IL: Report of Killing Without Consent at TLC Animal Shelter

On July 9, a family in IL adopted a dog called Ollie from the TLC Animal Shelter in Homer Glen.  At the time of the adoption, Ollie had a limp and a mass on his leg, the result of a prior break which was left untreated.  The adopting family did not notice it at the time but after getting the dog home, the condition was quickly discovered.  The owner, Jamie Enright, sought immediate care for the dog:

On July 12, she took Ollie, short for Ollie Ollie Oxen Free, to her veterinarian. A growth plate injury was diagnosed, and a $2,000 treatment plan was discussed.

Angry, she said she brought the dog back to TLC on Tuesday to see if the shelter would help pay for treatment.

She said volunteer Dennis Carter Jr., whose parents run the shelter, told her to leave the dog in his care so that the shelter’s veterinarian could provide a second opinion. Often, he told her, the shelter could get veterinary services at a discount. Enright said he promised to call her later that day.

That all sounds reasonable to me.  Unfortunately, Ms. Enright never received a call back from the shelter.  She phoned them and was told a diagnosis was in progress but they were waiting on the shelter Vet.  Days went by and Ms. Enright continued calling the shelter to find out about Ollie.  She became worried because the shelter did not respond to her calls.  On Friday, she sent her partner to pick Ollie up from the shelter:

“I was getting really nervous,” she said. “I didn’t want Ollie to think we had abandoned him.”

Sadly, the shelter had already killed Ollie.

The Carters won’t say which veterinarian diagnosed the dog. Nor will they say when it was put down.

“She brought the dog back because she didn’t want it,” Carter Sr. said.

If that’s the case, TLC should provide a copy of Ms. Enright’s signature on the surrender form.

He insists no one promised to call Enright with a confirming diagnosis.

As for possession, Carter Sr. said no one who adopts from TLC ever takes ownership of an animal.

“The adoption fee they pay is a donation,” he said. “We always own the animal. That way we can take it back if the adopters are neglectful or abusive.”

The adoption fee – $150 in Ollie’s case – is simply a charitable donation and as a thank you gift they let you – what, borrow a dog until such time as they decide to kill him?  Last I checked, Illinois was in the United States on the planet Earth – has this changed?

Carter Jr. said euthanasia was the best treatment for the dog.

“Its leg had ceased to grow. It was disgusting, all bow-legged,” he said.

It was so gross in fact, they had a hard time keeping a straight face while they cashed Ms. Enright’s $150 check I suppose.

When asked why no one had called Enright to ask permission or even tell her that the dog was being put to sleep, the shelter manager became enraged and began yelling into the phone.

“There’s no law that says I can’t euthanize an animal however and whenever I choose to do it. It’s my business.”

The article goes on to say that Ollie’s family doesn’t even know if he was killed in a humane manner because the Carter family won’t tell them.  IL has a law mandating that pets must be killed humanely.

Further, I googled IL state laws pertaining to shelters and came across the Humane Euthanasia in Animal Shelters Act:

Sec. 150.  Temporary suspension of a certificate.  The Director may temporarily suspend the certificate of a euthanasia agency or euthanasia technician without a hearing, simultaneously with the institution of proceedings for a hearing, if the Director finds that evidence in his or her possession indicates that the continued practice of the certified euthanasia agency or technician would constitute cruelty or an imminent danger to the public.

As a layman, it would seem to me that indeed, the continued practice of someone who allegedly kills people’s pets without consent would constitute cruelty and an imminent danger to the public – at least those members of the public who own pets since it’s conceivable this shelter could receive additional pets under similar circumstances.  I would think the Director of the Department of Professional Regulation would want to place a temporary suspension on this shelter’s licensed euthanasia technician(s) until the facts of this case get sorted.

The statement from the shelter that stuck in my mind was the one about “euthanasia was the best treatment”.  As most of us understand, euthanasia is not a “treatment” – it is the humane ending of a life when all treatments have been exhausted and the suffering animal’s condition is medically hopeless.  It is never a treatment.  This bothered me enough to Google their shelter and on the About page, there is a reference to the “terrible animal overpopulation problem”:

Puppies and kittens are cute, but the sad truth is, there are not enough homes for them all. In this area alone, thousands of animals are destroyed each year for lack of homes, and across the United States, the numbers soar to over 15 million!

