Healthy and Treatable Cats Killed by “Humane Society” in TX

Dina Garcia’s family was providing care for 2 mama cats and 10 kittens who were living near their place of residence in Texas.  Their landlord asked the family to remove them from the property.  Mrs. Garcia asked friends if they would like to have a cat but some already had cats and others were allergic.  She let teachers at her son’s school know about the cats in need of homes too.  Ultimately, she was unsuccessful in placing any of the cats and didn’t want the population to grow out of control so earlier this month, she took them to a local shelter she was familiar with via its advertising.

“I wanted them to have a home,” she said.

When she arrived at the Harlingen Humane Society, the staff met her and her husband in the parking lot.  They never went inside.

“The people looked like they were bothered.  They asked 3 times for a donation.”  She explained that she was not in a position to make a donation at that time but would make one after her husband got paid later in the week.

One of the mama cats scratched a staff member and ran away.  (I guess it’s not such a good idea to take pets from people in your parking lot after all.)  The staff took the remaining cats and advised Mr. and Mrs. Garcia that they would only be given 3 days before they were killed.  The Garcias were very upset but did not know what else to do at the moment so drove home.

Mrs. Garcia called her sister in Austin as she was very distraught.  Her sister made some calls and found a local shelter willing to accept the cats for rehoming.  The Garcias called the Harlingen Humane Society to ask if they could pick up the cats they had dropped off a few hours earlier.  They were advised that all 11 cats had been killed because 3 of the kittens had eye infections.  The Garcias were extremely upset.

Mrs. Garcia explained that she had taken them to the shelter because she thought they would be vaccinated and adopted out – not killed.

“It’s supposed to be a humane society,” she said.

I contacted Frank Quinones, the Shelter Manager at HHS to ask about the incident.  He replied as follows:

I did speak to the gentleman that dropped the cats and kittens off. I did inform him that they had been euthanized. When they signed over the cats and kittens as the owners earlier in the day they were advised that the outcome could be euthanasia. They signed the card and left them here anyway. They didn’t say they would be back and if they did they would have been advised to keep them.We have a high volume of intake and not a lot of space. Unfortunately we could not keep them. Several of the kittens had eye infections and we do not have a vet on staff nor the resources to cure them. We do not have many foster homes for cats. Maybe 2. Even I took a kitten home to bottle feed 2 weeks ago. Several of our kennels would have to have been opened meaning that healthy adoptable cats would have to be euthanized. It is a hard decision to make but it was made. We face these kind of decisions every day. There aren’t a lot of resources in this area and people continue to allow their cats to breed and when the kittens are to much to handle they bring them here along with their mothers. We opened a low cost spay/neuter clinic in April last year and we are trying to get the word out about spaying and neutering. When someone brings in a litter and they will be keeping the mothers or fathers we let them know that we will take them but in return they need to fix their pet so that we don’t go through this a few times a year. It isn’t easy or something that we want to do and we don’t take any kind of pride in knowing that many of these pets are put to sleep.

I still had questions regarding the specifics of the story so I followed-up:

Who diagnosed the eye infections and how many kittens had them?  Why were the mother cat and the other kittens who didn’t have eye infections killed?

Mr. Quinones responded:

We do not have a vet on staff. 4 kittens had signs of eye infection and the choice was made for the entire group to be euthanized. As a public shelter those kinds of decisions are made daily. Owners and citizens surrendering pets are advised of this and are given the option to not drop them off at all. Many of them just leave it up to chance.

Since HHS has a low cost neuter clinic and is “trying to get the word out”, I asked Mrs. Garcia – who would obviously be in the target market – if anyone from the shelter had told her about the clinic.  She said they had not.  In fact, she was surprised to learn that there was a low cost neuter clinic in her area.

Mrs. Garcia told me that her 13 year old son is still looking out for the mama cat who escaped in the shelter’s parking lot, hoping she’ll return home.

27 thoughts on “Healthy and Treatable Cats Killed by “Humane Society” in TX

  1. Unfortunately this happens in the majority of shelters with cats. I assist three no-kill shelters in my area and during kitten season they routinely have to turn away 20-40 cats and kittens PER DAY. We also have multiple low or no cost spay/neuter clinics in the area but the public still will not consider the procedure for stray cats or their own cats. Illinois also has a feral cat program that assists people in this situation deal with controlling a cat population without euthansia. Perhaps Mrs. Garcia will be a champion of the low cost clinics in her area now? Mrs. Garcia didn’t have much of a choice but the shelter should not be blamed, their hands are tied in this kind of situation. In this case reality sucks.

