Reasons Shelters “Have to” Kill Pets

We put the puppy in a cage in a locked room.  We waited for the legally required hold period.  No one claimed him.  We moved him to a cage where visitors could see him and we waited 3 more days – 2 of which we were even open to the public.  No one who wanted the puppy could meet our adoption requirements.  Now he’s sneezing and might have some dread disease which could be spread to our other dogs.  So we have to kill him.  It’s not like we didn’t try.  We even posted a crappy picture of him online!


Add yours in the comments.


108 thoughts on “Reasons Shelters “Have to” Kill Pets

  1. She’s a pit bull. Even though we don’t have any breed discriminatory ordinances in our community, it’s shelter policy to kill any pit bull over four months old. We just can’t adopt them out responsibly. But you can have her emaciated 4-week-old puppies if you get down here right now.

    1. Sounds like you do have breed discrimination. You sound like you need to be a jail warden you hard hearted individual! Feel sorry for an animal under your care.

  2. Oh, and we see that you posted on that pup’s Petfinder listing that we killed the mom. We don’t like for you to use the words “kill” and “no-kill.” They’re divisive. If you want to be able to keep pulling pets from this pound, you need to play by our rules.

    1. Translation: “We don’t like for you to use the words “kill””and “no-kill” because then we are forced to defend our indefensible killing of healthy or savable pets.”

      (Meanwhile shelters around the world are showing that the no kill equation actually works …)

    2. Are you serious? And from the bottom of my heart I am asking an honest question. Animals that go into the shelter do not voluntarily go to sleep dreaming sweet dreams and just forget to wake up. They aren’t just killed.. they are murdered.. and those are the facts.. it is the truth.
      Oh.. and play by your rules… the rules need to be changed.
      what if out government decided to treat humans in this way.. if you got lost, got abandoned, got sick or hurt, became old and ended up in a facility that had these so-called rules in place.. what if it was your life on the line and you had no voice and no-one to be your voice.. how would you like the rules then? Believe me when I say it could happen.. the world is going down the drain.. fast.

      1. Dot, I seriously heard this comment from not only the local pound, but also the board of the coalition of animal groups in the area, headed up by the local Humane Society. The pound did not want me to use the word “kill” in reference to the mom of the puppies I pulled. The coalition board did not want my rescue group to use the term “no-kill” on its web site, because it was “divisive.”

      2. My local shelter says the same crap.. and it’s not humanely euthanize with sedation.. all the sedation does is paralyze the body so they can’t move.. the brain is still very much awake.. I know first hand.. I’ve seen it up close.. I was right there! And I still can’t get the vivid imagine out of my brain.. that dog laying there and can’t move, but you can see the terror in his eyes… begging me to save him and I couldn’t do a thing to help..I had no power to stop it.. I had no place to take all the animals that were murdered that day… I haven’t been back to that shelter since, but cause I voiced my opinions about rescue options and it feel on deaf ears… just like MAS.

      3. Dot, there are different drugs available for pre-euthanasia sedation. The most recent dog I had put to sleep was Charlie, last year, and he was given a sedative in advance of the euthanasia drug. He appeared to go to sleep with the sedative. There are types that function as you describe (I think ketamine is one) but those should not be used for pre-euth sedation.

      4. here I go again.. just going back there in my mind just tears me up.

        I watch the director of the shelter stuffing pills into hot-dogs.. I didn’t ask the name of the pill.. It was too hard for me to try to rationalize what was happening.

