A sad story appears to be coming to an even sadder end: Oreo, the pit bull mix who survived being thrown off the roof of a 6-story Brooklyn building, is being euthanized today. According to the NY Times, "Oreo was almost impossible to control once her injuries healed, [ASPCA President Ed Sayres] said. Other officials from the society said Oreo had shown extreme aggressiveness during several behavioral examinations: growling, lunging and trying to bite people who came too close." [Update below: Oreo was euthanized this afternoon.]
Over the summer, the ASPCA received a call that a dog was being beaten at an apartment—followed by calls that a dog was thrown off the roof. Agents found the 1-year-old dog, whose four limbs were shattered. After an investigation, they eventually arrested the dog's owner, Fabian Henderson, who was charged with animal cruelty, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. The ASPCA also found that Oreo's skin around her armpits was infected, suggesting prior abuse. Henderson, who pleaded not guilty, was indicted in August.
ASPCA spokesman Andy Izquierdo told the Daily News, "The second she started healing from her wounds we started seeing that aggression - and that is sometimes the result of animal cruelty. We tend to focus on the happy endings, but this circumstance happens a lot." The ASPCA had considered putting Oreo in a "long-term resident facility," where she would have no contact with other dogs and humans, but Sayres told the Times, "Her quality of life would have been reduced to virtually nothing."
Former San Francisco SPCA director of operations Nathan Winograd told the Times the ASPCA should have found a "a skilled long-term foster care situation," noting, "The dog is a victim of cruelty. It’s incredibly traumatized. It’s going to be fearful and distrustful and perhaps even in pain. Under those circumstances, even evaluating the dog right now is setting the dog up for failure."
Update: Various people and groups are pleading with the ASPCA to save the pup. The Pets Alive sanctuary, which offered to take in Oreo, tells City Room, "We’ve had tremendous success with these types of cases. After all the abuse this dog been through, the solution is not to kill her."
You can call the ASPCA at (212) 876-7700 or visit their office at 424 E. 92nd St in Manhattan.
Update 2:50 p.m.: We just spoke to ASPCA spokesman Andy Izquierdo who said that Oreo has not been euthanized yet (but she is still scheduled to be put down sometime today), so there's no change in her status. When asked about Pets Alive's offer to take Oreo, Izquierdo said that the ASPCA had been in touch with the group but was unfamiliar with it, so the agency needed to do their own research. He also emphasized that the ASPCA's animal behaviorist as well as an independent one both determined that Oreo should not have contact with other animals or humans, based on her aggressive behavior. (Here's the ASPCA's press release about the matter from earlier today.)
Update 3:50 p.m.: Izquierdo let us know that Oreo was humanely euthanized this afternoon.
This is a sad story. Many readers point out that there many healthy dogs (and other animals) that are euthanized every day—why are people so upset about this one? Maybe it's because they feel guilty, since Oreo's aggressive behavior could have stemmed from the (allegedly) horrible treatment she received from her owner, and that Oreo should have had another chance. As the ASPCA said in its press release:
Animals that suffer cruelty at the hands of their owners often face tragedy beyond that which they have already endured. Animals like Oreo are abused every day. These cases often don't make headlines; in fact, most people don't even know this abuse is quietly occurring in their backyard. But this abuse is all too frequent, and despite more rigorous efforts by law enforcement across the country, shows little sign of completely abating.
Sometimes these animals are fortunate enough to escape the confines of their abuse and are placed in loving homes. Sometimes, they die as a result of the abuse. And sometimes they retaliate from their abuse in the only way they know how: aggression. It is this last unfortunate circumstance that places shelters in the precarious position in which we find ourselves now. We have done everything humanly possible to save Oreo's life; yet, as a result of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Mr. Henderson, or for other reasons we may never know, she has come to a place where she can no longer be around people or other animals. We make this decision—and others like it-- with a heavy heart and a complete understanding that had she been treated with love and respect, Oreo's fate would be much different.
Rest in peace, Oreo.