    1. Do you TELL PEOPLE about the low-cost spay/neuter clinics?

      Mrs. Garcia made every effort to do the right thing for those cats.

      The shelter staff thought it was good idea to take custody of the cats in the parking lot rather than have her come into the shelter. Why?

      As a result of the shelter staff’s decision to take custody of the cats in the parking lot, one of the shelter staff members was scratched, and one of the mama cats escaped–in an area probably not familiar to her.

      None of the shelter staff bothered to tell Mrs. Garcia about the low-cost spay/neuter program. Why?

      Mrs. Garcia was told that the cats, if not adopted, would be killed after three days. Instead, all eleven were killed immediately–because three, or perhaps four, of the kittens had, allegedly, eye infections.

      Mrs. Garcia called the shelter again THE SAME DAY, because her sister had found a better alternative for the cats–and they were all, all eleven, already dead.

      How exactly do you figure the shelter “should not be blamed” for bad decisions, bad management of animals being surrendered, failure to provide information, and the fact that after telling Mrs. Garcia that the cats had three days, killing all eleven immediately because three, or maybe four, had (maybe) eye infections?

      1. Thank you for saying so well what I wanted to say. Sometimes the anger and frustration gets in my way!
        That “shelter” seems to be in the business of blaming everyone and everything, but not doing much to change things. Sadly, I’m sure this is the case in a lot of places.

      2. Yea, and you were way nicer than I would have been. I am so sorry for Mrs. Garcia and her family. If the shelter had a counselor for retention of animals, this would not have happened, most likely. May they all rest now at the Rainbow Bridge. Now, off to light another candle. SHITE!

  2. This sad story reinforces my suspicion that most people are better off placing kittens themselves than relying on a shelter to do it for them. Wonder if that shelter even bothers with off-site adoptions? The only disadvantage to finding homes for them yourself is you can’t guarantee they’ll get fixed unless you keep them long enough to take them to the spay/neuter clinic yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have one and know that it’s out there. Member of irresponsible public gets the gold star here for making an effort. Shelter flunks on all counts–caring, taking responsibility, communicating, trust, honesty, compassion, and common sense.

  3. Yes, the low cost spay/neuter clinics are well advertised in most of the shelters and also advertised in the newspapers, and on the radio. I agree that the shelter staff should not have accepted the animals in the parking lot.

    To Morgana and db:
    Even if Mrs. Garcia had taken the cats to a spay/neuter clinic it would not have solved her problem in that her landlord said she could not keep feeding the cats on the property. Retention by Mrs. Garcia was not an option.

    To those of you who have never worked or volunteered in a shelter perhaps you should so you could see exactly what they are up against every day. Not all shelters or shelter staff are bad.

    When a shelter gets in animals that have an obvious infection (and kitten eye infections can be very contagious), they have to be sure that the disease is not passed on to other animals in the shelter. The shelters are usually underfunded and vet bills are some of the their highest expenses. Many shelters do not have space set aside for animals that should be quarrantined so they have to decide if it is worth the risk of contaminating all the animals or euthanizing the infected animals. Not my choice but it is reality.

    The bottom line is that Mrs. Garcia was informed that the cats and kittens would be euthanized after three days if not adopted and she left them there anyway. If the shelter did not tell her at the time that the animals were at risk for euthanization due to the eye infections at the time of surrender then that was their mistake.

    1. Most of us here are very involved with rescues or volunteering at local shelters. I am no exception. I understand that it’s hard – too many animals, not enough space, not enough money, etc – but many communities are seeking creative solutions to those problems. And not so many animals are dying.
      Did the shelter staff attempt to find a foster for the kittens? We have sick/tiny cats and kittens in foster homes until they are well enough to be adopted. Have they attempted to create a quarantine or isolation area?
      I am very suspicious of this whole thing if nothing else than why they would not allow Mrs Garcia to enter the shelter but took the cats in the parking lot. Just what was it that they didn’t want her to see?

  4. The intake of animals in the parking lot is highly suspicious to me. What could be the reason for that?

    And I suspect that killing the moms and kittens was in the plan all along, but that’s bad for donations (which they seem to really, really want), so we don’t tell people that these cute little guys are going right into the dumpster.

  5. db,

    Maybe they did not allow her in the shelter because they noted the eye infections? I don’t know that any of us would or should make a total condemndation of this shelter until we know all the facts. They have a hard enough job as it is without us automatically pointing the blame finger.