      5. There are many many drugs for euthanasia and for sedation. And then there are cominations of these used as well. It’s simply wrong for anyone who has not used, been involved with, or investigated the processes used at any facility, to even speculate. I have worked with many citizens who bring their animals into Animal Control to be euthanized because they are old and chronically or critically ill. It’s not easy. Most people who don’t work in this field – whether at a Vet or Animal Control rarely think “t’s being done right.” Death is Death. It’s not pretty and it’s not easy. It’s painful.
        And – It IS euthanasia when an animal is given a sedative with a paralytic first – then the animal passes the the sedate tests and then is given the euthanasia solution. NONE OF IT is easy. The formulas you learn in training are just that – formulas. The technician and/or the Vet have to use their experience and skills to make the right decisions for EACH animal . There are nuances, there are health issues, there are seizures, there are disease states, etc. NONE of it should be formula! Having been involved on the front lines I just have to say that we must have Shelter Reform and Legislation. ONLY this will make the difference. Not just in the processes used in Euthanasia, but in the decision tree used which places animals in the Euthanasia Room to begin with.

      6. Karen, Dot was reporting what she saw with her own eyes. As was I. This kind of “unless you are in the pound killing pets you have no right to judge” talk is not welcome here.

      7. I apologize for misunderstanding your posts. As I think you may have misunderstood mine. I meant that death is not easy – and there are so many processes that we are only guessing whether procedures are humane or not at some facilities. I certainly don’t feel that “you have to be in the pound kililng” to know. I hate that anyone is in any facility killing. But I do feel we should all know the specific processes before we judge. Again – I apologize for the misunderstanding!

      8. not too long ago.. my local shelter was a gassing facility using a car engine.. the shelter thinks it’s moved forward in animal care and protection..

      9. what I saw was a drugged dog.. then I saw the shelter director hanging the dog with a slip leash holding the front end up by the neck and the kennel help holding the dog up off the ground by it’s tail.. they carried the dog all the way down the isle to the kill room, hanging it by it’s neck and tail.. poo was falling out of this poor animal because he was paralyzed.. but his eyes told the story. this was not humane.. this was abuse.. I will never forget the look in his eyes.

      10. OMG…what a horrible situation for the dog and for you to see. Who does these things…I’m so sorry you saw this. It makes me ill and sad and angry…

      11. and they do this to make sure there are empty kennels.. you should see the freezers… Animal control is the ones who load the truck and the frozen dead animals go to the landfill.. which I happen to live very near to and I do see this also.

      12. these were all healthy, adoptable animals. this shelter kills for space.. every afternoon before the staff leaves for the day. Out of 18 kennels 6 have to be empty. the shelter closes at 5:00. the two animal control Officer also go home at 5:00 I don’t get why they are killing dogs for space, when there’s no dogs being brought into the shelter at night. like most animal control services they ride around all day and only bring dogs in at the end of the day. I just don’t get it.

      1. Missy – please understand Salette, like everyone else here, is for NO KILL and is merely exposing kill shelters for their lame excuses by mocking them. No more hate comments please.

      2. Missy, I’m not the one doing the killing. I’m the one who pulled the emaciated puppies, bottle-fed them, nursed two of them through distemper, cried when I had to have one of them humanely euthanized because his distemper was too advanced, got the survivors neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped, placed them on Petfinder, and found them great homes. We’re just listing the excuses pet-killing facilities use.

      3. whatever they need to sleep at night…i am not a religious, karma is due to those that kill. who is to say the life of an animal has less value than a human…life is life. sorry but you guilt is YOURS AND MUCH DESERVED. I hope you do not sleep at night but it seems as though you must sleep just fine. Not allowing to pull from your shelter, i hope you find yourself in the unemployment line very soon!!!

  3. wtf?! he got a sneeze? should we put u down cuz ur sneezing? how would u fair in a cage with no exercise? i’m furious about ur thinking and reasoning! u put a crappy picture up? YOUR A LOSER N U MAKE MY STOMACH SICK! May God 4give ur soul! your breaking my heart.. i’m sick 2 my stomach with tears in my eyes!

    1. Thought you were serious didn’t realize you were mocking them, accept my apology please, I obviously didn’t get the mocking part, sorry, glad you were able to save some of them.

    2. wow, satire is a lost art. I guess if people read “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift they would be up in arms that he wants poor children fed to the rich.

