NY: Oreo’s Law Update

Oreo’s Law, designed to save the lives of death row shelter pets whom other rescues are willing to take, has been killed for the year.  The bill had a number of supporters, including Nathan Winograd (pdf), but was opposed by the ASPCA, the Animal Law Coalition and apparently Best Friends Animal Society.  I haven’t seen anything new from Best Friends since the proposal’s demise but they did issue a statement about it back in February.

My question:  Aren’t we killing enough pets in shelters without going out of the way to block legislation that would save those pets slated for death that rescue organizations are willing to accept?

Most shelter pets designated for killing are not lucky enough to have a rescue spot available for them.  I’d really like to see the ones that do get released to rescue.  There were some legitimate concerns raised during the discussion of the bill and it was amended to address those issues.  I felt satisfied it would do much more good than any potential harm.  With the tabling of Oreo’s Law, the NY shelter pets whose lives would have been saved now face death, which to my mind, is definite harm.

28 thoughts on “NY: Oreo’s Law Update

  1. I used to support Best Friends under one of their monthly donation plans but after reading Mr. Winograd’s article, no more. How can they talk about making this a no-kill nation when they won’t support laws that would help make it so?

  2. @Mary: maybe you should read what people IN ADDITION to Winograd have to say? No one has a monopoly on the truth about this situation. Winograd has been after ASPCA for years; he despises Ed Sayres. Maybe he has reason to, but that emotion means he has an agenda beyond this particular law.

  3. Who has the agenda beyond this particular law….? Not clear here….when you take killing off the table you have No Kill…that’s the only agenda I see that Winograd has –

    Very sad (and confusing) to read Best Friends did not support Oreo’s Law…

  4. Yes, EmilyS, I have read what people in ADDITION to Winograd have said. I have read the BFAS statement on Facebook. I have also spoken with many people in Kanab, where BFAS is located. Just like HSUS, this is far from the first time that BFAS has said one thing publicly, completely distorting or omitting things they’ve really done. Consistent with their past behavior, BFAS will only support things that bring them more money and control. Ask Rick Shannon (former HR manager) or others who tried to change BFAS and failed.

  5. Best Friends obviously is in favor of broad shelter access. It’s what we do and what we have been doing and advocating for since our inception 26 years ago. I don’t need to roll out our bona fides on this. So, you ask, why weren’t we waving the flag for Oreo’s law and why did we settle on an officially neutral position which seems to have been interpreted by some as active opposition in the manner of George Bush’s, “If you’re not with us you’re against us” logic. There is also the notion out there that if Best Friends had jumped on the Oreo band wagon, the bill would have likely passed or at least we would have gone down in flames with it while keeping the faith with our rescue roots.

    None of those assumptions is true. Our rescues roots are healthy and growing deeper every day. Best Friends invests more staff, time and money on grass roots rescue and rescue groups than any other national animal welfare organization.

    However,our support would not have salvaged Oreo’s law because it was Dead On Arrival because rather than preparing the ground and cultivating the seed, the proponents of the bill basically threw seed into a bed of broken glass and tended it with a sledge hammer.

    Like it or not politics, as they say, is the art of what is possible. Before the New York legislature was even in session in early January, the only people who could make Oreo’s law a reality hadn’t simply been bypassed or ignored, they had been being personally pilloried and vilified for months…longer if you count Nathan Winograd’s grudge match with Ed Sayres going back to the latter’s tenure at San Francisco Humane Society. Whether or not that animosity was justified following the demise of Oreo is not even a little bit relevant if your goal is passing animal legislation in New York State.

    And, neutrality is not opposition. We did not actively oppose Oreo’s law, nor did we actively support it. A position that drew ire from both sides.

    Finally, while we had some issues with the bill as written the reason we chose neutrality was quite simple. When push came to shove – and it did – we were not being asked to support a bill with the expectation that it would pass, we were being asked to choose sides in a high school style, internet based, mud slinging match. We chose not to play that game and would do so again.

  6. The law is identical to a California act. We seem to have survived for years just fine out here. :) I’m sure New York is capable of doing the same…erhm, apparently not.

  7. rinalia- is it identical? i haven’t read the whole thing.

    emilys- thanks for the link from bestfriends. i’m not on facebook and it was really really helpful to hear it “from the horse’s mouth.” i also really agree with you that winograd’s venom is so strong that it’s clear that something else/more is going on. i have come a long way in my tolerance of winograd, but that last post was too much.

    i sort of tuned out in the oreo’s law for some of the reasons that best friends pointed out: divisiveness is going to get us nowhere. it never has and it never will. the very name “oreo’s law” was bound to piss major players off, which may have been part of the point all along. that’s counterproductive.

