Rescuer Murdered in NC, Shelter Pets She Was to Foster Will Be Killed for Christmas

Theresa McCraw, a pet rescuer in Rutherford Co, NC, was shot to death last weekend.  Her estranged husband has been charged with her murder.  Ms. McCraw worked tirelessly to help shelter pets at the Rutherford Co Animal Control shelter.  She intended to foster pets during the facility’s Christmas closing in order to save their lives.  Now that she’s dead, the pound is planning to go ahead with its closing as scheduled and kill the pets today so they don’t need to be cared for over the holiday.

The county facility’s website makes no mention of the emergency but does list the normal operating hours and contact information:

The shelter is located at 578 Laurel Hill Drive in Rutherfordton. Phone number is (828) 287-6025 or (828)287-6420 – Fax number (828) 287-6373. PLEASE if you need assistance on the animals that are in the shelter or the ones we have for adoption call the Community Pet Center volunteer office at (828) 287-7738 after 12:00P.M.

This pound is a Maddie’s Fund grant recipient.  In 2010, it killed 65% of the pets in its care.  I suppose it should come as no surprise that it plans to kill pets for Christmas but I just can not stomach this.  The woman who would have saved these pets was brutally murdered and the pound’s tribute to her is more killing?

Please help spread the word about this situation.  Can Maddie’s Fund help by offering financial assistance to board the pets for Christmas or working with the county in some other way to save the lives of these pets?  Can HSUS, ASPCA or Best Friends offer any financial or other assistance?  Please ask around to any contacts you may have within these organizations and share the news with individual rescuers as well.  There are plenty of ways these needless killings can be avoided, even if Rutherford Co doesn’t realize the shame in its threat.  I only hope something good can happen in time.

(Thank you to reader Karen for alerting me to this story.)

77 thoughts on “Rescuer Murdered in NC, Shelter Pets She Was to Foster Will Be Killed for Christmas

  1. Like I said. People. Suck no heart no feeling this world is a sad place for the animals bcuz the Devi is walking around sad sad murdering innocent animals bcuz u can’t take a few hours over the holidays to watch them y do they work there

    1. Some people suck but most people don’t. I’m hopeful that by appealing to most people’s sense of compassion, this tragedy can be lessened by avoiding the pet killing.

      1. I have tried calling. They are closed. Are the animals out! I can donate. Find me on FB Carol Bowman Henderson and Group ALLIANCE TO STOP THE GASSING OF CATS DOGS AND WILDLIFE Thank you and God bless her soul <3<3<3

  2. I called the “shelter” yesterday and they told me all the dogs had been picked up by someone. Is that true? If not, I am a rescue and can take some in. Which is what I told them at the pound yesterday when they told me they didn’t need help.

  3. those are obviously not in their right career path we should be taking care I our furry friends seeing as humans have overtaken the world animals have been here before our time and to treat them wrong is a harsh horrible inhumane act of life! it’s a pitty there’s humans out there like that very sad

  4. If anyone speaks to the shelter, please inquire if ANY pets are on the kill list, not just pets they had Ms. McCraw’s name associated with. I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume a place that kills 65% of its pets can accurately account for pets *scheduled to be fostered* when they have other pets on site. I’d like to know if they are planning to kill pets – ANY PETS – this week.

  5. I guess i just don’t get it, operating an animal shelter/pound is 365 days a year no exceptions for holidays, someone has to work, employees take turns splitting them up. Have shorter hours but death is the answer so they can close up shop? what a crock.I imagine there are no animal lovers holding those job positions. Imagine if fire, police and hospitals all closed for the holidays too.Then again its just animals with no feelings, what a sick mindset people must have there.. so very sad

    1. If you knew what really went on, you wouldn’t say those things. There are many people working really hard and donating every last cent that they can spare to save the lives of these cats and dogs. If you need to feel anger at anyone, feel anger at the people who surrender their pets to the shelter, or the people who refuse to spay/neuter their pets. That is where the problem lies. It isn’t the fault of the shelter that these animals have nowhere else to go. If they have no room, they have no choice. Also, the animals there ARE taken care of 365 days of the year – open or close. I appreciate your concern; however, I believe a few “facts” need to be checked. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

    1. Your sick wtf rip wow you have no heart, that is just sick that humans think this is ok. i wonder how we would feel if the tables was turned and we was the ones in shelters needing homes and put down for home for the holidays break wow..

