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« Is your cat sick? Don ' t overlook these subtle clues. | Main | Will our food -- and our pets ' -- be safer soon? »

16 November 2009

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Cait

I agree with Heather - I just don't think I've got enough information to be upset with the ASPCA or not. I think it's a sad situation. Could more have been done? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm uncomfortable demonizing people I don't know who, from all quotes supplied, are upset enough about what they decided to feel they need to justify it, and I suspect it was not an easy decision for anyone- as it shouldn't be.



I'm curious about Drew's assertion that 'aggressiveness is established at a young age'. What age would that be? A friend is currently dealing with a darling pit bull with a budding dog aggression problem- one she'd hoped to avoid by socializing and training the heck out of the dog. The resources for this sort of thing are non-existent if you are not in a situation where you can simply manage the dog's aggression towards other animals. (And yes, people shouldn't get pit bulls unless they're prepared to manage this sort of problem, but like many folks, she fell in love with an athletic, brainy, outgoing, low-shedding, sweet-as-pie puppy who now wants to eat other dogs. The prevailing 'LOVE CONQUERS ALL' attitude that some shelters push towards behavior problems and 'of course we'll take her back if you can't keep her*' made adoption just a little too easy.



*to euthanize her since we don't adopt out dog aggressive dogs.) This dog was fine until she hit 10 months.

The OTHER Pat

Comment by H. Houlahan — November 19, 2009 @ 1:19 pm



"Drew is expressing a sort of uber-Benthamite radical utilitarian viewpoint about life and death — as interpreted by a 10-key adding machine. Which may indeed be what we are dealing with here."



I used to date an engineer who was a lot like this. Really proud of what he considered his very pragmatic and unsullied-by-useless-emotionalism view towards what others might view as the "grey areas" in life. I suppose it kept his own life and outlook calmer and less cluttered by all those messy attachments and ambiguities. But it made him a tremendously unsympathetic person to be around whenever we encountered a situation which *I* cared deeply about, and so the relationship ended - as it needed to. Which is also why I'm not even bothering to try and enter any kind of constructive discussion with Drew. I'm pretty sure that he - like my ex-boyfriend - is completely comfortable with how "right" he is and not actually interested in even contemplating any possible alternatives.



However, it does have me wondering whether he is the product of one of those veterinary colleges that decided to eschew the personal interviews as part of their admission process as a cost-saving measure? In at least one case I know of, the college later regretted that policy and returned to the admission interviews when they realized that - unlike engineers - practicing vets really and actually DO have to have the capacity for empathetic interactions with the *human beings* who are the ones actually bringing in the animals to be treated . . . . . . . .

mary frances

OK - I'll comment on my comment (above #66) - seems if case law is ever created that orders shelters/animal control facilities to stay open for 24 hours/7 days a week for adoption/redemptions (and spay/neuter those adopted)....wouldn't this almost end the killing as we know it? Maybe I'm reading the case incorrectly but STRAY FROM THE HEART, INC., vs. DEPT. OF HEALTH & MENTAL HYGIENE via the Supreme Court of the State of New York could be establishing such a precedence..?

wolfdogged

An Open Letter to Nathan Winograd.

http://themacinator.blogspot.com/2009/11/my-thoughts-on-oreo.html



There has been a lot of recent hubbub about a pit bull that was thrown from a roof in New York about 6 months ago. This was pretty much the epitome of a cruelty case by commission: someone literally took his dog and threw it off a roof. Every day animals are subjected to all kinds of cruelty- from the worst, like dog fighting, to things like what happened to Oreo, to more subtle, but still bad, things like being tied up and left in the yard and undersocialized with poor shelter from the element, or left with matted hair and some kind of untreated ailment. If they weren't, I would be out of a job (and I wouldn't mind being out of my kind of job.)



Very few of these acts of cruelty make the New York Times. This story originally made the Times when the dog owner was first charged. I'm not sure why the story was news, but it was. Maybe it was news because pit bulls are always news (usually when they attack someone or something, or a dog looks like a pit bull when it does anything wrong), and recently they're semi-positive news due to some of Michael Vick dogs making it. Maybe it was news because many people saw this dog fall. Maybe the ASPCA made a big deal of the rescue of the dog. But speaking from someone who deals with human beings' shitty acts every day, let me tell you, this stuff doesn't normally make the news. And that's probably a good thing, because usually it doesn't have a happy ending.



This is something I struggle with a lot, and recently had an interesting discussion with a coworker about, in the euthanasia room, of all places. Each of us were going to put down one of our dogs- dogs we cared about. My dog was a cruelty case, one that will never make the news, and that no one would know about if I weren't blogging about it here. I went to post a picture, but it's on my work camera. I got a call about a dog in a kennel, in an abandoned house. I went out, and the house was empty. It didn't look abandoned to me, but it was messy, and maybe the people had just moved out. I don't know and will never know, because they never came in for their dog. The dog was indeed living in a kennel, if you can call it that. It was more like a cage, a 6x4 cage. The dog was a very large German Shepherd mix, maybe with husky or Akita. A VERY large dog, 80 or 90 lbs. The cage had a top on it and was closed up with a weird combination of wire and bungee cords. There was a build up of feces in it and the water was a bucket of green water. I was just looking at this situation, trying to figure out how I was going to get the cage open, and then, how to get the dog out, when the dog picked up one of the toys (toys?!) in the cage and started throwing them at me. Turns out, this extra large dog was actually quite happy to see me. So I took pictures, opened the cage, and walked the dog out. He was a NICE dog. He waited out his cruelty impound wait, 10 days in California, and was evaluated a week later. He didn't pass his evaluation. I had a friend who works with rescue come look at him, and he was really borderline. He was older than I originally thought, probably 3 years old, and he was very "doggy"- a term I learned from Diane Jessup- sort of intact male, interested in intact male things, and just not very social. He could be social for a minute, and tolerated handling, but didn't really have a place in an urban home. He was a backyard (well, a cage) dog, and couldn't compete with the adoptable dogs the shelter was bursting at the seams with. So his euthanasia day came, and I put him down.



I put a lot of dogs that I seize down. I keep a picture in the office of a puppy I seized that was about 6 months old and looked two months old. A pit bull puppy, so riddled with demodex that she had a secondary skin infection all over her body. There was not a spot on her body that was not infected and oozing and scabby. Every lymph node on her body was swollen- her ankles and jugular were swollen like they had tumors. Her hip bones jutted out. I put her and her sister down the day they came in, as they were suffering. What does it mean to put down dogs I seize for cruelty? It is not easy for me: I have *rescued* these dogs from some of the shittiest situations, some of cruelty by commission and some of omission, and then I kill them. Yes, Mr Winograd, I kill them. I euthanize them humanely, but at the end, they are dead. They aren't suffering anymore, but they're not living, either.



But no one is scrambling to place them, like they were scrambling to place Oreo. No one is following me around and writing up these dogs' stories. Thank Dawg. If everyone saw what I saw every day, they would be numb to it. They wouldn't care about every dog, or any dog. On the other hand, the three dogs I just described weren't aggressive. Why was everyone trying to save Oreo, a dog that a respectable organization, the ASPCA (read: not PETA or HSUS) deemed unadoptable? If Oreo was aggressive, why the clamour to save her? No one created a stir to save my shepherd and he was not aggressive, he just wasn't particularly awesome, either, and at most municipal shelters, only the awesome go up for adoption. No one clamoured to save my mangy pit bulls, either, and they certainly weren't aggressive. They were just very very sick, and needed so much medical treatment that it could have taken years to work them back to health. No local or national group took up their cause, and certainly not Nathan Winograd or the list of groups he gives.



