Oyster Bay Animal Shelter Policy Change Sparks Outcry

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The euthanisia of Precious has caused a stir.

The Town of Oyster Bay recently updated its policy on why dogs in the town’s animal shelter may be euthanized, prompting a pit bull the town had termed “sweet” to be put down.

Local animal advocates held a candlelight vigil after the dog named Precious was euthanized in June. But town officials deny they did anything improper.

“I spent quality time with her in March off-leash in their play yard,” says Lori Prisand, a shelter volunteer. “The shelter’s description of her was spot on. She was a wonderfully sweet and extremely smart dog who did not deserve to be euthanized.”  

So what changed from Precious being advertised for adoption as “a ridiculously sweet dog who loves to snuggle” to an unadoptable dog slated for euthanasia?

The town drafted a new animal adoption policy in March. Precious was then evaluated based on the criteria within the proposed policy. The town’s Animal Control & Adoption Center new policy prohibits adopting out dogs with a damaging bite history, no warning signs before they attempt to bite, a history of severely injuring or killing another dog, aggressive behavior toward their animal handler, stalking children in a predatory manner, uninterruptible aggression towards other dogs, or poor bite inhibition. The town board approved the policy in June.

“I knew right away that once this policy was approved, Precious and any dog in the shelter’s custody was at high risk for euthanasia,” says Prisand.  

Precious had been in and out of the shelter system for years, beginning in 2014 when she was surrendered by her family when they lost their home. They later came back to redeem her but Precious was surrendered again last year. But town officials later said Precious attacked another dog in the shelter and was aggressive. 

Advocates sought to find a sanctuary for Precious. Rescues from across the country contacted the shelter, but many say their calls and emails were not returned. 

“Not a single legally qualified rescue organization sought to adopt Precious,” town spokesman Brian Nevin said. “If one had, we would have welcomed the opportunity.” 

Advocates say Precious required training, arguing that putting dogs in positive settings where they can be physically and mentally stimulated can allow dogs to develop socially, and in turn, become adoptable.  

“With a $1.3 million budget for a shelter filled with empty kennels and no rehabilitation services, it’s time for the Town of Oyster Bay — one of the most affluent areas in the country — to use our tax dollars to do everything possible to save the animals, not kill them.” says Prisand. 

For more pets coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/columns/reigning-cats-and-dogs

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