      1. …i may be way off base here, but i assumed Lisa said ‘Rip’ as in ‘Rest in Peace’
        not sure how that makes her sick

        unless i’m misreading your comment- then just ignore me :-)

      2. Yes she said RIP to say its ok they are killing them instead of finding a solution, I find that sick, so yes that is my feeling on it and I am able to have my opinion, killing animals off so you can go home for holiday break is just sick to me, so you do not have to burden yourself to feed them wow. so i guess its ok for me and my fellow employees to go home for the holidays and leave humans with no care for emergencies and just let them die as well?? This is the job by working with animals and saving lives if you can not do it then get out of the job and let someone that really does care do it..

      3. I believe the person was saying Rest In Peace to Ms. McCraw and thanking her for all the ones she had saved. I thought the same thing….thankful for the ones she has helped and may she rest in peace knowing she has done wonders for the four legged friends that have crossed her path.

      4. If that is the case then I apologize, if I took it the wrong way, I am a big animal lover and have rescued many my self so i get very close to these causes, so again if i was wrong then I totally Apologize..

      5. It is obvious Lisa was offering her condolences in response to the brutal murder of a woman and the fact she saved the lives of many animals prior to her killing.

      6. Hey I said I apologize if i took it the wrong way, we all make mistakes excuse me i made one, I apologize to lisa.. I am like the rest of you and the poor woman that passed away very much an animal lover , and have rescued many my self. anyone that knows me knows that about me, so I said i was sorry i took the comment wrong.. so again lisa I apologize now can we get passed this and to the real prob here and that is placing these animals..thank you and Merry Christmas to all..

    1. It’s hard to say. On the one hand it does say that the pets in the shelter have been given a second chance; on the other, the representative from Community Pet Center asks that everyone work together to save them, and the video warns that they may be killed if not adopted. As a piece of reporting, it’s a muddled mess.

      Just found the article that goes with the vid:

      1. Thanks for the link to the article. It is somewhat confusing. When someone says they are trying to find homes for 20 pets by Thursday, I am assuming there is some consequence that will occur on Thursday if homes aren’t found. I’m also confused about the reference to 20 pets when PetHarbor only lists 12. Are these 20 OTHER pets or…?

      2. Pets come in and out of the shelter all the time. Owner surrenders and strays – then many people from many different places, rescues, etc. step in and adopt/foster these pets. So, if you are reading an update that is over a few hours old, it’s not going to be up to-date of the current situation. The people working at the shelter DO care for the pets. So much so that they donate time and money saving as many lives as they can. It is shameful and irresponsible to write this article with so much incorrect information. The only truth is that a very nice woman was murdered and pets need saving.

  6. This is why I do what I do, I have rescued over 200 animals in the past two years. and found all of them amazing homes and have five pets of my own, 6 if you count the snake we saved and have lol.. its because of crappy shelters like this that i do what i do, and it all comes out of my own pocket.. If you are in a job your hearts not into then get the heck out of it, especially when you have lives involved in it..If i hated my job a lot of lives would be lost.. but its because of the love i have for my job and life that i do what i do..

  7. There are 7 cats (see above link) and 5 dogs (link below) listed on PetHarbor for this pound. Are these the only pets in the pound right now or are there others who aren’t listed? Will any of the Rutherford Co pets be killed for Christmas?

    1. No, the animals are safe through this weekend, thanks to the help of many volunteers and rescues. This is a no-kill week.

  8. I am posting it all over and putting the word out trying to get them out of there. I wish i lived closer..But i am trying to get it out all over so some pple will step up and help..

  9. I am interested in becoming a rescuer… is there anything special I need to do? It breaks my heart that so many animals are killed because of a lack of funding, space or just because they are to some no longer useful. Please let know what I can do to become a real rescuer.

    1. Robin.. you should contact any rescues in your community to find out about either fostering or if you are wanting to become your own rescue they would probably guide you through that as well. Depending on your location that will dictate the laws in your area. In order to become tax free non profit you will have to obtain a 501 3c.