    Instead of blaming, maybe the shelter could be sent links to successful programs that might help everyone and every animal involved? From the comments posted from the director this might be the right approach.

  6. Michele, maybe you could explain why eye infections in a few of the kittens–something they could not have known about until they actually met her outside in the parking lot and saw the kittens–would make it desirable for them to meet her in the parking lot and not let her inside. What you’re saying makes no sense; it doesn’t explain why they were outside to meet her in the first place, a fact which is downright weird unless there was something inside that they didn’t want her to see.

    The suspicion that they always intended to kill the mamas and babies immediately but hoped to get a donation out of her is hard to avoid–especially given that they asked three times about a donation, but couldn’t seem to find any time to mention the spay/neuter program, OR any other shelters or rescues that might be able to help.

  7. The cats and kittens could have been left outside while the woman filled out the paperwork. There are many available resources if anyone is interested in finding them.
    I understand that it’s hard, but if we continue to find “reasons” for why things are the way they are, then we are not looking for solutions.
    Those cats and kittens are dead and they won’t have a second chance at life. That’s serious, in my book, and perhaps could have been avoided.
    I’m not going to get into an argument with you about this. You sound as if you actually work for a shelter and this is hitting a little too close to home for comfort.

  8. Oh, and I did send a link to some resources that will help, IF they are really interested.

  9. db,

    “You sound as if you actually work for a shelter and this is hitting a little too close to home for comfort.”

    No, I do not work in a shelter and your comments, wether intended or not, are insulting. I have worked in rescue for over 30 years, have established a multi-state breed rescue and two foundations to assist rescued dogs. I also work to write and enact state legislation governing shelters, breeders and animal control facilities. I assist three no-kill shelters, multiple “kill” shelters and a wildlife rescue organization.

    When comments are made on this blog without all the information from both parties it can only lead to false conclusions. I am not absolving the shelter staff in this, I am trying to point out that we do not know all the facts, none of us was there, so we don’t know enough to point the finger of blame. Posters keep mentioning the low cost spay/neuter clinic when the story plainly states that Mrs. Garcia would not have been allowed to keep the cats regardless if they were altered or not.

    None of us knows how much time the family put into researching other possibilities for these cats other than asking family and friends to take them. Neither do any of us know the budget, space or intake numbers of this shelter.

    As for meeting them in the parking lot, does anyone know if that is their policy? It is with some shelters so that any chance of a contagious disease can be minimized.

    I do not and have not seen evidence that the majority of shelter staff around the country get up every morning hoping to be able to kill as many animals as possible. At many animal welfare conferences I have attended there is usually a section on burn out and stress relievers for those who must kill animals on a daily basis.

    Instead of complaining about these shelters why don’t the people who follow this blog make an additional effort to get the shelters the help they need. Even if you are turned down you have tried. An open hand in assistance benefits everyone, especially the animals.

  10. Michele, when shelters get criticized here, it’s specific shelters and specific actions. In many cases quite a lot of effort has been made to open communication with those shelters and point them to resources and information about better ways to do things.

    And the response, when there is one, is often that what has worked elsewhere, in communities with as many or more animals per capita coming into the shelter, with as little or less per capita income, in places no better off and in many cases worse off, for some reason won’t work at the shelter whose actions are being questioned, because of the “irresponsible public.”

    Sometimes these excuses/accusations flow even while the Irresponsible Public is scrambling to save animals from the awful conditions and horrendous kill rate of that shelter.

    You’re quite right that, in this case, we don’t know much beyond what’s printed here: That the shelter took in eleven cats & kittens (would have been twelve except for how the mismanaged taking delivery of them), said they had three days–and killed them all immediately because a few of the kittens had eye infections–normally highly treatable.

    You’re filled with questions about how hard the woman tried to find homes for these cats–even though she didn’t stop even after handing them in in the parking lot of the shelter. Yet you object to questions about whether the shelter, finding that it had, out of eleven, a few kittens with eye infections, bothered to try to find a foster home for the affected ones, or that anyone would dare to criticize anything about this completely unprofessional performance.

  11. Lis,

    I am not critisizing here, just stating the facts as we know them now. I did not see anything that said this shelter had been approached with ideas prior to this incident. If I missed that somewhere I apologize.

    I do not object to questions about whether this shelter could find foster homes, the director stated that they did not have foster homes in his response. I thought the director stated his case simply and honestly. One response to him should have been thoughts on how to properly administer a foster care program, raise funds for vet care, etc. I have foster homes in 7 states and believe me, even if they were in one place, it is a full time job just to manage them. If one of them does something wrong, it is my license that will be pulled so I fully understand the problems associated with foster homes. It is not just a matter of finding someone willing to care for the animals. Even if you have sufficient foster homes the shelter also has to have a way to get the animals adopted or you don’t accomplish anything. There are no simple answers to these issues.

