In November of 2009, ASPCA President Ed Sayres ordered the killing of Oreo, an abused dog who had an immediate place to go. Pets Alive of New York, a No Kill sanctuary near the ASPCA which specializes in rehabilitating aggressive dogs (and, if that proves impossible, safely caring for them for the rest of their lives), contacted the ASPCA to ask if they could save Oreo. They made numerous telephone calls and sent numerous e-mails. They were ignored, hung-up on and lied to. Two volunteers of the group even went to the ASPCA but were escorted out after Sayres and others in charge of Oreo’s fate refused to meet with them.
In response, New York State Assembly Member Micah Kellner introduced “Oreo’s Law,” which would have mandated collaboration between large, non-profit and municipal animal shelters and smaller rescue groups which wanted to save the lives of animals on death row at these facilities by making it illegal for shelters to kill animals when qualified rescue groups were willing to save their lives.
The law was projected to save roughly 25,000 animals a year at no cost to taxpayers. And despite overwhelming support for the legislation from rescue groups and New York animal lovers, what finally killed the bill and tipped legislators in favor of the opposition, dooming to death tens of thousands of animals every year whom rescue groups statewide were willing to save, was the opposition of the ASPCA.
Despite over 20,000 emails, telephone calls and letters from New Yorkers, the bill was tabled and animals who had an immediate place to go continued to be killed. The bill was introduced two more times, each time being defeated because of ASPCA opposition. As of today, the number of animals killed who could and would have been saved since Ed Sayres and the ASPCA first defeated Oreo’s Law has hit 50,000.
It is not easy to conceptualize 50,000 dead animals. But here they are. Each paw represents an animal who was killed. As you scroll through them, remember that each had a rescue group ready, willing and able to save them.
Want to comment on this blog? Join the discussion at facebook.com/nathanwinograd