    1. The original was verbatim. The intent is the same. Which, I realize, has little to do with language.

      Remember, the Hayden Act received the EXACT same criticism. It would end in utter chaos. Shelters would be over-run. Any “rescue” could take animals and hoarding cases would skyrocket. Never happened.

  8. Mary, in my opinion, Winograd’s agenda is to destroy the credibility of all the large rescue organizations by personal attacks on their leaders that border on libel. His blog consists pretty much of personal attacks on various leaders and since he’s a lawyer I assume he chooses his words deliberately and carefully. Anyone who doesn’t fall behind him on every detail, or who dares to question any aspect of the movement is deemed an enemy and he spares no words.

    He’s a zealot. Zealots are good for expressing visions (I think Redemption is an incredibly important book). But they are disastrously divisive as leaders.

    Winograd forfeited his role as national leader in my eyes long ago.

    Not that I think anyone cares (or should care) what I think; I’m just a nobody with a computer.

    BTW, Rinalia, obviously New York is not California and a law that might work in California won’t necessarily work in NY. Not to mention the process for passing a law is different and the stakeholders are different. Not to mention that California’s law is not named “Oreo’s Law”: Words do matter and the proponents of Oreo’s Law WANTED this to be a divisive attack on ASPCA. I’m even suspecting that at some point the proponents stopped caring about passing the law at all… there were many things they COULD have done that they chose not to do.

    1. Um, actually, she does – she states it is modeled after the Hayden Act. She just believes that the situation in 1998 California is different than 2010 New York.

      Which may very well be true, but it is untrue to state that it is not modeled after the Hayden Act of California.

      1. Laura Allen has a history of being sloppy and off-base. Sometimes she corrects factual errors, but unfortunately, this time she refused to.

  9. Emily,
    Do you not believe there are some very valid reasons for contesting the heads of some of these major shelter operations? Do you not agree that serious reform is needed within these major shelter operations such as the ASPCA and HSUS?
    Your comment was void of a valid reason why you did not support the bill. I do not believe your George Bush analogy was an accurate one. What proponents of the bill did you disagree with or feel needed to be improved? Try to answer this question directly without vague and irrelevant analogies.
    Your response is surprising as it lacks any real reason why Best Friends did not support the bill. The whole ‘I’m going to sit on the fence because I don’t want to get involved’ argument is childish in itself. It’s nice your organization has the choice not to engage in ‘politics’ but the animals unfortunately do not.
    Your response appears like your using tactics to misdirect from answering questions directly and alluding to the flaws of others as a way to avoid your own. Perhaps you just got caught up in your analogies you forgot to actually state what about the bill you felt was inadequate. I’m afraid simply stating you didn’t want to get involved in the ‘politics’ is an incredibly selfish answer.
    Please, enlighten us, what SPECIFICALLY about the bill did you ‘have some issues with’?

    1. Really, I keep doing that eh? You’re not your this time.
      I’m sure many that read this blog have already read this but just incase:
      It would seem amendments were indeed made to the bill to try to please Best Friends with no avail. Again I ask what specifically about Oreo’s law did Best Friends not support?

  10. I’m with Houndward Bound – what did Best Friend’s not support about Oreo’s Law? And EmilyS appreciate you taking the time to answer…Sadly, it seems HSUS, ASPCA, will only change if forced through litigation – and PETA..well they crossed over to lunacy long ago.

  11. Anyone who is still quoting Winograd, whose rants have turned libelous and who appears to have gone insane, doesn’t have any credibility with me.

    Some people may want to move forward to craft a bill that the major stakeholders in NY will support. Others will continue to rant and obstruct, because their motivation no longer seems to be about passing a law. Rather what they are about is destruction, of individuals and organizations. I’ve seen this in other movements, and I can assure you, those who continue this behavior will prevent any progress from occurring.

    Frankly, some people need to just grow up and decide what is truly important here.

