EXPIRED: 11/13/09  – Oreo, 1, a pitbull who survived being thrown from a Brooklyn roof by her 19-year-old owner Fabian Henderson.  The dog broke her two front paws and fractured a rib. Neighbors said they heard Henderson beating Oreo for 20-30 minutes before the final assault. This happened on June 18th, 2009. Oreo was taken to the ASPCA hospital and Henderson was placed under arrest by ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents. Oreo was put down yesterday.

The ASPCA performed reconstructive surgery on her front legs and nursed the dog back to health. It was not easy. Oreo’s legs were shattered and she was obviously extremely frightened.

Oreo’s story caught the attention of the media which led to a flurry of calls from animal rescue groups and individuals that wanted to adopt her.  Her fame has now led to a public outcry as the ASPCA made their decision to euthanize her. She was put down on November 13th.

When the ASPCA first notified the public about their decision; their office was bombarded with phone calls and e-mails from people who were confused and wanted to help. The ASPCA sympathized with their sadness and tried to explain. Then the calls got angry and were “laced with profanity” and the ASPCA became the villain in this horrible situation that they did not start.

Today’s press release was issued to let the public know how much their good intentions were appreciated and help clarify the great lengths the ASPCA took trying to rehabilitate Oreo. Because the public reacted mostly to headlines, and photos of a very scared and timid looking dog, the ASPCA wanted to make sure that “the circumstances that led to this most difficult and heartbreaking of decisions” were clear.

After arriving at the ASPCA’s facility, Oreo began to recuperate from her injuries, only to begin showing signs of extreme aggression – with little provocation or warning. These are the steps taken by the ASPCA:

  • Oreo underwent a comprehensive evaluation to determine the right rehabilitation program for her to get her ready for adoption or a foster home.
  • They actually had two different evaluations performed; one in-house and one from an outside veterinary behaviorist.
  • Both evaluations recommended that Oreo not be placed in a home.
  • ASPCA staff continued with “extensive” behavior training, but Oreo continued to “lunge, growl, snap and attempt to bite.”
  • She alternated with lunging at the behaviorist and then her handler.
  • ASPCA tried to socialize her with other dogs, but she repeatedly attacked them.
  • To keep the other dogs and staff safe, Oreo had to be kept in “relative isolation.”
  • Her violent behavior became so overwhelming that employees were told to “refrain from making sustained eye contact with Oreo so as to not incite aggression.”

The ASPCA then decided to look into alternative placement for Oreo in a long-term resident facility.  However they finally came to the conclusion this meant sentencing her to a life alone, away from people and dogs. They worried that her quality of life would be “reduced to virtually nothing.”

“Thus, we arrived at the painful yet clear decision to humanely euthanize Oreo,” declared the ASPCA in a formal statement.

They reminded the public that the decision the ASPCA made, is the same decision “dedicated shelter workers throughout the country make each and every day.”

“Oreo 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 complete understanding that had she been treated with love and respect, Oreo’s fate would be much different.”

The ASPCA is worried their decision will make people think they failed Oreo. Cruelty like Oreo suffered is rampant and sometimes even with the best intentions the damage it does cannot be healed.

As a dog lover myself, I am torn. If Oreo had turned on a handler, could not be socialized with other dogs and could not be out in public, what does that leave? She would have to live the rest of her life in isolation. That is not a humane choice, either.

Meanwhile, Oreo’s owner pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to felony charges of animal cruelty and will be sentenced on December 1, 2009.The public should not forget their fury and be present to see that Oreo gets justice.



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