“Central Park Karen” Gets Her Dog Back, Igniting Fresh Outrage

Last week, a cocker spaniel named Henry became the center of a social media firestorm after his owner, Amy Cooper, was caught calling 911 to falsely accuse a black birdwatcher of threatening her life in Central Park.

Cooper was swiftly condemned for her malicious and racist intent, but animal lovers saw additional reason for alarm. Throughout the incident, which was captured on film and quickly went viral, poor Henry is so roughly handled that the spaniel frequently appears to be choking and struggling to breath.

In the backlash that followed, Henry was surrendered to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, where the dog had been adopted several years before, while police investigated the incident. But only a week later, the rescue announced that it had returned Henry to his owner upon her request, triggering a fresh round of outrage. This time, people are upset by the rescue’s decision to release the dog to Ms. Cooper, whose abusive behavior has already been captured on film.

“Abandoned Angels would like to express its gratitude for the outpouring of support regarding the dog that was recently placed in our custody, following release of a troubling video that was brought to our attention,” the rescue wrote on Facebook. “The dog was promptly evaluated by our veterinarian, who found that he was in good health. We have coordinated with the appropriate New York City law enforcement agencies, which have declined to examine the dog or take it into their custody. Accordingly, and consistent with input received from law enforcement, we have now complied with the owner’s request for return of the dog.”

Abandoned Angels would like to express its gratitude for the outpouring of support regarding the dog that was recently…

Posted by Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

But the rescue’s decision isn’t sitting well with animal lovers, who worry about Henry’s welfare after witnessing Cooper’s abusive behavior. “I’m extremely disappointed that the dog had to be returned to the owner,” one user wrote. “I’m trying hard to give AACSR the benefit of the doubt that they did so for legal reasons. I am hoping that there is more to the story that they are not at liberty to reveal. But it doesn’t negate the sadness I feel for that innocent dog.”

Many others echoed this sentiment, worrying that the spaniel will be subjected to future abuse in Cooper’s care. “Her rage totally overshadowed any attention related to how she was handling her dog,” another user wrote. “Any animal deserves better treatment. And we all know how people with such out of control emotionality will end up in the same situation again. It’s unfortunate you could not be an advocate for that poor animal.”

But others were far less forgiving of the rescue’s inability to protect the dog, even while a minority of people called for users to give AACSR the benefit of the doubt. “I call for this organization to be investigated,” an angry user wrote. “And for this dog to be taken in by another organization SPCA, please review the paperwork, and take the dog into custody for its safety.” Many other people agreed with this sentiment. Some were discussing creating a Change.org petition at time of writing.

What do you think about this turn of events? Where do you think Henry belongs?

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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