  10. Please do remember to post any related items to this issue and the shelter to the fan page which is for these rescue posts… I personally pullled and fostered an old girl, Hope from here, with the help of some NC friends in Brevard. She is still being fostered.. if anyone would like a senior black lab let me know!

  11. I trully believe you are going to be failing this lady if you KILL those voiceless pups. Let alone KILLING them on christmas. This has got to be one trully unkind thought EVER!!!! Sometimes, I wonder what GOD thinks about his humens which he created. WHO KILLS ON CHRISTMAS anyways? After all, a lady has gotten murdered and this is how you want to repay her respects. A true animal rights person gives there ALL. I firmily believe she is one true ANGEL in this world because she fought for those animals and there RIGHTS. If they are KILLED FOR NO REASON you failed her BIG TIME. Why do animals always have to pay the price. I mean why do they have to always be pts. I trully believe in her honor things need to change. I believe a LAW needs TO BE made under her NAME!!! Rest in peace dear Angel. May your dogs be still alive in your honor, compassion, caring ways , loving ways, and etc.. I know we may of not ment but a loss of an animal lover is a loss of a family member. After all we all must stick together to make a change for them.

    R.I.P may you watch over all the animals who are pts on a daily basis and be there answer to a loving life in heaven.

  12. The board at Maddie’s Fund needs to confronted so they withhold their grant money unless changes are made at this shelter — depending on how much grant money they get. If they are a high kill shelter and not active networking there should be not grounds for grant money I would think, so ultimately those at Maddie’s Fund are partially responsible and there may need to be changes in the internal politics and the staff/director or supervisor at the shelter.

  13. The board at Maddie’s Fund needs to confronted so they withhold their grant money unless changes are made at this shelter — depending on how much grant money they get. If they are a high kill shelter and not active networking there should be not grounds for grant money I would think, so ultimately those at Maddie’s Fund are partially responsible and there may need to be changes in the internal politics and the staff/director or supervisor at the shelter.

  14. hope they rot in hell for their lack of caring. do you know they are only open 22 hours a week for pet adoption? too busy killing i imagine

    1. Get your facts right, then you can comment about anyone “rotting in hell.” This article is VERY misleading and hurtful to the volunteers that work so hard.

  15. Thank you so much, Shirley, for posting about this. The Asheville station covering the crisis, WLOS, a little while ago posted a brief home-page piece saying “no animals will be put down” (, but it is still confusing in a situation like this to know whether any animals remain in the county shelter itself — as opposed to the animals at Theresa McCraw’s kennel, where she was boarding animals for their owners and also had shelter animals already in her foster care. It is the latter two categories that I think WLOS’s brief update story was referring to. (McCraw’s kennel is in a different town from the county shelter.)

    The FB page Saving the dogs and cats of Rutherford County NC has been working hard on getting animals out of the shelter and it looks like there has been a lot of activity. There is a woman on that page called Christine Hume ‘End bsl’ who appears to be tracking shelter pulls and adoptions. A few minutes ago she posted saying, “Many got out and more will be out tomorrow. It is very possible we might just have a no kill week!” That sounds very hopeful but, again, it still seems confusing — understandably since things move so fast in a situation like this. I posted asking that someone come here, and to NKN FB, and let people know exactly what the situation is as of COB Wednesday so that networking can continue for those still left in the shelter.

    Meanwhile I posted on Alley Cat Allies FB and Vox Felina FB about the 6 feral cats and the 1 remaining domestic cat. The shelter’s listings about the feral cats on Pet Harbor are confusing along with everything else. One of them says the cat in question is an unaltered female but is feral. How would they know her reproductive status if she is feral?

    Several things stand out for me in a situation like this. One is how poorly shelters communicate; to my knowledge, the shelter administration still has not uttered word one about this crisis. The second is that, if it were not for the so-called irresponsible public, the shelter’s animals apparently really would have been killed for Christmas — an unbelievable thought — and, as Joni and Dot have noted, many animals in other shelters around the country will be killed for Christmas anyway. For me it puts a different light on holidays. The third is how incredibly important rescuers like Theresa McCraw are. I think her own community is very clear right now on what a terrible loss her killing represents, but it’s also a reminder that rescuers are treasures in every community. Thank you to ALL those who rescue, and to those who foster, transport, blog, crosspost, volunteer in shelters, and assist the rescue community in countless other ways.

