Last week, the New York Times ran a great article on various animal groups around the country that are helping people in low-income areas to provide food for their pets.
Pets make wonderful companions for people of all income levels, but sometimes it can be very difficult for people to financially afford the best for their pets. While some can judge the folks as not properly caring for their pets, to them, it's the best they can do.
Ollie Davidson, of the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago realizes he's helping both parties when they help pets: "We're helping people," he said. "In times of stress, it's always good to keep people with their pets."
And the help also allows dogs and cats that might otherwise end up in a crowded shelter from ending up there --- and any opportunity to keep a pet in a home is a great opportunity.
The Times article features several groups around the country, including Spay/Neuter Kansas City and Northland Pet Food Pantry in my city, that are helping people with low incomes to have adequate food, dog houses, dog bedding, etc. It really is a great program and I'm thrilled to have them in our city. Other groups featured were Tree House Humane Society and PAWS in Chicago, the Petco Foundation and their "We are Familie Too" program, Young at Heart Pet Rescue's Nina's Pet Food Pantry of Palentine, IL, and Northeast Community Lutheran Church in Minneapolis -- which is also providing pet food for needy families.
There's also a great photo album associated with the story here (go for no other reason than to check out the picture of the beautiful red bully). Most of the pics are from Kansas City.
The article ran in a special "giving" section of the newspaper last week.
If you have organizations like these in your home town, I strongly recommend a simple food donation, or time donation to help deliver the food, to help these organziations out. And if your city doesn't have one, how many human and animal lives can be improved if you started one? Don't hesitate. Start one in your home town.
Meanwhile, there is a second story that I think is a must read. The story involves a dog named Oreo (get it, he's black and white). Oreo's owner was apparently a piece of crap of an individual and decided to throw Oreo off the side of a 6 story building. Oreo sustained major injuries including two broken legs, and a broken rib.
The ASPCA in New York raised money for Oreo and helped him to recover from his physical injuries -- unfortunately, Oreo wasn't able to overcome his emotional ones -- at least not in the time that the ASPCA alloted. The ASPCA determined that Oreo was too aggressive to go into a home*. Another organization, Pets Alive, that apparently specializes in dealing with rehabilitating dogs like Oreo, offered to take Oreo from the ASPCA and work on his rehabilitation -- and even if he was never able to be completely rehabbed, would be allowed to live out his life in their Sanctuary where dogs get walks and attention every day from volunteers.
* I should note that Oreo seems very calm in this photo taken by the ASPCA and far from "overly" aggressive"
The ASPCA opted to kill Oreo instead.
First off, I must say, that I support rescue groups' decisions to euthanize dogs that really are too aggressive to adopt into homes. There are too many great dogs in the world to not take that risk.
But I also believe that the vast majority of dogs with behavioral issues can be rehabilitated with tons of love and training by a dedicated person or group of people. And I believe that euthanasia is the "solution" only when there are absolutely no other options. It is the very last option, the end of the line. It's the end of the line for the dog, and thus, should be our very last resort.
It sounds as if the ASPCA euthanized Oreo, even though other options were available for Oreo. And I do have a problem with that.
I'm not going to go into a lot of details on this -- instead, I'll provide some links -- but I just want to emphasize that euthanasia is the VERY LAST RESORT, the end of the line, for pets. It should only be used when every single other safe option has been exhausted. And we need to hold our national organizations like the ASPCA to that standard.
Meanwhile, it sounds like Oreo's owner, Fabian Henderson,is scheduled for sentencing on December 1st after pleading guilty to aggravated animal cruelty.
Pets Alive Blog -- Failing Oreo.
ASPCA to Euthanize Oreo - from the New York Animal Welfare Examiner.
Deluge of pleas to spare Oreo thrown off roof -- the NY Times Blog
Oreo the abused pit bull is euthanized -- The New York Times
Oreo is dead, the blame game is not -- The Gothamist
ASPCA Statemen on the Euthanasia of Oreo - the ASPCA
ASPCA Euthanizes Oreo -- YesBiscuit!
The meaning of Oreo - Winograd