‘No-Kill’ Label Slowly Killing Animals
When “no-kill” animal shelters and rescue groups are filled to capacity, which is almost always, they are left with two options: turn away more animals than they take in or warehouse animals, often in substandard, filthy, and severely crowded conditions, for weeks, months, or even years on end. Most, if not all, of the animals who are turned away from such facilities still face untimely deaths—just not at these facilities.
Instead they are cruelly killed by people who don’t want them, are dumped on roadsides and left to die from starvation or being hit by a car, or spend their short lives homeless, unwanted, and producing more litters of animals for whom no homes exist.
The lucky ones are taken to well-run open-admission animal shelters, where they either find a well-screened, permanent home or are painlessly euthanized in the arms of professionally trained, compassionate people. Here are some of the “no-kill” animal shelter failures that made headlines in recent years for making animals suffer a fate far worse than a kind death.
January 27, 2014/Madison, Connecticut: WFSB.com reported that officers with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and local police investigated and arrested the operator of Georgia’s Nick of Time animal “rescue” when she arrived in a parking lot for an “adoption” with 10 cats and two dogs who were illegally imported into the state in carriers filled with feces and urine. The animals were seized, and two cats were so sick that they had to be euthanized. The “rescuer” was charged with cruelty to animals, among several other things.
January 21, 2014/Alexandria, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that the state SPCA recently took over operations at the Hunterdon Humane Shelter because it had become a “hoarding facility.” The shelter’s insistence on maintaining a “no-kill” policy led hundreds of animals to be warehoused, some for years. According to NJ.com, state officials said that at least one cat had languished there “since the early 2000s.” The operator of the shelter was charged with cruelty to animals, and the animals were being cared for by professionals.
January 19, 2014/Neptune Beach, Florida: The Florida Times-Union reported that a plea deal was being negotiated with an animal hoarder posing as a cat rescuer who was arrested after officials found her house “full of cats, feces and trash” with no working air conditioning, caged cats, and an overpowering stench. Twenty-four cats were immediately removed, and another 10 were rescued from the hovel two days later. One cat was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized, and the others reportedly showed “rapid improvement” once they were housed at the city’s animal shelter, where they were given fresh food and water, access to clean air, and antibiotics.
January 16, 2014/Hagerstown, Maryland: WJLA.com reported that at least two former employees of the Humane Society of Washington County had come forward to report cruel and unhealthy conditions at the shelter. Photographs that were apparently taken at the shelter showed that stacked travel carriers that reportedly held more than one animal each were being used as permanent housing and that weakened, sick cats had blood and mucus smeared and crusted on and in their noses and mouths. According to WJLA.com, one of the whistleblowers stated, “They [the humane society board] did not have the welfare of the animals in mind. They were more concerned with getting the number of euthanasia’s [sic] down at whatever cost.”
January 10, 2014/Robertson County, Tennessee: The Tennessean reported that three months after instituting a policy forbidding euthanasia for space, the Robertson County Animal Shelter was at full capacity and turning away animals. Three kittens had recently been dumped at a garbage landfill next door to the shelter. According to The Tennessean, the shelter director explained, “We just don’t accept animals if we’re full.”
January 9, 2014/Zanesville, Ohio: ZanesvilleTimesRecorder.com reported that a man claiming to be operating an animal “rescue,” called the South Zanesville Animal Rescue, was charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities seized 13 dogs and cats from his property who had evidently gone without food and water for at least two days. Two cats were found dead, and other animals were skin and bones and had contagious skin diseases. Survivors were being cared for at the Muskingum County Dog Pound.
January 7, 2014/Kansas City, Missouri: KSHB.com reported that the Kansas City Pet Project, a shelter that describes itself as “keenly focused on optimal lifesaving and creating a No Kill Community,” was finding animals abandoned and left outside it in freezing temperatures. According to KSHB.com, a shelter spokesperson said that people “are just not wanting to pay the fees to drop off the animals.” The shelter spokesman also stated that a cat who had recently been abandoned near the shelter was found with “icicles coming out of her nose.”
December 13, 2013/Chicago, Illinois: The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Department of Agriculture had launched an investigation to find out what happened to more than 1,200 cats transferred from the Chicago Animal Care and Control shelter to an animal “rescue” called Purrs From the Heart in order to lower euthanasia rates at the municipal facility. WGNTV.com reported that the shelter had been transferring animals to the “rescue” for about four years. Approximately 500 animals had reportedly died in the custody of Purrs. No animals were found at a rural barn where the group claimed it had sent many cats, and as many as 150 cats had been left at an apartment where many were reportedly killed, were starved, or died of disease. One of the founders of Purrs was charged with cruelty to animals in 2012 but was acquitted. Charges have not been filed in this most recent case.
December 9, 2013/Pasco County, Florida: WTSP.com reported that authorities took custody of more than 50 dogs from the nonprofit Sleepy Hollow Dog Rescue after they were found in cages covered with urine and feces. According to WTSP.com, one responder described the property where the dogs were found as smelling so horrible that it “squeezes the breath out of you.” Charges had not been filed.
November 20, 2013/Town of Union, Wisconsin: WEAU.com reported that the owner of an alleged “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Hestekin Hill Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Services was facing multiple felony counts of cruelty to animals after authorities removed 20 animals from the shelter. According to WEAU.com, an examining veterinarian reported “that the smell of feces and urine in the buildings was so strong that they suffered from burning sinuses, coughing and watering eyes.” One dog was found dead in a cage, and others suffered from broken bones and open sores.
November 9, 2013/Raleigh, North Carolina: WNCN.com reported that Wake County authorities clad in hazmat suits removed 90 cats and three dogs from the home of the president of Calvin’s Paws, a self-professed “no-kill” “animal rescue.” Carol Jean De Olloqui was charged with cruelty to animals. The arrest warrant reportedly accused De Olloqui of depriving animals of food, water, and medical care. The county veterinarian reported that 60 of the cats had to be euthanized because of serious and contagious conditions, including respiratory infections, ulcers, emaciation, and dehydration.
November 7, 2013/Antioch, California: KTVU.com reported that Last Chance Critter Rescue (LCCR), a self-proclaimed animal “rescue” organization has apparently been soliciting funds under the pretense of being a registered nonprofit. But the state reportedly has no record of the business’s nonprofit filing. The group’s founder, Susie Rae Ray, refused to explain to reporters what LCCR does and referred them to the LCCR website to try to determine what she does with the funds that the organization collects. Ray has been cited by her local animal services department for failing to seek treatment for an injured cat in her custody.
November 6, 2013/McKeesport, Pennsylvania: WTAE.com reported that, according to an official with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, cases of unlicensed individuals calling themselves “rescues” have been on the rise. The individuals “use social media to garner dogs and donations.” One group, O & P Rescue, has been ordered to cease and desist from soliciting funds. The organization’s cofounder and co-operator, Randy Kovach, has reportedly been convicted of harassment, theft, corruption of minors, conspiracy to sell drugs, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, running an illegal kennel, and failing to vaccinate dogs. He’s facing charges of assault, selling or trying to sell drugs, and illegally selling and transporting dogs. William Ura, a co-operator of the “rescue,” has reportedly been convicted of forgery, drug possession, disorderly conduct, and retail theft, and he’s facing drug-possession charges.
October 31, 2013/Kansas City, Missouri: The Kansas City Star reported that authorities seized 68 dogs and cats from a “no-kill” shelter operating as Forever Friends Animal League. The animals were being kept in conditions described as “dirty” and “unsanitary,” and several suffered from respiratory infections. The “no-kill” facility had reportedly received previous citations for violating municipal and animal control codes and regulations.
October 2013/Erie County, Ohio: The Sandusky Register reported that the Erie County Humane Society has a three-month waiting list to accept cats and that the agency’s executive director acknowledges the dangers. People “dump cats on the doorstep after hours,” the story said, “in an apparent move to try to avoid the shelter’s waiting list.” “The people who want to bypass the waiting list, they find a way to get to us,” the executive director said. “Usually it involves dumping.” It was also reported that as unweaned kittens die slowly one by one in foster homes, foster families are finding the undertaking unbearable and are quitting.
October 2013/Boulder, Colorado: TimesCall.com reported that the Longmont Humane Society was cited on suspicion of keeping a dangerous dog, after a dog in foster care attacked a neighbor and his dog, who was being walked on a leash. Police officials reported that a disproportionate number of dog bite incidents involved dogs who were adopted from the shelter, which is striving to increase its “live release” rates.
October 2013/Macon, Georgia: Georgia Public Broadcasting reported that approximately 70 dogs at the “no-kill” shelter All About Animals were released from cages after hours by an unknown person. When volunteers arrived in the morning, dogs were still fighting, so “volunteers used water from hoses to separate the survivors so they could be re-caged.” Three dogs died as a result of the fights, and more than a dozen were badly injured and required medical care. There were no suspects in the case.