Winograd is thrilled that a law is being authored to stop the "executions" of more Oreos. He says that this law is like the Hayden Law, which is in place in California. Interestingly, though, the Hayden Law only requires that STRAY dogs and cats (and rabbits and pigs) be made available to 501c3 rescue groups. (See SB 1785) And again, the Hayden bill only works if it's, well, working. My dogs were all SEIZED, not stray, and 501c3s are swamped. Would the Sanctuary that everyone was pleading for Oreo to be sent to have stepped up for my dogs if they weren't in the media? Honestly, my Shepherd would have been fine in a kennel at a sanctuary with daily play time. But for the pit pups and many other I seize, it would be another step in the wrong direction: they need an instant family, that would spend lots and lots of time and money. And what rescue group or family has room for all of that? Very few.



I hate that this is the truth. I hate that I "save" dogs and then "kill" them. It is one of the crappiest parts of my job. But I'm also distraught that an aggressive pit bull is the impetus for a bill that would make any dog available to rescue. Rescue is awesome. It's necessary. Cruelty is terrible, and the animals are not the ones that should pay. The idiotic, foolish, ignorant, and sometimes badly intentioned people should suffer. In the meantime, Oreo is the wrong posterdog, and I wish we could unite without pointing fingers at the ASPCA (armchair sheltering again) and rather work together to fight cruelty and to partner in rescuing.

Valerie

Drew, assuming for a moment that you are a vet, do you talk to your clients the way you talk to the people here? I once had a vet like that. I fired her and got a better vet. I don't think anyone "chose" to have their heart broken over Oreo. If you look at the whole tragic Oreo situation on a strictly intellectual level, it'll give you a bad case of cognitive dissonance.

Lis

Wolfdogged, the shepherd mix you describe should not have been put down, plain and simple. No reason for it--just an organizational lack of will to find the resources to "market" him effectively to the right kinds of homes.



The sick dogs? Harder to judge. Maybe it would have been possible to humanely and effectively treat their conditions and nurse them back to healthy adoptability; maybe not. Can't tell from the information you provide.



But no one is scrambling to place them, like they were scrambling to place Oreo. No one is following me around and writing up these dogs’ stories. Thank Dawg. If everyone saw what I saw every day, they would be numb to it. They wouldn’t care about every dog, or any dog. On the other hand, the three dogs I just described weren’t aggressive. Why was everyone trying to save Oreo, a dog that a respectable organization, the ASPCA (read: not PETA or HSUS) deemed unadoptable? If Oreo was aggressive, why the clamour to save her? No one created a stir to save my shepherd and he was not aggressive, he just wasn’t particularly awesome, either, and at most municipal shelters, only the awesome go up for adoption. No one clamoured to save my mangy pit bulls, either, and they certainly weren’t aggressive. They were just very very sick, and needed so much medical treatment that it could have taken years to work them back to health. No local or national group took up their cause, and certainly not Nathan Winograd or the list of groups he gives.



There was an organization stepping forward wanting to take responsibility for Oreo and devote some of its resources to her. Yes, this happened because she hit the news, and the ASPCA chose to make use of her to raise money. This didn't happen for the dogs you describe; you didn't find anyone to take them on when your "shelter" decided to kill them. The question is, of course, did you try? Did you reach out to any other organizations trying to find someone for these dogs, especially the shepherd mix who only needed the right home, not major work?



And the other question, equally important, did Oreo, who had an organization wanting to take her on, deserve to die because the dogs you talk about died? Did she have to be "punished" for not being the dogs you killed?



You can't respond to cases you don't know about, and you seem distressingly comfortable with the fact that at too many municipal so-called "shelters," only the "awesome" dogs have even a brief shot at life.



It's not Nathan Winograd who killed your dogs. You killed those dogs. And you're outraged, apparently, at the idea that at some future date, you might be required to let a rescue or sanctuary save a dog that your opinion isn't sufficiently "awesome" to survive in a municipal killing factory.

mary frances

Wolfdogged - I admire your honesty - there seems to be tidal wave a-coming for change in that animal control will become animal sheltering (and you won't have to kill the dogs you save) that is the hope....I think many people will have to come together for the change (veterinarians, lawyers, rescue workers, animal control workers and the public)...and if Nathan Winograd retired and spent the rest of his life lounging in a beach chair in a sunny climate I wouldn't blame him...he's been a willing lightning rod - he's called BS on the biggies (PETA, HSUS, ASPCA) - he has helped me understand the complexities of the killing - also I wonder why the ALDF hasn't initiated lawsuits against animal control like the one in my above comment #66 - but it will take more than lawsuits to end the killing - I think this discussion is a step forward...

Kate M.

Wolfdogged- your story has utterly depressed me. I've followed the saga over Oreo for the past week and have seen the posts that advocates such as WAR, Pets Alive, and Nathan Winograd have expressed. I've also read the statements issued by the ASPCA, the Mayor's Alliance, and PETA.



I am completely SHOCKED by the outrage and arguments that all of these groups have participated in. That agencies that fight on behalf of animals would fight amongst themselves is actually deplorable to me. In fact, I would even say that this dispute between the outcome of Oreo is a lesson in futility.



Each group believes they have the right answer. When in fact, there is no right answer.



So, Wolfdogged, while your story depresses me, I couldn't agree with you more. Where is the outrage and shock and depression for the possibly thousands (if not millions) of abused pets that get euthanized EVERY DAY with no media to support them.



It's hypocritical and it's disgusting.



Maybe a lot of the folks on here will disagree with me, and I suspect they will. But those pointing the finger at the ASPCA, should also point the finger at themselves. I'm sure that Oreo is NOT the only abused animal at the ASPCA. I'm sure that your mangy puppy and German Shepherd are not the last on your euthanasia list. Has anyone contacted you (or the ASPCA) to ask (without rebuke) how they can help future pets? My guess is that they haven't. And that depresses me even more than your sad tale.



I'm not sure how much more about Oreo's saga I can read. It's upset, frustrated, and angered me in a thousand different ways. But, what has upset me more than any discussion are those who refuse to be a champion for animals, and would rather prove that their opinion is the only option.

Gina Spadafori

Kate, your outrage is misplaced, but is typical of the shelter industry's blame game. On this very thread are people who step up every damn day, including people who foster and who run rescues.



Change is coming. The blame game no longer will shield yesterday's industry "leadership" -- or lack thereof.

Drew

Heh-- @lis: it wasn't a serious wish. It was a funny wish. I'm not sure you got it ;)

Lis

Drew, I'm not sure you're clear on the social dynamics of when you can expect people to grant you the social slack that will lead them to laugh at your "jokes" rather than rolling their eyes at them.



Or, indeed, clear on the concept of "funny."

Lis

Don’t you think that if they could afford to be open 24/7 and not kill, they would?



Far too many of them would not--because far too many of them have been deeply resistant even to shifting their existing number of hours open to enable working families to go there after work or on weekends. Also, many in the traditional "shelter" industry are actively hostile to the idea of No Kill and do not regard it as even a "nice but impractical idea." They're committed to the idea that the entire, and insoluble, problem is the Bad Public, and that there are too many animals for the possible acceptable homes.



