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.