October 2013/Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: The Conestoga Valley News reported that the Lancaster County SPCA had an eight-month waiting list for the only service provided to homeless cats in the community—trapping and sterilizing the animals and then returning them to the neighborhood, even if they were considered to be a nuisance.
October 11, 2013/Placerville, California: Local ABC affiliate News 10 reported that an unlicensed animal shelter was under investigation after county law-enforcement officials received statements and photographs from eyewitnesses documenting that at least 17 dogs were being continuously kept in training crates and travel carriers, often without water. A former volunteer stated, “There’s never been water in the crates in the four months I lived there. They go out twice a day for maybe two to eight minutes tops to go to the bathroom.” Nine dogs were seized, and the remaining animals were to be removed.
October 9, 2013/Apple Valley, California: The Daily Press reported that law-enforcement officers removed 28 live dogs, three dead dogs, and dozens of dog crates from German Shepherd Angels Rescue. Authorities found dogs housed in plastic airline carriers in a garage, excessive waste, and far more animals than the legally allowed limit of four. It was not the first time that officers had official contact with the “rescue,” and citations were issued for at least the second time.
October 9, 2013/Knox County, Tennessee: The Knox County Sheriff’s Office reported that officers and veterinarians seized 41 cats from Almost Home Animal Rescue after the majority of the animals were found housed in an unventilated dark basement that smelled strongly of urine and contained litterboxes that were overflowing with waste. Puddles of urine and diarrhea covered the basement floor, and a cat was found with his or her head pinned behind an unused refrigerator and had been stuck like that for “an unknown amount of time.” The “rescue’s” owner will reportedly be cited for cruelty to animals and be required to comply with the legal limit of five animal companions per household.
October 4, 2013/Portsmouth, Virginia: Local ABC affiliate WVEC reported that the Portsmouth Humane Society (PHS), under contract with the city of Portsmouth, was fined for “critical failures to provide adequate care” by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) following a routine inspection. VDACS found that PHS staff were regularly directed to “adopt” cats and release them into a small wooded area behind the facility between a busy highway and active railroad tracks. More than 90 cats had been abandoned in the area, where no water was provided and rotting food was found scattered on the ground at the edge of a parking lot. Former staff members told the Pilot Online that approximately 300 cats had been removed from the shelter by staff members, who abandoned the animals in other parts of the community to improve “live release” rates. During an August 2013 inspection, dogs were found in severely crowded runs and in crates that were so small that they couldn’t stand. PHS had been striving to become a “no-kill” shelter, and former staff reported that cats were commonly released and purposely allowed to escape to improve the organization’s adoption and euthanasia statistics.
September 30, 2013/Toledo, Ohio: NorthwestOhio.com reported that a dog named Bones, deemed dangerous in New York, was “rescued” from euthanasia by a group called The Lexus Project and transported to Northwest Ohio Underdog Rescue, Inc. (NOUR), in January 2012. Bones’ body was recently uncovered in a shallow grave on the NOUR property. Nine months earlier, the “rescue” claimed that Bones had been stolen. More than half a dozen dogs and cats were found buried at the same site. No charges were filed, and the investigation was closed.
September 28, 2013/St. Clair County, Michigan: The Times Herald reported that 24 cats were found so severely ill in the home of Forgotten Feral Cat Rescue’s operator that all had to be euthanized. The cats were reportedly found “covered with sores and riddled with fleas.”
September 27, 2013/Southbury, Connecticut: NBC Connecticut reported that 31 dogs and three cats were removed from a property identified by the Republican American as an animal “rescue” called Sad Tails, Happy Endings. The animals were seized after law-enforcement agencies determined that there was “a real concern for their well-being.”
September 20, 2013/Atwater, California: The Merced Sun-Star reported that the Merced County Animal Control sent nearly 2,000 cats and kittens to the Last Hope Cat Kingdom “no-kill rescue” between July 2008 and June 25, 2013, the day the “rescue” was raided. Six kittens had been sent to the “no-kill” facility on the same day as the raid. On June 25, authorities removed nearly 300 cats from Last Hope, 200 of whom had to be euthanized because of critical health issues, including contagious diseases. ABC-30 reported that another 74 dead animals were removed. Some were found in cages with live animals.
September 10, 2013/Otero County, New Mexico: The Albuquerque Journal reported that authorities found more than 200 dogs in “deplorable” conditions at the Mission Desert Hills Sanctuary for Dogs “no-kill rescue” in Chaparral. KFOX-14 reported that several of the dogs also had “severe internal injuries” indicating that they had been sexually assaulted “either by a human or an instrument.” A volunteer who helped with the removal of the animals from the property said that she was stepping over dead dogs to get to live ones who were “living in hell, in their own feces, no water, no food, [and] emaciated.” KTSM News Channel 9 reported that while sheriff’s deputies worked to obtain permission to enter the property, neighbors saw dogs fighting with one another, and several of those dogs died as a result. The case was under investigation.
September 9, 2013/Northampton County, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call reported that since the only local animal shelter has become a “no-kill” facility, it is “chronically over-crowded” and is essentially closed to animals in need. At a meeting to discuss options for handling lost and homeless animals, the Northampton County sheriff described “policemen spending entire shifts trying to locate dog owners and driving [dogs] to shelters that will take them, in some cases a couple of counties away.”
September 5, 2013/Nova Scotia, Canada: The Burnside News reported that an internal review at the “no-kill” Nova Scotia SPCA revealed that there were more than 1,000 cats on a “severe” waiting list to be admitted.
August 30, 2013/Semmes, Alabama: AL.com reported that more than 60 animals were seized from the “no-kill rescue” group Safe Haven Animal Care Kennels after authorities investigated a report that a puppy was “attacked viciously” by another dog at the “rescue.” WKRG.com reported that animals there had a multitude of health problems, including upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and injuries. The raid took place just two months after two dogs reportedly died of heatstroke at the facility.
August 24, 2013/Genesee County, Michigan: MLive.com reported that the Genesee County Animal Shelter “has been over capacity for cats from the moment the no-kill directive was issued and hasn’t accepted additional stray or unwanted cats or kittens because of that.” Veterinarian Michele Koan asked county leaders to reverse the order because of the overcrowding, the inability to accept cats from the public (resulting in an increase in animal dumping after hours), and the spread of contagious illnesses throughout the facility. Dr. Koan reports that the shelter “has spent more on antibiotics for the cats in two weeks” than the county spent on the medication in two years for both cats and dogs and that the ban on euthanasia has “created more suffering than good for cats and kittens.”
August 20, 2013/Clay County, Indiana: The Brazil Times reported that, frustrated from long-term confinement, dogs at the “no-kill” Clay County Humane Society have attacked employees, other animals, adopters, and a board member. The shelter is considering euthanizing some dogs who have no chance at adoption and have become too dangerous to release. Deeply concerned about the dogs, board President Charles Hear said, “What is the more humane thing to do? Leave these animals in solitary confinement until they die of natural causes or to humanely euthanize them?”
August 20, 2013/Douglas County, Georgia: The Douglas County Sentinel reported that charges may be filed after authorities removed approximately 80 cats from cages stashed in sheds and barns on a property linked to the “no-kill rescue” Snap-2 IT. On August 14, 2013, the Sentinel reported that “many of the cats still had tags that indicated that they had been taken from the Douglas County Animal Shelter.” The cats were found in “unsanitary conditions,” and many suffered from respiratory disease, including “coughing and wheezing,” and “eye issues, running and watery.” The Sentinel reported on August 17, 2013, that former Animal Control Director Rick Smith wrote to one county commissioner, “This situation is the result of not inquiring or investigating where animals being pulled are sent. … If you recall I brought my concerns about these rescues … to your attention… As a result of sweeping this concern under the rug, you have allowed animals to be placed in harm’s way. This situation is criminal and those responsible should be held accountable.”
August 19, 2013/Hamilton County, Indiana: TheIndyChannel.com reported that the Humane Society for Hamilton County was considering if its “no-kill philosophy is realistic, given its issues of overcrowding, the number of elderly animals and the mounting medical bills.”
August 13, 2013/Green Springs, Ohio: The Toledo Blade reported that after the removal of 70 cats, including four dead kittens, from her trailer, an animal hoarder revealed that she had rescued three cats who were freezing one winter and couldn’t afford to get them spayed and neutered. As the cats reproduced, she sought help. “I would call all of the humane societies and shelters within a 70-mile radius,” she said, “and they were always full and wouldn’t take any of them.” The hoarder, facing cruelty-to-animals charges, told the news outlet that she was relieved to have the cats removed.
August 7, 2013/Dayton, Ohio: The Dayton Daily News reported that the Humane Society of Greater Dayton—which has a limited-admission policy and requires appointments, charges admission fees, and keeps a waiting list when at capacity—routinely has animals abandoned near its facility. In one week, 11 animals were reportedly dumped there, one of whom was a small dog who was run over and killed by a car.