So, no, they wouldn't be open 24/7 if only they could afford to be.



owever, she listed a series of things that have to go wrong here— her dog has to escape, they have to miss finding the chip, she has to become aggressive in response to stress, and the people in the shelter have to be unable to distinguish between a stressed dog and an outright aggressive one. This isn’t very likely.



Too many shelters don't scan for microchips at all. Of the ones that do, depending on the kind of scanner they have, failure to detect a chip from a different manufacturer can range anywhere from extremely rare to all too common.



And if you read the comments I made when I was originally describing my concerns about my dog in a shelter, rather than the shorter restatement in response to you, you might have had a better understanding of how real the concern is: A typical shelter's idea of an "adoptable" dog is a confident, out-going dog. Those are the dogs that easily show well in a shelter setting. A sweet, shy, or fearful dog may be someone's beloved it pet, loving and sweet in normal circumstances will be stressed and terrified in a shelter setting, and will not look "adoptable" to the average shelter worker unless there is someone on staff who is a genuine professional, and willing to put in the time, effort, and resources that dog needs.



It’s also still possible that the behavior evals being done are perfectly legitimate; even board certified behaviorists will see signs of aggression that they will decide on the spot are not worth the effort to cure (eg, confident aggressive dogs.)I just don’t think this situation is common enough to be a realistic cause for concern— but that’s a very subjective issue.



Most shelters don't have board-certified behaviorists, and no, a real professional is not going to issue a death sentence "on the spot." Many shelters are using Sue Sternberg's "Assess-A-Pet" temperament test--a test designed to fail as many dogs as possible and send them straight to the death chamber.



So you are factually wrong, and this is a real concern for a very large percentage of dogs that may wind up in shelters for any reason.



@valerie

No, I don’t talk to clients that way. As I stated, most of you would love to work with me in person. I’m jovial, personable, I get on my hands and knees to address my patients. That is a doctor-client relationship. I also have peer relationships, and I conduct myself differently in those situations. This, however, is a blog post—a place where people share ideas around the world. I’m trying to pull as many people into this as possible and get their brains in “rationalization” mode.



What you don't get, Drew, is that we have no way to judge you except by how you present yourself here--and that behavior has presented as a lack of the normal range of human emotion, and either an inability, or an unwillingness, to empathize with any creature that is not part of your personal circle. Because Oreo wasn't "family" for anyone here, you believe it's "irrational" to care about the fact that she was killed rather than released to PetsAlive, which wanted to take her to their sanctuary and work with her. She had no value to you, by your way of thinking she had no value to anyone, and you lack the empathic ability to visualize some animal that you care about in similar circumstances. It's extreme utilitarianism--of a kind that devalues normal human emotional responses.



And I'm wasting phosphor, because I don't believe you're capable of grasping how off-putting that is.



@lis



To expand on my comment earlier— I was 99% sure that you were a woman, based on your name and the apparent makeup of this website, but it’s apparent that Gina is a female sexist who wants me to behave in specific ways towards specific people.



Um. No. She's not. This isn't even a vaguely accurate description of Gina.



I showed this argument to a co-worker (female), and she was offended by Gina’s comment.



What did you show her? The one comment? Everything from the point you parachuted in? The entire thread, which there's lots of evidence you haven't read very attentively yourself?



Certainly neither of you has read much else on this blog, resulting in a lack of context.



Gina is assuming I’m sexist because she exemplifies certain traits that GINA (not me or my co-worker) associate with women only.



No, she's assuming that you're a sexist because you used terms to criticize her position that are typically used by sexists to insult women--and have been used that way for centuries--and she did you the mistaken courtesy of simply assuming that you had read with the minimal amount of care necessary to know that you were addressing a woman.



And, really, I gotta say--I don't think anyone here really believes you thought Gina was Gino. Pretty feeble attempt, really, Drew.



If all women really were irrational or emotional, I would regard those words as sexist slurs and avoid them.



Uh, no. If all women really were irrational or overly emotional, those words would be factual descriptions, not sexist slurs. It's the fact that, being false, they are nevertheless commonly used to dismiss or diminish the value of women's arguments that makes them sexist.



I don’t think that is the case, however. Given Gina’s lack of constructive discussion throughout this comments page, though, I don’t find much reason to try and win her over or try and get more comments out of her. I would enjoy the irony if her own sexist views caused her to get even more angry when, after using the words “irrational” and “emotional” when (coincidentally) talking to a female, she saw me use the word “rational” when talking to a male— her narrow-minded brain would nearly explode, I’d imagine.



You really, truly, aren't familiar with the general advice that when you're six feet deep in a hole, you should stop digging, are you.



@houlahan

I don’t know that I ever claimed to be discussing in good faith; however I don’t know why I would need to or why anyone would assume otherwise. What would be my ulterior motive here? I’m not sure I get the rest of your argument—are you trying to get a rise? If so, I can respond to your claims, but I wonder if there’s some other goal that I’m missing.



Not to speak for Heather, but I do believe she thinks you're a troll, and that your purpose is to cause trouble for the fun of it.

Susan Fox

Or on the concept of civil, socialized behavior. If you really are a vet, I wouldn't bring a sick virus to you.

Drew

“Drew is expressing a sort of uber-Benthamite radical utilitarian viewpoint about life and death — as interpreted by a 10-key adding machine. Which may indeed be what we are dealing with here...." "I used to date an engineer who was a lot like this. Really proud of what he considered his very pragmatic and unsullied-by-useless-emotionalism view towards what others might view as the “grey areas” in life."



You guys love playing psychologists and making unwarranted assumptions. Emotions are the whole point of life, as far as I’m concerned. I'm a very emotional person. I’m utilitarian only in the sense that I don’t think actions should be wasted—in fact, our actions should best satisfy our emotional desires. I believe, based on arguments I'm not going to go into but hopefully is only a formality (I think my conclusion is self-evident), that by reaching a balance between which desires we satisfy and which desires we try and modify (counter-condition and desensitization, for you behavior types!) so that we no longer desire them, we maximize happiness-—which is my ultimate goal. Again, my problem is not with your emotions, it’s the way you’re letting one emotion influence your actions in such a way that your actions don’t accord with the satisfaction of your emotions in general—in other words, you’re behaving in a way that maximizes expression of your current outrage (short-term gain), but most likely at the expense of causes that will provide long-term happiness.





@Ifogetwho-- “If case law is ever created that orders shelters/animal control facilities to stay open for 24 hours/7 days a week for adoption/redemptions (and spay/neuter those adopted)…wouldn’t this almost end the killing as we know it? “



Don’t you think that if they could afford to be open 24/7 and not kill, they would? No, I think this would simply cause lots of shelters to go bankrupt and close their doors entirely. Money isn’t something that’s simple to come by.



@valerie

No, I don’t talk to clients that way. As I stated, most of you would love to work with me in person. I’m jovial, personable, I get on my hands and knees to address my patients. That is a doctor-client relationship. I also have peer relationships, and I conduct myself differently in those situations. This, however, is a blog post—a place where people share ideas around the world. I’m trying to pull as many people into this as possible and get their brains in “rationalization” mode.



Most people come into a given issue already convinced one way or another—and it cracks me up, by the way, that there are many of you who are convinced I am such a person (I probably am) but most of you aren’t (you definitely are.) But some people sit quietly on the sidelines, reading and thinking. And when they see bad rationalizations from people not listening to reason, it bothers them. You can turn some middle-of-the-roaders to your side simply by stirring up the other side and listening to them bluster, which is what I see here. At the same time, I’m trying to defend my arguments as logically as possible.



