Best Friends and Oreo’s Law Redux

For those of you who work with or know of rescues, try this little exercise:  Add up all the rescues you’ve worked with (or known) in your head.  Hang on to that number.  Now, of those rescues, add up the total number of them who are hoarders.  Using those two figures, please share in the comments the percentage of rescues you have worked with or known over the years who are hoarders.  I’ll start:  Zero.

Now I’m certainly not saying it’s impossible for a rescue group to actually hoard pets, I’m just saying I haven’t known any personally.  If I broaden my query to include the many rescues I’ve read about in doing research for this blog, I would come up with a different number.  It would have to be an estimate, mind you but I’d suppose that figure would be less than 1%.  I would say probably 99% of the rescues I’ve come across in the course of blogging appear to be legitimate groups, trying to adopt out pets saved from kill shelters.

So to my mind, the concern that if we don’t make rescues jump through enough hoops in order to pull from shelters, the pets will end up in hoarding type situations – is actually not a significant worry.  I think reasonable screening is a good idea to make sure they’re not some kind of scammers trying to make a buck selling the dogs or people who’ve been convicted of cruelty, etc.  But when it gets down to the point of this-pet-is-about-to-be-killed, frankly, I’d be willing to take the risk with an unscreened rescue and hope they fall into the vast majority category of legitimate groups.  Not saying that would be my first choice but since we’re talking about life and death here in conjunction with an extremely small risk, I’d rather err on the side of life.

Oreo’s Law has reasonable standards set for rescues who want to pull pets off death row in NY shelters.  In summary, the group can’t have an “officer, board member, staff member or volunteer” who is either facing dogfighting/cruelty/neglect charges or has been convicted of same.  There is a provision for inspection when serious suspicions of neglect or cruelty exist.  And the rescue has to be a 501(c)(3).  That’s enough to my mind.

Best Friends is apparently worried that hoarders are going to establish themselves as 501(c)(3)s and beat a path to NY to collect more animals.  Because that would be the easiest way for a hoarder to get more animals, right?

And so, immediately after the re-introduction of Oreo’s Law to the NY state assembly, Best Friends came out against it.  Last year, they said they were against it because of the danger of – you know, hoarders.  This year, they leave out the word hoarders but instead list demands for verbiage to be included in the bill before they would endorse it.  The demands are things that all 501(c)(3) rescues already have unless they are – you know, hoarders.

I wouldn’t like to see Oreo’s Law add much more by way of rescue requirements because I fear that some kill shelters might exploit any perceived deficiency in the list of requirements and use it as an excuse to refuse to release death row pets.  Nothing in life can be guaranteed.  Reasonable precautions can and should be taken.  For the rest left to chance, I’d rather give more power to the rescuers who want to save lives than the so-called shelters determined to kill pets.

C’mon Best Friends.  This is dumb.  And NY’s shelter pets are being needlessly killed while you play your games.

70 thoughts on “Best Friends and Oreo’s Law Redux

  1. Right, those hoarders are getting their 501(c)(3), then running down to the shelters to fill out paperwork and such because that’s the easiest way to get more animals. So much easier and more accessible than the free guinea pigs, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, chickens, snakes, rats, etc. on Craigslist every day.


    Is it just me or could Best Friends use a change in leadership these days?

    1. Mikken, the shelters can also charge adoption fees to the rescues. Another reason why this scenario is unlikely, given the free sources of animals elsewhere.

    2. Mikken, it appears that Best friends is working on that change. In addition to other recent changes, their Directory of Animal Care, Patty Hegwood (an “outsider”) is being replaced with Judah Battista, who is, as his last name indicates, very much an “insider”.

      Sometimes, change just doesn’t go in the direction one might hope for…

  2. you’ve set up a tautology. You don’t know any rescues that are hoarders because rescues aren’t hoarders.

    Half the “hoarders” (whatever that is, anyway) call themselves “rescues”. What do you imagine they THINK they are doing?

    It’s an incredible strategic mistake for the people who support shelter reform to STILL call this “Oreo’s law” or to refer to it as such. Do you want to move a good law along, or do you want to open old wounds and inflame them?

  3. One, which, ironically, I just came across yesterday. And the group the hoarder is associated with is stepping in to deal with it this week while it is still a small (less than 15 animal) issue.

  4. “I’d rather give more power to the rescuers who want to save lives than the so-called shelters determined to kill pets.”

    I agree with that.

    The numbers of animals being killed by “shelters” is so much higher than the numbers of animals dying in the hands of “hoarders”.

    Seems whenever “shelters” are given more power to collect people’s pets, the kill rate goes up.

    1. Hoarding is still not well-understood by psychologists or anyone else, not even the hoarders themselves. I don’t know how prevalent it is, but maybe about as common as other severe obsessive-compulsive disorders, such as the compulsion to wash your hands hundreds of times a day. These are extreme conditions–pretty baffling to most of us.

