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 2024 Reports Showing That ‘No-Kill’ Policies Endanger Animals
Patch.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as For Furever Animal Rescue with 22 counts of cruelty to animals. According to the report, “Carley Mackenzie Ryan was charged Monday following a months-long investigation. The charges include counts of felony animal torture and misdemeanor unwholesome enclosure.” Dogs seized by authorities in October 2023 (See the October 2023, Andover, Minnesota, entry below for more information) reportedly included a Great Dane who had difficulty walking because of severe urine and fecal scald, “which caused swelling of all four feet,” and an Australian cattle dog who was described as “both urine and fecal incontinent and despite that was housed in a crate that was inadequate in size with another dog.” The cattle dog “had alopecia and wounds to the inside of both rear legs where the skin was red, ulcerated, and painful from urine and fecal scald. [A veterinary] exam also noted harsh lung sounds suggesting scarring of lungs due to poor air quality in the living conditions in which he was found.” Another dog also had difficulty walking because of scalded, “swollen feet and extremely overgrown toenails.” TwinCities.com reported that of the 22 dogs seized by authorities in October 2023, eight were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. The remainder had since been adopted.
Corpus Christi, Texas
KIIITV.com reported that a spokesperson for a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as the Gulf Coast Humane Society said that it had “a six to eight week waiting list” to accept animals from area residents who were unable or unwilling to care for them. She also recommended that people leave lost or homeless animals on the street instead of taking them to an animal shelter so that the shelters could “focus” on their adoption statistics.
St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
WDSU.com reported that a publicly funded facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as the St. Tammany Parish Department of Animal Services claimed that it was “over capacity and unable to help” additional animals. According to the report, after 28 animals were seized by authorities, “The shelter said they have no room to host them and already turned a conference room into a kennel room.” No additional information was available.
FOX21News.com reported that the founder of a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as OutPaws’ Sweet Home Sanctuary said that a baby goat had been found “dead in her stall” after a cold snap. According to the report, the group’s operator said that she believes the animal was smothered to death while several goats were trying to survive freezing temperatures at the facility.
News.Yahoo.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Austin Pets Alive! was keeping approximately 230 dogs and 30 cats in outdoor cages. According to the report, freezing temperatures were expected in the area.
TelegraphHerald.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Dubuque Regional Humane Society said that it had 60 more cats “than the shelter has kennel space for.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said, “We have cats in crates in the hall because we don’t have anywhere else to put them.”
Youngsville, North Carolina
WRAL.com reported that authorities had arrested Anne-Marie Green, the owner of a boarding kennel doing business as Green Meadow Kennels, and charged her with cruelty to animals. According to the report, court documents indicated that she had been “accused of intentionally tormenting and depriving more than 20 medium- to large-sized dogs of necessary sustenance.” Authorities had reportedly received a complaint from two individuals who alleged that a dog had died at the facility, which “was under scrutiny by the North Carolina Agriculture Department for operating unlicensed.” Dogs who had been handed over to a self-professed animal “rescue” in South Carolina doing business as Arcadia Animal Rescue by an animal shelter in Georgia had been sent to Green’s kennel in North Carolina, according to volunteers with the South Carolina group. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that it had “agreed to allow Green to start pulling dogs from an Atlanta shelter under the rescue.” The Georgia facility releasing the dogs was evidently a publicly funded facility doing business as DeKalb County Animal Services, operating through a contract with a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as LifeLine Animal Project. (See the September 2023, DeKalb County, Georgia, entry below for more information about this facility.) A court date had been set in the case against Green.
LawAndCrime.com reported that authorities who were responding to a call requesting a welfare check at a residence found “14 dead dogs in a feces-covered home.” After one surviving, emaciated dog was rescued and removed for care by animal control authorities, sheriff’s deputies found the bodies of the other animals: “Three dogs were found dead in the bedroom, three were in the refrigerator and one was in the freezer. There were also seven dead puppies throughout the house. All the dogs were in various states of decomposition,” according to the report. Homeowner, Margaret Nevils was tracked down at her workplace and charged with cruelty to animals. According to the report, she “told investigators she was running an adoption and dog rescue service.”
