The case of Oreo, a pit bull who inspired headlines and received an outpouring of public sympathy when her “owner” tossed her off a Brooklyn rooftop in June (she fell six stories and broke both of her front legs), has ignited a controversy. Oreo was nursed back to health by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), but during her recovery, her caretakers noticed that she was prone to bouts of severe, unpredictable aggression. If anything, the ASPCA goes overboard in trying not to euthanize any animal, but Oreo was beyond their help and had failed every test for psychological stability that the organization had put to her. So with great reluctance, the ASPCA made the tough decision not to put children, other animals, or anyone else at risk and euthanized Oreo.
Oreo’s peaceful death at the hands of people who cared about her has brought unjust criticism down on these individuals’ heads from some ”no-kill” advocates who believe in life at all costs—no matter the pain or the price. Oreo was deeply disturbed, perhaps because of head injuries or beatings—who can say? But I ask anyone who is upset that they could not “rehabilitate” this “celebrity dog” to please remember that she is at peace. Unfortunately, many thousands of other wonderful dogs who will never hurt anyone are still going to have to be euthanized in New York City every year. If you have a good home to offer, there’s an equally worthy dog waiting for your help. Instead of picketing the ASPCA, go adopt one of these caring animals. And remember, there are hundreds of thousands—maybe millions—of pit bulls who remain in the custody of cruel people who see them as little more than cheap burglar alarms or punching bags. No energy should be expended fretting over Oreo’s euthanasia when action needs to be taken in their behalf.
When I recognized a name on the list of the protesters who came out against the ASPCA’s action, I felt compelled to come to the defense of shelter workers who have to make heartbreaking decisions every day and sent the following letter to the organization’s blog:
The nice-sounding but damaging “no-kill” movement exposes its lunacy by attacking an agency (the ASPCA) that took in an aggressive pit bull named Oreo from extreme abuse, paid to fix her two broken legs, and then, when she turns out to be far too dangerous and unpredictable around people, affords her a peaceful and dignified exit from the world that has miserably failed her (“Oreo is Dead,” Nov. 13).
Leading the critics is Camille Hankins, the Director of Win Animal Rights, who was convicted of cruelty to animals in 1995 when nearly 100 animals were found stuffed into a tiny, filthy trailer rented by Hankins. Many of the animals found there were dying from contagious illnesses and many were literally scratching themselves to death and had bloody, seeping wounds from severe untreated mange infestations. Two cats removed by police from Hankins during the service of a search and seizure warrant were treated successfully and lived at PETA’s headquarters for more than 10 years (you can read the details of the case here: http://www.pet-abuse.com/cases/4612/NC/US/).
The only humane way to achieve a “no kill” nation is to create a “no birth” nation by mandating spaying and neutering of dogs and cats to stop the flow of unwanted litters into our nation’s shelters. We also need to penalize those who fail to act responsibly toward animals. In the meantime, those who make the toughest decisions, who have to euthanize animals for want of a proper home, and so carry out the hardest work of all, deserve respect and gratitude, not criticism. Learn more at helpinganimals.com.
Written by Teresa Lynn Chagrin
Animal Care and Control Specialist