      On the other hand, some rescuers get into trouble when they take on too many animals and don’t have enough help caring for them or getting them adopted. I’ve known at least two rescues where that happened. The decline took place over a period of time without anyone realizing what was going on or stepping in to help, and by the time anyone knew, it was too late. Conditions were terrible, dogs had died, and both rescues were closed down. These were licensed, reputable, well-regarded rescues and both were 501c3. One rescuer was also successful at breeding and showing her own dogs, yet no one on the show circuit realized how bad conditions had gotten at her house. So it can happen, but it’s unusual and I’m still not sure whether either rescuer was actually a hoarder.

      If a rescue operates in a state that requires a license, then I think it should be licensed. Having 501c3 status is entirely separate from the rescue’s standard of care, adoption policies, or ethics since the IRS is not concerned with those things. If the rescue wants to solicit donations from the public, then it should be a 501c3. Otherwise, I’m not sure that tax-exempt status really matters that much. Except that it shows a rescue is willing to jump through some hoops to save pets.

      So I think a rescue should meet local and state standards of care, have a license if required, meet state and USDA standards if they transport pets, and possibly, but not necessarily have federal 501c3 status. The other provisions in Oreo’s Law make sense to me, although I realize some are related to having 501c3 status.

      Best Friends’ position doesn’t make sense to me. The danger of pets falling into the hands of hoarders or overwhelmed rescuers is minimal compared to the danger of being killed by the shelter staff. As more rescues are allowed in and the kill rate drops, perhaps troubled, overwhelmed rescuers on the edge of hoarding can finally relax and let someone else help for a change!

      1. I read an article on hoarding that seperated it into three classes. The situation you described would be “overwhelmed caretaker” where they want to take care of the animals, and have the idea that things are going well but can’t find the help they need. If you step in an help usually they are grateful and work with you.

        I can’t remember the names of the other two but one was the type where they never recognized that they were causing issues – they really think that what they are doing is okay and that the animals are fine. The third case was described as the rarest and that is real intentional hoarding – where the goal is to have as many of X as possible as a type of status symbol. I have never heard of a case like that – the ones I heard of are the overwhelmed or the ones who think 3 inches of feces on the ground isn’t an issue.


      2. Daniela – Do you have a link or reference for that article. Been trying to find an article that actually talks about hoarding where it concerns animals and see something that substantiates the claim that hoarding can be done in human/animal relationships.


      3. i am not sure why I can’t reply to your post so I am replying here. The three categories were: overwhelmed caretaker, rescue hoarder and exploiter hoarder. The article is a best friends article and you can read it here:

        On a feral cat yahoo message board I also read a short quiz on how to tell if you are a hoarder or not. There were about 5 -6 questions along these lines:

        Are all your animals neutered/scheduled to be neutered?
        Do they get regular vet care?
        What are their names?
        Can you list a favorite/disliked thing for each animal?

        With the overall feeling being do you provide the basic care for the animals, and do you provide the emotional care. If you don’t know your animals well enough to know what they like/dislike then maybe you have more then you can handle.


      4. There’s a lot of information about hoarding on the Tufts website at:

        I’m not myself really convinced that all overwhelmed rescues or individuals with more animals than they can cope with are really examples of hoarding as a mental disease. Apart from any other considerations I don’t think it properly deals with the issue of someone with a lot of animals who becomes clinically depressed and can’t care for them as a result of the depression (rather than getting the animals in the first place because they are mentally ill).

        I DO think there are very dangerous situations where perfectly good people can’t bear to feel an animal is going to be killed because THEY don’t offer a place. Also where people know they have more animals than they can cope with but persuade themselves that they are going to sort things out as soon as they get time (and they never DO get time because they’re continually being asked to deal with more).

      5. Thank you Daniela AND Rosemary….talk about some interesting reading – but honestly this is the first time I have ACTUALLY seen something in print that actually tackles the meaning behind animal hoarding and think both sources are something that EVERYONE should read and be made aware of.

  5. I disagree with the 501(c)(3) requirement and got some opinions on NKN’s site. I understand that concessions need to be made to get the law passed. However being 501 does not make you a good or bad rescue. Many small rescues do not have the resources to hire an attorney to help with the ridiculous amount of hoop jumping involved. I guess they are too busy actually saving animals the shelters want to kill. 501 is simply a tax designation, nothing more. Hey, how about building up your rescue network and contacts so that when you have a rescue that is too far for a visit from your actual shelter, you have someone you can trust who can physically get there? I guess that’s too much trouble when there are animals that need killing.

  6. 4. But then most of those were large scale hoarders (hundreds of animals) so the press on them was pretty high.