Tha sad truth is, there are enough homes for all the shelter pets in this country but some so-called animal welfare advocates continue to perpetuate the myth of overpopulation.  As far as more than 15 million pets being killed in the US every year “for lack of homes” – again, have you ever visited the planet Earth?  The 15 million figure is completely false.  Although we have no definitive numbers, most estimates put the number of pets killed in shelters annually in the range of 4 million (with some portion of these being true euthanasia cases, not the killing of healthy/treatable pets).

The article about Ollie leaves me with a negative impression of TLC.  Their own website doesn’t do anything to improve that.  Maybe there’s more to the story here that we don’t know.  But for Ollie, it’s the end of the story.

Perhaps most tragic of all are the opening and closing lines of the newspaper article:

Jamie Enright now knows that the word shelter on the door is not a guarantee there’s compassion inside.


Running an animal shelter, after all, doesn’t necessarily make you humane.

Is this how TLC plans to end the unnecessary killing of pets in shelters – by giving the impression that shelters only “loan out” pets and can kill them at will?  Do we really want to drive the public away from shelter adoption like this?

25 thoughts on “IL: Report of Killing Without Consent at TLC Animal Shelter

  1. That’s shocking and must be terrible for adoptive
    parents. The SPCA here you need 2 qualify 4, we’ve adopted (it’s insane they say their shelter remains owner) I’ve given up pets, only to non kill shelters, n adopted from shelters. If they’re still owners they should foot medical n food bill. After u adopt, u are parents. Period. I love my pets n would want to kill them, since Ollie can’t come back, the only recourse is to sue them. I’m sorry 4 their loss.

  2. I am learning not to be surprised by stories like this. There is such a lack of compassion and creative thought/action on the part of so many animal control “shelters” that they are the problem. Even some well-financed big organizations are playing the game of deciding to save some with much media exposure but kill other adoptable animals for reasons we can only surmise.

  3. This is the risk of the word “guardian”.. when you are a “guardian” you do not won the dog.. someone else does.. this tragic case is another issue of “guardianship” and why we must fight it at every turn.. we are the OWNERS of our pets.. and thereby make statements like this..
    “We always own the animal. That way we can take it back if the adopters are neglectful or abusive.”

    poor Ollie paid the price of lack of OWNERSHIP

  4. I’m with Alice on this one. Not all of the changes we’re seeing are without enormous pitfalls. One is that the “owner” of an animal is one who is disconnected from the animal and there’s too much of that already.

  5. I wonder if the payment was fully disclosed as a “Donation”. If so, the donation was made under false pretenses and therefore returned. I HIGHLY doubt it will be.

    1. Regardless of payment, I think it’s reasonable for anyone going to a shelter, picking out a dog and leaving with it to assume they own the dog. If the shelter considers that dog just a loaner, or a thank you gift which the shelter may kill at will, that would have to be explicitly stated in the (non) adoption form signed by the (non) adopter. I can’t see how that would legally stand otherwise.

  6. I love my dogs, I take care of my dogs, and I treat them as family, but I am NOT their parent. That is a euphemism we really need to stay away from. I have never ‘adopted’ a pet from a shelter. When I handed over money, I BOUGHT it, regardless of the amount paid. I bought it and I owned it.
    I also have a problem with the phrase in the article “Ollie was a thank you gift for the donation”. Whether they bought the dog or received him as a gift for the “donation”, how many times have you ever been given a gift with the option the giver still owned it and could take it back at any time? A gift is something given over in totality to a person who then owns the gift to do with as they please (something back up by the court system as well).

  7. I have been a long time advocate of shelters for the rehoming of dogs. Unfortunately, the more stories that I read like this, the more I believe that the real dog problem in this country rests on the shoulders of irresponsible dog owners who are non-compliant on current laws, irresponsible law enforcement who too often turn a blind eye to the non compliance or take out their frustration on the dogs, and most importantly the shelters who are killing dogs simply because it is easier than doing anything else. If you have a dog, you take provide a clean environment, quality food, clean water, daily exercise, and medical care when it is needed–to do anything less is IRRESPONSIBLE irrespective of whether you are owner, law enforcement, or shelter employee. Shelters are killing our dogs and getting away with it!