August 5, 2013/Shelbyville, Tennessee: WSMV.com reported that local “rescuers” John and Sabrina Crowder are facing criminal charges because of conditions in which they kept 49 dogs in their single-family dwelling, which was condemned after authorities removed the animals. Police said that “when they walked in, they saw piles of animal waste, and two officers were apparently so overwhelmed by the smell, they actually got sick.”
August 5, 2013/San Antonio, Texas: mySA.com reported that while the city’s Animal Care Services shelter “has been touting that it has averaged a live release rate of 79 percent since January,” the statistic represents only those animals who are actually admitted to the animal shelter. The shelter has rigid and restrictive admission policies that make it virtually impossible for owners to surrender animals: It requires an appointment for surrender, but appointments are made only between 7 and 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, and animals are admitted only four days a week between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. It also charges a $40 admission fee and requires people to bring the names of at least two other organizations with which they have tried to place the animal. Approximately 16,000 dogs and 12,000 cats who didn’t make it to the shelter were picked up dead last year after being hit by cars, succumbing to disease or injuries, or dying in other agonizing ways.
August 5, 2013/Sussex County, Delaware: DelawareOnline.com reported that things got so bad at the “no-kill” Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Delaware (where pro–”no-kill” legislation was passed in 2010 with disastrous results for animals and taxpayers) that the county government revoked its dog-control contract. “The problem is your business model. It doesn’t work. It’s not going to work,” one county commissioner told Safe Haven. The head of the Kent County SPCA, the state’s largest open-admission shelter, said, “The expectation of our community is that every animal will be saved, but there’s not enough money to pay for it.”
August 3, 2013/Barry County, Michigan: WWMT.com reported that six months after the Barry County Animal Shelter became “no-kill,” the cat population “exploded” to more than double the number that the shelter can handle. The state Department of Agriculture intervened, forbidding the shelter from accepting more cats until the current population is reduced.
August 2, 2013/Denton County, Texas: The local NBC website reported that the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Humane Society of North Texas, seized approximately 200 dogs from the “no-kill rescue” Animal Guardians of America. Sheriff Will Travis reported that dogs were crammed into small cages in sheds and that the smell “was unbearable and the cages were covered in filth and feces.” A longtime volunteer told the news station, “This has been going on for eight years out here. … I was out here six years ago, and she’s always had 200-plus dogs. There was poop everywhere. Dogs were living in crates. They were being fed every other day. … We saw nine dogs die out here in a year and a half.” The case is under criminal investigation.
July 25, 2013/Miami, Florida: The Miami Herald reported that one year after adopting a “no-kill” resolution, the city shelter experienced extreme overcrowding. An urgent e-mail from the shelter’s clinic supervisor reportedly stated, “The space situation is out of control. … We are over 100 dogs OVER our capacity.” The supervisor explained that “[w]e have limited resources in labor and space. The variable which we have no control over is intake.”
July 24, 2013/El Paso, Texas: KVIA.com reported that El Paso Animal Services removed 54 dogs and one cat from a hoarder’s single-family home because of the poor conditions and that criminal charges were pending. The hoarder told a neighbor that she had adopted the dogs from the city shelter to “save them” from euthanasia.
July 19, 2013/Austin, Texas: KVUE.com reported that all three Austin-area “no-kill” shelters, including the city-operated taxpayer-funded facility, were “at capacity” with 2,000 homeless cats and kittens and had stopped accepting any felines. Just one month earlier, the city reported that “for the first time in its history,” the Austin Animal Center would not accept animals for whom citizens could not or would not care, because of overcrowding at the “no-kill” shelter, which had “more than 1,000 [animals] available for adoption.”
July 17, 2013/Hillsborough County, Florida: The Tampa Tribune reported that the Hillsborough County Commission agreed to release $250,000 in emergency funds to address problematic conditions at the county animal shelter after adopting a “low-kill” policy. The shelter was reportedly so overcrowded that dogs and cats were contracting contagious diseases and dying. “If someone from Animal Services came to my home and inspected my home and my dogs lived in the conditions that exists [sic] in this county [shelter], they would confiscate every one of my dogs and shut down my rescue,” said a man who runs a local bulldog and boxer rescue group.
July 17, 2013/Anniston, Alabama: Fox 6 reported that the Mad Cattery “no-kill” group was issued multiple citations for cruelty to animals after 49 cats were found stored in a building with no water or food. One cat was dead, and authorities removed 11 others. The director of the county’s animal control department told The Anniston Star on July 12, 2013, that the group was under investigation, describing the building as “unsanitary” and reporting that the cats were in “various stages of upper respiratory infections,” had “no food and no water,” and had been in the building for nearly a month.
July 16, 2013/San José, California: KTVU.com reported that nearly 100 cats died in melting plastic travel carriers in a house fire at the home of hoarder Carole Miller, founder of the “no-kill” Stanford Cat Network. San José Fire Capt. Reggie Williams told KTVU that firefighters were hindered in their efforts to get the blaze under control because of all the cats that were in the home: “There were multiple, multiple animals we had to get over to fight the fire. … I’ve never witnessed this many animals in a single home… There were more than 100 cats.”
July 15, 2013/Fredericksburg, Virginia: The Free Lance-Star reported that two women driving a vehicle registered to an out-of-state animal “rescue” were charged with four counts each of cruelty to animals after police responded to a complaint about four puppies left inside a hot van and found the animals confined to crates in the vehicle. The dogs had been locked in the van for at least an hour in the 80-degree heat, and no water was available to them. The women were cited and required to take the dogs inside the air-conditioned hotel room in which the women were found and provide the animals with water.
July 14, 2013/Framingham, Massachusetts: The MetroWest Daily News reported that self-professed animal “rescues” continue to bring dogs illegally into Massachusetts via unlicensed dog “haulers,” some of whom will meet with adopters just shy of the state’s border. As a growing number of adopters and “rescues” use online databases such as PetFinder.com to adopt out-of-state dogs based on photographs and unsubstantiated personality descriptions, the state has implemented strict import rules. However, adopters continue to be directed to meet at rest stops and parking lots to pick up animals, many of whom come with a slew of health problems, including contagious diseases. The news outlet reported that the state of Massachusetts has “issued $44,250 in fines to 14 out-of-state dog rescue organizations and seven in-state shelters for unlawful practices,” and it shared a list of them.
July 10, 2013/Kalispell, Montana: A “no-kill” animal shelter representative told DailyInterLake.com that kittens left on the doorstep of the facility had clawed their way out of the cardboard box that they were confined to over the Fourth of July holiday. It’s unknown how many kittens had been left in the box. Two were found, one of whom had climbed a tree out of fear. The shelter is reportedly close to a busy highway.
July 9, 2013/Atwater, California: The Merced Sun-Star reported that of 301 animals removed from Last Hope Cat Kingdom in June, approximately 200 had to be euthanized “because they were too sick to survive.” The “rescue” was apparently still soliciting donations on its Facebook page as of this writing. (See June 27, 2013/Atwater, California.)
July 6, 2013/Tampa, Florida: A veterinarian who worked at the Hillsborough County Animal Services shelter for 13 years told the Tampa Bay Times that she was compelled to resign because of “increasing numbers of animals getting sick, dangerous dogs being made available for adoption to families and a lack of professional treatment from new management” after the shelter implemented rules that prohibit euthanizing animals who arrive sick. The shelter has also extended hold times in a bid to increase the number of adoptions. The board member of a local “rescue” group said, “If the public treated their animals like this, we would be arrested and charged with animal cruelty.”
July 5, 2013/Apple Valley, California: The Huffington Post reported that on June 18, 2013, authorities seized more than 130 dogs from Rainbow’s End Animal Sanctuary. They had been found “living in one large pack for years without proper food, medical care or human interaction.” Some reportedly had to be euthanized for medical reasons, and the rest will be released only to rescue groups because of the expensive and extensive medical care and behavioral work that they need.
July 2, 2013/Milton, Florida: PNJ.com reported that 103 of the 225 cats taken from Kirkham Kattery Rescue, an animal “rescue” group that a couple ran out of their home, had to be euthanized because of their critical medical conditions. The pair was arrested and charged with violations of health and safety codes and cruelty to animals. Cited in an arrest report were eyewitness complaints about “extremely skinny cats with hair loss, fluid, blood and puss around the cats’ noses, eyes and genitals” and conditions that were “extremely dirty with feces and urine everywhere [and] … an extremely foul stench.”
June 28, 2013/Sumiton, Alabama: WVTM-TV reported that local police removed nearly 150 animals from Nonnie’s Angels animal “rescue” after complaints of animal neglect. The animals were found crammed into a small building that lacked air conditioning. WSET-TV video footage showed caged cats open-mouthed panting because of the crowding and lack of ventilation. Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr reportedly said, “It was at 92 degrees at 7:30 at night inside the building. There was no air movement. The animals were lethargic. Many had mites, fleas, skin conditions.” An investigation was undertaken, and cruelty-to-animals charges may be filed.
