Friday, December 11, 2009

A Message from ACR's President

(Picture: Oreo)

A few years ago, I got an urgent call on a Sunday from a woman who worked at an emergency veterinary hospital in our county. An animal control officer had brought in a very sweet, friendly kitten with a broken leg, and when the clinic told him the kitten needed x-rays and treatment, the officer said they could only spend $100 on the kitten; the treatment would obviously cost more than that.

The woman at the desk had fallen in love with the kitten and offered to “adopt” him and pay for the treatment. She was told only a rescue group could take the kitten, so she called me for help. I called the next day and was told because I was with Alley Cat Rescue and because we support TNR for feral cats, they would not allow me to adopt.

While I was scrambling to find another group to help, I called Animal Control again, and was told the kitten had been “put to sleep”.

Well, when I told this to the woman who wanted to adopt the kitten and get him treatment, she was absolutely devastated. Between us both, we were stunned. Why would anyone put an innocent, sweet little kitten to “sleep” rather than take advantage of this woman’s kind offer, after all she worked at an animal hospital and a rescue group, who places nearly 200 unwanted cats in new homes every year, was also offering to help?

Because of this heart-breaking situation and countless others that happen everyday across the county just like this one, Alley Cat Rescue is supporting Oreo’s law. This law was borne from a similar tragedy, one about a dog named, Oreo. After recovering from being thrown off a balcony, in which she sustained two broken legs and a broken rib, (and a history of abuse), she was dubbed the “miracle dog”. The ASPCA nursed her back to health and had her abuser arrested. But unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. The ASPCA said Oreo was showing signs of aggression (which seems understandable considering her life of abuse and her latest battle), so they put her to sleep. And they did so despite the request of a willing rescue organization who was devoted to rehabilitating her and providing long-term care. A sanctuary in New York offered to save Oreo, explaining they had experience rehabilitating aggressive dogs and offered her lifetime care, including plenty of socialization and walks if the rehabilitation was not successful. But their pleas were ignored and Oreo’s life ended as tragically as she had lived.

Oreo’s Law will make it illegal for shelters to kill an animal if a rescue organization is willing to save that animal. Why should taxpayer money be used to kill animals that rescue groups, using their own private money, are willing to save? By allowing animals to be rescued from kill-shelters by no-kill groups, more animals will be saved. Removing animals from over-crowded shelters will allow more animals MORE time to be adopted…in turn, less animals will have to die. Plus, shelters will not be able to simply deny rescue groups to save animals because they do not agree with their programs (may it be TNR, foster programs, or because they do not like a particular group). Why should an animal suffer because of politics or because of one person’s opinion of someone else?

Kill shelters are also playing on fear…fear that all no-kill shelters are hoarders. This is simply not true. Yes, there are bad people in the world, and some “rescuers” turn out to be hoarders (which is a serious mental illness), but to impede the efforts of all no-kill rescue organizations because some are bad, is ridiculous. And this coming from shelters who kill millions of animals every year? That is also why ACR supports Oreo’s Law with the amendment stating any rescue organization wanting to save an animal must have a 501(c)3 status from the IRS and to bar any organization whose board member(s) has been convicted of animal cruelty/neglect or dog fighting. Currently, there are laws in place to prevent such animal neglect and cruelty, and those found guilty should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But to say that all no-kill shelters are hoarders and deny them to save animals, while millions are being killed is irresponsible. We cannot bring Oreo back, but we can prevent this from happening to other helpless animals, by supporting laws such as this one.


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