The only logical response I've gotten is from Lis, who says it's reasonable to fear that your own dog may be assessed as "aggressive" when they're really not, and thus be put down. I think this is a legitimate concern that can never be fully eliminated, and so I admit there is some reasonable cause for concern (as I had not agreed to earlier.) However, she listed a series of things that have to go wrong here-- her dog has to escape, they have to miss finding the chip, she has to become aggressive in response to stress, and the people in the shelter have to be unable to distinguish between a stressed dog and an outright aggressive one. This isn't very likely. It's also still possible that the behavior evals being done are perfectly legitimate; even board certified behaviorists will see signs of aggression that they will decide on the spot are not worth the effort to cure (eg, confident aggressive dogs.)I just don't think this situation is common enough to be a realistic cause for concern-- but that's a very subjective issue.



@lis



To expand on my comment earlier-- I was 99% sure that you were a woman, based on your name and the apparent makeup of this website, but it's apparent that Gina is a female sexist who wants me to behave in specific ways towards specific people. I showed this argument to a co-worker (female), and she was offended by Gina's comment. Gina is assuming I'm sexist because she exemplifies certain traits that GINA (not me or my co-worker) associate with women only. If all women really were irrational or emotional, I would regard those words as sexist slurs and avoid them. I don't think that is the case, however. Given Gina's lack of constructive discussion throughout this comments page, though, I don't find much reason to try and win her over or try and get more comments out of her. I would enjoy the irony if her own sexist views caused her to get even more angry when, after using the words "irrational" and "emotional" when (coincidentally) talking to a female, she saw me use the word "rational" when talking to a male-- her narrow-minded brain would nearly explode, I'd imagine.



@houlahan

I don’t know that I ever claimed to be discussing in good faith; however I don’t know why I would need to or why anyone would assume otherwise. What would be my ulterior motive here? I’m not sure I get the rest of your argument—are you trying to get a rise? If so, I can respond to your claims, but I wonder if there’s some other goal that I’m missing.

Susan Fox

I'll bet Drew's been here before under another name. The modus operandi is very familiar. Mindless provocation, sexism, divide and conquer (Lis is the "good girl" this time) and can't write less than a 1000 words at a shot. Who was that troll who showed up earlier this year?

Gina Spadafori

Yes, Drew, it IS all about you, which is also pretty basic troll behavior. I called you on it, you wouldn't knock it off, and now, you're going out as anonymously and unhelpfully as you came in.



I actually do think you may well be a good veterinarian, if you really are one, as I've certainly known a few whose technical skills were brilliant but whose people skills flat-out sucked. More unsolicited advice: Treating your "peers" one way and your "clients" like idiots whose fuzzy little brains are so happy at the way you get down on your hands and knees with their pets? You might actually try treating not only your "peers" but also your "clients" with respect. My own "primary-care" veterinarian does fuss over my pets. But when he's done doing that, we talk medicine, seriously. With respect on both sides.



You might try some of that.



But you're still leaving the party here, having neither learned anything nor shared anything beyond your own smug belief in your superiority over us silly little pet-lovers who have the nerve to suggest pulling financial support from organizations whose policies suggest no progress in changing the kill-and-blame-others paradigm that has defined the shelter industry for decades now.



That might include the A, but we really don't know since as Houlie has pointed out, we just flat-out don't have reliable information on this case. That definitely includes the SF SPCA, which has totally gone off the rails of progressive leadership in the shelter industry under the current board and executive staff.

2CatMom

Well I hope I don't get labeled as a troll, but I have some sympathy for Drew. He's taking a not very popular position and standing by it.



And frankly, I am suprised to hear myself thinking that Christie is also being extrememly rigid here.



I take a middle ground. I don't know what tipped the scale against Oreo. Neither does Christie or Drew or Nathan W. for that matter. And unless we know that, we are not in a position to pass judgment.



Its fine to say that a sanctuary would take her, but I'm not convinced that they didn't have some skin in the game as well (e.g. increased donations through publicity). Had they even looked at the evaluations before they made the decision? Because if they didn't, then I have to question their motivations as well.



That being said, I'm surprised that the ASPCA didn't do a better job PR wise. After all, they did use this dog for publicity/money raising and thus Oreo had a high public profile. They should have been prepared for the shit-storm that was sure to follow this decision. Prepared with the evaluation notes and a clear reason as to why they wouldn't release to a sanctuary.



And I do think there ARE cases where a rescue can determine that a dog is unsuitable for placement even in a sanctuary environment. Even Nathan cites the 2-3% number. If there was testing showing something that made them believe that going somewhere else would only prolong her sufferring, then I think it would irresponsible to let the sanctuary take the dog. But we don't know that - mainly because the ASPCA hasn't given provided the information.



But I won't condemn any organization out of hand until I have the FACTS, ALL THE FACTS.



I don't have them, you don't have them, no one but the ASPCA has them. So yes, keep pushing for answers but don't get caught up in the extremes of either condemning or extolling the ASPCA or the Sanctuary for that matter.



Remember Richard Jewell? Things aren't always what they appear to be.

Christie Keith

2CatMom, I am not being rigid. Please read what I said again: I believe some dogs are too miserable or sick or dangerous to live.



I was not commenting on whether or not Oreo was one of those dogs. Not once have I said she was or wasn't. I have commented only on how the A handled this, which was abysmally. Furthermore, if a dog has been evalauted and housed by one group, and they can't help her, but someone else who is qualified would like to try, then yes, I think that the DEFAULT must and should be, ALWAYS, to err on the side of letting the dog live.



Does that mean another set of "eyes" wouldn't agree with the evaluation? Of course it doesn't. It means THE DOG GETS ANOTHER CHANCE, and in this case, without putting society at risk.



I have never said I know the "truth" about Oreo. I said the A gave up to soon on a dog they had used to raise money, and additionally blamed others and whined. Those are very different things.

Jamie

I guess the difference between me and Drew (well, just one of many) is that I actually believe in the concept of rights. And in Oreo's case it was the right not to be killed.



So is my philosophy, which has just as long of an illustrious writing to it as utilitarianism, wrong? How do you gauge that?

2CatMom

I read your comments very carefully and we a fundamental disagreement. But I don't think you are giving any respect to any other opinion but your own.



I don't believe that when a shelter does an appropriate evaluation and a dog falls into the 2-3% category that they are obligated to let any one else test the dog. In fact, I think it would be down right negligent and irresponsible to let that happen.



Now if a shelter is acting in bad faith, that's different but these decisions are made every day across the country, and many good people are having to make some tough calls. And NO I don't think because someone else steps up and says we'll take the dog that they should automatically get the dog.



What do you know about this sanctuary? How do you know that the ASPCA doesn't have negative info on them but doesn't care to get into a public pissing contest. Maybe they are a fine organization and the ASPCA erred. Maybe not.



But I fundamentally disagree that every dog, cat, etc. should automatically be passed on to another shelter/sanctuary that wants to give it a second chance.



Are you even willing to entertain the notion that sometimes, 2-3% of the time that the tough call is the right call? Do you want every shelter, even the ones that are saving 97% of their animals to be subject to second guessing by people who don't have the facts to make an informed judgment?

Christie Keith

2CatMom: I don't think it's remotely unreasonable to require a second opinion and a second chance for every animal deemed "unsaveable" by one organization. Such is, in fact, the law here in California, and has been for years now. It works fine. I don't know why you'd have a problem with it. What would the downside be of doing that?