June 27, 2013/South Zanesville, Ohio: The owner of South Zanesville Animal Rescue Services told WHIZNews.com that after five months, the facility needs more space and funding. The “no-kill” shelter reported that it had recently turned away 37 animals in need in just four days.
June 27, 2013/Atwater, California: The Merced Sun-Star reported that law-enforcement officials seized “[h]undreds of sick, dying and dead animals” from Last Hope Cat Kingdom, a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue.” A veterinarian who examined cats taken from the facility reportedly found that more than 80 percent of them “had severe and ongoing infections involving the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, ears and skin.” A total of 74 dead animals, some of whom were caged with live ones, were also removed from the facility.
June 23, 2013/Elyria, Ohio: Unless she can find a home for her 15 to 20 cats, a 70-year-old woman on Social Security will be unable to make improvements to her home that are required in order for her to stay in it legally, she told The Chronicle-Telegram. Local “no-kill” shelters had no room to accept the cats for whom she cannot care and who are destroying the house, and the government-run shelter handles only dogs. The news outlet reported that the woman “has been turned away [from shelters] repeatedly … by animal groups who all say the same thing. They, too, have more cats than they can handle.”
June 21, 2013/Sussex County, Delaware: CapeGazette.com reported that just a little more than a year after opening, the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary may have to close its doors because it’s running out of money and its leaders “say they underestimated the number of abandoned animals and the difficulty of getting them adopted.” To maintain a reported “no-kill” label, shelter officials told CapeGazette.com that a lot of money was being spent on using outside kennels to board unadopted dogs. Since its opening, numerous animals—including “cats taped into boxes”—have been abandoned at the shelter’s front gate.
June 21, 2013/Knoxville, Tennessee: While many animal shelters are offering free adoptions to increase their “live-release” rates, the Young-Williams Animal Shelter told WBIR-TV that at least three animals adopted from its shelter without a fee were sold for a profit on Craigslist.
June 17, 2013/Monterey County: The Californian.com reported that “[t]he SPCA for Monterey County seized 17 neglected animals, including 14 dogs and puppies, one kitten and two birds, from a woman claiming to run a rescue group [called St. Francis All Creature Rescue and Sanctuary] adopting them at PetSmart in Sand City …. The dogs and puppies range in age from 12 weeks to four years old. They are being treated for scabies, fleas, and skin infections. All the dogs are thin. The birds were hungry, housed inhumanely, and suffering from feather loss …”
June 12, 2013/San Antonio, Texas: The Current reported that animal control officers in San Antonio expressed concern over what one called “euthanasia by proxy” at the city’s animal shelter. The officers indicated that while millions of dollars are being poured into efforts to turn the city shelter into a “no-kill” facility, thousands of homeless animals remain on the streets because of a lack of field staff and understanding by shelter and city leaders. Animal Control Officer Thomas Stowers reported, “Public Works scrapes over 30,000 dogs from the sidewalks and streets because they’ve been hit by cars … this is euthanasia by proxy, and it’s cruel.”
June 10, 2013/Orange County, Florida: WFTV.com reported that 17 dogs and two cats were removed from ghastly conditions at Ohana Animal Rescue where they had been neglected in conditions described by law enforcement officials as “the worst we’ve ever seen.” Dogs were suffering from hair loss, infections, and starvation. The self-professed “rescue” had been given animals by Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) and reportedly acted as a foster home for two other so-called rescues that also remove animals from OCAS. An OCAS representative told WFTV.com, that the agency “adopts out 30 to 40 animals a day and said it cannot do home inspections for everyone.”
June 7, 2013/Austin, Texas: In a city news release with the headline “Animal Shelter: Find a home for your pet, do not bring it here,” the “no-kill” taxpayer-funded animal shelter advised that “for the first time in its history, [the shelter] is not accepting animals surrendered by owners” and was giving away animals free of charge because of being, “over capacity by more than 100 kennels for both dogs and cats.”
June 6, 2013/Genesee County, Michigan: YNN.com, Rochester, reported that the Genesee County Animal Shelter’s volunteer board president, Andre Miller asserted: “We are currently turning people away at the door with kittens that they found in parking lots or boxes, and it’s heart-breaking to turn them away, because you don’t know what [sic] going to happen with the animal.” The county shelter has been under unrelenting pressure to go “no-kill.”
June 1, 2013/New Haven, Connecticut: The New Haven Register reported that “[t]here are dogs at the New Haven Animal Shelter that have been on the adoption list for about six months, and are deteriorating waiting for committed families to provide them with a lifetime home.” Shelter Director Stephani Johnson told the Register that “[w]hen the deterioration begins, they stop eating and drinking water, causing a reduction in their energy level, which results in weight loss. … We cannot alleviate the underlying issue of them being depressed.”
May 25, 2013/Bryan, Texas: KBTX.com reported that the overcrowded Bryan Animal Center “is desperate for adoptions or fosters to avoid having to euthanize any of the animals.” The center supervisor told KBTX.com that the shelter was “overflowing into smaller crates as well.” Small crates reportedly “line the hallway” of the shelter.
May 23, 2013/Sheffield Township, Ohio: The Plain Dealer reported that 55 animals were removed and Ohio Pet Placement was shut down after officials found “overflowing feces-filled trash cans and no electricity or running water” at the self-professed “rescue.” According to a witness, “[M]ost of the animals have medical or psychological problems.” A volunteer had reportedly recently filed a complaint with the state veterinary licensing board alleging that ill cats were not receiving needed medical treatment.
May 23, 2013/Warner Robbins, Georgia: Newscentralga.com reported that a “Middle Georgia animal rescue group is at capacity and is turning away sick dogs. Critical Care for Animal Angels said it must reject more than 10 dogs a day that need medical treatment.” A representative of the group told the outlet, “We turn away at least 10 to 20 a day, every day. … I cry a lot because we want to help them all and it hurts to turn away a dog that you know needs you.”
May 9, 2013/Portland, Oregon: KATU.com reported that a complaint had been filed with the Oregon Department of Justice against Animal Miracle Foundation and Network charging that the “rescue” group raised funds to pay for veterinary care for a cat who was tied up and burned with chemicals in Michigan, then failed to forward collected funds to the hospital or group handling the animal’s treatment.
April 24, 2013/Stone County, Mississippi: The Sun-Herald reported that repeat offender Shirley Gai was arrested after authorities seized approximately 100 dogs and “found several dead dogs inside and outside the home, some stuffed in garbage bags or old dog food bags. [Stone County Chief Deputy] Olds said the home’s floors were caked in feces and urine. None of the dogs had all of their hair and most suffered from contagious forms of mange and had numerous sores. Authorities said all had ear, eye and respiratory infections.” Some dogs reportedly survived by eating other dogs. Gai claimed to have adopted dogs from animal shelters and picked them up as strays to “save” them.
April 18, 2013/Highland County, Ohio: TimesGazette.com reported that “a search warrant was served in relation to what was thought to be over 100 dogs being kept by Cares About Life Rescue, Inc. The dog warden and investigators visited the property … and said they found over 120 dogs living in inadequate conditions and two that were deceased.” Video footage shared by the news outlet shows dogs perched on top of damaged doghouses unable and/or unwilling to walk in filthy deep mud- and waste-flooded floors in ramshackle pens. Many of the animals were panting excessively because of exposure and an apparent lack of drinkable water.
April 9, 2013/Goochland County, Virginia: WWBT-TV reported that the operator of The Pet Rescue Foundation was banned from “having any kind of pet“ after authorities charged her with cruelty to animals. Five dogs removed from the “rescue” were in such poor condition that they required immediate euthanasia. Seventy more dogs were removed for assessment and care.
March 25, 2013/Miami, Florida: The Miami News Times reported that Have a Heart Dog and Cat Rescue “looks more like a haunted house” than a rescue. The facility, operated by an apparent hoarder, was under investigation after county officials received complaints about “painful howls piercing the night” and “mangy, sore-ridden dogs” living in filth. CBS Miami reported that neighbors took pictures inside the home that show several dogs living in filth, the floor covered in garbage, rotting furniture, and dog feces.
