For far too long, those running our animal shelters – agencies funded by the philanthropic donations and tax dollars of an animal loving American public – have refused to mirror our progressive values. For far too long, they have assumed a power and authority to act independent of public opinion, and the will of the people who have entrusted them to do their jobs with compassion, dedication and integrity. In betraying this trust, they have proven that they can’t be trusted, and that we must regulate them in the same way we regulate other agencies which hold the power of life and death: by removing the discretion which has for too long allowed them to thwart the public’s will and to kill animals who should be saved. Oreo’s Law, thankfully, seeks to do just that.
Sadly, we cannot bring Oreo back and give her the second chance the ASPCA denied her. And we will forever remember her killing at the hands of those who were supposed to protect her from further harm as many things: tragic and heartbreaking, chief among them. Nothing can alter that calculus. But we can lessen the futility of Oreo’s death if we learn from it, and alter our society in such a way as to prevent such a betrayal from ever happening again.
—Letter in Support of Oreo’s Law From the No Kill Advocacy Center
On Tuesday, Oreo’s Law will be voted on by the New York State (NYS) Assembly Agriculture Committee. But it is not likely to pass without a large showing of community support between now and then. That is because the Committee Chairman is recommending a “hold,” the equivalent of being tabled, which would mean Oreo’s Law would die in committee, despite the fact that it has legislative cosponsors across the state and supporters outnumber the opposition.
If Oreo’s Law is defeated, thousands upon thousands of cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, rabbits, and other animals will continue to be needlessly killed in NYS shelters every year—animals Oreo’s Law has the power to save.
A statewide survey of NYS rescue groups found that over 70% were being turned away because the shelters were hostile to rescue groups, and then those shelters turned around and killed the very animals the rescuers were willing to save. The law would make it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal if a qualified rescue group is willing to save that animal’s life. Oreo’s Law was written with the assistance of the nation’s top animal lawyers, the nation’s most successful former and current shelter directors, and those who have actually created successful No Kill communities (which neither the ASPCA nor Mayor’s Alliance, Oreo’s Law chief opponents, have been able to do despite hundreds of millions of dollars in combined annual revenues). It saves lives and it saves money. And it protects against hoarders, abusers, and dog fighters.
Indeed, Oreo’s Law is central to the fight for a No Kill nation. For No Kill success to be widespread and long lasting, we must remove the discretion which allows shelter directors the ability to ignore what is in the best interests of animals and kill them needlessly. We need to regulate shelters in the same way we regulate hospitals and other agencies which hold the power over life and death. Oreo’s Law helps do just that.
Today, shelter directors across New York State are arbitrarily turning away qualified rescue groups because they are hostile to rescue and arbitrarily refuse to work with them. Today, animals across New York State are being killed even though those rescue groups have offered to save animals otherwise facing certain death. Today, those animals are ending up in landfills, when they should be going to rescue groups where they will be cared for at no cost to taxpayers until a permanent and loving home can be found. Oreo’s Law would give NYS shelter animals that future—a future the ASPCA and Mayor’s Alliance, Ed Sayres and Jane Hoffman specifically, are intent on denying them in order to save face and maintain power and control (Oreo’s Law is named after an abused dog Sayres killed despite a rescue alternative and would remove Hoffman’s control over rescue groups that allows her to take credit and money for their work).
According to a legislative insider, despite the fact that supporters outnumber the opposition, the opposition is strong, but the supporters are not. They do not have enough connections. And they certainly don’t have the money, millions of dollars given by unsuspecting donors who erroneously think these organizations speak for the animals, instead of their own ambition.
Meanwhile, the other large, wealthy, national groups who claim they do speak for the animals, who claim they do support No Kill, who claim they are the leading voices for ending pet homelessness or supporting TNR are not supporting Oreo’s Law because they are afraid to stand up to the ASPCA, because the ASPCA gives them money, or because of personal and professional loyalties with the ASPCA and Mayor’s Alliance they value more than the lives of the animals Oreo’s Law would save.
So the animals need you. They need the voice of the people, every day animal lovers and rescuers to speak for them. They need you to call committee members and urge them to vote “Yes.” Because they don’t have anyone else and only an overwhelming show of support can save Oreo’s Law from defeat and the animals from certain death.
Tragically, right doesn’t always defeat might. Sometimes the animals don’t win. Sometimes they continue to get killed despite a readily available lifesaving and rescue alternative. Sometimes a feral kitten who a rescue group is willing to socialize and place in a loving home will instead get injected with poison from a bottle marked “fatal plus” and then dumped in a landfill. Sometimes a puppy who can go to rescue and be guaranteed a home will be killed instead. Sometimes a person who kills an abused dog a rescue group was willing to save gets away with murder. For their sake, please do not let this be one of those times….
Please call and e-mail the NYS Assembly Agriculture Committee members today. Because without you, the animals don’t stand a chance.
Click here for names and contact information.
For further reading:
Crunch Time for Oreo’s Law
Power to the People
ASPCA Chief’s Tenure Marked by Unconscionable Policies
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