  4. There’s a spot under that cat’s collar with no hair. She probably has ringworm.

  5. We have to kill the pup because there aren’t enough staffers to care for him. And we need the space. Because more pups will come in and we just can’t adopt them out fast enough to keep up. Because the public is irresponsible. So really we’re going to kill him for his own good. That’s why we call it “euthanasia”…

  6. We have to kill all the pitbulls, and any dog that we decide might even somewhat resemble a pitbull because of “liability”. We can’t adopt them out because we might incur that “liability” of urban legend. We couldn’t possibly have a liability waiver.

    These pet killing facilities should be more worried about lawsuits for non-compliance with state and local laws.

  7. We need more low cost spay and neuter clinics all over the world.
    If we are going to own animals it should be mandatory to get them fixed..

      1. chienblancacsi, you have rather dramatically missed the point. Carol is not advocating this; she is mocking it. That’s what this whole comment thread is about: the stupid reasons shelters have for killing pets.

  8. We understand that one of your foster homes has four dogs, and that the baby pool that she put out for them to play in had some dirt in it. We consider that hoarding. It is much kinder to humanely euthanize these animals than to let them live with a hoarder.

    1. Omg, are you for real?? Take your head out of your ass lady.. 4 dogs and a dirty kiddie pool is far from hoarding.. You are clearly all for the murdering of innocent animals.. You will get yours eventually.. :-)

      1. Carol, these are actual excuses given by a shelter that I used to rescue dogs and cats from. We’re listing excuses that shelters use to kill.

      2. Carol, these are reasons we’ve heard for facilities killing animals. We are for NOT KILLING. Please reread the blog. You are not understanding what’s going on. Salette is just repeating reasons she has heard facilities give for killing the animals. She’s not doing it herself.

  9. It’s much better for us to euthanize owner-surrendered pets than to have the owners let them loose in the desert to die. Even though we have no evidence that an owner’s only alternatives are letting us kill their pet or turning her loose in the desert, we’re going to keep telling that story.

  10. We have so many black and white cats already.
    They’ve had a chance to get adopted and no one wanted them, so make room for some new cats and dogs.
    That cat is feral anyway. We kill feral cats.
    Who’s going to want an old cat anyway?
    “Humane euthanasia” is so much better than sending them to a rescue/hoarder.
    Young puppies and kittens take much more care than we can give them, so we have to put them to sleep.
    OOPS, computer glitch, we didn’t catch the fact that there was an adopter/rescue on the way to take him.
    If people would only spay/neuter their animals then we wouldn’t have this problem.
    Again, it’s the fault of the “irresponsible public” – we aren’t doing anything wrong.
    It’s not our fault.
    Look at all the money we put into building this wonderful facility. What a shame it would be to mess up those beautiful cages.
    S/he might be sick.

    *Because we want to show everybody who is in charge here. If you complain or say “bad” things about us, we will kill the animals to show you! And you won’t be able to come back to volunteer or pull anymore animals. Because we can!

  11. “She was so submissive and would not make eye contact so we could not possibly put her in the adoption area. How could we put her in one of the adoption kennels in the place of a more outgoing dog?” This was, of course, after the sheltie mix had spent 3 days near an interstate off-ramp and it took 4 ACO’s to catch her using choke poles as cars zipped by. Wouldn’t make eye contact? Either would I. We got her out and she’s fine but I had no idea before that dog that their version of a temperament test involved nothing more than looking at a scared dog and making a decision. Silly me.

  12. Don’t forget……….he got hit by a car and we don’t provide those kinds of services in our vet department. We’ll just let him lay here for the mandatory hold period and then kill him.

  13. Maybe this is a good time to post the response I got when I asked the shelter in my new county to participate in “Just One Day”:

    Ms. Andrews,

    Thank you for contacting our County Commissioners and me about the
    upcoming “Just One Day” event.

