The Alabama 44: This is Not a Rescue

An update on the Alabama 44.

Status:  Alive (29 dogs)

10 dogs at PAWS Atlanta in GA – Laura has been keeping me updated which I really appreciate.  Morgan, Grandin, Cora (now Sari), Imogen and Driscol have been adopted.   The other 5 dogs are listed for adoption on their website.

1 dog at Humane Society of Etowah Co, AL –  Ben is available for adoption

3 dogs at Bliss Animal Haven in Loganville, GA – 1 already adopted, Trevor and Quinn available for adoption

3 dogs at New Leash on Life in Wilson Co, TN – all have been adopted

3 dogs transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC to Humane Society of Charlotte.  Bear Bear and Chow Phat have been adopted.  Chester is not currently on the website because the shelter is working to get him ready for adoption.  His listing will be put back on the site as soon as he’s ready.  Merry’s litter of five pups, born in foster care, will be available for adoption in future although due to health issues, one is going to stay with the foster owner indefinitely.  (See below for info on Merry.)

2 dogs transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services to Charlotte-Mecklenburg shelter in NC.  Their kill rate is about 65%.  Both dogs listed on Char-Meck’s site – Daisy (ID#A0797513) and Markus (ID#A0797514 ).  I called “311″ for Char-Meck Co on February 6 and was told both dogs were still there, still unavailable for adoption and still kenneled in “DDTF” – Dangerous Dogs Task Force, which is basically an isolation ward.

7 dogs left at the Nashville Humane Association in TN – 1 was adopted, per the attorney for Nashville Humane and 6 others were sent to a prison program with the goal of adopting them out eventually, per the attorney for Nashville Humane.

Status:  Lost (2 dogs)

1 dog – Merry – transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC to Humane Society of Charlotte, escaped from her foster owner in January 2011.

1 dog lost in TN.  Kendall escaped from her New Leash on Life foster home in December 2010 and hasn’t been found.

Status: Confirmed or Presumed Dead (13 dogs)

4 dogs at Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC – Murray, Harry, Buddy and dog #38805 were put in the gas chamber on 12-13-10.  Confirmed.

3 puppies at Humane Society of Etowah Co in AL – 2 of the pups were less than 10 weeks old and came in very sick.  Parvo was suspected and both were euthanized very soon after arrival.  They were the youngest of the group of 44 and the only 2 who appeared to be sick.  Jeri was at the shelter until February 28, 2011 when she was killed to free up space for a dog deemed more adoptable.  The shelter had made efforts to socialize Jeri but she continued to be fearful of people.  Confirmed.

3 dogs left at the Nashville Humane Association in TN.  Per their attorney, evaluations of the dogs determined “that these three were not candidates for eventual adoption”.  Confirmed.

3 dogs remain unaccounted for and, although I’m still looking for them, I am presuming they were killed since HSUS refuses to say what happened to them despite numerous inquiries.  If any rescue group or shelter has (or had) these three dogs and would like to share information about them, I am more than happy to correct the record accordingly.  Presumed.


There is no way anyone can convince me these 13 (10 confirmed and 3 presumed) dead dogs are better off now than they were at their home.  Why did HSUS send these dogs, which they knew had special needs, to places that don’t have the resources to provide the kind of care they obviously needed?  There was no pressing need to remove these dogs swiftly and secretly.  They could have been sheltered in place until appropriate arrangements were made for their care.

This is not a rescue.  HSUS can try to evade questions and spin things to their advantage as they fundraise off their supposed good rescue works but the truth will out.  Next time you see a press release from HSUS touting their “rescue” of a large number of dogs, remember the Alabama 44.  And the Wilkes Co Pitbulls.  And the 265 dogs illegally seized in SD.

We are the real humane society – small h, small s.  Join us.

Rest in peace Jeri. I’m sorry the HSUS “rescued” you.

