ORLANDO, Fla. - Local animal rescues say a dog named Oreo—who has spent the past year at Orange County Animal Services separated from the general population—should be released to outside care.
OCAS told Channel 9 that after no prospective adoptive owners or rescue groups stepped up to take the dog during his adoption availability in December, Oreo was slated to be euthanized.
That’s when OCAS manager Dil Luther, an accomplished trainer, told Eyewitness news he decided to keep the 3-year-old pit bull at the shelter to train him since Oreo has a history of lunging.
Luther told Channel 9’s Angela Jacobs he saw a special aptitude for learning in the dog.
“You can go years looking for a dog like him and then when you find it, it's once in a lifetime,” said Luther.
But the decision isn’t sitting well with area rescue groups. Erin Swilley, the president of Happy Trails Animal Rescue, said keeping the dog at the shelter isn’t fair on many levels. She told Channel 9 she has sent numerous emails to Luther to express her disagreement over Oreo’s situation.
“He kind of started out as this experiment but I don't think it worked,” said Swilley.
Swilley said Oreo doesn’t belong in isolation, where he’s been since February after another dog attacked him. She also accuses the shelter of not letting him out enough for bathroom breaks or allowing others to handle him.
She said if Oreo needs more training, he should be released to rescues groups who can provide it.
“It's time for Oreo to be given that opportunity—whether it's through the shelter or a rescue to transition into a house or into a job and have a life outside of the shelter,” said Swilley.
Luther debunked the claim that Oreo is not being cared for properly. He said keeping the dog with one handler is an essential component of training. Luther also said he does not plan to keep the dog at the shelter permanently and will explore rescue group options when he believes Oreo is ready.
In the meantime, he would like to make Oreo an “ambassador” for the shelter to keep him in a consistent environment and to show the public the potential a previously unwanted animal can have.
Swilley says she joins numerous animal advocates in saying Luther’s plan is not acceptable. “It doesn’t matter if it’s with our rescue group or another rescue group or the shelter decides to clear him and let people can adopt him. I just don’t think it’s fair that he live there anymore. I think that a year is a really long time for a dog to live in that environment.”
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