WHAS11.com reported that authorities had seized 44 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Everything’s Going to Be Alright Rescue & Rehabilitation after they were found in conditions described by investigators as “deplorable.” According to a nonprofit that assisted with the seizure, freezing temperatures and high ammonia levels hindered rescue efforts. Three dogs were reportedly found dead at the property, “two of whom were frozen solid.” According to a spokesperson for the nonprofit that helped with the rescue, “Many of the dogs exhibit[ed] signs of obvious and chronic neglect including eye injuries, fur loss, internal and external parasites, anemia, gastrointestinal issues, bite wounds, and matting. Some of the dogs [were] emaciated and the majority of the dogs [were] underweight.” It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
KRQE.com reported that a facility with “no-kill” policies partially funded with public monies and doing business as Santa Fe Animal Shelter was refusing to accept dogs because of an outbreak of “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), also known as kennel cough or dog flu.” According to the report, “The City of Santa Fe Animal Services [and] Santa Fe County Animal Control Services w[ere] also limit[ing] their public services.”
Castle Rock, Colorado
Denver7.com reported that state authorities had “filed charges … with the Office of Administrative Courts” alleging that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Douglas County Canine Rescue had “failed to provide timely veterinary care to dogs, falsified records and operated without a proper license.” Court documents reportedly said that after authorities had received a complaint alleging that “rescue” owner Rebecca Waldrop “was unlawfully housing 20 to 30 dogs in her basement, inspectors executed a search warrant … and found 23 dogs, according to the documents. Waldrop is not licensed to operate [an] animal shelter or any other … animal care facility out of her home.” A foster home operator for the group also allegedly “had approximately 31 dogs in her home. The court documents also claimed several of the dogs did not receive proper veterinary care until days after injuries. A 10-week-old puppy allegedly broke his leg on Aug. 6, 2023 and did not receive veterinary care until Aug. 16.” Waldrop was issued “a notice to appear in the Office of Administrative Courts.”
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
NorthJersey.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Treasure Fur-Ever Animal Rescue had to involve authorities to secure the return of three kittens the group had given to a woman to be fostered after she refused to return them. The animals had reportedly been imported from a facility in North Carolina. The New Jersey group also reportedly learned that the fosterer to whom the kittens were given was “living with a woman named Julie Alaimo, who was brought up on 23 counts of animal cruelty in November 2022 after 21 cats and two dogs were rescued from her home by Fair Lawn police.” Authorities returned the animals to the New Jersey group.
WKYC.com reported that a dog had been warehoused for six years at a facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Animal Charity of Ohio. According to the report, the facility said that the 7-year-old dog would have “to be in a home without other animals” and that it was giving him away for free.
Colonie, New York
CBS6Albany.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Empawthy Animal Rescue Inc. after they were found in “extreme conditions of filth and crowding.” According to the report, authorities found “102 live animals, including 47 dogs, 52 cats and three ferrets” as well as 15 dead cats and a dead rabbit. “Rescue” operator Jennifer Uhl was reportedly arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. News10.com reported that a humane officer said that animals had been found “stacked in crates on top of each other. Inside those crates, they were confined with their own waste and feces. There was a very strong odor of ammonia in the air.” MyRGV.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility in Texas that had been partially funded with public monies and was doing business as the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society (RGVHS) had recently “sent more than 50 dogs and cats” to the New York group. Harlingen, Texas, Mayor Norma Sepulveda said, “[S]hortly before the raid, RGVHS posted on social media praising the partnership and crediting Empawthy with transporting a ‘combined number of 48 dogs and 11 cats’ to ‘loving new homes. … We have since learned that during the Empawthy raid 16 animals were found dead in a freezer and another 47 dogs and 52 cats were removed. It begs the question, ‘How many of those animals were Harlingen animals that were supposedly transported to loving homes?’” (See the December, 2023, Harlingen, Texas, entry below for more information about RGVHS.)