28 thoughts on “The Alabama 44: This is Not a Rescue

  1. I am SO glad that you have kept up with these dogs as best you could and have kept us updated on them. BUT why hasn’t any of the news media picked up on this story. Or have I just not seen anything about this yet? I am not talking about the original “rescue” but the news about what happens to HSUS rescued animals in the long run. Have you sent out any press releases about it? More people need to know, not just the pet rescue community, but the general public that is helping feed the HSUS with their generous donations.

    I really don’t have a very high option of news reporters anymore since so many seem to fail to ask the hard questions that frequently pop up in my mind when I read stories about animals in need. No wonder more and more people are turning to other avenues for the news.

    1. I haven’t sent out any press releases Joni – I can barely keep up with the blog! ; ) Anyone who wants to send the information to their local media outlets is welcome to do so.


    200 more in “shelter” with the HSUS that could have been sheltered in place.. interestingly enough these dogs were viewed for three weeks ( according to “rescuers) before they were seized at 7:30 AM.. yes that’s right the time of day when the worst photos can be taken.. and when the owner is least expecting many of us if you have runs have them clean by 7:30 AM from the night before..
    also read the article.. dogs were sitting in empty cages.. pretty neat trick huuh??
    This is a case where the dogs had plenty of space.. the owner needed HELP.. was help forthcoming.. sure it was.. in the fom of seizure and debasing and criminal charges.. now that is really ‘Helping” both man and beast.. NOT

    thanks for keeping us up to date on the 44.. sadly I fear more will be killed from this raid..

  3. Shirley – As much as I know you hated to report this – thank you for staying with the story. We are forever indebted to you for keeping on top of it, especially with all the roadblocks you have encountered along the way.

    As for the pups that they ‘thought’ had parvo: do they not test for it prior to killing them?

    As for Jeri – that REALLY sucks….IF they had made known that they had her and that her time was ‘up’ something could have been done to save her. She might have done better with a rescue – in fact I am sure she would have done better at a rescue. RIP Jeri.

    As for Daisy & Markus – since they have had them this long and are still unable to put them up for adoption wouldn’t it be time to look at a rescue pulling them and working on them in a better environment? They have been in the “DDTF” for far too long and I fear if they remain there much longer they will be killed. Or maybe they could be tranferred to one of the other shelters that has had better results at getting the dogs adopted?

    1. To my knowledge, no testing was performed on the pups prior to killing.

      I too wish we would have know about Jeri being on the kill list. I would have advocated for her to try and save her life.

      Daisy and Markus – assuming they are like the others and were scared and in need of socialization – couldn’t possibly be in a worse place than an iso ward at a kill shelter. If they needed help before, I can only imagine what kind of help they need now, after all this time. I hope HSUS and/or Char-Meck ACC releases them immediately.

      1. Re: Daisy & Markus – I think you & I share the same concerns about Daisy & Markus. I don’t know how Char-Meck handles their rescue pulls….will they release the dogs that are in the “DDTF” area to rescues? Does anyone know???

  4. Where did all of the animals come from? Owner Surrenders? This person needed help not condemnation. If you ran a shelter you’d find it hard to turn down the hundreds of phone calls a day you get of pets people want to drown/throw on the highway/etc.

    This is not the only person that should of been held accountable. Those pets came from somewhere.

  5. It seems “raids” are big business these days. There have been a lot of raids around Houston lately that I think are questionable. The last was 300 animals seized in Gatesville, then shipped 200 miles to the Houston SPCA–a shelter with a 65% kill rate. The HSPCA was recently awarded $130,000 for the “care” of these animals. It’s a big $$ business.

    BTW: When people expressed concern for these confiscated animals on the Houston SPCA’s Facebook page, many comments were deleted. Apparently, they feel that citizens/donors don’t have a right to be concerned.

    1. Who/what awarded $130,000 for the “care” of these animals ?? Where did the money come from?

      1. I’ve been keeping close tabs on the dogs in this case — Rottweilers, and very fecund Rottweilers — 14 litters born in foster last I checked.

