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An Open Door for Animals in Need

Written by PETA | February 3, 2011

The economic downturn has taken its toll on nearly everyone, and animals are no exception.

Animal shelters across the country are overflowing with record numbers of cats and dogs—many of whom were surrendered by people who lost their homes or could no longer afford to care for their animal companions after being laid off.

With so many animals in need of refuge, now is a terrible time for an alarming number of animal shelters to arbitrarily implement limited-admission, “no-kill” policies. These policies put animals in danger because they prompt shelters to turn animals away or they make it expensive and difficult for people who can no longer care for their animal companions to surrender them to a shelter.

The only effective way to deal with the companion animal overpopulation crisis is through aggressively pursuing laws and policies requiring people to have their animals spayed or neutered and making it easier for them to do so. When shelters refuse to take in animals—and communities fail to address the underlying causes of the problem—animals pay the price.

Under pressure from people with good intentions but no clue of the ugly reality of overpopulation—nor of the sheer number of animals who flood shelters every day—some facilities are stooping to all-time lows to manipulate their euthanasia rates. Many adopt policies and practices that endanger the very animals they should be protecting. These include charging fees for surrendering unwanted animals (sometimes outrageous fees, such as $96 for feral or stray cat “turn-ins” in Maricopa County, Arizona); requiring citizens who can’t care for their animals to make appointments and “wait until there is room”; refusing to accept feral or stray cats, even when people might resort to doing them harm; refusing to accept animals from outside the invisible boundaries of a certain town or area; and giving away animals free of charge and without adequately screening adopters.

Here are just a few heart-wrenching news stories about the ways in which no-kill shelters and policies harmed animals in 2010:

  • Renters in Rhode Island left animals behind in an empty apartment, and shelters still would not take the animals.
  • In New York, cats died in a box after being left outside a shelter that had a waiting list to surrender animals.
  • One shelter in Pennsylvania decided to stop responding to cruelty complaints because there is no room at the shelter and they don’t want to euthanize animals.
  • Kittens were dumped on the road in British Columbia with a note saying, “We are really sorry. We cannot afford the SPCA surrender fee.”

PETA’s small sheltering program takes in any animals who need help—even those who are aggressive, horribly injured, or terminally ill. We took in nearly 80 dogs and cats whom PETA staffers brought back from crowded New Orleans–area shelters after the Gulf oil leak nightmare dealt an additional blow to the Gulf economy. 

Willy Wonky was stuck high up in a tree, terrified and helpless, for three days, until PETA secured a tree climber to rescue him. Now that he’s happy and spoiled rotten in his new home, it looks like Willy Wonky has forgotten all about his ordeal.


Kayla was one of the dogs PETA rescued from a New Orleans–area shelter following the Gulf oil disaster. She quickly adjusted to her new home—she’s a bundle of energy, and she loves swimming and playing with her new “sister.”

No one ever needs to pay a fee or make an appointment to drop off an animal to PETA. Our field staff is on call 24/7; animals are accepted at all hours of the day and night. PETA’s fieldworkers rushed out to help both of the following animals after receiving emergency pager calls early in the morning on weekends:

This poor cat’s leg had been accidentally slammed in a car door, fracturing it at a 90-degree angle and causing her horrible pain. She was put out of her misery.


Buddy had been hit by a car a week before his owner called PETA for help. His back leg was broken and his pelvis was crushed. Buddy’s owner couldn’t bear to see him in pain. He considered shooting Buddy but couldn’t bring himself to do it, so he called PETA for assistance.

Animals like Buddy are the reason why PETA will never turn away any animal in need. Is a shelter in your community turning away animals? Work to open its doors by following these guidelines.

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

Commenting is closed.
  • Joe Spinelli says:

    It’s terrible whats happening to all these animals. I just watched the video of discovering cats at caboodle ranch who were left unattended and left to to suffer and die. The owner Grant is a horrible person and deserves to be prosecuted if he hasnt already. I’m glad though that we have this idea of open shelters, these animals deserve that. I’m glad some are saved!

  • Reviewer says:

    I have worked at animal shelters and animal control departments and have seen what happens to animals in neglectful homes and on the streets. From cats and dogs set on fire when they are alive to animals being eaten alive by maggots under sheds and in ditches. One dog came to the shelter where I worked with one leg, and her other leg came with her in a plastic bag. She was feral and euthanasia was a blessing. THANK YOU PETA, for not turning your back on animals just to please some people who never leave their computers where they sit in comfort pointing fingers and criticizing those actually helping animals!

  • Emily says:

    Amanda, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am deeply saddened by this.