March 22, 2013/Swain County, North Carolina: Citizen-Times.com reported that a veterinary hospital worked tirelessly to rehabilitate a dog who was found by a local citizen, “wrapped in a white trash bag in a Dumpster. … A dead dog was lying in the trash bin along with the young dog …. The [living] dog suffered a crushed muzzle, according to [the citizen's wife] Love Carswell. ‘It took a heck of a lot of force. The dog was bleeding through [his] nostrils, and [he] could not open [his] mouth there was such heavy swelling,’” she explained. The only shelter in the county is a “no-kill,” turn-away shelter. Veterinarian Jessica Tracy reports that, “[t]his is unfortunately something that people do. They try to knock the animal out and wrap it in the bag so it suffocates.” Citizen-Times.com goes on to report that “Love Carswell, who is a retired 911 dispatcher, said she received hundreds of calls about animal abuse over the years …. One of our dogs, this lady called and said, ‘If you don’t have somebody come and pick up this pup, I’m going to drown it’ …”
March 20, 2013/Elma, New York: The Buffalo News reported that authorities raided Smilin’ Pit Bull Rescue and charged the owner with cruelty to animals. Five dogs were removed in response to allegations, including “that dogs had been denied veterinary care for injuries or illnesses and had deteriorated while in the group’s care [and that] dogs had been confined to crates for extended periods.”
March 12, 2013/Woodbridge, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that an ex-animal control employee and so-called “rescuer” involved with Happy Homes Animal Rescue was arrested and “charged with hundreds of counts of animal cruelty” after officials found “hundreds of animals—both dead and alive” on her property including, “more than 50 roosters and chickens, 15 to 20 rabbits, a domesticated raccoon, a parrot and hundreds of cats …[and] [d]ead cats stuffed in too many grocery bags to count …”
March 9, 2013/New Port Richey, Florida: After New Port Richey handed over much of its animal control operations to volunteer “no-kill” fanatics in an attempt to reduce costs, the Tampa Bay Times opined that the “New Port Richey’s animal control experiment is failing, and the city must repair or replace this amateurish department with a professionally led effort.” Continuous problems, complaints, and cover-ups were cited as well as the resignation of a professionally trained animal control officer who reported that the unit “allowed sick animals to suffer rather than violate the department’s self-adopted no-kill policy.”
March 1, 2013/Santee, South Carolina: The Times and Democrat reported that the operator of Coastal Jack Russell Terrier Rescue “was ordered to stop ‘rescuing’ dogs … after she was charged with three counts of ill treatment of animals.” The “rescue” reportedly confined dogs “in advanced stages of malnourishment … in need of food, water and medical attention.” It was also reported that “dogs were left to sit in cages, pens and crates amongst excessive amounts of feces and urine.” Bags of dead dogs were found “in the vicinity” of the sick and starving animals at the property. The appalled judge on the case stated, “I saw the pictures. … I am very adamant that she have no animals under her control. None!”
February 24, 2013/Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that officials raided a property connected with Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue, where “28 malnourished German Shepherds and shepherd mixes, including a puppy, a pregnant female and one dog so old and sick it had to be euthanized” were removed. Conditions reported by law-enforcement officials were horrific: “Every place in the building was covered with urine and feces,” an official told the Inquirer. According to the article, the official also noted that dogs had been packed into crates and locked in rooms. Reportedly, the “rescue” had previously been cited “in connection with an illegal dog transport bringing dogs from a North Carolina shelter to [the facility]. [The operator] was charged with purchasing dogs in a public place. The driver of the transport van was cited for housing animals in filthy cages and 17 dogs were seized by humane officers.”
February 22, 2013/Nixonton, North Carolina: The Daily Advance reported that the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department removed more than 70 cats from Angela’s Angels Cat Rescue. Cats were reportedly released to the “rescue” by open-admission animal shelters in an attempt to increase their “live release rates.” The cats were found in “squalid conditions,” and “the majority of the offices [were] filled with cats.”
February 22, 2013/Willoughby, Ohio: Fox 8 Cleveland reported that authorities seized 85 cats and three dogs from the Western Reserve Humane Society in what was called “one of the largest cases of animal hoarding ever in Lake County.” The county humane officer was quoted describing conditions: “We couldn’t breathe, eyes were burning, throat was burning. … The animals were very ill. A lot of them sneezing, eye discharge, just lethargic, skinny. … There was one cat that was missing all of its fur — scabs, crusty skin all over. Every corner you turned, there was a cat that needed help.” The facility’s operator was convicted of cruelty to animals.
February 21, 2013/Parkville, Maryland: CBS Baltimore reported that the operator of Baltimore Animal Rescue Network (BARN) was arrested and charged with 23 counts of cruelty to animals. Authorities explained that BARN “was a fraud, and accuse[d] its leader of not helping but abusing animals.” The investigation revealed that, “conditions [at BARN] were just unsanitary. The dogs had very little room to move, they were crowded together and the conditions were just filthy.” BARN had reportedly been allowed to remove animals from open-admission animal shelters in an attempt to increase its “live release rates.” Police seized 18 puppies and five dogs from the property. Five of the puppies were in such poor condition that they required immediate euthanasia.
February 19, 2013/Kirkwood, New York: WBNG-TV reported that 58 cats and 15 dogs were seized from the Humane Enforcement and Animal Rescue Team (HEART), a “no-kill” organization that confined animals in cruel conditions that “caused illness and suffering.”
February 15, 2013/Nogales, Arizona: KVOA-TV reported that a “longtime animal advocate in Nogales is facing two counts of cruelty to animals after animal control officers found 11 dogs living in deplorable conditions inside her home.” An animal control official said the department was “shocked to find the 11 dogs living under such poor conditions, ‘we put our trust in her because she was a rescuer. She came to our shelter to rescue animals and adopt. She’d go to Petsmart in Tucson and adopt the animals and never did I imagine that we were going to find this situation.’”
February 14, 2013/Rhea County, Tennessee: WRCB-TV reported that the operator of Save My Tail animal “rescue” was arrested on charges of cruelty to animals after officials found a reported 40 dogs at his property, many crammed “[t]hree and four and five dogs to a pet carrier, with feces all in it and no food or water.” Several dogs showed signs of parvo, mange, and malnutrition. The “rescue” operator, a former volunteer with the local county animal shelter, reportedly “sent friends to adopt dogs from the county shelter, only so he could find them homes.”
February 14, 2013/Elrose, Saskatchewan: CTV News reported that a woman running a no-kill “shelter” at her home was charged with animal neglect. After approximately 70 cats were removed from the home, a veterinarian testified that “one of the cats died in the home and had been partially eaten by the others. [The] [c]ourt also heard that the cats didn’t have enough food and were living in their own feces.”
January 31, 2013/Aiken County, South Carolina: WJBF-TV reported that complaints led animal control officials to the property of Charlie’s Angels Rescue (CAR), where they found nearly 100 dogs, half of whom were packed inside the home. Volunteers had reportedly filed complaints with authorities alleging that many of the dogs were being denied adequate treatment for heartworm infections. One volunteer claimed that the “rescue” operator stated online that CAR “only [has] funds to treat the young, not the old, so they’ll die in a year.”
January 30, 2013/Schoharie Valley, New York: The Times Journal reported that a woman hoarding at least 100 cats in a home that was “overwhelming with the smell of feces and urine pervasive and furniture and even sheetrock destroyed by the cats, most of whom were kept in stacked cages and crates in very tight quarters,” had called a local “no-kill” shelter a year and a half earlier but was put on a waiting list. Law-enforcement authorities intervened and removed the cats as well as “67 dead cats and kittens in a refrigerator freezer, each individually wrapped in plastic bags.” The living cats suffered from fleas, wounds, dehydration, and upper respiratory illnesses.
January 26, 2013/Winston County, Alabama: ABC 33/40-TV reported that after finding dead dogs on an adjacent property, the uncle of one of two volunteers at the Walker County Animal Shelter called authorities. The uncle said that his niece, who was living with him, and another shelter volunteer had started “bringing home more and more animals from the shelter.” The shelter permitted her to take dogs off the property with the assumption that they were being adopted or “fostered out.” Both volunteers were charged with 23 counts of cruelty to animals, and authorities seized 23 dogs, seven of whom were euthanized because of severe illness and disease.
January 13, 2013/Brooks, Oregon: Humane and sheriff’s officials raided Willamette Animal Rescue, where more than 140 dogs were found starving and stuffed into tiny stacked travel carriers amid their own waste and without access to water, after reportedly being “saved” from euthanasia at an open-admission animal shelter in California. Animals were found with their eyes sealed shut with mucus and pus, and urine and excrement were dripping onto them from the cages above. One dog was confined to a carrier so small that “he was unable to lie down, sit or stand up.” The Oregonian reported, “Some of the dogs were in such an advanced state of starvation that technicians will have to use a ‘refeeding program’ to reintroduce small amounts of easily digestible food.”
January 9, 2013/Surrey, British Columbia: The Province reported that Forgotten Felines Rescue (FFR) was fined and permanently banned from operating. The shelter’s founder was also banned from having more than four cats at any given time. The British Columbia SPCA stated that complaints about conditions at the “rescue” had been lodged since 2002 and that the number of complaints from volunteers rose in 2007 when FFR was housing more than 300 cats in a filthy shelter, many areas of which lacked heat. Inspections over the years found cats at the facility “suffering from distemper, feline leukemia, ringworm, fleas and upper respiratory infections. Two dead cats were discovered as well. Even though water was present, some cats and kittens were dehydrated. Urine and feces were present and litter boxes were full.”