    As you may know, Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) is a progressive
    organization. Part and parcel of our work is a strong community spay and
    neuter program intended to reduce the number of pets that need to be
    sheltered and the number of pets that end up being euthanized. This
    effort has received a fair amount of recognition including an
    Outstanding Program Award from the North Carolina Association of County

    Also, OCAS has very strong community support as well as a progressive
    history. Accordingly, we have been able to build and open a
    state-of-the-art Animal Services Center (as you may also know). It is
    designed to maintain the health and wellness of sheltered animals and
    also to be attractive to community members who can provide new homes to
    these animals. Despite the state of the economy since the Center opened,
    we have been able to sustain a strong “live release rate” and our hope
    is that it will increase when the economy improves.

    Generally speaking, our efforts are made in accordance with the
    department’s work plan. In the month of June, for instance, events have
    been scheduled to promote the placement of pets for a year or so. As a
    result, it will not be possible to add another event such as “Just One
    Days.” The reason is that we are very aware of how important it is to
    “stay on task” in organizing special events. Only by sustaining our
    focus and message as well as our time and resources is it possible to
    organize truly successful events.

    One of June’s special events is our 3rd Annual Open House which is
    scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, June 2). It is a fun-filled community
    event (see the program at, and we would
    invite you and yours to attend. In addition, the Open House kicks off a
    sustained effort to promote the adoption of cats (Adopt a Cat Month).
    We are undertaking this effort again this year, as part of a national
    campaign, in the hope that it is successful as it was last year when we
    adopted a record number of cat.

    In closing, I would note that I have made our decision to not
    participate in “Just One Day” in coordination with others responsible
    for OCAS. Most importantly, the County Manager has reviewed the
    decision with the Chair and Vice Chair of our Board of County
    Commissioners and they concur that it is not wise to add another event
    to what is already an extraordinarily busy time period. It was also
    reviewed with members of the department’s management and program team
    and input was obtained from the Chair of the department’s citizen
    advisory board (the Animal Services Advisory Board).


    Bob Marotto
    Animal Services Director
    Orange County Animal Services
    (919) 968-2287

    Cc: Michael Talbert, Assistant County Manager, Orange County

    1. And I just have to ask how many animals lives could have been saved in the time it took to write this, edit it, have it reviewed and then provide it to you. I’m guessing in at least the single digits if not double digits. For shame.

  14. In other words, we can’t stop killing pets for one day because:
    1. It’s not in our work plan
    2. I just spent more time coordinating with everyone in the county government and writing this e-mail than it would have taken to implement this life-saving “event”

    1. The only thing missing from that is some veiled reference to you being naive and uninformed, as if you could not possibly comprehend or appreciate the challenges faced by municipal leaders who are forced to kill animals due to the irresponsible public. How silly of you to even think you might be familiar with concepts that they don’t already know about and have simply chosen to ignore.

      That was sarcastic, of course. I’m right there with ya, Salette. Same situation, different location.

  15. Ones I’ve personally heard –

    Everyone [volunteers and staff] have gotten too attached.

    Its coat is too matted, and the groomer who used to volunteer here left.

    [After refusing an adoption on a dog’s last day] They were Korean, and I don’t trust Koreans. They eat dogs.

    Every kitten is a tragedy.

      1. Ooooooohhhhh! Thank goodness you straightened me out! Kill them all! For their own good! And to punish the irresponsible public, too! Bonus.

      2. And because it just shreds their poor shattered nerves & heart to kill yet another one, dontcha know.

      3. The dip is a side of counseling so you don’t get too depressed about what you’re collecting a paycheck for…

    1. I forgot one, too, that I shouldn’t have – of the runt of a litter of bottle babies: He’s two months but under eight pounds. Too small to adopt out.

      I fought for little Gilligan, got him back, but left that bridge behind me in a wall of flames. And that was the SFSPCA … under Sayres, who’d just taken the directorship. Every time I type his name, I swear, I want to spit on it.