  8. i just rescued a dog out of Kentucky that has heart worms i am not going after the previous owner for his medical bills once the dog is yours it is your responsibility to take care of it… for example you buy a dog and it needs its yearly check up should you go after the previous owner for medical? NO it is your responsibility was it wrong for TLC to put him down probably but was there other issues going on? i always thought TLC was a NO kill shelter..maybe i am wrong but i have adopted from TLC and never had a problem i know dennis Jr. he is a good guy

    1. No. You can’t. The link you provided was a dead end search engine. Do you work there? I can’t imagine they could possibly have a “side” that is worth promoting.

      1. If you look at the date of the posts with the links they were posted 5 years ago. Unfortunately they no longer work. I don’t know much about web pages but do know that sometimes links stop being there. Had you read it then, the shelter gives the complete story, not bits and pieces, of this sad, sick pup. No, I do not work for, nor do I own, this amazing shelter. These fine folks have been putting their hearts and souls into finding desperate animals their second chance at a loving home for over 40 years. Tirelessly and without concerns for thanks. Not many people have the strength in their hearts to do what TLC does.

  9. Unfortunately for everyone involved, this is a very one sided, biased, inaccurate telling of the story. The sad fact is, a “reporter” for a newspaper wrote a very biased, inaccurate story and we do tend to believe if it is in the newspaper we can believe the “reporter” did check the facts before writing an article. This is not the case for this particular “reporter” and article (and by the way, no matter their personal feelings, shouldn’t a reporter do just that? report the facts without showing what they personally feel?)
    The truth is this, it is a very sad story that could have been told – as mentioned in the post before mine, the shelters version can be found at: No one “reported” those facts, nor did anyone print that the state was called in to investigate and found the shelter cleared of any wrong doing whatsoever. The sad fact is, because we tend to believe what is in the newspaper in front of us we do not question and ask for ourselves what happened. Please check out the link I mentioned and see for yourselves there is another side to this story.

  10. This story is unfortunate and sad. However, I’ve
    adopted from TLC, donate and have also
    known Dennis Jr and there is NO question
    in my mind if they are humane or caring within
    their shelter. There is an overpopulation
    problem. The writer on this piece is really not
    being objective or fair to the readers or TLC in my
    opinion. How about having the writer volunteer for a week at the shelter
    and then rewrite this article with and actual dual perspective?

  11. I’ve adopted from TLC, and have not been back. “Denny” seems to be more interested in cash than the animals welfare. My cat was in the vet 3 days after I adopted her. Within the first week, I paid over $500 to save her life. When I confronted Denny about her health, he told me to bring her back and he’ll give me another. Are you kidding? We were attached the minute we walked out the door. I found out she had come in as a stray 2 days prior, never was evaluated by a vet. I know others that ave had similar situations. I volunteer for a rescue, and ALL of our dogs are fully vetted, fixed, microchipped before they go to their new homes.

  12. I agree. You can’t always believe what you read in the paper. Also, when adopting from a shelter, I feel you should be prepared for anything. Animals that are rescued come from very unpredictable situations. Some of the places that they are rescued from, most people couldn’t stomach. I think that whenever you decide to adopt, you should be prepared to do your part and take responsibility at that point on. Your new family member is going to cost you an initial vet visit and some treatment at the very least. You should adopt on a day when you have the time to go directly to the vet. Never bring your new family member home to start acquainting them with other animals, until they have been checked out and given the all clear from your vet. I would never bring my new adopted member back to the shelter he/she was just freed from. Think of the emotional roller coaster that must have been for Ollie, after he thought he was going to a new home. Once you relinquish them to a shelter, they are no longer yours. From what I have heard and seen, TLC has been a very responsible shelter and I can’t believe that they would have made that decision lightly. While I believe that euthanasia should be the absolute last resort, and I do feel that it is conducted much too often, I also believe that once you decide to adopt an animal, you must commit to everything that animal will bring into your life. Good and bad. Expensive or not. If you can’t commit to that, then you shouldn’t adopt.