January 7, 2013/El Paso, Texas: Calling it a “scam,” a volunteer with No Kill El Paso told ABC-7 that veterinarians had informed her that “puppies had been abandoned by [founder John] Conwell, bills were going unpaid, foster parents couldn’t reach him for reimbursement and dogs were dying.” When confronted, Conwell reportedly dissolved the group and changed his phone number. He is also accused of “transferring donations from the 501c’s account to his personal account” and leaving the group with $10 as well as “soliciting donations for a shelter on [the group's] website, promising to build on property he doesn’t own.”
January 7, 2013/Simi Valley, California: The owner of Healing Hearts Animal Rescue was cited for failure to obtain veterinary care for sick, dying, and dead animals found at the group’s facility. The Ventura County Star reported, “Investigators determined that at least some of the puppies came from a Kern County shelter. [An investigator] said the shelter charged about $25 per dog. He found records that showed the dogs were then sold in Simi Valley for $300 or more.”
December 10, 2012/Fort Worth, Texas: After 91 sick and neglected cats were found crammed into a trailer belonging to an “overwhelmed cat rescue,” a Fort Worth Animal Control official told WFAA.com that it “would take a lot more staff than we have right now to do monthly, quarterly, whatever checks” on “rescue” groups to which the city releases animals. In an effort to increase the city’s “live release rate,” the shelter had been releasing animals to the “rescue,” where Humane Society of Northern Texas investigators found the “extremely thin” and sick animals living amid feces.
November 30, 2012/Andalusia, Alabama: The Andalusia Star News reported that Sharlotte Marie Adams, the operator of Animal Aid and Rescue Resources, Inc., was arrested for fraud after setting up a Facebook page and making urgent pleas for funding for veterinary care and needed supplies. More than $25,000 in cash donations was reportedly used to pay for personal expenses. Police found 26 animals in criminally cruel conditions at the home. None had reportedly seen a veterinarian, and many had severe infections and illnesses.
November 28, 2012/Mercer County, West Virginia: The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported that the publicly funded Mercer County Animal Shelter is refusing to accept animals when the shelter is full. The shelter director told the paper, “What we’re doing is this — we are not accepting them if we don’t have space.”
November 23, 2012/Georgetown, Texas: The Austin American-Statesman reported that two years after becoming a “no-kill” facility, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter’s intake “has increased by 500 to 600 animals a year.” The shelter “is so full that it doubles up dogs in its 79 kennels.” A shelter official told the paper that there has been an increase in the number of strays and animals surrendered by owners. The number of surrendered animals increased 64 percent from 2010 to 2012.
November 19, 2012/DeLand, Florida: City Attorney Darren Elkind described the Animal Rescue Konsortium (ARK) to a courtroom as “not a no kill shelter — it is a slow kill shelter.” On November 8, officials raided the ARK facility and removed nearly 130 cats and dogs who were reportedly housed in poor conditions. Veterinarians testified that numerous cats were suffering from upper respiratory infections, and the court heard “testimony of maggots found in water dishes, eight overflowing litter pans for 27 cats in one upstairs rooms [sic] and other problems such as no food or water readily evident.” An agreement forbids the group from using the home to house animals in the future.
November 15, 2012/Williams Township, Pennsylvania: The Morning Call reported that the “consistently high population at the [community's] no-kill shelter has pushed it to mostly close its doors to new animals.” The local shelter, Center for Animal Health and Welfare, ended contracts to house animals for local municipalities despite the continued and urgent need. Wendy Benedict, president of the center’s board of directors, told the paper that “the center has seen a rise in abandoned animals and often finds dumped dogs tied to its fence or kittens stuffed in a crate on its doorstep.” Despite the rise in abandonments, another board member, Dan Roman, said that until the number of animals at the shelter declines, “Don’t bring your dog here.”
November 9, 2012/Muncie, Indiana: Muncie’s ABC website reported that more than five dozen dogs were removed by officials in a raid on Adopt A Lab animal rescue where “they were found living in filth.” The dozens of dogs were reportedly crammed into a single-story ranch-style house, “which was covered in urine and feces.”
November 8, 2012/Ingham County, Michigan: Like all open-admission animal shelters, the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter does not have the option of turning its back on an animal in need. The shelter’s director explained to WILX news that “we don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘No, we’re full, you’ll have to come back later on.’ We have to accept the animal. We’re getting hit by shelters around us that are closed admission.”
October 26, 2012/Los Angeles, California: After visiting one of Los Angeles Animal Services’ shelters (which have been under attack and pressure by “no-kill” proponents for years), a Los Angeles Times reporter described severe crowding, including, “pit bulls with weary eyes and wagging tails, crammed three and four to a cage” and the need for emergency veterinary care for a German shepherd “being treated for ugly neck wounds from an attack by kennel-mates, a scenario that is becoming all too common as shelter crowding rises.”
October 26, 2012/Bibb County, Georgia: The Telegraph reported that a 100-plus–page evaluation of the Bibb County Animal Welfare shelter found that “under a former interim director when the shelter was under oversight of the city of Macon, emphasis was placed on low-kill or no-kill shelter operations.” The report said that this “led to overcrowded conditions in the facility.” The report condemned the shelter for poor and inaccurate recordkeeping and, according to the newspaper, stated that “an unidentified former employee directed staff not to document litters of puppies and kittens in case they were euthanized. … [T]hey were only put into the computer system if the animals were adopted. The same former employee directed other shelter workers to release feral cats through a hole in the fence adjoining the landfill.”
October 25, 2012/Blount County, Tennessee: The Daily Times reported that “after the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [BCSPCA] investigated complaints of noise and animals running loose” at Double A Pit Bull Rescue and found dogs confined without food or water, the owner of the “rescue” surrendered 14 dogs, four of whom had been removed from the county animal shelter with the belief that they would be placed into permanent homes. The rescue’s founder Angela Burruss said, “I accept my part in it. I was not fully prepared. I was not ready for the onslaught of need. I hadn’t braced myself for the overwhelming needs of the animals.” BCSPCA President Gino Bachman said of the animals, “There was no food, no water, and they were in a confined area. … She put the cart before the horse and took on more animals than she had resources for and she couldn’t handle it.”
October 25, 2012/Longview, Washington: A pit bull allegedly bit his owner after the man hit him for eating a box of doughnuts. The next day the man beat the dog to death with a sledgehammer. He reportedly told the community’s animal control supervisor that he didn’t take the dog to the local humane society instead because he couldn’t afford the shelter’s fees. A humane society representative told a PETA caseworker that the shelter requires an appointment to accept any animal and that a fee of $105 would be charged for it to accept a 55-pound dog for euthanasia because of aggression.
October 23, 2012/Lancaster, Pennsylvania: After an announcement by the Humane League of Lancaster County that it decided to become a “no-kill” shelter, 44 municipal contracts were ended. Tom Hickey, a member of the state Dog Law Advisory Board, told The Inquirer, “When people hear no kill, they think it’s a good thing, it’s not a good thing. … They are selectively picking which dogs live. Where are the dogs that don’t fit the criteria, namely pit bulls and puppy mill survivors that need extensive rehabilitation, going to go?”
October 18, 2012/Pasadena, Maryland: The Maryland Gazette reported that a man claiming to operate an animal rescue out of his home was charged with 134 counts of cruelty to animals after a September 27 raid by officials who found sick and dead animals at the property. The man said that he was “well-connected among the region’s animal shelters and would receive calls from rescue facilities filled to capacity.”
October 17, 2012/Austin, Texas: The foster coordinator at Austin Animal Services sent an urgent e-mail reporting that “as we get ‘full’ we are ‘buddying’ up big dogs. We are putting ‘temporary’ housing up in the cat building to hold more cats. That is literally HUNDREDS of animals that [are] in places that they simply shouldn’t be. We are having yet another huge over population issue this week, perhaps the worst we have seen in the year we have now been on Levander Loop. Our largest partners, Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society are full.”
September 14, 2012/Bangor, Maine: In an attempt to reduce euthanasia at the Bangor Humane Society, the shelter reportedly “stop[s] accepting surrendered animals for brief periods.” Shelter staffers reported that the previous week, they had to ask a woman with a “boxful of cats and kittens” she wanted to surrender to wait until they had space. The woman reportedly “yelled and screamed at the staff.” The executive director said that when the shelter staffers have to turn people away, they “pray the person will hold on to that animal for a few more days until space opens up. We pray that they won’t choose to leave the animal on the side of the road, or worse. We try to do our best to assure them it will be for just a day or a few days and then we hope for the best. But in truth our hearts sink when they walk out.”