    1. most vets that alter feral cats, do so by clipping an ear.. I know, because I have trapped cats, had the spayed/neuter and then release them. They also get a rabies shot

      1. I guess I was assuming that there is no TNR in that area and so the cats would not be earclipped. But maybe they do have TNR and that’s how the shelter knew. If so there might be some hope for those cats.

      2. I have done the same in my neighborhood there is so many stray cats that I have had spayed and mine do the same clip the ears, but now always rabies shots. I always have to request that and pay for it,.I have found homes for all the babies they have had, and found home for some of the momma cats but some just want to be outside cats, so I just get them spayed and leave food out for them..

    2. again – not true – -Animal Control has the word out in the community – -the Community Pet Center are the ones that help rescue these animals. Animal Control is run by the Sherriff’s office and notified the Community Pet Center immediately when they received the call about Theresa’s murder. Everyone here works hard to save these animals. I am a rescue out of Maryland that only pulls from this shelter. All the dogs from here were rescued this week – -we worked our rearends off to get it done. But guess what? Next week — everyone will dump their pets here again. It is absolutely shocking how many animals are dumped at this tiny shelter. it is discouraging at times for a rescuer – we work so hard to save these animals and then the next day some idiot drives up with their kids in their car and drops off the family pet – knowing its a high kill shelter.

  16. To kill others so that you get time off from their care is an absolute travesty.It’s sick. It’s inhumane. It’s wrong. That is a perfect example of no compassion.

    If you are not willing to CARE for those IN your care, you shouldn’t be in the busisness. Allow someone who WILL do the job to do it. Allow the compassionate to do it and stop getting in the way of progress.

    God bless Teresa McGraw & others like her. Teresa is a martar for our cause & surely will be remembered & missed. Rutherford County Animal Control/Shelter should honor her by calling off all killing through the holidays, at least.

  17. This is so sad why would a shelter kill poor inoccent pets. If people were really smart they wuld think if this was me would i kill a inccoent animal. Thought animal abuse was against the law! Guess not

  18. Shirley, haven’t I been moderated long enough?

    I notice the time listed on my post are 2 hours past when they are really posted, by my Central Standard time zone. By the time my post are moderated & put out there, the subject matter in them is moot. The subject has been moved on to other things, as I have seen in other stories too.

    As I have said, I will not post remarks I feel you would deem “racist”. Racist statements only antaganises. Working together works. We all here have the same goals, don’t we?

    1. ezbuddy – For the record, I approve (or trash) moderated comments immediately upon reading them. Sometimes that might mean a 2 hour delay, as you noticed, since I can not sit at the computer waiting for moderated comment notifications all the time. Other times, it might take more or less time. At any rate, I think your request is a fair one and I will remove you from moderation. But please note that if you post another comment containing any type of hate speech, you will not be put back on moderation but rather banned from posting. I hate banning people so please keep your comments framed in the tone you referenced here. We do all have the same goals, regardless of our differences.

  19. Dana Wachter ( is the reporter with Fox News in North Carolina who did a story on this horrible tragedy. No mention though in her story of what the shelter is planning on doing to the innocent animals. Someone may want to email the reporter this story so they can do a follow up and get the word out on what is happening.

  20. I’m guessing there is NO TNR. As for the gender – is it a calico? Tortie ? Is she really feral? Too many shelters say “feral” rather than fearful. Or figure ,if it was caught in a trap, well , only ferals would go into a trap.So if a fearful cat hides, or heaven forbid , hisses or swats , it’s labeled feral. Labeling a cat feral allows our “shelters” to kill with out that nasty guilty feeling.having followed some of the volunteer postings on FB, I’d go with – not truly feral.

  21. You mean to tell me not 10 people in that state can take over the shelter? Come together people, go get the volunteers at church, cdll PETA ..please do’s Christmas. They can’t all die. How would you like to die for Xmas????

  22. Christine Hume ‘End Bsl’ seems to be the go-to person for the latest info on the shelter animals — she’s a volunteer on the FB page mentioned by Lori above:

    Christine posted this about 2:00 p.m. EST regarding the dogs at the shelter and her comment apparently includes the shelter dogs whose stray-hold period is up:

    “ALL DOGS LEFT AT THE SHELTER WILL BE SAFE THROUGH THE HOLIDAY! THANK YOU EVERYONE! WE DID IT! This week was for you, Theresa! We love you and miss you!”