    Best Friends did “approve” of Delaware’s law – which is similar to Oreo’s law. So why are rescues on Delaware trustworthy but hoarders in NY?


  7. Riiiight. And some foster homes do it for the money so let’s not have any foster homes for kids, let’s keep them all in filthy institutions where they get little or no individual attention, affection, privacy, or other benefits of normal childhood.

    The stupidity of this argument is so profound as to make me gnash my teeth.

    BTW, I totally agree the 501(c)(3) requirement does nothing except to divert time and energy from the essential tasks. It will make some people more willing to donate money, but it does nothing to prevent hoarding, abuse or neglect. Heck, as HSUS and thousands of churches in the US have shown, it won’t even be a realistic deterrent from political activity, despite laws on the books to that effect. Duh.

  8. Well I’m glad to see your blog post is at least open for comments. Mr. Winograd’s was not last I checked. I’m getting really tired of this unproductive use of social media in the name of animal welfare.

  9. Well, I’m having trouble with your little math quiz. First, who’s definition of hoarding are we using? Cuz there are those who think that I am one, but I’d rather not count myself in this quiz. And then there is another local group that I think has hoarding tendencies…so does that count as one, or does each and every volunteer and board member that plays with her count as another? But she doesn’t think she’s a hoarder either, so do we use my math, her math, or Best Friend’s math?
    I really liked the comment that said if there were lots more choices of places for critters to go, perhaps some of the overwhelmed caretakers would be more willing to let go of some of their animals.
    But that is rather another one of those: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” debates.
    I’m not a 501c3…yet. Several other rescues in town are. I’ve heard other people call each of them a hoarder at some point (nice–ugly–buzz word that.)
    I’m thinking maybe it’s sorta like alcoholism. You can’t paste the label on somebody else to fix the problem. They need to see and identify it for themselves before they can get help. Do they have 12-step meetings for hoarders? How about enablers? I’d attend!
    I also agree that calling the revised legislation *Oreo’s Law* was perhaps not the way to soothe the ASPCA…but I also wonder why these billion dollar corporations need to be soothed in order to save lives IN SPITE OF THEM!?!

  10. It’s official. Best Friends are murderers, like their buddies, the ASPCA, who Gregory Castle a$$ kisses every chance he gets.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  11. The hoarders of whom I’ve become aware in my state were all private individuals who either went out looking for animals to “care for” or who were known as having a lot of animals and so people simply added to the stockpiles in a “what’s one more” theory. None have been rescue groups. My answer is “zero.”

    I was perplexed when there were problems with the legislation last year. I found myself wishing that the experts leading the charge could somehow work out the kinks in the language through amendments to the original wording. I’m equally perplexed this time but now I feel somewhat betrayed. If Best Friends does not agree with the proposed legislation in it’s current form, work to amend it somehow. But do so in manner that shows the focus is on life-saving. As it stands how, this seems like fear-based politics to me – we fear the hoarders will take advantage of the new law so animals will be killed instead. I really don’t think hoarding is that pervasive and would be interesting in learning why those who oppose the new legislation think it is that pervasive.

  12. LynnO, you might be right, it might be more beneficial to everyone to stop using the word “hoarding” and focus on the conditions of the animals instead. I help some crazy cat people feed feral cats every day, and at their house they have around 50 cats. Just hearing that number, some people’s minds will immediately jump to “hoarders!” but I can assure you, I see those cats every day, and they are some very well cared for, very happy cats! I can’t imagine their vet and food bills, though. 0_o

    As for Oreo’s law, I have a question. Will it force a shelter to give a very aggressive animal to a rescue just because the rescue wants it, even if the animal’s issue is severe and would probably be better off euthanized? And if it does, will it also absolve the shelter of any responsibility if the dog bites someone? I know some dogs with severe behavioral issues who live in pens at a rescue, and although their basic needs are met and their surroundings are kept clean, they will never live a normal life, and they live most of their lives in isolation because “OMG death is so much more horrible!!” They are not happy dogs. :(

    1. Among the exemptions in the bill are the following:



      1. so a dog has to actually bite someone before it can be judged as dangerous? That’s a whole bunch of employee lawsuits waiting to happen.

        Most smart trainers/behaviorists can tell is a dog is dangerous…as Oreo was.. BEFORE it bites.

      2. Did you meet Oreo, EmilyS? I suspect the answer to that question is no but will admit I could be wrong.

      3. EmilyS, over many years, I have had more “bites” from trainers than from dogs. IMHO, the easiest way to stir up a fight is to put two “trainers” in a room and close the door…

        I’d listen to Tom Cole’s opinion, or Caesar Milan’s, but not many others. I know a guy who took “dangerous” dogs from Best Friends and got them adopted out, with never a problem.