Amended to add: In California, the law specifies that the "second chance" organization has to meet certain criteria. I don't know anything first hand about Pets Alive, but I do know that they meet those criteria, are a member of the Mayor's Alliance and an approved Alliance-rescue group and rescue partner of the ASPCA already.

H. Houlahan

You know, that account on the Pets Alive site makes me much more skeptical of their ability to handle a truly human-aggressive dog, if that is what Oreo was.



The repeated references to how sad the staff was for Amelia, chasing her around trying to pet her -- a lot of inappropriate anthropomorphism and weak-human-energy-caught-in-the-past stuff -- these concern me.



The fact that they had to bring in a trainer from across the country to deal with what sounds like a pretty standard feral dog also concerns me.



And that they did not or could not take the obvious first step when a dog develops barrier aggression in the shelter -- get her the hell out of the kennel and into a high-quality foster home.



I say this as a trainer who has helped with the emergency rehab of nearly 200 abused ferals and near-ferals this year -- and since they were criminal evidence for eight months, they could not be fostered, nor were there the resources we would have liked to have to keep high-skills trainers on site the whole time. One of the "worst" is here fostering now.

SusanS

Amen, Christie! People owed poor Oreo a real chance, she had that chance, and the ASPCA executed her just to make sure she’d never get that chance. And their sanctimonious whining as if this is none of our business makes me ill. It is our business, not only for moral reasons, but because the ASPCA sure thought Oreo was our business while they were using her as a publicity stunt to generate money.



What on earth did anyone expect Oreo to act like after being tortured and hurled six stories to her near death? Sweetness and light? And why would Oreo have trusted the ASPCA staff? Her medical treatment involved being repeatedly hurt by that staff. How could Oreo have understood that this was for her benefit and not just more torture?



Pets Alive has rehabbed very aggressive dogs, using innovative and intelligent approaches:



http://petsalive.com/blog/2008/12/03/amelia-case-study/



Just being with new people who didn’t hurt her might have done wonders for Oreo. But we’ll never know. The ASPCA saw to that.

SusanS

"The fact that they had to bring in a trainer from across the country to deal with what sounds like a pretty standard feral dog also concerns me."



That's a real plus as far as I'm concerned. Instead of sticking to what wasn't working, they called in another trainer who got the job done. And I'd be reluctant to call Amelia "a pretty standard feral dog" without ever having seen her.

H. Houlahan

I only have what Pets Alive has chosen to say about the dog to go on (sound familiar?) Cutting through the sentimentality and borderline glurge, there is nothing there to substantiate that Amelia was different from any other unsocialized, unhandled adult dog for whom flight had previously been a viable survival strategy.



Some of the choices they unselfconsciously report having made for Amelia -- putting her puppy in sight but not with her so she "could see that he was well," not leaving a collar and drop line on her, and trying to "befriend" her by "chasing her around trying to pet her" -- are pretty big red flags to me that there is a dire lack of basic dog savvy and animal husbandry there.



Why, for example, did it take months -- and outside instruction -- for them to start hand-feeding her? This is pretty basic. Do they have no resources to deal with a kennel-stressed fence-charger? Why were they surprised that getting Oreo out of the kennel for walks changed her behavior?



Would I expect an ordinary pet owner to know that he should commence hand-feeding in order to tame a feral? Not necessarily. But I absolutely expect a rescue shelter with eleven people on the payroll that claims to be qualified to handle these difficult cases to have the basics down, and not need to be told about it by an outside consultant after months of chasing the naked dog around the run.



Yes, it's good for Amelia that they finally brought in a trainer who knew how to work with a feral. But it does not speak favorably to the this rescue's proven ability to accurately assess and safely handle a very aggressive, reactive, and powerful dog.



It's quite possible that the ASPCA made the same assessment of this organization, possibly based on a lot more information than what they choose to provide on their website. To say as much would hardly have dampened the PR shitstorm over killing Oreo, so they said nothing, which was also not a very good choice, but may have been the best they could think of.

EmilyS

"Nor do I believe you have the psychic abilities that warrant your making definitive statements about dogs you never met. This discussion is about Oreo." ok, my head is spinning.



you can't accuse H Houlahan of inappropriately assessing a dog, when YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING.



You believe that "SPCA executed Oreo just to make sure she’d never get that chance". A ridiculous statement that suggests your only interest is in bashing ASPCA. I'm not even sure you actually care about Oreo and what her quality of life might have been.



If this discussion is about "must all dogs go to sanctuary even if they are hopelessly dangerous and/or ill" then it's a useful one about philosophy. Though to support this position goes against a basic tenant of the "no kill" movement.. which is that it is NOT always "no kill"



If it's about "ASPCA was probably right but responded carelessly/stupidly" then it's pretty pointless.



If it's about "evil ASPCA wants to murder animals" then it's stupid.

2CatMom

You ask a good question, Christie. Why not give Oreo to Pets Alive? Google Dean Solomon or Jason Meduna and you can find out what happens when you blithly accept another rescues word that they are going to get the job done.



Susan - The Chicago Alliance, CASA requires its members to pledge IN WRITING that they will not disparage another Alliance member. And if the NY Alliance has a similar rule, the ASPCA has a lot more to lose than Pets Alive if they break this rule. Hey one of Casa's members tried to help push through mandatory spay/neuter legislation in Illinois and you didn't hear a peep from any other rescue. (Yeah, cause they CAN'T).



I'm very suspicious of Pet's Alive. I do think the ASPCA screwed up on this one. But they may have had very good reasons for not turning Oreo over to them. Why isn't Pet's Alive rated by Charity Navigator or other reputable site? They have 11 paid employees. They are certainly big enough to submit their tax forms to be rated. Where is there written plan for Oreo? And I'm not a dog trainer, but my reaction to their description of working with Amelia, elicited a big WTF from me.



And please Christie direct me to the California law you cite. If the law reads the way you state it, then the Los Angeles shelters must be breaking the law hourly.



Christie you also state that you know nothing about Pets Alive. How about you put some effort into seeing what you can find out about them? That way we'll all be better informed and perhaps, in a position to make an appropriate judgement about them and the ASPCA.

SusanS

Houlahan, I am not going to participate in hijacking this thread into a discussion of how you see all, know all, fix all as a trainer. Nor do I believe you have the psychic abilities that warrant your making definitive statements about dogs you never met. This discussion is about Oreo.



If Pets Alive had much to learn from the Amelia case, they've clearly learned it, and they had the guts to write about that learning process. Perhaps they hoped that others would learn from it as well.



You are giving the ASPCA way too much credit. If they could save their behinds by truthfully ripping up Pets Alive, you can bet they'd be doing it. Sadly, their actions are just a perpetuation of the culture of death that pervades these places. They fix animals by killing them, and then congratulate themselves for their compassion and rip into anyone who questions what they did. I worked in a high-kill shelter many years ago and saw this attitude over and over again. How sad to see it continue. Gina and Christie are right--why should we give our money to organizations that persist in cruel and outdated fix-them-by-killing-them tactics? My money will go elsewhere.

SusanS

EmilyS, someday you need to get off the net and get some experience in the real world. Then you might have a clue about dogs and shelters and related topics. I suggest you start by volunteering at a high-kill shelter. The culture of death at those places is very real and absolutely horrifying. And the language they use to justify what they do is exactly the language the ASPCA is using about Oreo.



