporation preying on loving pet owners, the additional information uncovered that this situation was complex, to say the least.

It is a good reminder.

We have countless sources of information available to us. Some sources — think Rachel Maddow or Tucker Carlson — come at it with unabashed agendas. Others try to offer objectivity, with varying degrees of success.

The Jaxx story is a great case study. If you want to be charitable, you can say that the reporter had a difficult story and a veterinary center unwilling to comment. They did the best they could. If you want to be cynical, you can reach a different conclusion.

The inferno of hate directed at the Maine Veterinary Medical Center demonstrates how quickly one-sided reporting can inflame passions. However, while pretty much everyone is pro-puppy, the lesson is equally applicable to politics.  

If you have a favorite political news source, hear what they say. You can trust, but verify.  

If their story leads you to believe your team is as pure as the driven snow while the other side is full of cartoonishly evil villains, raise an eyebrow. That is true whether the boogeyman is “corporations,” Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or “socialists.”

If news reporting makes you think death threats — whether against a Supreme Court Justice or a veterinary hospital — are a reasonable response or good idea, stop.  

The world is a complex place. That is true with politics and pet ownership. Just because someone on the internet — or on your television — says something is true does not make it so. And in no scenario are death threats a reasonable, rational response.  

Also, if you see a veterinary medical professional? Say thanks; they have a tough job. That is one of the things you can believe when you read it on the internet.  

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Michael Cianchette, Opinion columnist

Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.