      4. EmilyS is a troll. She trolls here as well as the Best Friends facebook page. She does little but spit hatred.

        Don’t feed the trolls and she’ll go away.

      5. EmilyS –
        I am sure that you have NO CLUE about Oreo – are you aware that dogs CAN be retrained and actually even aggressive dogs who have undergone behavior modification with a KNOWLEDGABLE dog trainer can and will be able to successfully overcome their aggression in MANY cases.

        Let’s see – Oreo was beaten many, MANY times; was thrown off the top of a 6 story building; after she received treatment for her injuries she began to show signs of aggression; after a series of temperment tests the ASPCA deemed her unadoptable and killed her. Even with a group willing to undertake her rehabilitation.

        Are you aware of how most places do temperment testing? They will poke the dog with a rubber hand/arm and try to grab the food dish away from the dog while the dog is eating. Now – you have a dog that was beaten and abused, then stuck in unfamiliar surroundings with people she did not know, stuck in a cage, and then put through testing the quite possibly involved a rubber hand/arm (although it is not clearly stated – but that is the general method used, even though it is not an accurate way to temperment test ANY animal).

        If all this had been done to me I probably would’ve showed signs of “aggression” as well. I’m sure you would too. I have successfully take dog similar to Oreo and they made a 100% turn around with a LOT of individual attention and training. It IS possible to fix agression issues in so many cases, as I believe it would have been with Oreo.

        I don’t know what rock you crawled out of but maybe you should do a little more ‘research’ into this entire subject PRIOR to posting. There is no record anywhere that the ASPCA did use a proper trainer/behavioralist to test Oreo. Given that – it is unfair for you to claim that Oreo was dangerous when YOU don’t know everything surrounding the situation.

  13. As for rescues, we must also include the question of Sanctuaries, of which we are one. Many people don’t take the time to understand what that means: the animals here have had the last last chances and we took them in because they were considered too old, or had health/behavioural issues. Then when people ask “isn’t that animal adoptable?” they ask it with that tone that says “You are hoarding”. Yes, some of the animals here seem to the passing eye to be very adoptable, however, they have either underlying health and/or behavioural issues, or are Elders who have suffered either from PTSD or being moved so many times that we decided the bouncing from place to place must end. So, yes, some people might see us as “hoarding” (again – definition?), but they don’t ask the important things about each and every individual animal. It’s not about just looking at an animal and saying “oh, that is SO adoptable”. It’s more about their mental states, what have they already had to endure?

    On another note, we do NOT believe in “wareehousing” – nobody lives in a cage. They live as housedogs and I sleep with them on a blow-up bed in the living room so they can puppy-cuddle with me. No, my house is not ‘tidy’. It’s usually a wreck, but it is not filled with feces etc. We are trying to change the paradigm for “sheltering” these special populations of unwanted animals.

    Finally, Oreo’s Law being held up by BF or anyone else, well, these mega-organizations just don’t get their boots on the ground enough to understand that each animal is an individual, and needs to be dealth with that way. Time consuming? You damn well know it is. But THAT’S rescue in my book. Lording it over smaller rescue groups and deciding WHETHER they “qualify” under, say, BF’s own “guidelines”, is just a whole load of cah-cah.

  14. As the world watches Egypt and the stepping down of Mubarak (who has scammed billions of dollars from his own people – not to mention the violence) The Egyptian people have developed a new verb….when one overstays their welcome and has betrayed another…he or she has committed a “mubarak”

    With that – might we hope as well the likes of HSUS, ASPCA, BEST FRIENDS, ANIMAL CONTROL that KILLS – it’s time for these “mubaraking” phonies to step aside….

  15. Should add Mubarak can also be a noun or any other part of speech –
    Best Friends or Animal Control hangs on to power and oppresses free speech in a carefully crafted mubarakian style…

  16. “I think reasonable screening is a good idea to make sure they’re not some kind of scammers trying to make a buck selling the dogs or people who’ve been convicted of cruelty, etc.”

    If you discovered that an individual was receiving support from a local no-kill organization that had been convicted of animal cruelty, 26 counts, what actions would you take? I am seriously asking your opinion because this is what I have found out and I am at a loss as to what to do. I would value your opinion.

    You need not post this comment if you do not wish to.

    1. I’m sorry Roger but I don’t think I’m understanding your question. Are you saying a person has been convicted and the no kill shelter is offering them some kind of support? Or is it someone at the shelter who’s been convicted? I’m tired so maybe my reading comprehension skills are waning.

      1. An individual that was convicted of animal cruelty charges in the past has been allowed to draw resources from the no-kill shelter. This individual runs a rescue in another community and is permitted access to the food donations made to the no-kill shelter.
        So to clarify, it would be a person that has been convicted of cruelty charges, is somewhat of an active member, I would say more an affiliation, and is drawing on the shelters donated resources for their own rescue.