    1. Anyone who makes baseless accusations regarding a persons mental stability because their opinions differ from their own has no credibility with me.
      I agree some people need to decide what is truly important, these animals’ lives. We are talking about a bill that would not allow shelters to kill animals that have a home/rescue ready and willing to take them in. Now I know that is a little unorthodox but is wanting to prevent these ‘stakeholders’ from killing animals with homes/rescues ready to save their lives really ‘insane’?
      What is the point in crafting a bill that major stakeholders will support if ‘major stakeholders’ want the status quo to remain?
      You seem to have difficulty answering direct questions but I’ll give it a shot anyways. At what point did you make your superior assessment that Winograd had gone insane? Your statement implies you didn’t always feel he was ‘insane’.
      What specifically about the bill did these ‘major stakeholders’ dislike? What specifically about the bill did you yourself feel was so unreasonable it crossed Winograd into ‘insane’ territory?
      From your statement what you seem to think is important is certainly not these animals’ lives, it’s whether the ‘major stakeholders’ slaughtering them are pleased.

      1. Agreeing fully with Houndward Bound, an effective compromise is rarely possible with ‘stakeholders’ whose primary concern is only power. In Winograd and many others, there is an understandable, growing frustration over the years, where you find that logic and humanity arguments fail and your language becomes stronger and stronger as nothing else seems to work. At the same time, Battista and others state the good and “obvious” things they are doing, many of which fall apart upon closer inspection. At that point, those challenging their statements appears as ranting to those who have not looked further than their many claims of the “obvious”.

        Compare the specifics from Winograd against the nebulous conclusions from Battista, or EmilyS, for that matter. If they disagree with the bill but support the goal, let them give logical arguments against specifics and present an alternative, one that helps the animals but does not give them more power.

  12. EmilyS – it’s not libel if its true – if it were not true there would most definitely be a court case. Of all the blogs Winograd has written he has never been sued that I know of –

    1. maryfrances, while I agree with your other post, I don’t think the presence of a libel suit is ever a viable test of truth or falsity. Nor do we even know if Winograd’s opinions have significantly impacted donations to any of these groups. If not, why should they care? Even if so, a public court case may hurt them more then ignoring it, completely apart from any right or wrong.

  13. George – “I don’t think the presence of a libel suit is ever a viable test of truth or falsity.”

    I think sometimes a libel suit can determine the truth – BUT it’s cheaper and less time consuming to ignore someone in the hope they will just go away…

    Winograd’s intelligence and writings are gifts for the animals – I don’t wish him ever to be embroiled in a libel suit…but if he was sued…my bet is with him – he’d win – and my bet his detractors know this.

    (But legislation like Oreo’s Law is the real key for big positive change in Animal control)

  14. George – I read the site provided – my own experience in animal control reform has included betrayals by the very people I trusted – sadly I’m finding its common –

    That’s why Winograd’s writings ring so true for so many. It’s true, the animals are dying for the betrayals to stop…thank you for sharing.

  15. I know what Nathan says about collaboration not always being key. Having said that, and having read the comments here and elsewhere (the BF Facebook page, the ALC site), here’s my question as an “in the trenches to save lives” advocate:

    If we all want the same thing, why in the world is it that the greatest minds in animal welfare circles can’t call a meeting in some central location (or using web conferencing) and hash out the legislation language so that it saves those lives?

    I know the positions. It pains me to my core to know that all these smart people cannot compromise, cannot agree to different terms, for the greater good.

    I have a good friend who volunteers at Pets Alive. She deals with the dogs labeled as unadoptable. Aggressive. Regardless of the original language of the bill or any later amendments, I know that if Oreo had gone to Pets Alive, she would have been well cared for. She would have played. Felt the sun on her face. Enjoyed good food. She will never do those things on this Earth again and that’s why I’m pretty pissed at everybody right now.

    I admire Nathan. I love Best Friends. I respect Laura Allen. Please, people, for the love of all things animal, get together and find some common ground to get this legislation back on track. Someone take the high road and let’s leave the negativity to the rest of the alphabet soup.

    I am not naive. I want more and I expect more.

  16. I think that the reason that a compromise can’t be reached is that there is no middle ground between killing and not killing. Part of the problem is that it isn’t about ideas only. Money and power play a very large role, and for historical reasons, money and power are primarily in the hands of those that kill. If they weren’t, there would be no debate. We’d all be too busy living happily ever after. To gain money and power, some have chosen to ally, or at least politely tip their hats to, those that kill. I don’t think that this debate is really about the wording of the bill. If it was, then when the modifications they requested were made, they should have supported it like they said they would. It is about access to money and power. BF perceived that they had to ally with the ASPCA and Mayor’s Alliance on this one because they are looking to access the wealthy NY market, which those two organizations basically control. I believe that they supported the Hayden Law. Oreo’s Law is essentially the same law plunked down on a different political landscape. I can think of no other reason.

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