  16. In many many animal control facilities – it is against policy to take pictures of, expose, or interract with any animals under any kind of hold. I changed that each place I worked. It was amazing how many animals were returned to their owners when we posted them day one on petfinder! A companion animal that is exposed to the positive things in a facility – human voices, traffice passing by, day light, and a walk or two – during their hold time is then ready to be more positive when it get put into the adoption area! Many animal control facilities don’t allow anyone but staff in holding areas. What’s the point in that. BUT it is policy in most counties. Sadly.

    1. Could we nominate you to make policy (with enforcement powers) for the state of Tennessee? It’s amazing to me how some folks (not you) can be stubborn and thick-headed about commonsense kinds of things.

      1. Thank you DB – I don’t know what’s next for me – but policy and change is what I’m about. I’m from Wisconsin but I’ve been in TN for 17 years. It’s definitely like trying to change church doctrine.

    2. Sadly, Karen can’t apply for a job that is done badly by Mr. Rogers. Such a damn shame.

      My turn for an excuse: We have to keep half the cages in each area empty for cleaning purposes, so although we technically have 500 cages, we can only have 250 at any one time. So if that animal is #251……….

  17. It costs much less to just, you know, toss them in the gas chamber than to take care of them or try to find their owners. Now if the community would be willing to pay more taxes . . .

    1. If people would support us more, come volunteer, clean cages, donate food, we might be able to stuff a few less into the gas chamber! Maybe. But until you come down here and start caring for the animals we’re going to kill the next day, you don’t have a right to criticize us!!!

    2. And add, this – their owners were not responsible enough to get this pet back, after all they did not license them…maybe we should increase the license fee.

  18. Well, we can’t risk adopting out pit bulls because they might end up in homes that fight them. It’s better to euthanize than to adopt to people on the reservation because “those people” don’t take good care of their pets. They might just leave them outside and the animals could be eaten by coyotes. There are fates worse than death, you know.

    We can’t have volunteers because we have controlled substances on the premises and besides, volunteers are more work than they are worth.

    Even though we have a three level cat cage at Petco we can’t use the bottom one because some kitties might get frightened of dogs.

    You trapped some wild cats who have the tips of their ears cut off? I don’t know what that means, probably some crazy person is cutting up cats and these poor things just need to euthanized.

    You know that girl who took on 7 neonatal puppies and spent her own money and her own time to raise them and then she didn’t want to bring them back to us at 5 weeks? She’s a hoarder and we are going to tell all of the shelters and rescues in the area that she is.

    We can’t have off site adoptions, it might be too stressful for the animals to have to leave and then come back to the shelter.

    1. Oh gosh:

      “You trapped some wild cats who have the tips of their ears cut off? I don’t know what that means, probably some crazy person is cutting up cats and these poor things just need to euthanized.”

      Thank god for gallows humor. If not for that, I’d be on the gallows myself.

    2. I heard a good one for stopping off-site visits – ‘People crowded around, it was too stressful for the volunteers.’

  19. My favorite from the Michigan Humane Society was “we aren’t going to save more animals just to pad our statistics”!

  20. I’m taking a moment here to put out her what I feel NEEDS to be recognized in the front of our battle for education and lives. I was fired this month as Director or Montgomery County Animal Control in Clarksville, TN – for NOT drinking the Kool Aid of county government. I got the community engaged. With their help we upped adoptions 50% and dropped Ethanasia 40% in 6 months. NO MORE MONEY – simply change in practice. Media followed our progress closely and it was received so positively by the voters. BUT – with all government positions – the risk of termination in an At Will state for ANYTHING – when you don’t drink the Kool Aid is HUGE. The lives saved were NOT important. What pissed them off was that we had alot of press and engaged the community to make calls to their Commissioners and the Mayor’s office. TOO MUCH light being shed on a subject they do NOT want to know about. Our bi-weekly television show that resulted in over $10,000.00 in donations and hundreds of animals being saved is now NOT wanted as well. I have been slandered on regional TV coverage and print by the Mayor herself and her team! MY POINT? Change Makers are expendable in these positions and the KILLING continues. The ONLY WAY we can facilitate ANY change on a large level is through LEGISLATION. Otherwise – this sick cycle of keeping ignorant lemmings at the Animal Control level will continue for perpetuity. I am so looking forward to the Conference! Thank you Shirley.