  • Lost One says:

    I probably will have to adopt my 2 cats out now since I also am one of the laid off who will have to move to I don’t know where. I don’t want my cats abandoned (she’s too soft to survive abandoned life in apts area and he does have health issues sometimes like needing furball remedy and both need occasional dewormer and flea combing). The Craigslist ad idea with $$ charging sounds good since it’ll hopefully keep the “bunchers” from selling them to lab experiment docs. I saved them from a feral life and domesticated them with love but now my ended Unemployment benefits makes me have to move.

  • Amanda says:

    PETA sent me to this website because I was disgusted to find out I am part of an orginization that has a horrific number of animals eauthanized. Yes I get your point and you have chosen to take the easy way out. You are not eauthanizing to be able to help more animals. You are killing them so you can take more in! OBVIOUSLY you will always be able to take in more animals if you kill the ones you have to make room! What’s my proof? In 2008 you only adopted out 7 animals ..7 yet you eauthinized OVER 2000! The numbers are clearly shown. You have been emmbarresed about it but not enough to change what you are doing.. I still want to know why.. You are so good at helping animals for the most part. Why can you kill animals that can be saved. Oh and saying they are better off in heaven doesn’t count! Noone can tell me that absolutely know they are going to heaven! So as far as I’m concerened this is being selfish and taking away their one chance at life. It’s not your life to take away. If you want to help then HELP.. Please. You raise money to HELP. If you’ve givin up hope don’t end lives just because You THINK death is better then putting forth the effort to save them. I loved PETA until the day I found out they (in my opinion) are selfish and emotionless like so many others in the world! Don’t believe me, that’s fine look into it yourself. Or better yet. Do what I did and ask them yourself. They will try to convince you killing is neccassary to save lives..does that make sence. Then look into how many lives are being killed rather then saved.. It’s heart breaking the information brought me to tears. I don’t know they will even let me post this ..the truth hurts.. Please somebody prove me wrong, you would make my life.. PETA you helped me to encourage other to change their minds about the way they go about treating animals. You want to be heard, not ignored. I never thought I would have to write this.. Please find another method

  • tanvi says:

    plz plz save them i have tears in my eyes and feeling so helpless

  • Carolyn tibbs says:

    Noone ever adresses the fact that veteraniarans now charge so much for their spay and neuter and treatment just to have a beautiful and fake buisness that this causes people not to go.  The shelters cannot offset this.  A  true vet would not do this.  

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    A co-worker of mine has moved and can no longer keep her two small dogs.  She was going to advertise them in a “free to a good home” ad.  I told her the dangers of that, that those who respond to the ad may be “bunchers” looking for animals to sell to labs for experimentation, people who delight in torturing animals, or just those who will get the dogs on a whim and decide to abandon them later.  I advised her that is she is going to advertise them, charge something for them…it did not have to be a tremendous amount but it should be something to give such people pause, like 50.00 each.  Also, I advised her that whether she sells the dogs or gives them away, do a background check on the person before handing over the dogs.  I even gave her the information on some websites, including, where she can do that for free.  It is not a perfect solution but it may prevent a tragedy.  I would have loved to take the two little guys myself, but in a one bedroom condo with a husband, a large border collie/lab mix, 2 lovebirds, and two abandoned cats, my ark is full.

  • robin says:

    Dear Lauen, I love PeTA because it doesn’t turn away from putting animals down when there’s no one to take them, the animal would suffer a long recovery, and they would tie up all their time and money instead of getting out there and helping MORE animals. They are always up front about this. THere aren’t homes for every animal, and they warn us about hoarders, like on TV show, whatever it’s called. I have five dogs and 2 cats and am at my limit, I’ve run out of friends. I know these guys have too. Too many sweeties with nowhere to go, so Heaven ain’t so bad! Better than what happened to them on earth anyway.

  • nancy says:

    PETA, thank you for not only being compassionate, but logical in handling these situations too.

  • Lauern says:

    So I’m hoping the cat with the broken leg and buddy didn’t get put down!!  What’s with the comment, ‘being put out of misery?’.   I’m assuming this refers to the cat being put down.  Would you put down a human with a broken leg?? Don’t let me down Peta, especially after all your articles and comments about not euthanising animals!!

  • Natalie Sayidi says:

    I support such programs with all my heart. Everyone has a right to live. It is so sad that in my country we can only dream of such shelters.

  • SHARI says:

    OH MY GOSH! I have a feral cat colonie. It’s cold out side here in San Antonio Tx, these cats are having a sleep over with me right now! Until this cold weather goes away! help protect the animals!! with kindness!

  • MAR says:


  • asia says:

    PETA animals in Poland need you!

  • Eva Schmelzer says:

    Thank you PETA, thank you supporters. It is hard to bear the photos, but it would be impossible if I wouldn’t know that there is hope from people like you.

  • Hannah Farhana says:

    I am touched by those heart-warming stories. Make shelter a ‘no-policy’ and to owners, spay your pets !