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Oreo’s Law: Will Good Intentions Go Bad?

Oreo’s Law: Will Good Intentions Go Bad?

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?   

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117 comments

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1:20AM PST on Jan 1, 2010

after all this poor girl had been through,she would have deserved a second chance.just look at the rehabilitated vick dogs.they`re all doing great.RIP beautiful oreo.

11:18AM PST on Dec 26, 2009

"They are gassed, then their corpses are bagged and thrown into a bin in the back of the shelter for pickup. The drugs your Vet uses are too expensive and time consuming for the shelter to use. This is the big secret that every shelter worker, volunteer and foster knows. There are no no-kill shelters. This is a myth"
Lisa, are you talking about your particular shelter when you say they are gassed? I live in Texas and "gas chambers" are pretty much a thing of the past here. Our shelter in my town use meds to euthanize animals. The shelters in Austin don't gas any animals. The meds aren't that expensive here. We have a fund raiser every year to be sure that the shelter has sufficient materials...shelter, food, etc. The city and county also pitch in with a decent budget for the shelter.
There is a no-kill facility about 20 miles from our town. Texas has several no-kill organizations. I'm very grateful for your input. I want to assure the readers that all animals aren't gassed and there are many organizations here that are "no-kill" I moved here from Oklahoma and there is a huge shelter at Edmond which takes animals and the animals aren't put down. They will live the remainder of their lives on a 1600 acre ranch.
I'm sorry that you must be working in horrific circumstances. I hope the day will come where the gas chamber is eliminated. When our shelter needs something that the budget doesn't allow, we go to the city fathers and the public.
Peace.....Pat

11:22PM PST on Dec 21, 2009

Wow, that is terribly sad. I hope one day more people will become aware of these terrible situations so that we can all work together to STOP all of this!

3:45PM PST on Dec 19, 2009

Let's try to break the case of Oreo down.
Neighbors heard her owner beating on her for 30 minutes before he threw her off the roof. No one intervened and when interviewed, to a man, everyone said that the abuse was daily. Her legs were broken when she hit the ground. She was in horrific pain. The first thing she knew more of those "two legged creatures" had her and she had no idea what was to come.
Oreo's brain canyons had been messed with emotionally and physically. She never knew what to expect from man from one minute to the next. Her main emotion was FEAR. If someone went near her, she was scared. We don't know if she had fought any but it seems that she probably was because she was horribly aggressive towards the dogs she saw. She continually tried to attack her PROFESSIONAL trainer.
NOW, would you like to live inside Oreo's brain for a 24 hours? No? I thought not.
There is a tremendous amount of amateur projection going on in this thread. Do your research. Talk to animal control officers. Come talk to me. I hunt down dogfights and see dogs weekly that aren't any closer to adoptioin than a rattlesnake would be.
If you don't know what you are talking about, try to find out some solid facts.
Oreo is much better off where she is now.
And for the lady who said that euthanization is always painful, that simply is NOT true. I'm 66 and I've had to let my senior dogs/cats go in the past and I've never seen a painful goodbye. Maybe you need a new veteri

8:57AM PST on Dec 9, 2009

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?

Yes I think this is a VERY good idea. For one thing whether the people have a lot of "training" or not can be a wonderful home for a pet that cannot be rehabilitated!!!!!! Not to mention the fact that NO ONE at the Humane Society has ANY real training except for a little standard information that they all go by. They are NOT trained in any school for this. The very idea that the Humane Society knows best is ludicrous! I have seen first hand their "training" and it is minimal and based on a bit of stupidity that ALL DOGS ARE ALIKE!

4:41AM PST on Dec 9, 2009

I realize that human safety takes precedence over "lesser" life on this civilized planet...but death is NEVER in the best interest of the animal.

8:24PM PST on Dec 8, 2009

It's absurd that a law like this even needs to exist. What kind of animal rescue refuses to let another rescue try and save a dog? Somehow they're trying to say oreo is better off dead. I can understand them saying they can't help this dog but let someone else try before you kill him. There just might be someone out there with more skill/experience

These people should all be fired, anyone siding with them needs to give their head a shake!

9:48PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

and let us not allow the NY ASPCA to snivel..it IS their job to take over abused animals and do their best for them. the above article suggests they were the poor group that had Oreo dumped on them. Damn it that is what they are there for. They dropped the ball and I for one will never support them in any form.

9:46PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

Dogs that may seem dubious in temperment can be handled by persons dressed to protect themselves in case the dog becomes aggressive or fearful and reacts...no reason for these dogs to be isolated from others. they may be in fenced areas where they can see other dogs and again interacted with by those prepared.
I want so bad to have a rehab center for dogs that would otherwise be put down. We give humans who have abused, raped, and murdered second chances so why not dogs??

5:34PM PST on Dec 6, 2009

Poor Oreo, you never had a chance

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