    1. Karen, do you still live in the county? Lots of former employees run for elected office. Just saying.

      1. Salette – I don’t live in Montgomery County – they hired me outside of the county to come there and work. If I did live there – I WOULD consider running! Peoples’ selfish agendas in politics suck. I really believe that there are so many of us who want change but that we do NOT hold offices and so we are NOT represented.

  21. Oh yes – another comment made to our Animal Control Committee in Montgomery County, Tennessee to a discussion I raised about saving more lives and educating the Commissioners and the public was this: “Well – Ya’all applied for those jobs we didn’t. You ahve to do it – and we don’t have to hear about it.” Ok then – Mr. Second in line to the Mayor!

  22. Said to me by an enabler (excuse me, volunteer) at a rescue in a BSL county, about the adult pit bulls that enter the public shelter, which is rumored to kill them all, in the back part of the facility, where the public and volunteers aren’t allowed to go: “Nobody wants them.”

    1. Ah yes, the Pitbull were on display for anyone who wanted them in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying *’Beware of the Leopard’*.” (with due credit and apologies to the great Douglas Adams)

  23. 1) “We moved him to a cage where visitors could see him and we waited 3 more days – 2 of which we were even open to the public.” Okaay, i didn’t know that the public was allowed in to see the animals on the day(s) that the shelter was closed.

    2) “No one who wanted the puppy could meet our adoption requirements.” Bet me the balance on my mortgage that YOU can meet your own adoption requirements.

    3) “Now he’s sneezing and might have some dread disease which could be spread to our other dogs.” a) So, why should you and your facility not be raided for animal abuse=neglect=cruelty? b) You don’t have a VETERINARIAN?! c) Do you have a LAWYER?

    4) “We even posted a crappy picture of him online!” Stop spending so much money on blue solution and buy a darn camera that works.

    Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.

  24. I didnt get a chance to read all the other ones, but my favorite is “ONE dog in this kennel has _some disease_ so instead of just treating him like an average citizen would for their dog, we are going to kill said dog and all the other ones for the POSSIBILITY that they may have it too, rather than test if they have it”. Im sure other people have come up with good gems though too haha

  25. Here’s one that unnerves me everytime I hear it: “Those Kittens/puppies are just too young to remain healthy in this environment – we’ll have to euthanize them before they get sick.”

      1. Right! Otherwise you’ll have plague spreading all through the kitten and puppy areas. Or…you know, life. But life is so messy and high maintenance. That’s why MAS likes their puppy areas VERY CLEAN. And empty.

      2. The killing sickness is so ingrained – many of these excuses are actually suggested and supported by Shelter Medicine Vets and Shelter manuals written by ASPCA etc.

  26. Off topic here but have to share….

    USA TODAY Friday, August 3, 2012 Page 9A

    Humane Society of the United States
    “we never said we funded animal shelters.”
    -Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States

    Where do their millions in donations go?

    .HSUS recently deposited more than $11 million in its executive pension fund.

    .HSUS has $32 million invested in Wall Street hedge funds.

    .HSUS is using donations for their defense against charges of corruption in federal court.


  27. sorry my computer isn’t working for some reason…

    Fact: HSUS gives only 1% of its budget to local pet shelters.
    Keeping awatchful eye of the Humane Society of the United States.
    *Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act litigation. Paid for by the center for consumer freedom.

  28. We have to kill the pets, because volunteers post negative things about us online. Those comments keep people from coming to our nasty facility during the workday to deal with our rude employees to fill out all our paperwork to maybe take home one of our sick animals. I really can’t believe people who supposedly want to help the animals won’t shut up and just let us do our jobs. It’s all their fault for saying bad things. Now people aren’t going to want to give us money to ship puppies away to make our numbers look good. Bad, bad volunteers!

Leave a Reply