And, no, saying that Oreo should have been given a chance at Pets Alive doesn't assess the dog. Maybe she would have made it there. Maybe not. But the ASPCA owed her the chance, especially after using her to make a pile of money in donations.

Christie Keith

Christie you also state that you know nothing about Pets Alive. How about you put some effort into seeing what you can find out about them? That way we’ll all be better informed and perhaps, in a position to make an appropriate judgement about them and the ASPCA.



2CatMom: The ASPCA told the New York Times that they'd never even heard of PetsAlive, as I state in this post. If they had alleged no QUALIFIED ALTERNATIVE was available, then the discussion would be a very different one, even without them dissing PetsAlive.



Instead, they asserted that no qualified alternative COULD EXIST. That Oreo was hopeless and needed to die.



It's possible that was true, and it's possible it wasn't. I'd have liked to see Oreo have a chance to find out.



As to California's law, it's the Hayden Act, and yes, many, many people have alleged, often, that LA shelters violate this law pretty much on a daily basis.



This is the section that applies:



Any stray dog that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, prior to the killing of that animal for any reason other than irremediable suffering, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization prior to the scheduled killing of that animal.



Similar but not identical language is aimed at cats and other types of animals in other sections of the bill.



This is essentially the language being proposed in New York State as "Oreo's Law."

The OTHER Pat

I went back up to re-read Christie's original post (which quotes Nathan Winograd's blog entry) and here is what I find disturbing:



"They called and left a voice mail message on Sayres’ telephone. They called his secretary. They called the ASPCA Press Office. They contacted everyone on the ASPCA website contact page. And they were ignored, hung up on and lied to."



If true, this means ASPCA declined to even give PetsAlive the courtesy of an opportunity for *discussion*. All else aside - with Oreo's life at stake, how does anyone defend that?

Christie Keith

OTHER Pat, and THEN they denied they'd ever even HEARD OF the organization!

2CatMom

I'm not sure that the language means that one 503(c) must release to another 503(c). Seems to me to read more that a Govt run or For profit can't kill if there's a request for release. But I'm not a lawyer, I have to rely on my common sense. And when it comes to the law, it doesn't always make sense.



I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't think that an animal should be passed from shelter to shelter so everyone can have their crack at rehabilitation (not to mention money raising and publicity), What if Pets Alive failed and ANOTHER organization stepped up and said they wanted to try. How many times is reasonable?



And still, I have no answer as to why I don't see Pets Alive on a charity rating site or why they did such a stellar job (not) with Amelia.



And SusanS - if a group steps us and claims that they are qualified to take care of a difficult case, they better have walked the walk and not just talked the talk. Oreo should not have been released to a 'sanctuary' that is as far down the learning curve as Pets Alive apparently is.



Ive see this all the time - especially in horse rescue. Some kind but clueless person/persons sets themselves up as a rescue/sanctuary/place of last resort and offers to take in the hard cases. The result -worse treatment for the animals. In the case of horses - cruelty, starvation and eventual death.



Something stinks here and its not just the ASPCA.

EmilyS

SusanS: "EmilyS, someday you need to get off the net and get some experience in the real world. "



and you know that I do not have such experience because....????

SusanS

"if a group steps us and claims that they are qualified to take care of a difficult case, they better have walked the walk and not just talked the talk. Oreo should not have been released to a ‘sanctuary’ that is as far down the learning curve as Pets Alive apparently is."



Huh? They succeeded with an extremely aggressive dog, and had the wits to bring in another trainer when the usual methods weren't working. Unlike the ASPCA, which preferred killing Oreo to seeking outside help.



I did some research, and this ASPCA horror is even worse than I thought. The ASPCA had Oreo for only five months before they executed her—and she was recovering from major, painful surgery and severe, painful injuries during most of that time. Oreo was only a year old, and her entire life apparently consisted of pain and terror at the hands of people. And she was supposed to cheer up and be sociable five months after being thrown from the roof? Not even the ASPCA is that stupid.



Let’s look at the timeline, courtesy of the NYT and NY Daily News:



http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/10/man-is-charged-after-throwing-dog-off-building/



http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/07/31/2009-07-31_miracle_dog_survives_sixstory_fall_after_heartless_owner_throws_her_off_red_hook.html



Oreo’s owner beat her and threw her six stories off a roof. Oreo suffered multiple fractures in her front legs (“shattered legs”), ligament damage, bruised lungs, a fractured rib, liver injury and severe internal bleeding. We can reasonably assume that she was in agony if she was conscious.



Oreo was picked up by the ASPCA and transported to a nearby animal hospital to be stabilized. More pain and terror at the hands of people, during the transport and treatment at the animal hospital.



Oreo was then transferred to the ASPCA hospital and underwent major surgery. Still more pain and terror at the hands of people.



Oreo remained at the ASPCA during a prolonged recovery. Still more pain and terror at the hands of people.



Five months after surgery, Oreo was very likely still in pain, but it appears that no one at the ASPCA or the behaviorists considered this. Speaking from much personal experience, major orthopedic surgery hurts like hell for a long time. And orthopedic hardware like Oreo’s plates and screws can be excruciatingly painful, especially when screws loosen or stick out of the bone. Handling Oreo may have hurt her terribly.



But God forbid that she should dare to protest being hurt or terrified! Once she did so, she was no longer useful as a pretty poster girl for ASPCA fundraising. At that point, her fate was sealed. Giving her to Pets Alive would have been an admission that Pets Alive might be able to do what the APSCA would not or could not do. And that wouldn’t be good for fundraising efforts, would it?



The ASPCA pimped Oreo and then they executed her.



And the guy who beat Oreo up and threw her off the roof? He’ll probably walk off with probation. At most, a two-year jail sentence, no doubt with a good chance of early release.

H. Houlahan

Huh? They succeeded with an extremely aggressive dog, and had the wits to bring in another trainer when the usual methods weren’t working. Unlike the ASPCA, which preferred killing Oreo to seeking outside help.



We're still talking about this dog, right?



http://petsalive.com/blog/2008/12/03/amelia-case-study/#more-131



By Pets Alive's own account, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that Amelia was a genuinely aggressive dog, much less an extremely aggressive dog. They never state that she bit anyone, nor is it hiding between the lines in their narrative. She was a shy, unsocialized dog who was protecting puppies when impounded. Stop the presses! No shelter or rescue has ever rehabilitated one of those!



"The usual methods weren't working." Exactly. And their usual methods -- as described by them in their narrative -- were what a sentimental, dog-ignorant, anthropomorphizing pet lover would have tried, on the logic that "All Amelia needs is for me to shower her with wuuuuvv."



Also, news flash -- Shar Pei? Not big on the promiscuous snuggling as a rule.



A competent shelter or rescue would not be employing "chasing the dog around trying to pet her" as a "usual method" -- ever. Much less for months.



They had to fly a guy from Utah in order to be introduced to some of the "usual methods" of taming an unsocialized dog that shelters and rescues that are competent to handle such animals start with immediately. And then, instead of regarding the dog's quick turnaround as evidence that they had simply been mishandling a dog whose problems were (a) not that severe, and (b) in large part caused by the kennel environment, they concluded that the trainer was some sort of magician.



He may indeed be a very fine trainer -- I assume he is. But there's nothing in that account to support the notion that Amelia needed any training protocol that is different from that of any other shy, unsocialized, or near-feral dog. For pete's sake, she was already willingly taking treats from people! We had dogs in rehab this year -- with dedicated non-trainer volunteers as handlers -- who were so fearful that it was months before they could even eat in the presence of a human. The handlers were patient and persevered and the dogs progressed. There's plenty to indicate that Amelia was not getting that patience and respect, and that the people with custody of her hadn't a clue.



SusanS, you seem to have a crystal ball that tells you about a lot of things -- the black masses conducted at ASPCA headquarters, the unpublished secret that Amelia the junkyard shar-pei was just as aggressive as Oreo, the qualifications and nefarious motivations of the commenters here. What you don't seem to know much about is how damaged dogs are actually rehabbed, what constitutes a difficult case, and what skill set is needed to do the job. And it seems that there is a lot of that going around.

SusanS

Houlahan, we already know that you know everything about dog training, that your methods are the only correct ones, that you are psychic, and that everything you could possibly need to know about Amelia was in the Pets Alive blog. Not! You persist in trying to hijack yet another thread into yet another ramble about what a fabulous trainer you are and what total morons other trainers are.



The idea that people who have learned a great deal about rehabilitating aggressive dogs are unfit to rehabilitate them because they should have known absolutely everything from the start is too bizarre to bother commenting on.



But that's not what this thread is about. None of Oreo's supporters here are saying anything was guaranteed. But executing a dog after five months of pain and terror with the excuse that no one could possibly rehab her is either insane or simply a cold-blooded miscalculation on the ASPCA’s part. I think they believed that the widespread hostility toward Pit Bulls would dampen any uproar over executing Oreo, allowing them to swiftly dispose of her in a crematorium with a minimum of fuss when she lost her value as a fundraiser.



Go work in a kill shelter if you really believe in the good intentions of these huge, money-making organizations. Get a firsthand look at what happens in the rooms and corridors that the public never sees. In the kill shelter I worked at, dogs and cats were executed in the dead animal room. Dogs were dragged, often terrified and clawing at the floor when they smelled the stench of death, into a room where a huge pile of dead dogs and cats awaited them. In some cases, dogs confronted the corpses of their beloved canine friends who had come to the shelter with them. Then they, too, were executed. The shelter workers shrugged and claimed the dogs didn’t care and it didn’t matter. That’s the culture of death.



This was a modern, very pretty facility with a lovely waiting area and a handsome exterior. A pile of money had been donated to build it. But somehow they couldn’t afford to kill the dogs and cats away from the dead animal room. Why? Because it was hidden from the public and so it didn’t matter.



This same shelter had a secret policy of quietly executing every single Pit Bull, puppy or adult, that they got their hands on. When an owner came in to give up a Pit Bull or a dog even suspected of being a Pit Bull mix, the shelter workers would smile as the owner signed papers assuring them that the shelter would try to find their dog a home. As soon as the owner left, the dog was marched immediately to the dead animal room and executed. Every one of them.



The ugly policy came to light a few years ago when a volunteer for another rescue group stole one of their Pit Bulls and brought it to the kill shelter, mistakenly thinking the dog would be safer there. She blabbed after a chat with the police, the rescue group came to the kill shelter for their dog, and the hideous truth hit the media. End of policy. New policy: They refuse to take in any Pit Bulls.



People who run these big organizations are charged with making money. Lots of money. A “miracle dog” like Oreo who survives an event that should have killed her is pure gold for fundraising. Everyone wants to help the miracle dog, and the cash flows in. But Oreo became an embarrassment, a liability, and she had to disappear permanently.



The ASPCA will never get a dime from me.

mary frances

To Drew - to refresh,

@ I foget who (sic)-

If case law is ever created that orders shelter/animal control facitlites to stay open for 24 hours/7 days a week for adoption/redemption (and spay/neuter those adopted)...wouldn't this almost end the killing as we know it?



Drew states, "Don't you think that if they could afford to be open 24/7 and not kill they, they would? No, I think this would simply cause lots of shelter to go bankrupt and clsoe their doors entirely. Money isn't something that simple to come by."



With your logic no one would have ever filed a civil rights complaint - it wasn't money worthy doncha know....the big animal groups have taken money from animal lovers for many years....I have been one of those that used to donate (no more)...the animal rights movement has been hijacked by something sinister...check it out is all I'm saying...there are NO LAWSUITS filed against animal control for killing MILLIONS of dogs and cats...none....and this includes ALDF (animal lawyers supposedly!) Why no representation of the helpless in animal control.....and yes is a court ordered it adoption would become a priority rather than killing....funding to kill would adapt in life affirming venues. It's a vision thing Drew...

mary frances

typo on the end sorry - should read, If a court ordered it - adoption would become a priority rather than killing...then the funding (from all of us as taxpayers) would go to life affirming venues...it would be work but egads killing is work....and I'll end again with It's a vision thing Drew....

Christie Keith

Just a reminder that this conversation needs to be about ISSUES, rather than individuals. Thanks, everyone!

The OTHER Pat

There is an old saying that I keep being reminded of as this thread goes on: "The only thing two trainers can agree on is that a third trainer is wrong".



You're already seeing evidence of it in this thread. There may have been some of it at work at the ASPCA, in that if they DID feel PetsAlive was unqualified, they may not have felt comfortable making such an accusation in a public forum, for legal reasons or maybe just due to pure awkwardness.



Unfortunately, none of us know how much of that either was or was not going on. What we DO know is that PetsAlive says they tried - repeatedly, and through a variety of channels - to initiate a discussion with the ASPCA about taking over Oreo's care and rehabilitation. And we know that ASPCA claims to have no knowledge of PetsAlive.



There's a huge disconnect there that needs to be addressed before we can get very far with who's qualified and who's not, how long was long enough, how many times do you let how many organizations take a stab at it, and so on.

2CatMom

I would still like Christie or other ASPCA haters to answer the following:



If a rescue/sanctuary is not qualfied to take a problem animal, but they are the only ones to offer should the animal be given a second chance with said organization? Are you willing to consider the possibility that Pets Alive might not be qualified to deal with Oreo appropriately?



How many chances at rehab should an animal have? How long should attempts at rehab have gone on? If five months isn't long enough, is 9 months? a year? Five years? When do you call it a day? Who decides when the day is called? What do you do when qualified experts recommend different actions?



How come Pets Alive isn't rated anywhere? surely someone on this blog knows the scoop. Christie do you know anyone who might be able to fill us in on them?



I can just imagine what you would be saying if the ASPCA turned Oreo over to a group that then decided to put her down. "Oh that bad ASPCA, they passed the buck and let some other shelter do their dirty work."



And for the record, I'm not a huge fan of the ASPCA, I just think that there is more than one side to this story and every single one of the people who are disparaging the ASPCA on this blog seem to be unwilling to see that sometimes decisions are made, that we would decide differently but that does not automatcally make those who made the decision monsters.



And no one seems to be able to even consider that maybe, just maybe, the ASPCA had a very good reason for not giving Oreo to Pets Alive.



Yes, I would have done things differently. If I were running the ASPCA and I felt that I had done everything within my power to help the animal, I would have contacted a responsible sanctuary with a known reputation such as Best Friends that is equipped and prepared to give a lifetime of care to a really troubled animal.



It would be nice if someone would reply thoughtfully to my questions. Educate me, my ego doesn't require me to be 'right' or 'perfect' or 'know everything.' And I'm always willing to adjust my opinion based on THE FACTS.