      2. The President of the organization is the one that allows this to take place. He is fully aware of this person’s past. There is no functioning board of this organization. The President has final say-so over matters like this.
        But what I was asking is if you would allow a person convicted of animal cruelty to do something like this. Or is there forgiveness for such an act.

      3. OK gotcha. Do you know the details of the case? As we all know, cruelty convictions can run the gamut from underweight dogs to setting pets on fire. It’s a luxury most shelters don’t have – to know the details of a specific case. They simply have to treat all cruelty convictions the same in the interest of time. But if a shelter happens to know the circumstances of a particular case and still supports the person, I would guess that maybe they feel the current pets w/this person are not in danger and whatever the cruelty case involved is not an issue at this time. At the other end of the spectrum, somebody who willfully tortures pets can never be trusted again IMO. For example, I wouldn’t allow Michael Vick to use my shelter’s resources (if I had a shelter) and would seriously worry about any pet in his care.

      4. I only know the details of the case from news reports. As I understand it, the circumstances regarding the charges were for neglect. It would appear the individual took on more than they could handle and got in over their heads. They pled guilty to 23 of the 26 charges, given probation for 11 months and 29 days, paid a fine, and was prohibited from owning more than 4 animals in the county the crimes occurred. This only meant that they could go to another county and potentially set up a rescue there.

      5. This sounds like someone whose “rescue” I’d want to inspect regularly, if I had the ability to do it (in addition to running my fictional shelter). I’d want to make sure there wasn’t any danger of the person falling into similar circumstances w/more pets than he could handle and neglect happening. If I didn’t have the ability to regularly inspect the rescue, I don’t think I’d want to support it.

      6. Thank you for your opinion. I guess the thing that gets me about it is the members of my community are donating resources, those resources being food, that unknowingly are going to this person. I believe in full disclosure. The food bank is advertised as helping low income families keep their pets fed. It is not advertised as allowing other rescues in other counties to pull from.

  17. Slapping the label “hoarder” on someone (because they have n+1 animals, where “n” is the number *you* think is appropriate) seems to be the new favorite pastime among animal people. It reminds me of “Munchausen by proxy”. Sure, both hoarding (of animals) and MBP do exist, but they are rare. But once they become the disorder du jour, you can slur anyone you disagree with by raising that issue. Then the burden becomes disproving it. It’s all so paternalistic.

  18. oy.
    @Brie: no I didn’t meet Oreo, did YOU? I believe the ASPCA because they had every motivation (the effort they put into her, the money they raised, the flak they would get) to keep her alive. Based on that and the deafening silence from reputable pit bull rescuers about Oreo, I believe ASPCA made the right decision to kill her. Pets Alive was not a group with the kind of setting or trainers that would have made a difference.. she would have been isolated, locked away, kept from meaningful contact with people (yeah, I’ve seen the photo of people sitting on her). NO ONE could have made a difference. Some dogs just need to be killed.
    @exfriender: Milan is one of the “trainers” who likes getting bitten, or used to. I kind of suspect his new “positive” focus has to do with one too many staff members getting bitten by the dogs he’s abused by his techniques. Oh, was your remark meant to be funny/cute? The fate of other dogs has no relevance to the discussion of Oreo, but if BF really adopted out over-the-top human aggressive dogs, then more shame to them.
    @TheWatcher: funny that you call me a troll, when you post pseudonymously. My real name is right there in front of you. I’ve made no secret over the years of my disagreement with the tactics of the BF/ASPCA haters on the Oreo issue.. I think the tactics are childish and counterproductive and designed to drive away allies rather than promote. That’s not “hatred”.. it’s my opinion, and I’m not the only one who has it. You can find my comments, attached to my name, all over the boards. You?

    (oh p.s. there ARE people I hate: Ingrid Newkirk, Wayne Pacelle, John Goodwin, Tom Skeldon and Kory Nelson. Oh and Colleen Lynn. And Merritt Clifton. Don’t hate anyone associated with PA or BF or ASPCA (though I do hate their “we have to fight dogs in order to catch dogfighters” program)

    1. Have you been to Pets Alive and seen the area she would have been “isolated, locked away, kept from meaningful contact with people” in? I have.

      Pets Alive has other aggressive dogs – none of them are locked away and kept from meaningful contact with people. They do have caution tape stuck to their runs/kennels so that newbies don’t go into those areas thinking they have a friendly dog they can walk with no problems. But each of those dogs has human friends that take them for walks and ice cream treats and sleep overs. A lot of work and effort is put into those dogs to help them overcome their issues and be adopted into homes of their own. And for those that are in the end just not adoptable do have a nice sanctuary they can live out their days with plenty of human and canine friends to interact with.