    I am NOT defending this shelter, rather, I am trying to see things from both sides, get correct information, before making a judgement as to the competence or incompetence of the shelter.

    An analogy would be that anyone reading these posts would automatically think that posters here hate shelters and shelter staff. It is unfair and untrue simply because there is only a bit of information relayed.

    Maybe this shelter does need to be targeted for improvement, then do it in a manner that will actually get the job done, not just comments on a blog.

    With regard to what Mrs. Garcia did or did not do to find a safe place for these cats, it is not a slam against her, it is to outline what can and should be done in that community to publicize the help available to pet owners, people who find strays and those that end up in the same situation as Mrs. Garcia.

    I just took a look at the web site for this shelter and they have multiple programs for the animals in their care. They have cats available at PetsMart all the time and hold off site adoptions twice a month at Petsmart plus their regular adoption hours, low cost rabies clinics, volunteer opportunities, a wish list, and their animals are listed on several internet sites. Look at the shelter here: Are there things I see that could be improved, of course, but they may not be as wrong as some on this blog would like them to be in real life.

  12. One thing that leaps to mind is why they don’t have a vet? If it’s expense perhaps that something that money could be raised for? Or train a vet tech from among their staff? I agree the story sounds very bad but that is my main thought for what it’s worth? It seems like every shelter should have a vet on call. I know that costs money but there must be a way to achieve this.
    Rotating vet students, interns as it were? As part of their curriculum? And I feel bad for the son, I give him credit for trying to find the escaped cat. I hope they can find her and get her a safe place to stay.

  13. We really need to get the word out to the public not to take them to those places! I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people take a pet they found to the pound because “they deserve a home” well, yes they do but they will most likely not get it there! They use ANY excuse to kill them, any minor sickness that could be treated with clavamox, ‘scared’- of course they’re scared! ‘aggressive’ of course they’re angry, they fear for their lives, they can sense the danger! The problem is people live in a sugar coated rose colored glasses world where they refuse to accept the negative reality because it makes them feel bad. They’d rather just shut the door and walk away and imagine a fake happy ending and never ask. This must change! Every time I see the sad faces of the pets on death row being posted, I ask myself WHY do people keep taking them there? Do they honestly believe their pet or stray will be the one out of hundreds that might find a home? Yes they do, because it’s easier for them than the truth, but it’s not easy on the animal, scared, deserted, murdered, dumped. I wish I could get through to everybody!

    1. Oh, please.

      People have been told for decade that the local shelter is the responsible place to take a lost pet, a stray pet, a pet they can no longer keep. And now when they do, there are people lining up to berate them for it.

      The problem here is not the Mrs. Garcia took those cats and kittens to the shelter. The problem is that the shelter chose to kill them immediately, rather than hold them for three days, for a trivial reason.

  14. I got an email back from the shelter director and he will be checking out the link I sent him to no-kill practices – per his email.

  15. Mr. Quinones responded:

    “We do not have a vet on staff. 4 kittens had signs of eye infection and the choice was made for the entire group to be euthanized. As a public shelter those kinds of decisions are made daily.”

    Yep, dumba$$ decisions are made daily at death camps. I guess we raise the intellectual, spiritual bars too high for the ignorant, spiritually blind dipsticks in charge of these crapholes.

    Mr Quinones, if YOU develop an eye infection, is it ok if we “euthanize” you?

    Answer THAT question, you hypocritical Dumba$$.

    It’s like we’re living in a horror movie: “Night of The Living Idiot Zombies Who Murder Cats and Dogs and Dont Know Why Nor Do They Care”.

    Or for the sake of space, “Brain-dead, Heartless Pet Assassins”.

    Only horror movies end in about two hours time, rather than two centuries’ time, if these lame nitwits continue ‘running’ death camps at this pace.

    A reminder to the pet killing twits out there: The Universal Golden Rule:


    If you dont want to be assassinated due to an eye infection, DONT DO IT TO ANYONE ELSE, YOU FREAKIN’ MORONS. HELLO? McFLY? THINK, McFLY, THINK.

    WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO GRASP? You dont need to work at the “rocket science” division of NASA to understand this. A 1st grader knows this.

    Wake the (Bleep) Up.

