Saving Grace, Killing Sadie

Saving Grace is a non-profit organization which took over operations at the county shelter in Douglas Co, Oregon more than a decade ago.  The group has a contract with animal control to house and care for impounded pets at the shelter.  From Saving Grace’s About page on its website:

Beyond the basics, each animal receives compassionate care from our staff and volunteers while they wait to be reunited with their families or to find a new home.

One such dog at the Saving Grace facility was a heeler named Sadie.  After Sadie’s owner received a bite on the lip, ACOs impounded Sadie until the owner could produce her proof of rabies vaccination.  Once the owner had the proper paperwork in hand, she went to the pound to redeem Sadie, only to learn that Saving Grace had oops-killed her.  The pound’s excuse?  There were actually two heelers in quarantine at the time.  So natch, if there’s two, and you’re going to kill one, well that’s just an oops waiting to happen.  The executive director explains:

“We simply missed the fact that the paperwork that we had that we were going to euthanize did not match the dog we actually had.”

Simple.  The paperwork didn’t match the dog.  They didn’t catch that before they killed Sadie.  Did I mention there were two?  Dang, I hope nobody ever has the misfortune of attempting to redeem a black lab mix or a tiger cat from this place.

To add to the owner’s heartbreak, Saving Grace told her she could not take Sadie’s remains home for burial because they’d already sent her to the landfill.  The owner was understandably outraged:

“So, now you’re going to tell me not only did you kill my dog by mistake, but you threw her in the garbage like trash?” she told KVAL News.

If every shelter was doing the job the public demands and only euthanizing pets who are medically hopeless and suffering or those too dangerous to live with people, oops-killing could become a thing of the past.  Saving Grace trots out the standard blame-the-public excuses for why it “has to” kill healthy/treatable pets on its FAQ page:

As much as we would like to be a no-kill shelter, we are unable to become one at this point. Saving Grace is the only animal shelter in Douglas County, and we are required to accept any and all animals brought to us. We often receive feral (meaning wild) cats, dangerous dogs, and animals that a veterinarian has recommended to be euthanized. Some pets that we receive have health or behavioral issues that require more professional care than we can provide or afford.

Possible verbiage to add:  And some pets look alike so how are we supposed to avoid killing them, amirite?

More from the FAQ document:

The fact is that this country produces many more pets that [sic] it wants.

The fact is that so-called pet overpopulation has been debunked.  The fact is that people in this country don’t want shelters killing healthy/treatable pets.  The fact is that there are numerous open admission shelters saving more than 90% of their pets by implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation.

We don’t produce more pets than we want.  We want all these pets.  Don’t you get it?  Sadie was wanted, the other heeler in your facility was wanted – they are all wanted.  And you have no right to send Sadie – or any pets in your care – to the landfill while offering these lame excuses.

Nationally, between six and nine million pets are surrendered each year. Half of those are put to sleep and many more suffer a lonely existence due to neglect, abandonment and homelessness.

Ring, ring Saving Grace.  It’s 1974 calling.  It wants its “killing is a kindness” meme back.

11 thoughts on “Saving Grace, Killing Sadie

  1. As much as I try to be a kind, compassionate, free-spirited sort of gal, if this happened to me, I would burst these idiots into flames with my mind. Or, open fire with an M-16. I know exactly the heartbreak this family is going through. The shelter staff that “oopsed” should have to feel that same gut-wrenching sorrow someday, or they will simply NEVER understand.

  2. No excuse. None. And not to be gross, but if it was me I’d MAKE them go retrieve my pet’s body AND pay for cremation for it! I’m glad the owner went to the news…and I hope the public speaks up now.

    Silly me…I thought Saving Grace was actually into…um, well…SAVING pets! Guess I was dead (no pun intended) wrong.

    1. You know … I think this would be a perfectly reasonable request under the circumstances, and a fitting punishment too. I doubt it would even be all that difficult. Unpleasant, yes, but not difficult.

  3. Yep. Thanks for posting this. Here’s hoping we can continue to highlight inexcusable oopsies that happen (probably on a daily basis) all over this country. Granted, some people care more about their animals than others. And there will ALWAYS be those who will need to relinquish, and even those who SHOULD relinquish. But dammit, the definition of *shelter* is listed at the top of your blog…and until EVERY Animal Control facility can shelter EVERY animal that comes through the doors, I say they are not allowed to blame the public for the killing.
    Really. Every time ANY *shelter* kills a pet needlessly, they put one more brick in the wall between their *industry* and the caring public. And gut wrenching oops like this? Well, they’ve made an enemy for life…
    All the CYA just grinds salt into the wound. If they’d just fess-up and do their best to make it right…but no, that’s not the American Way. So yea, sue, that won’t fix it, but it might make somebody feel better.

  4. What amazes me is that one dog was male, one was female. Did no one think, “hey, this dog we’re about to kill is supposed to have a penis according to the paperwork…”?

    I wonder what the kill rate is for this “shelter”?

    1. According to their own FAQ, they take in an average of 6000 pets a year and save 2000 of them. So, I reckon they’ve around a 66% kill rate.

  5. Why would veterinarians bring animals to a shelter to be euthanized? I assume they would do that at their office. This does not make sense to me as to why they would travel with an aggressive or ill animal!

    I thought a dog that had bit someone needed to quarantined separately from other animals and for a certain period of time. If so, how did they screw up the identification.

  6. ANOTHER sorry example of the country’s “shelter” system. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the same ol’ story.

    Civil law suits are the only recourse. Let’s hope the judge or jury is on the side of justice.
    I’ve personally encountered otherwise in the shameful city of Memphis.

  7. Am I the only one who thinks there should be a law prohibiting any shelter or group that kills pets from using words or phrases such as “saving,”, “humane society”, “spca”, etc. in their names? They should instead be required to include some form of the words “death” or “kill” somewhere on their name and the sign out front. That way everyone will know what they are dealing with, and truth-in-advertising will prevail.

Leave a Reply