  13. You need to do your research before you adopt a pet. I recently adopted a puppy from TLC, and I knew that she had just recently come to the shelter. They get puppies from puppy mills down south, Tennessee, Kentucky, etc…it says right on the cages where the puppies are from. They know nothing about the dogs, and they tell you that up front. My puppy had worms (as most shelter puppies do), but other than that she was pretty healthy. There is no process or forms to fill out, they don’t do a home check, you go in, see an animal you want, pay and off you go. I believe they (the owners) have good intentions, but this shelter needs a good cleaning, and more staff that can sit down with you and listen and speak with you about the animals. I did feel rushed to make a decision and could barely hear the answers to the questions I was asking, due to the amount of noise & barking going on. It is a family business (yes business, so it is a money game, the more they get in the more they can sell) however I do feel that CUSTOMER SERVICE IS SERIOUSLY LACKING. I would recommend going during the week (hard to do with their limited hours, but worth it if you can) and AVOID going on a Saturday if possible. It is crowded, new animals are just arriving and it is mass chaos. All in all I am happy with our puppy and glad we have her. I think TLC is run by animal lovers, just not sure they are all qualified to be running a business.

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way, but you’re VERY mistaken about TLC. They are a not for profit, not a “business ” out to make money. They charge barely enough to adopt the animals to keep themselves going. You mentioned that people should do research. ..if you research TLC you’ll see they have been doing a wonderful service as a not for profit for over 40 years, so I’d say they absolutely know what they’re doing. They also have been doing this long enough to be very good at judging peoples character for adoptions. As for home visits, I don’t know of many shelters, humane societies, etc that have the resources for those. They need to rely on their judgment of character. I’m also sorry you felt rushed. That’s never their intention. Why, just last Saturday I was visiting and there was a family there for hours taking different pups into the get to know you room. There was another family that stayed way past closing time. The last thing TLC wants is for anyone to make a rush decision about adoption. Yes, Saturday can be an extremely busy day, as each Saturday at least one or more transports of animal that have been saved from being put down, sometimes saved by mere moments by TLC, arrive. It can be noisy. I assure you, however, it is exceptionally clean. Perhaps it’s the somewhat dated decor that made you feel it wasn’t so clean. TLC doesn’t waste it’s limited budget on niceties like decor. They do, however, clean throughout the day the floors, the crates, the kennels. I promise you that cleanliness is very important. Sometimes when these new transport animals come it is they who may have a bit of potty smell, but remember that they have just been saved from some deplorable conditions, including death. I’m very glad you’ve got a new furry friend and hope you’ll take some of what I’ve said to heart. Remember, lots of us may have ideas on how to build a better mousetrap, very few of us actually have the dedication and passion to actually do it. I, for one, am humbled by TLC’s compassion for and dedication to the four legged creatures of our world. Thank you.

      1. You are most certainly educated on EXACTLY what goes on there. How long have you been employed at or have run TLC?

  14. If you look at the date of the posts with the links they were posted 5 years ago. Unfortunately they no longer work. I don’t know much about web pages but do know that sometimes links stop being there. Had you read it then, the shelter gives the complete story, not bits and pieces, of this sad, sick pup. No, I do not work for, nor do I own, this amazing shelter. These fine folks have been putting their hearts and souls into finding desperate animals their second chance at a loving home for over 40 years. Tirelessly and without concerns for thanks. Not many people have the strength in their hearts to do what TLC does.

  15. I am in the process of trying to adopt a dog and went to TLC with the intention of adopting one of six dogs featured on their website. To my surprise all had been adopted. I thought “great for them oh well for me and my family”. While there I spent about 20 or so minuets looking around the shelter and all seamed quite good. Animals were all clean, cages were clean, as well as their food and water bolls. The staff including Dennis was friendly and polite. I am looking at animals at other no kill shelters as well, so I may or may not adopt from TLC, but I would not hesitate to adopt a pet from them. People need to understand adopting a pet from a rescue shelter is at minimum a somewhat a toss of the dice, these are not pure bread animals from professional breeders or stores like “Petco” These are animals for lack of a better term for what ever reason(s) no one wants and are not of the type of pedigree animals that make them valuable beyond pure companionship and are otherwise of little monetary worth, that’s why few full blooded AKC registered German Shepherds puppies or similar pedigree animals ever end up in shelters in need of adoption. In short people need to understand they must have realistic expectations when adopting a animal form such shelters, these are imperfect precious animals in search of a home that if they were of a recognizable AKC pedigree, I doubt they would be in a shelter. I am of the strong belief that the people of TLC do as good a job as they can, other wise they would have never lasted for over two decades in the same location. Think about this statistical fact, TLC has been in the same location doing the same thing for over 20 years, if they were as bad as some would have you believe there IS NO WAY on earth their reviews would be averaging in the mid to high 90 percentile, it simply not possible. Are there going to be people unsatisfied with their pet and or adoption?, yes as nothing or no one or no system is perfect. But the reviews I read of TLC ran 90-96% 4 or 5 star, I’d like to see that high a rating with any other for profit business let alone a non for profit one.