  16. It seems to me that one of two things is happening:

    1. The No Kill Equation IS being introduced to “shelter” operators and city officials and is ignored, or the death camp operators and officials play stupid, (which comes naturally to alot of them) and cling to their killing ways.


    2. The No Kill Equation is being shared, but, WITH NOT NEARLY ENOUGH COMBINED EFFECTIVENESS AND INTENSITY, with “shelter” operators and other officials in THE MOST EFFECTIVE MANNER.

    We have Twitter, Facebook, DIGG, emails, text mails, faxes, phones, etc.

    Yet so many of these nazi clones act as if they are completely unaware of the many alternatives to killing, that form the No Kill Equation, and CAPA.

    Of course, CAPA takes the SHELTERS’ POWER AWAY and gives it to recuers, but there is no reason for them to NOT support the No Kill Equation, if enough of us drill it into their heads, via emails, faxes, phone calls, text messages, etc. all at once.

    We need a darn shockwave that will awaken the nation at large.

    How about this idea…..just like we set up a date where we would all light a candle to protest the killings, how about we all designate “A Day of Enlightenment”, where we ALL contact our local animal shelters, our City Council Members, our Mayors, (and our family/friends/pet loving contacts, asking them to do the same) and share info about, and urge, the Animal Shelter officials, City Council Members, and Mayors, to support the No Kill Equation
    ( and the CAPA, Companion Animal Protection Act ( and that we ALL do so, ALL ON THE SAME DAY.

    (We may want to limit awareness of the CAPA to City Council Members and Mayors only, because Shelter Operators will oppose it as soon as they see that it takes their power away and gives it to rescuers and pet lovers. But we CAN send info about the No Kill Equation and urge EVERYONE, City Council, Mayors, AND Shelter Officials, to support it, since nobody will be threatened by it and will instead be enlightened by it.)

    Maybe the problem is that we ARE all making our voices heard, but that we all do it at separate times, thereby not achieving the GREATEST effect that we would achieve, if these officials’ offices were flooded all at once on the SAME DAY, from us, our family members, and friends, as ONE.

    In other words, picture us, the No Kill advocates, individually, and at separate times, as droplets of water. We run into the wall that seperates us and the pet killers, and we have little effect, whereas, maybe if we all did it AS ONE, ON THE SAME DAY, together, we could form a tidal wave that’ll crash through/break down any wall due to the sheer force of all of us individual droplets of water coming together to form ONE ocean of change that nobody will be able to deny or stop.

    It’s worth a try.

    If we decide to do this, please email me at, to make sure that I know about it. Just type “We’re Going To Help Save Shelter Pets” in the subject line of the email, so I wont miss it, if you would be so kind.

    Remember, when the Monster known as Frankenstein was running rampant in the movies, he was immune from individual attempts to stop him. But when ALL OF THE VILLAGERS, AS ONE, CHARGED HIM, THEY STOPPED THE MONSTER.

    We CAN stop the monstrous crime of pets being murdered. But, maybe, we all need to do it by lighting our torches AS ONE, AT THE SAME TIME. Maybe, IT TAKES A VILLAGE.

    I’m standing by, “torch” in one hand, a “match” in the other, if others want to do this.

    I’ll see to it that my city gets heard, and that my city officials get the No Kill message, if you’ll cover your city.

    And city by city, we’ll cover the nation. And make it a No Kill Nation.

    Take care,


  17. Something that no one has mentioned is that all animals don’t have to have gold plated vet care. Doing something to see if it works seems to me to be a better alternative to outright killing. I treated a kitten we picked up during kitten season with a free sample tube of vet ophthalmic ointment.


    From briefly looking at some litters it seems that eye infection is pretty common in kittens born outdoors around others.

    The intake in the parking lot is indeed odd. Is the place too small to be able to segregate intakes?

    Everyone who does a bit of reading knows the solution is to get your shelter run by private or volunteer third parties and leave the Animal Control to do their core duties of enforcing regulations and investigating complaints. Even then it is up to volunteers to keep an eye on things. Again with a bit of reading you see that when money becomes involved the animals are the first to suffer. That is why when a complaint is lodged against a shelter the first thing they do is ban the volunteers to try to get the problems to go away. Then they deny anything is wrong with no third parties to verify. Again it is up to the volunteers and caring citizens to keep the pressure on so the powers that be know the problem is not going away.

  18. Sont kill the animals if no one adopts them have a day they can be free so that u dont have to kill they hire a vet!

  19. Plz dont kill the anaimals every single one is special give them for free at least one day that’s all I ask maybe they can get adopted!
    Plz dont ignore

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