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Oreo's law will save animals.  Visit
  1. Send emails of support to the legislators writing the bill
  2. Send emails to the New York Assembly/Senate members encouraging them to vote for the bill.
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Oreo's Law

Letters of Support

Talking Points

  • Oreo was a one year old pit bull mix that was abused and thrown from the top of a six-story building.

  • She went to the ASPCA facility on 92nd street, where she was operated on to fix her broken legs and ribs, was treated & received medical care.

  • Over the course of the next several months she was subjected to temperament testing and allegedly became more aggressive.

  • thumboreo.jpgA team of ASPCA employees headed by CEO Ed Sayres decided that Oreo was "too dangerous to live".

  • Oreo was scheduled to be killed on Friday the 13th of November 2009.

  • On Thursday, Pets Alive contacted the ASPCA and Ed Sayres office and offered to accept Oreo into our facility. We explained that the bad press from this would not be good for anyone and that we had ample experience in dealing with aggressive animals and rehabilitating them. We also explained that we would relieve them of any liability and that Oreo would have an excellent quality of life here as we have over 22 people (between staff and volunteers) that currently handle our aggressive dogs.

  • We completely expected that the ASPCA would be thrilled at this option so in preparation we cleared out our senior room to house Oreo so she would not be confined to a kennel where additional stress would not be beneficial to her. We also cleared an outdoor run that would be able to house her where she could see, hear and smell other dogs but not be touching their runs. We felt this sort of environment as a start would be emotionally helpful to her.

  • The ASPCA never returned our calls. We then called all the press that had previously written articles on her and asked them to help intervene. We then contacted every contact on the ASPCA web page and left voice mails for everyone we could get. Additionally we called the kennel and left word that we'd appreciate someone getting back to us in regards to our offer.

  • We never got a call back, even though in the press the ASPCA reported that they would contact us in regards to our offer. They never did and in fact when we started calling again, they would hang up on us whenever we were able to get an actual person on the line.

  • We got hundreds of emails from other people who were also frustrated by the process of trying to get hold of them or were treated rudely when they did make contact.

  • We heard from Rescue Ink, who asked us if it was true we had offered to take her. We said yes and they went to the shelter and asked them to turn over Oreo. They were treated rudely and forced out of the ASPCA by security there.

  • The ASPCA then killed Oreo.

The ONLY argument here is whether the ASPCA was working in Oreo's
best interest when they killed her, when they had another viable option.

The Debate

    Since killing Oreo the ASPCA has been applying "spin tactics" to this situation. Their reasons for killing Oreo have been many. We are outlining them below with how you can respond to each one.

    • "Sanctuary placement was not good for her welfare." (Stephen Zawistowski, Lead animal "behavior expert")
      So what they are saying is that DEATH is good for her welfare? How is being DEAD rather than alive better for her welfare?

    • "The ASPCA is "unfamiliar" with Pets Alive." (Stephen Zawistowski)
      In 2000 Pets Alive tangled with the ASPCA over the treatment of carriage horses. There were articles in the NY Times, the Village Voice and other well known media outlets. Sara Whalen (previous director of Pets Alive) accused the ASPCA of exploiting the animals to raise donor contributions. Additionally, we are New Hope Partners and the Mayors' Alliance delivers dogs to us every single month. We are also one of the largest animal sanctuaries on the east coast, placing over 1000 animals a year AND next year's spokesperson for the ASPCA is our MAIN benefactor - Rob Thomas. We have been here for over thirty years. However, this is a moot point. Had this truly been the issue - were they on a doggie death deadline? Could they not have stayed their dog-killing hands for a few days or a week to check us out? We are a valid 501(c)3 animal rescue. Was killing Oreo the answer because they claim we were unknown and death was better than surrendering her to a place they never heard of?

    • In a form letter damage-control email sent to those who contacted the ASPCA, Sayres lectures supporters on the definition of an animal sanctuary. "Due to the extreme emotional and physical strain Oreo suffered, her living conditions at a sanctuary would have been anything but natural, and her quality of life would have been poor at best. She would be forced to live a life of isolation, with extremely limited contact..."

      OK, well first, if they "never heard of us" how do they how she would have lived? At Pets Alive this is entirely untrue. EVERY single one of our dogs have people that interact with them. Even our "red" dogs are even taken out on day trips - for ice cream and overnight stays by volunteers. There are always people here that can work with all our dogs.

      We have placed over 80 dogs that have bite histories, in homes. Only ONE has ever had a bite reoccurrence and those owners still kept him. We still have eight dogs on the property that are "project dogs" with a bite history. Two are living in foster care with volunteers and the others all live here. One used to be VERY dog aggressive. That dog now lives with another dog. There are at least ten staff members and twelve volunteers that interact with our "red" dogs. So how is that living in isolation? How is going out for day trips and getting ice cream living in isolation? We also have some runs that have solid dividers between them so dogs can live next to each other even if they are dog aggressive (we have some previous fighting dogs here) then we additionally have runs that are not touching other runs but where dogs can still see and smell other dogs. How is this living in isolation? We would have been happy to show the ASPCA a plan, or show them examples of dogs we had worked with in the past. We have had much support from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on tough cases as well. Check our the story of Cam, Tommy or Amelia. Three VERY problematic dogs with aggression issues. Amelia is now in a home, living with her family and a cat, Tommy lives with my family, and Cam is probably the most loved dog here. Volunteers dress him up for the holidays and paint his toenails. So how is this "living in isolation"?

    • They called our efforts "empty rhetoric" because we "had no access to Oreo or her evaluations".
      They keep trying to distract you from the point. We don't NEED those evaluations because they have nothing to do with this. We offered to provide a solution for Oreo other than death. They STILL chose death. That's it. That is all this is about. But ok, I'll play this silly political game. We don't NEED the evaluation. We have seen tons of vicious dogs. We HAVE vicious dogs. We don't BELIEVE in evaluations done when a dog is ill, sick or stressed. We still manage to fix these problems or provide a quality of life for dogs no matter what their evaluations say. And remember evaluations are judgment calls. For every behaviorist that says "not workable" I can probably find you ten that say "workable". The ASPCA is claiming THEY are the authority on all and the giver of life or death. We say they abused that power.

    • Pets Alive doesn't have the right "credentials".
      You kill dogs. We save them. Those are our credentials. This is absolutely ridiculous to the point of being Orwellian. We saved the lives of 1000 animals last year. Those are SOME of OUR credentials. We have been around for thirty years. MORE credentials. We routinely pull dogs from the city CACC, each month and save THEIR lives. Those are our credentials. And if we didn't have whatever they wanted - couldn't they have held off on doggie-death-day and asked us for them? Remember they NEVER ever contacted us. They are an hour away. Why didn't they come and check us out?

The picture you see above is of Oreo. Taken minutes before she was killed.
Make your own judgments.


Some of the media coverage: