The tragic story about Oreo, the one-year old Pit bull mix who was thrown from a roof in Brooklyn, NY, spread far and wide and may result in new legislation.
The ASPCA, who took Oreo, was left with a decision to make about a dog who began to show signs of aggression and ultimately decided to euthanize her. Many were opposed and disheartened by the ASPCA’s decision believing that it ultimately resulted in them failing a victim they were trying to save.
Whether or not Oreo could have been rehabilitated is a question we won’t get an answer to and it’s easy to sit back and criticize their decision. They’re the ones left to clean up something that never should’ve happened in the first place. No doubt their decision was a hard one, but there were no guarantees that Oreo could have been rehabilitated. Additionally, while a no-kill sanctuary offered to take her, she would have been left with little contact with other animals or people. Would that have been a good life for such a social animal?
Oreo’s story has inspired a bill that has been introduced in the New York State Legislature by Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner and State Senator Thomas K. Duane, which would allow other animal welfare organizations to come forward and request animals when their current shelter is planning on euthanizing them.
The bill is modeled after similar legislation in California, Hayden’s law, that was passed as an effort to save adoptable animals from being euthanized.
At first glance this seems like a good idea. However, the wording of the bill in New York would allow anyone with a 501c3 status to come forward to claim an animal regardless of whether or not they have the experience, resources or ability to deal with them, or their potential temperament or medical issues, and doesn’t ensure that animals will end up with responsible caretakers.
A 501c3 status means nothing more than that an ‘organization’ is tax exempt, which can include hoarders, and has nothing to do with whether it can provide quality care.
According to the Animal Law Coalition, “There should be some provision to allow the public shelter or agency to make sure the organization is not hoarding or engaged in criminal activity, that it’s owners and employees have no history of animal abuse or neglect, and is capable of providing proper housing and care, veterinary and otherwise, and any training or socialization the animals may require. It would be important to assure the organization has an adoption program that places animals in carefully screened homes to find the best person to care for and manage each animal.”
As it stands, the legislation in New York has no provisions to ensure that adequate care will be provided to surrendered animals. Without them, there is no guarantee that animals will be better off or protected from further suffering.
Would Oreo’s Law help as it’s written? Or is it a well intentioned piece of legislation that may be poorly executed? Would resources be better spent to support tougher punishments for animal abusers and efforts to ensure that adoptable animals can be placed?