    1. Well, A.R., if you’re fine with the idea that the pet you adopt will never be yours legally, then by all means, go to TLC.

      But I really would like you to consider what you’re thinking about shelter pets.

      You wrote – “People need to understand adopting a pet from a rescue shelter is at minimum a somewhat a toss of the dice, these are not pure bread animals from professional breeders or stores like “Petco”

      First of all, Petco’s pets, except for the pocket pets, ARE all from shelters and rescue groups. And secondly, there is absolutely no way to know whether or not the dog you’re getting from the shelter is from a “professional breeder” or not. I can tell you that many shelters end up with mill dogs – are those “professionally bred”? I can tell you that they were intentionally bred, anyway.

      A shelter dog is a dog. And EVERY dog is an individual. Saying that they are in shelters because “nobody wants them” is ridiculous – if nobody wanted them, they would never get adopted! Animals end up in shelters for all kinds of reasons – illness in the family, death in the family, financial hardship, etc. But let me be real clear on this – animals enter shelters because of HUMAN failings, not the animals’ failings. And just because some animals end up in the shelter because SOMEONE didn’t want them, doesn’t mean that they are “unwanted”. It just means that one human being on this planet didn’t want or couldn’t care for that one animal. That’s all.

      And yes, purebred GSD puppies end up in shelters. It happens (and I recall that one guy who was shooting his GSD puppies in the back yard before someone stopped him – they didn’t get to him soon enough to save the first ones he killed, but they saved a few – he was having trouble selling them and figured that shooting them was a good idea). Do they get adopted out quickly? Yes, they do (most puppies do, in fact). It’s a highly recognizable breed that a lot of people like. Unfortunately, it’s also a breed that not everyone is suited for – which is why you can find any number of ADULT GSDs in shelters and rescue groups.

      You wrote – “I am of the strong belief that the people of TLC do as good a job as they can”

      And for this, I have to ask you if killing a dog because he had a wonky leg is “as good a job as they can do”? If the leg was truly bad, why not amputate? Why kill an otherwise completely healthy dog? What kind of people do that? And how many other dogs/puppies are they killing for superficial flaws before they even hit the adoption floor? Would a one-eyed puppy get killed? How about a blind puppy? Deaf? What meets their criteria of surviving?

      Look, if you really want a GSD puppy, go to a reputable breeder who will offer you a health guarantee and a lifetime take back policy (which is what responsible breeders do). But know that if you go that route, you may not get a perfect puppy. You may get a puppy with personality quirks or physical issues or temperament issues. You know why? Because all dogs are individuals. And dogs from excellent breeders are no different – they’re INDIVIDUALS.

      If you’re still open to adoption, please take a good, hard look at your thought process about these animals. You don’t need a perfect dog, just a dog who is perfect for you. And what suits one person won’t suit another. And the animal that one person brought to the shelter because it wasn’t working for them might be an excellent dog for you.

      And if you adopt from TLC, you’re working with people who killed an owned and loved dog because he had a wonky leg. But hey, that’s your choice.

  16. I purchased my puppy from TLC Animal HOSPITAL/SHELTER. My dog was my LIFE!! When I adopted her, she was EXTREMELY SICK. They were the ones who had her. They had me sign papers and I had to PAY THEM FOR HER TO GET BETTER!! I just felt like they WANTED HER SICK, so I’d HAVE TO TAKE HER BACK FOR CARE & THEY WOULD MAKE EVEN MORE OF A PROFIT!! I’m appalled by their actions then, and THIS NOW?!! IM SICK TO MY STOMACH!!

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