      Pets Alive has done some amazing work with aggressive dogs. They have one named Cam that had to be fed with a funnel at one point, but now accepts being dressed up in costumes without any protests. Would they have been able to rehabilitate Oreo? I don’t know – I don’t think anyone can know for sure. But I don’t see why she couldn’t have been given a chance.


  19. I realize I’m returning after this party has ended, but I’m goggling over the idea, penned by EmilyS, that a dog can be judged too dangerous to live BEFORE it ever bites ANYONE. Am I really the only one who experienced a WTF moment on reading that? Just what on earth would the criteria be??

    That is one scary ass idea. Of course, it is the implicit in BSL, which has been proved to be BS, but other than that?

    1. The sad irony is that in some huge percentage of of dog bites by owned dogs, the owner *always* says “But he’s never done that before!” So how can we predict future behavior? Sure, temperament tests continue to be refined and validated, but we all know of cases of dogs who passed with very low (or even no) points who then went on to bite someone. I think the very difficulty of predicting dangerous behavior is the main reason why something like “Oreo’s Law” is needed. A shelter can legitimately say “Based on what we are observing in the current context, this dog is unadoptable.” But to prohibit someone else with an animal background, who may see something different in the dog and may have something different to offer the dog, from even trying seems to be the height of arrogance.

      1. Well said Susan. Oreo’s Law takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill based solely upon their personal opinions (or those of their friends/associates who may “consult” on a case). The right of the dog to live takes precedence over the opinion of the shelter that currently has the dog.

    2. Goggle all you want, but this kind of assessment is what experienced trainers/behaviorists can do. It is exactly the OPPOSITE of BSL, so I don’t know WTF you’re talking about. It’s precisely about DEED (or in this case behavior) not BREED. The obsession with Oreo as an APBT is misleading in this case.

      You’ve never dealt with dangerous dogs.. dogs that truly want to kill someone, I take it? Maybe not, because it is extreme and rare behavior… dogs are programmed to work WITH humans. Oreo was not a case of the average dog who bites his owner’s kid, which are wholly predictable. The fact that owners say “oh he’s never done that before” is meaningless in this context. The average owner isn’t going to make decisions about the Oreo kind of killing. The dog he gives up is going to be assessed by a decent shelter as being “food/toy possessive” (who bit the kid trying to mess with the dog’s food) and retrained and rehomed, we hope. The average owner is a dolt about dog behavior. The behaviorists at ASPCA who assessed Oreo are not dolts.

      Do you really not know what a behaviorist does? He doesn’t push at a dog with a plastic hand and proclaim it as dangerous. What ASPCA behaviorists.. the same who evaluated all but one of the Vick dogs as safe… do is look at the whole range of behaviors of the dog.. what it is TRYING to do. If you haven’t seen a dog break into an out-of-control rage, then you can not condemn the assessment of Oreo.

      A behaviorist can assess the degree of seriousness in the intent of a dog to bite for real (not bite to “warn” for example). She can tell the difference between a fearful dog who wants the threat (you) to go away and is using his teeth to protect himself… versus a dog who is psychologically deranged and wants to KILL you. Oreo was one of the latter (in fact, it was probably because she tried to kill her owner that the degenerate threw her off the roof.. do I need to say that was despicable and appalling and Oreo was not to blame for this?)

      It’s true that many/most shelters don’t know how to assess dogs properly. It’s true that shelters use minor behavior problems as excuses to kill dogs, and that is very very wrong. But that was not the case with Oreo: As I wrote, NO reputable pit bull rescue was willing to take Oreo. That’s more telling to me than all your goggling at the notion that a dog can’t be assessed as irredeemably dangerous before it bites someone.

      Of course killing a dog a serious decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Shelters should not kill dogs for minor behavioral problems (including snapping at people who try to take away their food). But I dunno… maybe you’re the kind of person who would rather release a dangerous dog into society and hope that it never seriously injures someone because some bloggers will attack you for failing the so called “no kill” agenda. Or because some shelters are perfectly willing to take a dangerous dog and use it to raise money and promote its own image. When no kill nirvana gets here, you can house all the dangerous dogs you choose to. But that’s not the real world NOW, and especially not for “pit bulls”. With thousands of rocksolid pit bulls being killed every day, yeah, I’m going to err on the side of killing the marginal ones and using resources to save the good ones. Sorry, I don’t think a dangerous dog has any particular “right to live” over a good dog, not to mention over the people it could seriously injure.

      You do understand that every version of “Oreo’s Law” would have permitted ASPCA.. or anyone else.. to kill her, don’t you?

