Self-professed “no-kill animal rescues” solicit donations by touting their “save” rates in preventing animals from being euthanized. While every caring person wishes there were a loving family for every animal and none ever had to be euthanized for lack of a suitable home, that’s unfortunately not the case. And as these photos prove, there are fates far worse than a peaceful, painless exit in the arms of caring professionals.
The following are real crime scene photos that PETA obtained through open-records requests. They illustrate what happens in “no-kill” facilities when statistics are put ahead of animals’ well-being.
Bully Breed Miracle Network and Rescue
Police found the bodies of three dead dogs in various stages of decomposition in and around cages covered with feces at this purported “no-kill animal rescue” group in Sandyville, Iowa. They seized another 19 who were suffering from urine burns and severe malnourishment, including one who was near death. Some of the dogs were so starved that they had started eating their own feces. A bloodhound was found in hypovolemic shock (in which the heart stops being able to pump blood) caused by hypothermia and had sustained injuries so extensive that one of her ears had to be amputated. Authorities charged the group’s operator, Lindsey Morrow, with ongoing criminal conduct, second-degree theft, fraudulent practices, 22 counts of animal neglect, and five counts of animal torture. She had reportedly raised money via GoFundMe for the dogs’ care, receiving $3,000 for the care of one dog who was found dead.
Tails of Courage ‘No-Kill Rescue’
Officials in Danbury, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit against the Tails of Courage Animal Rescue, a “no-kill” group, after police found dogs forced to stand in their own urine and feces for so long that they’d developed sores on their paws. One dog’s feet were in such bad condition that she couldn’t put weight on them. Many dogs had been crammed into wire kennels in a cold garage. Others had been shoved into barren, filthy outdoor pens where it was so cold that their water had frozen. At least one dog had parvovirus. The manager was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, and zoning inspectors issued a cease and desist order.
Former Vice President of Dust Bowl Animal Rescue
Police found the bodies of 14 dead dogs left inside the abandoned Midland, Texas, home of the former vice president of Dust Bowl Animal Rescue, Carly Jo Underwood. “This is the worst case I’ve ever seen,” said Sheriff Gary Painter. “The stench from the feces was horrible. They were just bones and hair.” Some of the animals had reportedly died in their crates, and others had resorted to eating one another in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Underwood was charged with 16 felony counts of “cruelty to non-livestock animals—torture.”
Animal Advocates of Carroll County
Authorities seized 11 dogs and one cat from the president and founder of alleged “rescue” Animal Advocates of Carroll County in Maryland after they were contacted by a veterinarian who had examined a cat in the group’s custody. A responding officer found the animal confined to a dirty carrier, cold to the touch, laboring to breathe, and suffering from open wounds including “a very infected-looking wound that had a discharge coming from it and open wounds on the rear legs.” The cat was finally peacefully euthanized.
The dogs were found in conditions that animal control officers called “filthy” and “cluttered” and that reeked of urine and feces. Most of them tested positive for severe whipworm infestations, and one was locked in a cage so small as to prevent movement. “This violation appears to be intentional in nature and may indicate a tortuous situation as the dog could not move, and [he or she] was the only dog housed in this [manner], even though there were bigger cages available,” according to Animal Control.
Owner Laura Shenk was charged with several counts of cruelty to animals and one count of obstructing and hindering. Animal Advocates of Carroll County claimed “to promote the humane treatment of animals” and shelter adoptions, “with the goal of increasing the live release rate of animals from our local animal shelter.”
These are just a few of the animals who were handed over by trusting guardians or by public shelters that purported to “save” them from euthanasia, only to make them endure prolonged and extreme suffering. Many more just like them spend years confined to cramped cages, often in filth—and frequently, even their most basic needs aren’t met. They remain caged even when they are gravely ill or have gone “kennel crazy” from the intolerable stress of long-term confinement.
Donations from well-intentioned people are what keep these operations in business. Donors who think they’re helping are many times funding long-term animal suffering. The National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse, a program of the National District Attorneys Association, gives this warning: “There is an entire industry of ‘rescues’ that warehouse animals in horrific conditions; however, the catalyst for warehousing is not a mental health affliction, but pure, old-fashioned, greed.”
Never take the claims of a “no-kill animal rescue” group on faith: Research and visit it for yourself. And make sure everyone you know is aware that “no-kill” doesn’t mean “no death”—it means denying animals a dignified, painless one. True humane societies are willing to do the compassionate thing and provide animals with a peaceful passing when it’s in their best interest or when a shelter has become so full that the welfare of all animals there is compromised. If we wouldn’t want our own animal companions to be warehoused in a cage for years with no love and no hope, we shouldn’t accept that fate for any animal.