September 13, 2012/Fort Worth, Texas: In a news report, Fort Worth’s code compliance officer stated that citizens will “dump [animals] regardless” of the animal shelter’s new policy to refuse to accept unwanted animals from their owners in a move to become a so-called “no-kill” facility. The new policy was implemented even though nearly 3,500 animals were signed over by citizens unable or unwilling to care for them in the last fiscal year. Private area shelters and rescue groups report that they are ill-equipped and unprepared for the likely increase in calls and intakes that this will cause. Tammy Hawley, operations director of the Humane Society of North Texas, said that there’s no simple way to solve the problem of irresponsible pet owners. “The kind of people who typically give up animals to animal shelters are not always the most vested owners anyway.”
September 13, 2012/Corpus Christi, Texas: Area animal shelters report that they are filled to capacity and that homeless, roaming animals in the area are at “epidemic” levels. The shelter director at “no-kill” Pee Wee’s Pet Adoption World & Sanctuary stated, “I get 75 calls a day, and people get angry because I can’t take 75 animals a day. If you multiply 75 times 365 days a year, I would have to take in 27,000 plus animals a year.” The Gulf Coast Humane Society director reports that his shelter “turn[s] people away right and left.”
August 27, 2012/Wilburton, Oklahoma: The owners of the Cajun Country Ranch animal “rescue” pleaded guilty to charges of animal abuse and child neglect and were sentenced to five years of probation after authorities found the floor of the couple’s home covered with feces and cockroaches. The couple’s three children were taken into state custody, and authorities seized more than 70 animals.
August 20, 2012/Fort Pierce, Florida: The operator of Sanctuary Animal Refuge was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing money donated to care for some of the more than 150 animals who were later seized in a rescue in April 2011. She was also sentenced to five years for cruelty-to-animals charges. At the so-called “sanctuary,” officials had found “malnourished dogs infected with heartworm and suffering from open and unhealed sores, mange, dehydration, diarrhea and fleas crowded into pens, lying in feces and urine.”
August 18, 2012/Lake Worth, Florida: The “no-kill” organization Save a Dog, Save a Cat was reportedly under investigation when authorities found 23 live cats and two rotting cat corpses abandoned at the home of one of the group’s founders. Investigators said that feces, trash, and hundreds of roaches were found in the house.
July 27, 2012/Austin, Texas: The city’s Animal Services Department announced reaching “no-kill” status in January 2012. On July 27, 2012, The Austin Chronicle reported that the department was seeking a $1 million increase in funding because the Austin Animal Center (AAC) “is way past full. Hundreds of animals are in foster homes, and shelter staff have had to be creative in order to house the overabundance of animals sleeping under AAC’s quonset hut roofs. As of last week, wire crates filled with kittens could be found on tables in the shelter’s main conference room. For months, staff has been finding room for dogs in cages in the stray- and surgery-holding areas.” A City Council member “referenced anonymous statements from shelter volunteers claiming that the staff is overburdened, that health and safety issues are being overlooked, [and] that they’d seen one dog receive chemical burns on the pads of its paws after being returned too quickly to a recently cleaned cage.”
July 27, 2012/Millsboro, Delaware: The “no-kill” Delaware SPCA refused to accept two cats found abandoned in cages by a longtime animal advocate and cat rescuer at a vacant home where she had previously lived. The rescuer was reportedly advised to take the cats back to the vacant property and leave them there. She was charged by the SPCA with animal abandonment when she left the cats at the shelter instead.
July 25, 2012/Mesquite, Texas: A television news report showed the removal of 86 cats, some very ill, from a “tiny two-bedroom home” that was illegally used as an animal “rescue” called Halteman’s Haven. Far from a haven, the crowded home where owner Keli Halteman hoarded animals had no air conditioning in the blistering heat of the Texas summer.
July 20, 2012/Northeast Mississippi: A local news outlet reported that some animals who are turned away from “no-kill” shelters are then “dumped alongside roads, abandoned at a neighbor’s house or shot and killed.” As a woman took her three dogs to an open-admission shelter, her husband said, “It was either that or shoot them.”
July 17, 2012/Willis, Texas: Spindletop Dog “refuge” was raided by authorities who seized approximately 300 pit bulls found in tiny plastic carriers with no water and unable to stand up. According to a law-enforcement official, some dogs were seen drinking their own urine, and a police news report revealed that ”[o]ne dog’s feet were so scalded it was laying on its back in its own urine in feces, presumably to take the pain off of its feet.”
July 9, 2012/Hebron, New York: The owner of the Peaceable Kingdom home-based “animal shelter” began a 60-day jail sentence stemming from a charge involving 54 counts of cruelty to animals related to the neglect of cats and dogs in her care. This was the second prosecution of the operator on charges involving dangerously inhumane conditions at her home.
May 14, 2012/Austin, Texas: It’s reported that after the city of Austin opened a new $12 million facility and proclaimed it to be “no-kill,” animal drop-offs skyrocketed and desperate officials asked members of the public what they were supposed to do. The “no-kill” policy is increasing the need to euthanize animals.
May 9, 2012/Springtown, Texas: The founder of the nonprofit Four Paws and Hooves Animal Rescue was arrested and faced multiple charges of cruelty to animals after law-enforcement officials found 58 dogs at the property. Many were stacked in crates; were covered with urine, feces, and vomit; and didn’t have food or water. The hoarder had removed hundreds of animals from some area animal shelters.
April 27, 2012/Porter County, Indiana: A Shelter Planners of America study assessed the Porter County Animal Shelter and reported that the shelter “should cease trying to call itself a no-kill shelter until it can reduce the number of animals” it takes in. The report says to do otherwise would result in severely crowded, unsanitary conditions, which could lead to illness, cruelty, and death.
April 27, 2012/Albion, New York: A People for Animal Welfare Society facility was shut down and nearly 100 animals were removed following an investigation by law enforcement into conditions at the animal shelter. The animals were turned over to the Humane Society of Greater Rochester, which reported that many of the animals suffered from untreated ear mites, upper respiratory infections, and chronic conjunctivitis.
April 3, 2012/Uvalde County, Texas: Authorities seized more than 150 animals from Friends of Uvalde Animal Shelter. One dog was found dead, and others were malnourished and living in crowded pens and cages.
March 6, 2012/Harmony, North Carolina: The owner of Stayin’ Alive Dog and Puppy Rescue was charged with felony cruelty to animals after investigators found 31 dogs and one cat on her property. Four of the dogs were found dead outside. A live dog was missing both back legs, which had apparently been chewed off by some of the other dogs.
February 27, 2012/Lee, Florida: The owner of Caboodle Ranch, a self-proclaimed “cat rescue sanctuary” was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and scheming to defraud. Nearly 700 neglected cats were seized from the property in one of the largest cat rescues ever undertaken.
February 15, 2012/Attica, New York: State police raided the SPCA of Wyoming County and found more than 100 cats living in “deplorable” conditions.
February 14, 2012/Rock Hill, South Carolina: A York County judge ordered Saint Francis Animal Rescue to shut down because of hoarding conditions, after more 150 cats were found crammed into the “tiny” facility.
January 26, 2012/Summerdale, Alabama: Police found more than 200 dogs, cats, and horses in horrible condition, most either starving or dead, at Purple Hearted Puppies Animal Rescue. Some of the dogs had resorted to cannibalism to survive. Investigators found stacks of dead dogs in the facility and more dead animals buried on the property. Operators were charged with felony cruelty to animals.
January 17, 2012/Fayette County, Tennessee: The operators of Hearts for Hounds animal “rescue” in Long Beach, California, were charged with felony cruelty to animals when a state trooper in Tennessee pulled them over as they drove a U-Haul packed with 140 dogs and one cat, pulling a minivan also crammed with animals. Some dogs were in cages, while others were loose, and one dog was dead. The women were reportedly transporting the dogs to a farm near Roanoke, Virginia.
January 12, 2012/Allegany County, Maryland: After abruptly ending euthanasia at the county animal shelter, the facility came under fire from accusations including lack of leadership and accountability, poor management, and unsanitary, unhealthy conditions at the animal shelter.
January 6, 2012/Kern County, California: The operator of Best of Buddies was arrested on suspicion of felony cruelty to animals after officials found more than 200 animals, most of them dogs, suffering from neglect, dehydration, malnutrition, illness, and injury.
January 3, 2012/Texas City, Texas: Authorities raided Whiskerville Animal Sanctuary and removed dozens of badly neglected cats, at least 12 of whom had apparently starved or died from disease. Cats suffered from dehydration, sores, and respiratory infections and were covered in urine and feces.
December 30, 2011/Delhi, New York: The owner of Angel’s Gate animal hospice was charged with cruelty to animals, months after investigators searched the facility. The official investigation was prompted by an undercover investigation by PETA, which documented that paralyzed dogs dragged themselves around until they developed bloody skin ulcers while their wheeled carts hung on a fence unused, animals with open wounds and respiratory infections were deprived of veterinary examinations and care, and animals were kept in diapers for several days, causing urine scald.