      1. Okay, I read through this a couple of times but the only parts that make sense are the fictional ones. Not bad for fiction–that’s a pretty dramatic scene where Oreo’s owner throws her off the roof because she tried to kill him first. Yeah, sure. Right.
        As for your “insider’s” knowledge of Oreo’s assessment by the ASPCA and your personal assessment of her as a deranged killer–c’mon. LOL, seriously?

      2. Let’s see — if you followed Oreo’s story you would know that the neighbors heard the dog being beaten quite a bit actually. SO given your fictional accounting of how things “might” have went down….if I were a dog and MY owner beat me all the time hell yeah I’d bite the owner. In fact the owner would have it coming for beating me all the time. If my owner then chose to deal with it by throwing me off the roof then that is very telling in that this ‘person’ was an idiot to begin with. And anyone who follows your lines of reasoning need their heads examined!

        Have you ever talked to ANYONE who worked with Oreo? Have you called all the rescue groups to see who was and wasn’t interested in taking Oreo? (You claim there was not a one…but there was.)

        You sure seem hell bent on defending Ed Sayre’s decision to kill Oreo….maybe you were the one who stuck the needle in the dog? You argument on this entire thing is shaky at best.

        I have a pit bull that is my PET – that was labeled as ‘dangerous’ – should not be around other dogs, cats, or kids – was never socialized properly as a pup, used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring, had her teeth sawed down to prevent her from protecting herself, and oh yes – there was also abuse (as in her handler physically beat her & forcing her to stand tied to a pole in the middle of a fight ring while she was in heat to get 2 males to fight over her…and she got her share of scars from these fights!), cruelty in how she was ‘trained’ (beating pots together and against her cage, which by the way was too damn small for a dog her size), and neglected in that she was fed & given water when they felt like it (she appeared to have never had her nails clipped and feared having her teeth brushed). She also bit (nothing serious as it didn’t break the skin and was actually done more as a warning that she didn’t want to be messed with) 2 people at the shelter she was dumped at by the person who stole her from her “owner” with this letter explaining what she was doing there.

        I had pit rescues that I had called and not 1 would take her in…they only wanted the easy to adopt puppies and young dogs…I thought her best bet was to be with one of those groups, but they all refused….even though their websites went on and on about how they would work with dogs and make them adoptable, etc. I had other animals and 2 small kids and was scared about tackling such a daunting task at that time. BUT since I was her ONLY chance I took her on. She’s an old lady now – and she is the “Mommy” of any rescued orphan kittens I take in…they all navigate towards her and lay on/around her. In fact when she had a hemotoma on her ear my youngest (was 1 at the time) and would lay with the dog and chew on her ear while teething…the dog didn’t even flinch.

        Now given your “theory” on dangerous dogs – my Gracie wouldn’t be here today if you had a say in it. Thank God you weren’t involved in this situation! Because in my experience shelters are too quick to kill animals – add any aggression issues and they will bump it to the top of the euth list…why is it better to kill them rather than at least giving them a CHANCE with someone who specializes in training/rehabilitating pit bull type dogs? And don’t give me the legal mumbo jumbo..because to me that doesn’t hold water. Aggression in most dogs CAN be fixed – and to use it as a tool to kill makes me sick to my stomach. Only until EVERY avenue has been explored should we be able to say that the dog was unable to be reformed and there is no other choice BUT to kill it. You claim that the people at ASPCA who assessed Oreo weren’t “dolts” – I disagree – they are dolts and you can also add murders to their bio because that is what they did – they killed Oreo.

        So you just go ahead and keep singing your song, but there are those of us who know better…..

        If I hadn’t taken Grace she would’ve been killed – I thank God every day for putting her in my life. She won’t be around much longer I fear, but she will leave one heck of a legacy!

  20. I have seen in more then one blog that “no reputable pit bull rescue was willing to take Oreo” as a sign that Oreo was too vicious to live and Pets Alive was either deluded as to the condition of Oreo or using her as a cash cow. How do we know that no reputable pit bull rescue was willing to take her?


    1. While I do admit to not going through all the cases – that date back for YEARS…I have to point out that going through the ones I did that there is no mention of if these were hoarding cases that involved a 501(c)3?!?!? Most of the cases were individual people in their homes, or other structure; or they claimed to be a sanctuary.

  21. Yes, I DO know what behaviorists do, and I know what a dangerous dog is (and how various laws define that term. Show me ONE dangerous dog law that permits a dog to be determined to be dangerous without ever having attacked a human or another domesticated animal and causing injury.

    And you do not know any more about Oreo than the rest of us here, and what the A shared was conclusory and self serving – and certainly not undisputed by people within the organization.

