Piles of Dead Kittens=The Only Solution

I think we can all appreciate the frustrations of a shelter director seeing “a record number of dropoffs” in a two day period.  This was the challenge facing the director of the Marshall County Animal Shelter in West Virginia last week when at least 41 kittens were brought to the shelter in 2 days.  Time to dig deep into your reserves, think outside the box and recruit the public for assistance in saving lives.  Or:

“The only solution I have at this point is I have to euthanize to make room for incoming cats,” said Cindy Brautigan, director of the Marshall County Animal Shelter.

And so, with that mindset, it’s not surprising a media opportunity with the local news was squandered and begins thusly:

Dozens of kittens will be euthanized in Marshall County on Friday night[…]

Ms. Brautigan apparently feels justified in killing kittens:

Brautigan said the county has low-cost options to prevent homeless animals, but it’s up to the community to take advantage of the resources.

The shelter will spay or neuter a cat for just $10-$15, so she said there’s no reason for people to be irresponsible.

“There’s no excuse.”

There’s no excuse.  Hmm.  Do people in the community know about these low cost cat neuter services?  Or are media opportunities to promote the services squandered, as illustrated above?  Or maybe the public doesn’t want to bring their cats to this shelter for fear of being judged harshly.  And does the shelter have a strong TNR program in place?

She said many of the kittens came from people who don’t want them to be euthanized, so they dropped them off at the shelter under the impression there’s a no-kill policy there.

Gee, that doesn’t sound irresponsible to me.  On the contrary, it sounds compassionate – as if these people want to do the right thing.  Perhaps they could benefit from education and public outreach on the part of the shelter.  Less judgment, more understanding.

“We do not turn anyone away ever, because horrible things happen to them when you turn them away.”

Please define “horrible things”.  From where I sit, getting the local news to report on your Friday night kitten killing spree is about as bad as it gets.  I wonder how many people seeing that story will be inclined to go to the shelter with a litter of homeless kittens or an intact mama cat for spaying now?

Come on.  We’re not talking about 41 cats over the age of 13 with missing eyes and chronic health problems.  These are kittens!  You get the local TV news out there and you put the kittens in a basket with brightly colored yarn and a gigantic FREE sign.  You let the public know there’s a sale on kittens this weekend with prices so low, you’re practically giving them away – in fact, you are giving them away!  They’ve all been examined by a vet and had their first shots.  You hold up li’l Tigger to the camera and let him wriggle his nose at the lens.  You let kittens crawl on your shoulders and lick your neck and bite your hair while encouraging the public to come on down because the price is right!

This isn’t rocket science.  Waiving adoption fees in times of crisis gets pets adopted.  And it creates a positive image in the community’s mind about the shelter.  It gives the shelter an opportunity to advertise their low cost spay-neuter services and encourage responsible pet ownership.  Plus who knows, maybe someone will see another shelter pet while there that they fall in love with and want to adopt too.

Instead, we have a shelter director who sees only one solution:  kitten killing.  And she gets on the local news to advertise it and scold the public for being irresponsible to boot.  I’m giving a grade of “F” for Imagination.

18 thoughts on “Piles of Dead Kittens=The Only Solution

  1. Why the HELL do people like this even go INTO shelter management? The shelter I work with in KY has space for around 35-40 cats. Right now, including a couple dozen fosters, they have OVER 200.. and yet, they aren’t euthanizing them! They are on Facebook, on Petfinder, working with out of state rescues, and saving cats and kittens. They’ve had adopters from as far away as Florida and Seattle, in addition to Iowa, and all up and down the Eastern seaboard. It is NOT THAT HARD to save these animals! (Okay it is, but it is very doable!)

  2. Give each one a story, give each litter an adorable name, point out cute markings, “favorite” toys, get some photos of kittens being kittenish, etc. Put some freaking effort into it, people! Or maybe that’s the problem…it would take some effort to get them adopted. Much easier just to kill them. And blame someone else for what you just did.

  3. My gosh. In the time it took her to respond to the media, we could have had them all adopted out – while simultaneously informing the public about the benefits of spay/neuter and the low cost options in the process. Two bucks says the county thinks she’s doing a great job and they’re so thankful she’s willing to do the killing since the public is so irresponsible.

    If you know anyone within 100 miles of this place, spread the word. Marshall County must be told that this was unncessary and that she is not the answer to the taxpayers’ inability to be compassionate. She’s the problem. Not the public.

  4. Not that i agree with this result in any way, but some thoughts i had while reading the post:

    Do we know how old the kittens are? I think the assumption is adoptable age, but there’s just as much likelihood that the kittens are 1-7weeks old. And adopting kittens under 6 weeks of age seems pretty unreasonable- kittens typically have to be 1.5# to be sterilized.

    Free or low cost adoptions is an obvious solution if they can get the kittens ready to go before the problems with overcrowding goes into effect.

    Again, not saying they’re making the right choice, just some thoughts i had.

