ASPCA Tries to Soften the Blow about Oreo

President and CEO of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Ed Sayres issued a press release today in an effort to soften the blow about his organization’s decision to euthanize Oreo – a dog that made national news as a victim of extreme abuse.


His statement outlined the detailed process the ASPCA went through in trying to rehabilitate the dog. It was also issued, because of threats made to the organization.


On June 18th, the one-year-old Pit bull mix named Oreo was thrown off a 6th floor rooftop in Brooklyn, NY by her 19-year-old owner Fabian Henderson.  The dog broke her two front paws and fractured a rib. Neighbors said they heard Henderson beating Oreo for 20-30 minutes before the final assault.


Oreo was taken to the ASPCA hospital and Henderson was placed under arrest by ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents.


The ASPCA performed reconstructive surgery on her front legs and nursed the dog back to health.  Her owner pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to felony charges of animal cruelty and will be sentenced on December 1, 2009. 


Oreo’s story caught the attention of the media which led to a flurry of calls from animal rescue groups and individuals that wanted to adopt her.  Her fame has now led to a public outcry as the ASPCA made their decision to euthanize her.


Sayres said when they first notified the public about their decision; their office was bombarded with phone calls and e-mails from people who were confused and wanted to help. The ASPCA sympathized with their sadness and tried to explain. Then the calls got angry and were “laced with profanity” and the ASPCA became the villain in this horrible situation that they did not start.


Today’s press release was issued to let the public know how much their good intentions were appreciated and help clarify the great lengths the ASPCA took trying to rehabilitate Oreo. Sayres said, “The details surrounding Oreo’s case are largely unknown.”

So he outlined “the circumstances that led to this most difficult and heartbreaking of decisions.”


“After arriving at the ASPCA’s facility, Oreo began to recuperate from her injuries, only to begin showing signs of extreme aggression – with little provocation or warning.”


These are the steps taken by the ASPCA:

  • Oreo underwent a comprehensive evaluation to determine the right rehabilitation program for her to get her ready for adoption or a foster home.
  • They actually had two different evaluations performed; one in-house and one from an outside veterinary behaviorist.
  • Both evaluations recommended that Oreo not be placed in a home.
  • ASPCA staff continued with “extensive” behavior training, but Oreo continued to “lunge, growl, snap and attempt to bite.”
  • She alternated with lunging at the behaviorist and then her handler.
  • ASPCA tried to socialize her with other dogs, but she repeatedly attacked them.
  • To keep the other dogs and staff safe, Oreo had to be kept in “relative isolation.”
  • Her violent behavior became so overwhelming that employees were told to “refrain from making sustained eye contact with Oreo so as to not incite aggression.”


The ASPCA then decided to look into alternative placement for Oreo in a long-term resident facility.  However they finally came to the conclusion this meant sentencing her to a life alone, away from people and dogs. They worried that her quality of life would be “reduced to virtually nothing.”


“Thus, we arrived at the painful yet clear decision to humanely euthanize Oreo,” said Sayres.


Sayres also reminded the public that the decision the ASPCA made, is the same decision “dedicated shelter workers throughout the country make each and every day.”


“Oreo has come to a place where she can no longer be around people or other animals. We make this decision – and others like it – with a heavy heart and complete understanding that had she been treated with love and respect, Oreo’s fate would be much different.”


The ASPCA is worried their decision will make people think they failed Oreo. I hope it opens their eyes that cruelty like Oreo suffered is rampant and sometimes even with the best intentions the damage it does cannot be healed.  Rest in peace – Oreo.






darla h.
darla H2 years ago

I was deeply saddened as well with the ASPCA decision to put Oreo to sleep!! What is abuser did was a horror and he suffered baca use if it!! They should have given him more time to heal!! Just sad! B

Past Member
Past Member 2 years ago

I wish that the ASPCA had given Chester's House Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation & Sanctuary the chance to work with Oreo before they put the dog down. "Every" dog deserves that right, every dog deserves a second chance. Oreo is no different than any other dog. Any animal can have their Spirit broken by a human, if you can even call people human anymore. Only Love, patience & time can heal these wounds. Don't give up on these guys!!! After what humans do to them, they deserve better. We OWE Them!!!

linda e.
linda e3 years ago

I can tell by reading the comments that everyone cares deeply about animals, but all have a different opinion on how to care for the animals. And we base beliefs on the knowledge that we know at that given time. But i ask everyone to please keep an open mind and remember that we have not walked in other's shoes.

I respectfully disagree with one of the comments that it would be a matter of time and love. Sadly that is not the case. I have worked with shelter animals who have been traumatized thru abuse and abandonment. The staff and volunteers at the shelter offered love and patience, but some animals were too damaged emotionally and mentally that they could not come out of it. They remain in the shelter till their natural passing, often 10 years or more, still being cared for by loving staff, but having to take precautions so they would not be hurt. These dogs can never be adopted out, and live their life in a kennel, with limited human contact who are capable of handling these animals.

What many do not realize is that these traumas are held within the cell's memory in the animal's body. If they cannot be released or cleansed, it is very difficult for the animal to assimilate within society and move forward in life. And furthermore, there are animals who have been so abused, that they themselves no longer wish to remain alive.
We try so hard to save everyone thinking life is better than death, but death is a means of leaving the physical body and the soul mo

Holly J.
Holly Jensen3 years ago

this response is based in aggravation at readoing yet another comment about animal welfare organizations killing animals in their care. Sometimes this criticism is deserved, sometimes its very short sighted. sometimes its the only option that time, due to the resources and numbers of animals served allows. The bottom line however should not be drawn at the shelter door, draw the line at the community or town line that accepts the conditions cause the animals to arrive at the shelter door.
There is actually no such thing as a "no kill" shelter. Get over it. Death is inevitable where there is life.
I work at a municipal animal shelter in new england, and we work hard to keep our animals clean, healthy and sane under conditions that they are not designed to live in as we work to find them new homes.