    1. Yeah – the only one I can come up with is BSL… I guess that’s a dead end. (no pun intended on that one)

  22. I know this is probably a dead thread but Alley Cat Allies posted their take on Oreo’s law this year:

    “Alley Cat Allies supports Bill 4480 and is confident the bill, if passed, will protect New York’s animals. ”

    Looks like the dividing lines between some of the big organizations have been drawn. Hopefully this will make BF and others stop and take notice and do what is right.


  23. I know this is a bit of an old post now, but I wanted to add something else real quick, in regards to not declaring a dog dangerous until it bites someone, I can see how that would make sense in a law. Many people don’t know dog behavior very well, and you wouldn’t want a law that says your dog can be declared dangerous because somebody interpreted your dog’s behavior incorrectly. Some people are frightened by a dog barking at them, even if the dog is just barking excitedly, not in an aggressive manner.

    If you know dog behavior, it really isn’t that hard to tell the difference between dogs who are stable and normal, dogs who are stable yet have a few issues to be worked on, and dogs who are just plain unsafe.

    I give you my “system”. Let me know what you think.

    1. All-around Family Pet Good With Everything – happy-go lucky friendly with everyone, good with handling, good with other dogs, good with cats, good with kids, good at dog parks, good at family outings, etc, no behavioral issues besides typical training issues, such as housebreaking, general manners, and basic commands.

    2. All-around Family Pet With DA or Prey Drive – same as above except doesn’t like other dogs and may or may not like cats, needs a tad extra management than dogs in category 1.

    3. Shy Dog – may have characteristics of dogs in 1 and 2 along with varying degrees of shyness (dogs in this category do not show fear aggression unless pushed and pushed and pushed purposely, dogs in this category simply try to run away). Some shy dogs come out of their shells within a few days of being in their new environments and do fine, others need a bit more time, some treats and gentle handling. May or may not do well with children, this depends on the individual dog.

    4. Fear Aggressive Dog – some characteristics of 2, and 3, but instead of running away, shows aggression to those approaching to try to make them go away. If the fear aggression is only due to fear itself, and not to any underlying anxiety/temperament issue, the fear aggression can be fixed with treats, time, and gentle handling. Fear-aggressive dogs should be placed with older children only. They may be helped by living with a calm, confident dog. Fear-aggressive dogs should not be confused with cage-aggressive dogs, who bark and snarl at people approaching their kennel. Cage-aggression can be fixed by throwing treats in the kennel when you pass by. It may work in 10 minutes or a couple days.

    5. Brat (best descriptive word I can think of at the moment) – May have some fear/anxiety about handling/certain types of handling, likes to challenge most humans’ attempts at training just because he can, may have some food aggression/resource guarding tendencies, may react to correction by barking back at/snapping at you (but does not really intend to hurt you). Brats have often learned that by showing varying degrees of aggression they can get their way, and they need absolute and firm consistency to unlearn these behaviors. (They are not “dominant”, they are just very smart and were not taught manners). Dogs in this category should not be placed with small children, and depending on the individual dog, may not be safe for children under 10 either. Dogs in this category vary in their issues and brattiness.

    6. Truly Dangerous Dog – cannot be handled by anyone except select people, is very unpredictable in when and where they may bite, even skilled trainers can’t figure out all their triggers; may display some or all of the issues in 5, may seem “moody” or different from one day to the next, vastly overreacts to normal stimuli (i.e. attacks just because somebody patted them on the head), may seem impulsive with little or no threshold, basically living a safe existence around this dog requires day-to-day planning. This type of dog should either not be adopted out at all, or only to very skilled, knowledgeable dog owners.

    *note – Dogs displaying behaviors in category 6 should be evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any medical problems, as some disorders can manifest these types of behaviors.

    I’m thinking of adding another category, “Truly Dangerous Yet Predictable”, dogs who we know their triggers, but these triggers are such simple every day things, like being patted on the head, that it makes the dogs dangerous because they overreact so much.

    1. Funny – that looks very similar to my rating system too – only I call the “Brats” by the name “PITA” (pain in the arse) just because they are smart enough to manipulate humans!

      Thanks for sharing!

  24. To EmilyS.

    Is your real name truly EmilyS? Your last name is S? Somehow I doubt that – but if you insist that’s your real name, I suppose I’ll believe you.

    Being a troll has nothing to do with whether or not I use my name. You show up in these forums and do nothing but spew hatred. That is the very definition of a troll.

  25. One question though…where would a skittish dog fit into this system? Skittish to noise, skittish to new situations…would that be the over-reacting part?

  26. @ mary francis

    I believe a skittish dog would fit under “shy” dog. Fear aggressive would be the shy dog that reacts primarily by biting, barking, lunging at stimuli that scares it (i.e., being reactive). Shy dogs tend to just want to run away and almost never try to bite unless really, really, really pushed.

    But that’s the thing about animals, you may come across some that don’t fit under any category clearly, and sometimes the categories will seem to overlap.

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