November 17, 2011/Harrison County, Indiana: Authorities removed 36 cats, three dogs, and four chickens from Frisky Felines Foundation—an in-home cat “rescue”—and the Department of Child Services told the couple who ran it that their two children had to stay elsewhere. Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue told one news reporter, “The smell of feces, urine, molding clothing and rotting food caused your nostrils to swell shut and made it difficult to breathe. There was feline diarrhea on the floor, and … there was two inches of water in the basement and a mattress where it appeared one of the children slept. The entire scene was absolutely unbelievable.” A veterinarian who examined the animals said that half of the cats had an active upper respiratory infection and that some were infected with feline infectious peritonitis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Chlamydophila felis, and Mycoplasma felis.
October 18, 2011/Lambertville, New Jersey: The operator of North Carolina–based Saving Fur Kids was charged with 15 counts of cruelty to animals and faced other charges for posing as an animal rescue agency in order to obtain dogs from animal shelters and then resell them for profit at pet stores and in parking lots.
October 18, 2011/Deer Park, Illinois: The operator of Muddy Paws Dog Rescue was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for animal abuse and torture after allowing nearly 30 animals to starve to death.
October 3, 2011/Hebron, New York: Four people were each charged with 54 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals after authorities investigated the property of the Peaceable Kingdom Animal Rescue, which obtained animals from animal shelters purportedly to “rescue” them. Authorities said the animals were emaciated and dehydrated and had numerous medical problems that did not appear to have been treated, including mange, eye infections, dental problems, and diarrhea.
September 29, 2011/Clark County, Ohio: The operator of One More Chance Rescue was ordered never again to operate a nonprofit organization after nearly 400 animals were seized from filthy and cruel conditions. According to the lead investigator in the large-scale rescue of the hoarded animals, “The dogs were kept in very unsanitary conditions…no food, dirty, filthy water, just not a condition that you want to leave your worst enemy in, let alone your pet.” Seventy-eight dogs and 15 cats were found dead at the property.
August 31, 2011/East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana: One month after taking over operations at the parish’s animal shelter, Companion Animal Alliance was under investigation in response to allegations of extreme crowding and inhumane conditions. Authorities did find the animal shelter severely crowded and said that animals lacked sufficient food and water and wallowed in their own feces and that some dogs and cats were forced to live inside a men’s bathroom. The animal shelter undertook emergency euthanasia efforts to reduce the “skyrocketing” population.
August 12, 2011/Surry County, North Carolina: After several failed inspections, the seizure of 23 dogs, and 23 charges of cruelty to animals, the nonprofit Animal Welfare of Surry County received a cease-and-desist order from the state’s Department of Agriculture. The purported rescue obtained dogs from animal shelters and then hoarded them.
June 29, 2011/Gordon, Alabama: The owner of Dirty Sally’s Pet Pals, a so-called animal “rescue,” was ordered to stop “rescuing” dogs and sentenced to two years of probation after authorities seized 197 dogs and 31 cats who were kept in deplorable conditions there. Prosecutor Patrick Amason stated, “I admire the judge for giving them a condition where they can’t get involved in this kind of business again, because they will essentially try and do this again, and these animals don’t deserve this. They don’t deserve to live in these conditions, don’t deserve not to have enough to eat.”
July 18, 2011/Johnstown, New York: More than 300 animals were removed from Kelly’s Haven for Friends Animal Rescue after officials found them living in deplorable conditions “in a mixture of garbage, feces, urine and dirt.” In the basement, authorities found that “cages of dogs line the concrete block walls, the tops covered with empty dog crates, supplies and a plastic pool. The chain-link sides of the cages are laced with cobwebs, cardboard is falling from the ceiling and cats perch on the piles.”
June 7, 2011/High Springs, Florida: Police seized 697 cats from Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary. In March 2012, the couple operating the “sanctuary” pleaded no contest to 47 counts of cruelty to animals and was sentenced to 15 years of probation, along with fines and a prohibition on owning or rescuing any cats.
May 28, 2011/Ludowici, Georgia: The owner of Loonie Farms Animal Rescue was arrested after dozens of dead animals, some still locked in crates, were found on the rescue’s property.
May 3, 2011/Killeen, Texas: The operator of Killeen Animal Search and Rescue was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after authorities found a severely ill kitten and two dogs badly injured from rubber bands tied around their testicles in a crude attempt at home-neutering. Authorities seized 12 cats and 10 dogs from the home.
March 23, 2011/Apache, Arizona: More than 200 animals were removed and the owner of Colorado Animal Refuge was charged with cruelty to animals after authorities found dogs in dilapidated outdoor pens filled with feces, several suffering from open wounds, mange, malnourishment, and matted coats. The hoarder had relocated from Colorado after she was issued a cease-and-desist order demanding that she provide the animals on her property with proper care and sanitary living conditions.
March 15, 2011/Bonne Terre, Missouri: Nearly 200 animals were removed from the St. Francois Society animal rescue and the facility’s license was revoked after animals were found in crowded, illegal conditions. According to a news report, “Many [animals] suffered from hair loss and coughing. Dozens of cats were found inside trash-strewn rooms filled with cobwebs. Some of the animals appeared to have upper respiratory infections and possibly internal and external parasites.”
March 1, 2011/Horry County, South Carolina: Authorities seized more than 200 cats from Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary after an undercover investigation by PETA revealed that sick cats were kept stacked in cages without veterinary care in a warehouse.
February 11, 2011/Cook County, Illinois: Chicago authorities shut down Dazzle’s Painted Pastures Rescue & Sanctuary and charged its owner with neglect and cruelty to animals. Many of the more than 100 animals found were sick or dead.
November 10, 2010/Boone County, West Virginia: Authorities removed more than 100 animals from Safe Haven Animal Rescue Effort. Animals were suffering from starvation, skin diseases, and sores and were found in rusty metal cages in a barn.
October 28, 2010/Cumberland County, Pennsylvania: Investigators shut down 1 Life Rescue in Camp Hill after they found that more than 100 sick cats and dogs were living in severely crowded and unhealthy conditions.
September 29, 2010/Goochland County, Virginia: The operator of Pet Rescue Foundation was found guilty of inadequate care of animals.
September 1, 2010/Raeford, North Carolina: After repeatedly failing state animal welfare inspections, The Haven’s animal shelter license was revoked. The Haven continues to operate illegally.
August 10, 2010/Macon, Georgia: The Georgia Department of Agriculture ordered All About Animals Rescue to shut its doors after an investigation revealed severe crowding in the dilapidated building and cages.
July 12, 2010/Fallon County, Montana: Authorities shut down the Eastern Montana Humane Society and removed approximately 100 animals found “living in filthy, cramped pens and crates.”
January 23, 2010/Clarksdale, Mississippi: The Clarksdale-Coahoma County Animal Shelter was discovered to have crammed approximately 400 animals into a facility built to hold 60 dogs when contracted operators tried to run it as a “no-kill” animal shelter. The facility was raided, and all the animals were removed.
January 8, 2010/Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: The owner/operator of Tiger Ranch Cat Sanctuary was sentenced to two years of house arrest and 27 years of probation after a raid on the “sanctuary” resulted in the seizure of 497 cats—107 found dead on the property. Another 150 cats had to be euthanized immediately because of illness and injury.
November 26, 2009/Toronto, Canada: The Toronto Humane Society (THS) was raided and cruelty-to-animals charges were brought against THS leaders after the animal shelter turned into “what one investigator called a ‘house of horrors’—a place where infections ran rampant, animals lived in filthy conditions, food was scarce and a no-euthanasia policy led to sick animals suffering and dying without adequate medical care.”
October 5, 2009/Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Director Doug Rae was fired from his position after just 10 months on the job. Reasons for his dismissal included putting too much emphasis on adoptions and not enough attention on stray animals and leaving more than 2,000 animals on the streets. Rae was strongly supported in the position by “no-kill” advocates, including Nathan Winograd, who had previously stated, “I actually think Doug Rae is one of the best directors of operations that I have ever seen.”
October 2, 2009/Marin, California: The Milo Foundation was shut down and 19 animals were seized after an inspection by the local humane society revealed that the facility was housing triple the number of dogs and cats allowed at the site and that animals were living in their own feces and were not receiving treatment for contagious diseases.
April 26, 2008/Santee, California: Investigators removed 26 animals from cruel and filthy conditions at Southern California Chow Chow Rescue and Transport, a home operating as a dog rescue.
February 1, 2008/Hendersonville, North Carolina: Hundreds of dogs and cats, who for years were hoarded, abused, and neglected, were removed from All Creatures Great and Small by the state of North Carolina, and the facility was permanently closed.
January 29, 2008/Conroe, Texas: After authorities investigated Furr Kids animal rescue, the owner of the operation agreed to shut it down. Dogs and cats were kept in a garage in tiny crates, and three were found dead.