    I asked about the feral cats — what will happen to the 5 left as of today and what happened to the 1 that was there yesterday that is gone today. Tami Desmond had a good point that not all these cats may be truly feral. In case some of them are, I asked if there is TNR in Rutherford County.

    1. On the face of it, it seems unlikely that they have only one pet cat and 6 ferals in the place. So yes, i agree they may not truly be feral. They may just be grumpy about being housed in a place that is planning to kill pets for Christmas.

  23. Okay- I am a rescue that pulls from nowhere but this shelter – and am extremely disturbed by this article. There was no plan to kill the animals in here for Christmas. Theresa McCraw was a friend of mine and ONE of the boarding kennels or fosters in the area that help house these dogs when a rescue from out of state “pulls” the dog. Dogs would go to Theresa’s and stay there until transportation could be arranged. Theresa’s was the closest to the shelter. This is a high kill shelter that is small and faced with a LARGE number of owner surrenders and animals roaming the streets that are not spayed or neutered. The dog population problem here is alarming – and although they have education programs, spay/neuter days, etc – its hard to get the point across to the community. it is a daily battle. Strays can be euthanized after 72 hours and owner surrenders immediately if the shelter is full – -and it’s full a lot. Thanksgiving week we had 24 owner surrenders! This week all of the rescues pulled together and networked everywhere we could to get rescues to help us. EVERY dog that was eligible to be released was rescued. This week was in honor of our friend Theresa. Next week the dogs will start pouring in again – -and again we will need help — and the next week, and the next week and the next week. It never seems to end down there. Is it the shelters fault? NO. It is the fault of the owners who keep breeding their dogs because their friends want pups that are the same color or something stupid like that. It is the fault of the owners who let thier unaltered pets run wild in the streets and it is the fault of the owners who make the decision to dump thier pets (puppies, adults and seniors) at a high kill shelter knowing that their pet of “x” number of years could be killed. I have resuced 53 dogs from this shelter in less than 6 months – some were sooo scared of being in that kind of environment they would hide under the beds and cry. Shame on the people who dump their pets or aren’t responsible owners and create the “high kill shelter” environments. If you want to help this problem then contact the shelter and offer to foster, or to sponsor a dog. This is not the only shelter facing this problem either – -this is an epidemic in the NC, SC, Georgia, etc. It only stops if people start being responsible pet owners. Plain and simple.

  24. First off, absolutely NO dogs from Therea’s were, or ever will be, dumped at the pound. Mountain View Kennel was (as the name states for those obviously impaired on this post) a KENNEL, not a shelter. Dogs that made it to Theresa’s were rescued from the pound, by other rescues, where Theresa simply boarded them till they were vetted or able to be transported to their new owners/rescuer. Knowing Theresa personally I would imagine she is looking down from heaven right now in sadness at the misunderstanding of people and the situation. If you will go to the Mountain View Kennels website…you will see that it is still being ran by her family, who also happen to be caring for her personal dogs. The facility is still up and running!!! Do you really think her family, after personally knowing the leaps and bounds she took to help give animals there “middle place” before moving to their forever homes, would take and dump her own dogs, her fur family, in the pound? I noticed in the title you mentioned Christmas, well this is certainly in the Christmas spirit sharing a pure gossip and false news story in the holiday season. Maybe you should use your brain and research a little more before opening your mouth~just saying. You will also note on the Mountain View Kennel website that there is a telephone number….how bout you call the greif stricken family of a wonderful lady and ask them for yourselves if they dumped those animals at the pound. You’ve got the balls to post this slander…why not take it to the next level and get it straight from the horses mouth. Also, I have you know, not one single animal was PTS at the shelter…so Merry Christmas. Maybe you should use your time more wisely to help save animals instead of bashing the ones doing it.

