JoAnna Lou
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In Memory of Oreo
Cruelty sparks a movement for justice

Last week, the unimaginable happened to a member of the dog agility community. Michelle witnessed her beloved dog get run over by an angry neighbor who showed no remorse. Now, animal lovers are rallying to support Michelle and find justice for Oreo, which is likely to be a long road.

Laws have long been inadequate when it comes to penalizing animal abuse. In many states, animal cruelty is a mere misdemeanor.

In New York, Buster’s Law was created following the murder of a cat in 1997. The 18-month old tabby had been doused with kerosene and burned to death by a teenager. Buster’s Law made “aggravated cruelty to animals” a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

New York State Assemblyman, James Tedisco, is currently working to strengthen Buster’s Law. The connection between harming animals and people has been proven.  Infamous serial killers, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer had a history of abusing animals. The teenager who murdered Buster has since been imprisoned for various crimes, including attempted rape and sexual abuse.

Oreo was an accomplished agility and obedience competitor, a certified therapy dog, and had a paying job working with autistic children. But above all, Oreo was a beloved family pet who is sorely missed. While nothing can be done to bring Oreo back, hopefully the dog community can come together to change the legal percussions for committing such a horrible crime.

For more information on this topic, the ASPCA has online resources to help prevent animal abuse and maintains a database of state animal cruelty laws. To support the Justice for Oreo cause, visit their web site for the latest news and information.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by Carolyn | March 19 2010 |

Shocking, horrific story. Makes you hug your own dog just a little closer and endeavor to keep her/him a little safer.

Submitted by David Bozak | March 21 2010 |

I want to thank Bark and Ms. Lou for helping get the word out about this tragedy. Oreo's death is a stark reminder that even though we'd like to think otherwise, animal cruelty exists, perhaps even in your own neighborhood. I hope we can strengthen Buster's Law and in that way Oreo's death has something positive result.

Submitted by Julia Kamysz Lane | March 21 2010 |

JoAnna, thank you so much for writing this. The whole agility community is in mourning. I can't even imagine what Michelle is going through. The man who did this deserves a punishment fitting his horrific crime. There is another Oreo who also suffered tragically and New Yorkers are being urged to support Oreo's Law in her honor. I hope it passes so that she and Michelle's Oreo's lives were not lost in vain. More info can be found here: http://oreoslaw.blogspot.com/

Submitted by Shannon | March 23 2010 |

Nice story, JoAnna, about a very difficult topic.

Submitted by Marcy Rauch | March 23 2010 |

For those of us who know Michelle and Oreo (even if just from attending the same agility trials like me), the reality of this horrendous situation is mind-numbing. For those who don't...please do whatever you can in your area to firm up the cruelty laws so no one ever takes a life so cavalierly. While I don't think the laws are strong enough yet...I hope they find this man guilty and give him the max!

Go hug your dogs and help get the word out. I know that locally there are quite a few fundraisers in the works to bring attention to the situation as well as to help raise money for Michelle's legal fees to help prosecute the 'beast' who did this horrific act. Thanks JoAnna for the blog. Keep us posted.


Submitted by Anonymous | March 24 2010 |

Just as surely as there is a Rainbow Bridge for good dogs like Oreo, I am sure there is a special place in hell for the man who killed him. My deepest condolences to his owner, and I pray that Michelle finds both peace for herself and justice for Oreo!

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