WFLA.com reported that authorities had charged Brenda Hoch, the president of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Florida Skunk Rescue, with eight counts of “animal neglect” after a search of the property found ill and injured animals in conditions “described as ‘deplorable’” by an investigator. According to the report, the “rescue” claimed to take in and find homes for “domesticated skunks who’s [sic] owners could not care for them.” It went on to reveal that “Hoch’s home, which served as the headquarters for the rescue … was inspected [by investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] on August 15, 2023, after multiple attempted inspections. Hoch was found to be in possession of at least 18 skunks.” It was also revealed that an incident “report said some of the skunks in Hoch’s care were kept in small cages and forced to stand in their own feces and urine. It also claimed Hoch was ‘unable and unwilling’ to provide proper food, water, or care. The report also says the smell inside the home was ‘nauseating.’ The investigation revealed seven skunks were underweight, two were overweight, and ten had overgrown nails, among other problems. According to the report, Hoch was ‘verbally combative’ during the investigation, and had an excuse for not cleaning, not providing water and other requirements the law demands.” No additional information was available.
HernandoCounty.us reported that a publicly funded facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Hernando County Animal Services was refusing to accept most dogs because of an outbreak of suspected canine pneumovirus. According to the report, “22 dogs [were] showing signs of upper respiratory infection consistent with Pneumovirus. So far laboratory testing has confirmed one case of Pneumovirus.” The facility had also stopped providing sterilization surgeries because of the outbreak.
OilCity.news reported that because of an outbreak of parvovirus, a publicly funded facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Metro Animal Services had stopped accepting dogs from residents who were unable or unwilling to care for them.
KXAN.com reported that a woman who had been mauled by a dog released by a publicly funded self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Austin Animal Center (AAC) was “pushing for a resolution that … could limit the taxpayer-funded shelter’s ability to release dangerous dogs into the community.” According to the report, the woman said she’d been volunteering at an animal adoption group that had acquired the dog from AAC, where records evidently showed that he had a history of biting, when the dog attacked her. She said, “I was basically scalped. The initial tear caused a flap of two by three inches … down to the skull. And then the two to three other bites, there were sections of my scalp that were pulled away from my skull, there were gashes, there were punctures.” A city council member reportedly said, “We are seeing the number of serious bites from animals in Austin … they’ve climbed significantly over the last few years.” (See the September 2023, Austin, Texas, entry below for more details about this facility.)
Chambers County, Alabama
ValleyTimes-News.com reported that a facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as the Chattahoochee Humane Society had “filed a complaint against a sheriff’s deputy for allegedly forcing them to accept three owner-surrender dogs,” when the facility claimed that it was “full.” The deputy had responded to a complaint from a woman who’d been turned away from the facility with three dogs who had strayed onto her farm. A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said that it requires appointments to accept animals but admitted that it holds contracts with area communities that require it to accept animals.
Wake County, North Carolina
NewsObserver.com reported that a publicly funded facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Wake County Animal Services had announced that it would permanently refuse to accept animals from residents who were unable or unwilling to care for them. According to the report, “The ban on owner surrenders applies to all animals.” (See the November 2023, Wake County, North Carolina, entry below for more information about this facility.)
Tyrone Township, Michigan
LivingstonDaily.com reported that authorities had seized dozens of animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as The Devoted Barn. According to the report, sheriff’s “deputies seized and relocated 64 animals, including sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, and an alpaca.” Animal control officials had reportedly “received multiple welfare complaints” about the facility. “It’s not the first time [‘rescue’ operator Melissa Borden] and the rescue have come under fire. The rescue was also involved in legal battles with townships in Oakland and Monroe counties, among other suits, and has had to relocate in the past. In Rose Township, the rescue allegedly operated a dog kennel without a special land use permit, according to an opinion from the Michigan Court of Appeals, which affirmed a circuit court ruling in favor of the township.” The investigation was ongoing.