  25. In asking about the remaining cats at the Rutherford County pound, I was referred to the Rutherford County Humane Society. They replied to my inquiry on their FB page and said that almost all the cats at the pound go into the feral run, and very few are pulled and put in the cat cages in the cat room. So it seems likely that the surmise here was correct and these cats may not be feral (though some may be). RCHS also explained that they have been doing TNR countywide for 10 years, as their funding permits. Currently they have a PetSmart grant to do TNR in Forest City, which is near both Bostic (the location of Theresa McCraw’s kennels) and Rutherfordton (the location of the county pound). They added that the Community Pet Center, the local rescue partner that has received a lot of attention in the wake of Ms. McCraw’s killing, does a good job with the dogs at the pound, and does what it can for the cats.

    The painful part of RCHS’s reply was when they said, “We cannot rescue cats from the pound. The numbers are overwhelming and there would be no place to relocate them to.” The number of cats killed at the pound, they said, is “appalling.” It was very hard to read this and know that these cats are likely doomed.

    If anyone knows someone in the area who might be interested in adopting or perhaps fostering a cat, the Rutherford County Animal Shelter is open from 10-2 on Friday — normally they are open on Saturdays 10-2 as well, but I’m not sure if that will be true this Saturday because of Christmas. The number to call is 828-287-7738. The cats are listed here:

  26. All you first-time commenters whose rants I woke up to this morning have had your comments approved and posted. You guys sound swell. I can only imagine how great it is to work with you in person which is why you presumably have such strong support from the local community. Keep on doing what you have been to get the same results you’ve always gotten.

    1. C’mon, Shirley. You know that blaming the public for being irresponsible pet owners is a really successful tactic for changing how things happen. All the high kill shelters are doing it!

  27. Approximately 95% of the population says that they would not let animals suffer or be killed at any shelter so what is wrong with this picture? I cannot believe that there are still too many high kill shelters in the United States and no one has done anything to rectrify what is going on in these shelters. Yes, we have accomplished alot but there are still too many animals dying needlessly and since we all love animals, let’s all get together right now and do something to save all animals and not just some of them. They all deserve to live!!

  28. So I’ve spent about $11500 of my own money this year helping Rutherford county save dogs this year. I have 3 at fosters there now that are heart worm positive. I donate 1000 lbs – 1200 lbs of food a month to the food bank and the fosters who open their homes to these unwanted pets until they can be transported. The bottom line is if their weren’t pets dumped at the shelter and roaming the street – there would be no need for the rescues to have to step in every week – not just this week. So to all the negative commenters on here – what have you done this year to help shelters in rural and poor areas of the country? This article was blown out of proportion – Theresa played a huge role in saving dogs but there are other kennels and fosters that help as well. Our goal this week and every week is to always have a no kill week – we try very hard and always need more help. Btw – I am not a citizen of this town – I live in Maryland and try to help this shelter since it is in such a poor area of the country and has such a bad dog population ( and cat) problem. How can anyone criticize people who are helping?

    1. Thank you for sharing… Thank you for all you do. I too foster. I have 5 dogs right now 2 are fosters with no interest. I don’t have money to do this.. I go without. But I am driven to save as many as I can.. just one dog at a time.. So again I say.. Thank You for all you do.. I wish I could do more. Merry CHRISTmas

  29. Good Lord this is awful- not just the woman’s brutal murder but then the animal’s she was caring for too. So sad.

    Does anyone know if any of the animals made it, Im afraid to ask?

    1. yes they all made it out of the shelter. At no time were the dogs that theresa was fostering in any danger – neither were her own pets. But as usual — it never fails — everyone has dumped thier dogs at rutherford county once again and every week we are faced with trying to rescue dogs and without one of our main boarding kennels to house them.

  30. To Kim who has spent $11,500 of your own money and donated 1000 to 1200 lbs of food a month….extraordinary but you shouldn’t have to do all that – but then where would this poor ol’ world be if people didn’t help?

    And I hope I would never criticize someone for voicing their opinion – its how we get new ideas for making things better. And if things are better (via No Kill sheltering) you won’t have to spend so much of your own money, time and effort.

    1. here’s some good news… a shelter went “No-Kill”

  31. the animals during the week of Christmas were all rescued but this week is a nightmare — sooooo many owner surrenders -the shelter is completely full – tomorrow is put to sleep day — they need so much help – please visit Saving the Dogs and Cats Of Rutherford County on facebook — this is the worst ive seen it in a long time

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