        I’m one of the people who posted on the HSPCA FB page. My comments and their replies are still there, as are some other comments on these dogs. They know they are being watched. These dogs aren’t part of the “general population” at the SPCA, but are in runs in an emergency shelter.

        The breed club has stepped up for these dogs. They will be in charge of evaluations and placements. The evaluations WILL NOT be the “poke ’em ’til they bite” variety.

        I’ve been in contact by phone and email with some of the Rottie people, and they have their heads screwed on straight and are proceeding to attend to the best interests of the dogs.

        While I share concerns about this SPCA’s practices, I really would like to know under what circumstances two people could provide even minimally adequate care to over 200 dogs, plus exotic big cats and other high-needs animals.

        This is not a case of a couple who just wuvved their pets and got in over their heads. This was an *enormous* puppymill. These dogs were the victims of criminal cruelty in the pursuit of profit.

      2. People are worried for any dogs in the “care” of Houston SPCA because of cases such as this one where they rescue-killed 187 dogs w/out a single evaluation.

      3. The court that decided that the HSPCA should get custody, awarded the HSPCA $130,000 for their care. A couple other agencies got a little money. I believe the total awarded was about $145,000. I believe that the former owners will have to pay the award.

      4. Thank you YesBiscuit. This is exactly why we are worried. In addition, regarding that dog fighting raid, a woman told me that she thought that her dog had been stolen and may have been with those dogs. She begged the HSPCA to let her look at the confiscated dogs to see if her dog was among those confiscated. They refused.

        Also, I have talked to former employees and volunteers who have told me that the HSPCA has killed other animals that have been seized in raids because they had heartworms, skin conditions or upper respiratory infections. ALL of them killed. People have told me that the occupants of an entire cat room have been killed because someone walked through the room holding a cat with FIV or FELV. We are worried because some of us have heard that the HSPCA does not adopt out Rottweilers, and as with Pitties, kills them all. We are worried because a former HSPCA foster parent was told to bring back the Pittie she was fostering so he/she could be killed. Apparently, this Pittie had been featured on the Animal Cops show and when they were done with the show, they planned on killing the dog. (She refused to return the dog).

        Houlahan, I am very glad that you are keeping up with these animals and I am very glad that you posted comments on their Facebook page. I think more comments will help keep these animals alive. However, I won’t be relieved until every one of the animals is out of the HSPCA and in the hands of fosters & rescue groups. Even though I think the rescue groups have good intentions, the animals aren’t in their hands yet.

        Also, I’ve read & seen interviews with neighbors and employees of the Gateville couple that was raided and it appears that they did have help. It wasn’t just 2 of them. I’ve also seen pictures of the dogs, horses and other animals and all seemed well nourished. I’m not completely convinced that a raid was necessary. I think if the HSPCA was truly concerned for these animals, they could have offered to help these people instead of swooping in, confiscating these animals and trucking them 200 miles.

  6. Shirley, thanks for keeping us all up on these babies. Now, can someone please pass me the barf bucket…because this makes me so sick…where are the people who really care about the animals? Because they certainly aren’t part of HSUS or ASPCA. Krikeys! Can’t write any more I am so mad.

  7. I think it’s completely reasonable to presume that those last three dogs are indeed dead and have been for some time – perhaps very shortly after they went wherever they went.

    HSUS’s responses on this whole thing are very telling – they don’t care what happens to dogs after they’re “saved”. They’re there for the big save, the news crews, the donations, and then they’re done.

    It would be nice to see Daisy and Markus get some movement on their case. Do we know why they’re still in limbo?

    1. I have no idea why Daisy and Markus are still in jail. Their only real hope to my mind is immediate release to the hands of someone (or someoneS) qualified to take on their special needs. I can’t imagine that whatever fear issues they came in with haven’t been made worse by this extended time in the iso ward. Stress overload.

  8. Your post says, “per the atty at Nashville Humane”. Did they produce the records you requested? Or did you get a letter/phone call from the atty?

