No doubt you’ve heard about the miracle dog Patrick, right? I was going to provide a link to his story but there are too many … you’ll get tons of choices if you do a web search for “patrick miracle dog”.

Anyway, long story made short: Patrick was nearly starved to death, thrown in a dumpster chute in an apartment building in Newark, found by a maintenance worker, rescued by Associated Humane Societies and nursed back to health at the Garden State Veterinary Specialists hospital. He’s garnered world-wide attention and support as well as many donations made in his name.

And now, supposedly, Patrick has been “evaluated” and found to have some food aggression issues.

Is ANYONE shocked by this? If you starved me for months and left me to die, I’d probably have some food issues too.

OK, so what’s the big deal? Well, technically, a group (shelter in this case) can label an animal “unadoptable” for food aggression issues. And that can mean no adoption to anyone – no matter how qualified – and ultimately that means either life in a cage or death. I’m not saying that is what will happen to Patrick – but it IS a possibility.

How incredibly sad and twisted.

Now, do you remember Oreo – the dog that was abused, thrown from a building rooftop in NYC, rescued and nursed back to health by the ASPCA and then killed because the ASPCA marked her as “aggressive”. Of course, the ASPCA raised LOTS of money off of this story – people were outraged that someone could abuse a dog and then throw her from a roof, so they donated in her name. Two rescue organizations stepped up to take Oreo – even after she was labeled “aggressive”.

But, because of the way the laws are written, the ASPCA did not have to even entertain those offers to transfer Oreo. They could simply just kill her. So they did.

Enter the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA):

“This law mandates the programs and services which have proven so successful at lifesaving in shelters which have implemented them; follows the only model that has actually created a No Kill community; and, focuses its effort on the very shelters that are doing the killing. As a result, it provides a framework for success unavailable from traditional legislative models such as punitive legislation aimed at the public or through counterproductive national efforts that legitimize the killing.”

This Act has already been passed in Delaware – yay Delaware!! (California has had a version of this law on record since the late 1990’s.)

What would CAPA mean for Patrick in New Jersey? It would mean that even if he does have some food aggression issues the shelter responsible for him would have to explore many options before killing him. And just like Oreo, I would put money on several qualified organizations being willing and able to properly care for this dog – even placing him in a loving home. The shelter responsible for Patrick has not made any decisions yet (as far as the public knows) … hopefully, they will make the right decision.

For further reading, including lots of lawyer language:

CAPA has been proposed in three more states: New York, Texas and Rhode Island. For more information on the push to get this on the books in all states, go to

Let’s hope New Jersey gets on board with CAPA soon!

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