Lis

How many chances at rehab should an animal have? How long should attempts at rehab have gone on? If five months isn’t long enough, is 9 months? a year? Five years? When do you call it a day? Who decides when the day is called? What do you do when qualified experts recommend different actions?



Here's a shocker: "long enough" depends utterly on the circumstances of the individual case. And in Oreo's case, she had experienced pain and fear at the hands of humans all her young life, and given the extent of the orthopedic surgery that was necessary, was probably still in considerable pain when ASPCA decided that she was beyond rehabilitation.



How many chances? Do you seriously believe that because an infinite number of "second chances" would be potentially unkind to the animal and a squandering of resources, that no second chances should ever be offered? That one organization that has had the dog only while she is experiencing considerable pain should be the sole arbiter of whether some other organization should be allowed to expend some resources seeing if she can be rehabilitated after the pain ends?



Because infinite second chances are too many, no second chances should be allowed? Seriously?

2CatMom

Lis: I never said that a second chance wasn't appropriate because infinite chances weren't appropriate. What I was trying to point out (and you have acknowleded) is that IT DEPENDS. You don't know the extent of Oreo's problems, I don't know either.



Everything else is a judgment call. When I look at my own friends who have had to had pets euthanized I can tell you that there are times I personally would have done it sooner or later than my friend chose. But because the criteria for what a quality life differs from individual to individual, I would be loathe to criticize them where no malice was intended.



So that's my bottom line. Was there malice intended, probably not. Was someone operating on the stupid channel, probably.



That doesn't make the ASPCA an inherently evil organization. Like many, they do some things well, some things not so well. If they screwed up here, then yes, they ought to be held accountable.



But I would hate to think that anytime a shelter has to make the hard choice to end what they believe is unrelenting suffering that their judgment is going to be called into question. That's not going to help save more amimals in the long run.

2CatMom

Lis: this is my last response to you. You are intentionally distorting what I am saying. I didn't say a 2nd opinion wasn't appropriate but that Pets Alive might not have been qualified to do so.



And my final paragraph refers to organizations other than the ASPCA.



Until you learn to read carefully and respond respectfully with what I have to say, I am done with you. Feel free to comment away.

Lis

Lis: I never said that a second chance wasn’t appropriate because infinite chances weren’t appropriate. What I was trying to point out (and you have acknowleded) is that IT DEPENDS. You don’t know the extent of Oreo’s problems, I don’t know either.



1. In fact, ASPCA told us a great deal about the extent of Oreo's problems, in the course of using her for fundraising--enough certainly to know that she had extensive orthopedic surgery and there's an excellent chance that she was still in significant pain, because it takes a long time to heal from major orthopedic surgery.



2. I do not believe there is any situation where a second opinion is inappropriate. Not a fifth or fiftieth or five hundreth opinion. A second opinion. Why do you believe this to be unreasonable?



That doesn’t make the ASPCA an inherently evil organization. Like many, they do some things well, some things not so well. If they screwed up here, then yes, they ought to be held accountable.



But I would hate to think that anytime a shelter has to make the hard choice to end what they believe is unrelenting suffering that their judgment is going to be called into question. That’s not going to help save more amimals in the long run.



And your last paragraph contradicts the one before it. How do we "hold them accountable" if they have "screwed up" in not even entertaining the possibility of accepting PetsAlive's offer of sanctuary, if we can't call their judgment into question or say things that might hurt Ed Sayres' delicate feelings?

2CatMom

In fact, Gina, I do want to point out to you that the tone of this blog has greatly deterioriated over the last few months. As a long time poster, I don't comment on this blog so I can be misintrepreted and bashed by people who disagree with me.







Disagreements are fine, but I feel the tone of the exchanges here, including Christie, have crossed a line into incivility and personal attacks.





I've posted a lot less frequently over the past few months and I see that many folks I used to see all the time are gone. I don't think that's due only to natural attrition.





You may want to think about how the tone of the blogger sets the tone for discussion. And whether you want to be a site for thoughtful discussion or flame throwing. Just saying.

Gina Spadafori

Thanks for speaking up. Duly noted, and I will try to take a fresh look at how we're treating everyone here.



Two things hit me:



1) I suspect some of the peevishness you see in the last few months may well have a lot to do with the fact that the moderators (Christie and I) have both lost parents and heart dogs. Gotta say the strains of dealing with those losses (before, during and after) can well make one less than patient.



2) This is not a "fluffy pets R cute" or "see the celebrity pets" blog -- and it never will be. I will retain for all of us the right to call an idiot an idiot, and demand that others back up their sound-bite opinions with facts. That will not be changing. Debates are encouraged. Parroting the opinions of others without thinking for oneself is not.



Bottom line: This is MY HOUSE. Our bloggers write what we want and what we care about. We're not everyone's cuppa, and we don't want to be.

SusanS

Here's one fact that is rather striking: Despite five months of what Oreo could only see as relentless torture by the ASPCA staff, it appears that she never actually bit anyone. According to the ASPCA’s own sniveling CYA statement, Oreo lunged, growled, snapped and attempted to bite. Attempted. Not actually bit anyone—despite being handled by staff who were so ignorant of dog behavior that they had to be instructed to refrain from sustained direct staring into the dog’s eyes. We see Oreo in the publicity photos on a leash, unmuzzled, with every chance to suddenly bite someone. But she didn’t.



It’s been my experience that a dog who really means to bite does so rather efficiently. A dog who growls, snaps, lunges, and “attempts” to bite usually isn’t attempting to bite at all. She’s trying to avoid having to bite. She’s saying, “Get away! Get away! I don’t want to bite you! Get away! Don’t push me so hard that I can protect myself only by biting you!” Given the unending torture that Oreo suffered, I think her restraint was remarkable.



Obviously Oreo needed special and careful handling and a potentially long period of rehabilitation in a safe place. I cannot imagine why anyone at the ASPCA thought it would be otherwise, and didn’t begin preparing for this possibility right from the start.



There’s a serious consumer fraud issue here too, although it pales in comparison to the other moral issues. Charities are and should be held legally and ethically accountable for how they spend the money they solicit (which makes all the whining by the ASPCA even more disgusting). If you make a mint in donations by telling people you’re going to do everything possible to fix the miracle dog, and then kill the dog when the going gets a little tough, people have every right to be mad as hell and demand an accounting. If the ASPCA can’t take that kind of heat, they need to get out of the charity biz.

mary frances

SusanS - there could be legal consequences regarding the treatment of OREO in legal theory though I think a case is not likely - in a civil court it could be a tort claim - negligence - a non-profit corporation ASPCA that is supposed to prevent cruelty and seems to have caused cruelty as with Oreo - they've breached their duty - the plaintiff filing the claim would have to show damages (who would be the complaining party, the rescue group with limited funds?) - and the difficulty there would maybe be that the value of a dog is viewed as mere property in the eyes of the law so the damages are limited in a dollar amount. Even on a contingency it might be difficult to retain an attorney to take such a case - lawsuits are difficult to get rolling (time consuming and expensive) The big animal groups have lawyers to defend themselves against lawsuit attacks I'm guessing. My complaint is that none of the big animal groups legal teams ever sue animal control for killing, ever. They'll sue for filthy animal control conditions - sue puppy millers, hoarders(whatever that term may mean), factory farms and dog fighters. (to name a few cases) But no lawsuits against animal control facilities for killing millions of dogs and cats. I think people are getting wise to this....

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