    A commenter up above said something about adding stories to the kittens. interesting anecdote:
    our shelter surveyed over 2000 people about what they were looking for in a cat. We asked previous adopters, potential adopters, people who had never used our services before, etc. The #1 priority was good temperament/behavior. the #2 was good health. The lowest priority was that the animal have a ‘good story’ behind it. Which was suprising to us to hear- we had always assumed if you get really great info about an animal and share their heartbreaking circumstances, that it would help them get adopted more quickly. Turns out being a great cat is more important.

    1. Anne, I didn’t read anything in the article that led me to believe these were orphaned kittens requiring bottle feeding. I assume if that was the case, the quote would have been more along the lines of “We don’t have the manpower to bottle feed 41 kittens every 4 hours for several weeks so we’re killing them Friday night.” Instead, the quote referenced making room for more.

      I would still object vociferously to the needless killing of healthy/treatable kittens, even if they were nursing. This is why shelters have foster programs in place – so that when kittens arrive in droves, as they always seem to, those in need of bottle feeding can be fostered at least until they can be weaned onto solid food.

      I can’t say with any certainty what the age of these kittens is/was. But I think that whatever their ages, the problem remains the same – failure of the director to reach out to the public for help in saving lives but instead, killing the kittens and blaming the public for being irresponsible.

      I have tried e-mailing the shelter but received no response. If I do receive one, I’ll update with any new info.

      1. It was only when we adopted our most recent two kittens that we learned about the fostering of bottle babies. The foster mother who cared for our kittens nursed them through URI, giardia, and general weakness — they had been found only a few days old and turned in to a no-kill rescue (with a tiny shelter) that assigned them to the foster mother. We can’t imagine life without them and were horrified to learn that very young kittens are often killed at shelters. It’s wrong to kill cats of any age, IMO.

        Where putting the word out to the public is concerned, that same rescue is currently running a very imaginative “used-car-style” adoption campaign on their website:


        Realistic about why returns are up, with no judgment of anybody. It would have been great if Cindy Brautigan had thought along these lines.

      2. I agree – and why not get a former or current foster parent from the community willing to train foster parents, if bottle feeding is the issue.

    2. “The #1 priority was good temperament/behavior. the #2 was good health. The lowest priority was that the animal have a ‘good story’ behind it. ”

      Of course they don’t adopt for “the story” (although some will – especially if it’s unusual and documented), but great photos, cute names, and a story to flesh them out (“My name is Janie! And I may look like just a plain jane tabby girl, but I’m so full of fun, I’ll keep you laughing with my playtime antics. I don’t need fancy toys – a bit of crumpled paper and someone to toss it for me and we’re good to go!”)

  5. Cindy Brautigan,

    Would YOU like to be ‘euthanized’?

    After all, there IS a human overpopulation problem, unlike the pet overpopulation myth.

    Someone please contact Nathan Winograd and tell him to teach this girl how to run a shelter/how to grow a heart.

    Have these ‘shelter’ director dumbasses ever heard of THE NO KILL EQUATION!

    “When studying the traits of the so called “lower animals” and the traits of humans, I find the results humiliating to me. I think Darwin had it backwards…humans did not ascend from the lower animals….humans did, in fact descend from the higher animals”
    — Mark Twain

  6. You can make up the “good story.” Seriously. You can even say you’re making it up. “We don’t know how Fluffy developed her mysterious attraction for playing fetch, learned that yowl she makes when she watches squirrels on Kitty TV, or gained her fascination with acorns (really!). We think she was a Golden Retriever in a past life. All we know for sure is if you take her home, she’s guaranteed to keep you laughing for years to come.”

    (I used to write ads for pets for the SPCA.)

    1. Exactly. The goal is to get people interested and thinking in the direction of taking an animal home! Unless you’re the Director of the Marshall County Animal Shelter, of course. Then you don’t have to do a damn thing other than blame the irresponsible public and kill kittens, which is SO much easier as long as you have no soul…

  7. Man there is just no excuse for this at all. I bet we could get contact information for her and explain it all to her.

    @Anne – if the kittens are that young, I wonder how she can blame anyone at all. If they are 1 week old they could be feral kittens that someone has found and brought in. At any rate you can’t make irresponsible people responsible no matter how much you blame them.

    1. i agree- you can’t make people do anything they don’t want to. all you can do is offer resources and education and hope they make the right decisions. And then be there for those who won’t, without judgement or blame

  8. It’s weird how this woman doesn’t even consider that these kittens might come from strays… who don’t HAVE owners to S/N them.

  9. It is called FOSTER HOMES for the kittens until forever homes can be found.

    It is actually a positive step that people in WV are taking kittens to a shelter, because so many end up killed or thrown in creeks and rivers. Hopefully the “old” way of doing things there is on the way out.

    Sad thing is… there aren’t enough homes anywhere for all the animals in shelters. Education is the key in this area… convincing people to start spaying and neutering.

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