Municipal shelters are on the front lines of care for abandoned and stray animals in many areas, as well as for animals whose owners are unable to keep them for any number of reasons, but who cannot afford the high cost of surrendering their animals to private rescues. Our animals need all the help they can get, and lack of funding ("I will never donate to anything but a no kill shelter") is often the number one reason that so many animals are euthanized at shelters. Lots of animals, lots more waiting for help, limited resources. I did not get into working with animals 30 years ago because I like killing them or caging them but have done both. My job pays near minimum wage, m

Mike White
Mike White3 years ago

Oreo's sad tale is the main reason I NEVER donate to kill shelters PERIOD. Putting a fake hand on the end of a stick and pushing the dogs face away every time it tries to feed is bringing out a protective instinct in most living creatures, especially those who have been starved. My son rescued a pit bull from an abusive situation over 8 years ago. At the time he had a 2 year min pin named Buddy. The two have been best friends since then. The only precaution my son takes to keep the two best friends from getting testy with each other is to separate them during feeding time. Buddy will fight MAX over the food. If you care about animals and are sickened by the manipulative commercials like the one with Betty and her two pups then you will give your hard earned money to a NON KILL SHELTER and truly save a life.

Ashley Meyers
Ashley Meyers5 years ago

Yes, the ASPCA is doing good work for animals. I will agree with that much.
What I don't agree with is how they treat countless dogs like Oreo, when there are many other places willing to give a second chance, they shy away to cover their behinds. Trust me, the amount of supporters you are going to lose for something similar to what happened to Oreo won't be half as many people that you draw in from your ads on TV.
I also don't agree that Mr. Sayres makes over half a million dollars a year.
Support the ASPCA if you want, but I am more willing to spend my time and money on smaller charities, like Pets Alive that actually help the helpless animals and that don't pay their CEOs over a half a million dollars a year.

JoAnne N.
JoAnne N.6 years ago

Wow Helga I am astonished at how totally ignorant you are. Just where exactly are getting this number of 170 from? Perhaps the voices in your head told you so? Here is a dose of REALITY for you if you are capable of understanding TRUTH and LOGIC-

1.) Since 1992, the breed most involved in fatal attacks has been the Rottweiler, not the pit bull.

2.) Over the 37-year period from 1965-2001, pit bulls have been blamed for an average of 2.48 human fatalities per year.

3.) Every year, more than 2,000 children in the U.S. are killed by their parents or guardians either through abuse or neglect. A child is more than 800 times more likely to be killed by their adult caretaker than by a pit bull.

4.) Approximately 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts. Therefore, you are more than 60 TIMES MORE LIKELY to be killed by a PALM TREE than a pit bull.

5.) It is estimated that 5,000,000 dogs per year are killed in shelters. Since in many places pit bulls make up 30-50% of the shelter population, and are less likely to be considered for placement than any other breed, guessing that 25% of those dogs killed is a reasonable estimate. Therefore, it can be assumed that perhaps 1.25 million pit bulls are killed per year.

Therefore - it is at least a HALF MILLION TIMES MORE LIKELY that a pit bull will be killed by a HUMAN than the other way around.

So there you go HELGA- those are the FACTS. I can't fathom why someone as ignorant and uncaring as you would even vi

Jamia G.
Jamia G6 years ago

First off Helga you are disgusting and discriminate. You are exactly what is wrong with the world today and why people think it is no big deal for them to abuse any kind of an animal. There have been non-biased tests performed that showed that Pit Bulls are actually relatively low on the list of so-called aggressive breeds. The top breeds are those that so many people preach as being the perfect family dogs, or are so small that their behavior is ignored. Secondly, the reason that so many people rally to save poor animals like Oreo is because people want to root for the underdog, or any living creature that has faced difficulty particularly when that comes directly from a human being and their behavior cannot even be fathomed by a normal, compassionate person. Would the people saying to only help the healthy animals that don't need extra assistance be so quick to throw humans to the side because they were not in perfect condition, either mentally, or physically? I certainly hope not, other wise society is worse off than I thought. As for trying to explain away killing this poor animal, it is unacceptable when there are so many avenues available today that are fully prepared and willing to take the time and effort helping them would require. I have seen how some of the so-called behavior testing has been done at other shelters. If anyone else were doing these things, they would be arrested for animal cruelty. If someone were to poke a stick at me, you can bet I'd attack.

Diane T.
Diane T6 years ago

I am a volunteer at the ASPCA. All I keep reading is a bunch of crap from really ignorant people. "call cesear milan" He is not freaking god.. There is nothing wrong with the Pit Bull breed. It is the people who raise them what is wrong. You can make the cutest little Yorkie into something nasty. There are "back yard breeders" out there that will take these innocent puppys at a REALLY young age and start smashing their faces into each other until they start to bite. They also do other cruel things to them to make them do that. I am a certified dog trainer and worked with many many of Pit bulls. They are a great breed. If they are put with the right owner they are the most loyal and loving dogs ever. It is really sad what happens to a lot of pit bulls. There are a lot of innocent adoptable dogs getting killed every single day because of over population as well. ASPCA can not adopt out a dog if the dog is attacking without warning.
Helga I think you should do your research a bit more on dog breeds before writing such an ignorant comment.

Helga L.
Helga L.6 years ago

The ASPCA did the right thing to put that vicious dog Oreo down. If anyone wanted that kind of nasty dog, they should be ashamed. There are so many nice dogs in shelters, go get one. ASPCA did operate on his legs etc. Pit Bulls should be all put down. They kill over 170 people a year.,they will never be nice dogs, persons who own them are also mean and selfish.