    1. No Mary, they did not produce the records nor did they provide any information about the dogs. Their attorney sent out a letter to people who inquired and that’s where I got this information. The letter states that Nashville Humane is not subject to open records requests.

      1. WHAT? I thought Nashville Humane was a publicly funded shelter? I checked their website and there is no mention of records AT ALL….something that I did see that just kind of *shocked* me is that their mission is: “…committed to finding responsible homes, controlling pet overpopulation, and promoting the humane treatment of animals.” They have a ton of programs, say they are a ‘low-kill’ shelter, and do a LOT of ‘stuff’ that looks great when you check them out online, but after following the story of the AL 44 and their inability to share info (and lack of transparency..nowhere on their site did I find info on how many animals are taken in per year, or what their euth rates are…. Something that is worth noting is that the prison program where the attorney says that 6 of the dogs were sent is a 6 week long program. Do we know WHEN they were sent? Because it seems as if it’s been longer than 6 weeks, so you would think the dogs would be back at the shelter and ready for adoption by now.

      2. The dogs have been in NH’s care for about 3 months. IDK when they were sent. Should we try asking NH for that information? Um – Ha, ha.

        Added: Their shelter is not publicly funded although according to their 990s, they have received some govt money which MAY make them subject to open records laws. IMO any animal shelter or rescue group who has nothing to hide should be completely transparent in order to make donors feel confident about their donations and just because it’s the right thing to do. Everyone else should follow the HSUS model of evade, bob & weave.

      3. Well, it appears that Nashville Humane is doing just that (evade, bob & weave) – maybe they’ve been working with HSUS too long. Maybe I’ll take a stab at trying to contact them and see if they’ll tell me something…may turn up with nothing, but when I get a moment I will give it a try.

  9. I feel partially responsible for Jeri and it makes me sick. I called the local ACO last week on another matter (the one who did not know that HSUS had been in his backyard until I asked him about it). He said he thought it was possible the dogs held in Etowah County might not be kept long-term. I waited until this week to call for their status and learned that Jeri was gone. I should have called last week and implored them to hold her. I had no idea that this “humane society” would be so cavalier in deciding her fate. It did not even occur to me this could happen. When I talked to the shelter director weeks ago to confirm how many dogs she had, there was no mention at all that both dogs might be subject to the E list.

    I’m so sorry, Jeri. You deserved more from all of us.

    1. Brie…you could’ve never known and even if you had called there is no guarantee they would have worked with you, or even shared the info with you. From what Shirley put in the post it almost sounds like it was a last minute decision. You tried and that’s what counts.

    2. Absolutely not your fault Brie. It didn’t occur to any of us that Jeri would suddenly be killed for space. Thank you for trying to help her and Ben.

  10. This e-mail exchange was forwarded to me and I’m posting it here in the interest of transparency. Make of it what you will.

    Subject: RE: possible adopter
    Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 12:32:32 -0600

    We did not have to euthanize any of the 20 dogs we received but they have been adopted. Thanks for your interest! Sherrie

    —–Original Message—–
    Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:09 PM
    To: Sherrie Bellin
    Subject: possible adopter

    Hi Sherrie.

    I just read online about a hoarding case from Alabama and I heard that Nashville Humane received 10 of those poor neglected dogs. I have some experience with a dog with a similar background, and was wondering if any of the dogs were still available for adoption? I realize that it has probably been a while since you got the dogs (I hate that I just read about the situation) but thought I would check. I hope I’m not too late or that at least they were all adopted and not euthanized.


    1. Seriously? So they aren’t transparent, they don’t release records…and we can now add flat out lying to the list. Isn’t there something that can be done to verify anything that they say/do? I admit to not be very savy when it comes to searching for shelter records – as most of the shelters I deal with around me list their info directly on their website. It amazes me that any shelter would handle things like this and get away with it. Maybe we need to get the media re-interested in this story?

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