Wake Co Pound Requires Surrendered Pets to Suppress Normal Behavior Within Minutes

In the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012, the Wake Co Animal Center in NC took in 6214 animals and killed 3405 of them – a kill rate of 55%.  On its website, Wake Co has a page about surrendering pets which includes alternatives to bringing the animal to the pound.  Below that is a section on surrendering:

If you cannot resolve your problem and you cannot rehome your pet, please bring your pet to the Wake County Animal Center during normal business hours. Please bring your pet’s vet records or some other proof of ownership. A change in the state law requires that the Center receive some form of proof of ownership in order to place the animal up for adoption immediately. Failure to collect proof of ownership will result in the Center’s need to hold the animal for 72 hours prior to placing that animal up for adoption or transferring it to a rescue partner.


Understand that once surrendered to the Animal Center, the staff at the Animal Center will determine if they can offer the animal for adoption. This is determined by the health and temperament of the pet.

Animals can be reclaimed by the owner, but you must pay the applicable reclaim and boarding fees.

Seems clear enough.  And yet a dog owner named Danielle Miller related a very different experience to a columnist with a local paper.

Ms. Miller says that her family moved from a home with a large yard to an apartment recently and brought 2 year old Tucker, the family’s GSD X Lab, with them.  But she didn’t feel that apartment life was suiting Tucker and made the difficult decision to take him to the Wake Co pound in an effort to rehome him:

“When I took him in, they said ‘Ooh, he’s so beautiful’ and they’d try to re-home him,” she told me Wednesday. “I asked if there was any chance he’d be euthanized, and they said ‘Yes,’ but don’t worry. It’s not going to happen. I asked if it was OK to call back and check on him.”

In fact, Ms. Miller says she called back to check on Tucker 15 minutes after leaving the pound.  And again 15 minutes later.  Both times she says shelter staff told her everything was fine.  But after another 15 minutes, she decided she’d rather move than part with Tucker so called the Wake Co pound again to let them know she was on her way back to pick him up:

“I told them I was coming back to get him, and they said, ‘Don’t bother. He’s already dead.’ I said there must be some mistake.” The person on the other end, she said, assured her there was no mistake. “ ‘I’m looking at him. He’s dead,’ ” Miller said she was told.

The pound’s director, Dr. Jennifer Federico, says Tucker was aggressive and they gave him 45 minutes to see if his behavior would change.  Dr. Federico says that’s twice as long as they give most animals because the pound is very busy.  Oh and nobody wants to kill animals:

“We’re not here to euthanize pets,” she said. “I’m a vet. I would much rather return pets to their family.”

Yeah.  Well, fail on that.

Ms. Miller was devastated and shocked to hear her gentle pet had been deemed aggressive:

Tucker “was so beautiful and peaceful, Miller said. “He never growled or bit. I can remember him barking only four times his entire life. We literally were concerned about his vocal chords at one point.”

But Dr. Federico counters that a dog might behave differently in her pet killing facility than he does at home.  A point underscored on the pound’s surrender page:

A shelter environment can be very stressful to an animal.

Common sense tells us that surrendered pets might be confused, insecure, wary and/or fearful when their owners leave them in the hands of pet killers.  What makes no sense to me is how Dr. Federico thinks that giving these animals 20 minutes – or in Tucker’s case, 45 minutes – to adjust is in any way reasonable.  Especially when the penalty imposed by Dr. Federico for failure to immediately suppress normal, common behavior is death.

The pound’s surrender page includes a blurb at the end:

We understand the emotional toll that surrendering a beloved pet to an animal shelter has on you, the owner, and your family.

I don’t think so.  I’m having troubling reconciling the phrase “understand the emotional toll” with the words, “I’m looking at him. He’s dead.”

Ms. Miller apparently did what the Wake Co pound asked and provided proof of ownership so Tucker would not have to wait 72 hours before being made available for adoption.  She did not realize that the pound would use this against Tucker in order to immediately kill him.  Nor did she know that a veterinarian in charge of a shelter would regularly kill surrendered pets if she didn’t like their behavior in the minutes following intake.

Pet advocates are often scolded by those who kill shelter pets about how we don’t appreciate how cruel, neglectful and apathetic the “irresponsible public” is when it comes to pets.  Killing apologists accuse anyone who surrenders a pet to a shelter of “dumping” the animal and say we should blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing.   Ms. Miller made a difficult decision, doing what she thought would be best for Tucker.  She called to check on him every 15 minutes after leaving the shelter.  She realized she’d made a mistake less than an hour after surrendering Tucker and wanted to take him back home.  This is your “irresponsible public”.  This is your “pet dumper”.  Sadly, the people who supposedly don’t want to kill animals and like to wag their fingers at everybody else operate a well-oiled pet killing machine which is fast and efficient.  But we should all get along, because we all want the same thing and blah.

If only more people would have brought cupcakes to the pet killers at Wake Co, maybe Tucker would have lived for 45 minutes – long enough for his “irresponsible” owner to take him home.

16 thoughts on “Wake Co Pound Requires Surrendered Pets to Suppress Normal Behavior Within Minutes

  1. would it have done any good to insist on the body back? Is it possible someone decided to keep this dog and not give it back? I know I’m probably dreaming but she only has the shelters word that the dog is dead. Is there no legal prosecution that can be taken?

  2. There is absolutely nothing illegal in the vet’s actions. There is absolutely nothing illegal in the shelter’s policies.

    And that’s the problem.

    These people lie and kill with abandon because they can. Because it’s standard operating procedure. Because this is how they carry on ever day, day after day.

    For a staffer to be so callous as to say “I’m looking at him. He’s dead.” is beyond disgusting.

    For a vet to give a dog 45 minutes to settle down into a shelter environment is both ignorant and unethical. But this is the kind of vet you get in a killing shelter – one who has either always been ok with killing healthy, adoptable pets or one who has had his soul eroded away so badly that he no longer feels anything, anymore. Both types are monsters. Kill shelters both attract and make these people.

    Shelter reform is desperately needed to prevent this kind of horror.

    I’m glad that the owner went to the paper, but disheartened to see so many apologists in the comments section of the article. Too many people accept the idea that killing is the way to go, that the owner is at fault for this, that there are simply too many pets and mandatory s/n will fix everything…

  3. interesting that one of the supporters of the shelter comments they doubt Dr F made those comments ’cause . the shelter doesn’t talk to the press”

  4. Please know not all AC’s are like this :( What a shame, and what rude staff. At the shelter I work at, we are down to a 15% pts rate on our dogs. Places like this give ALL shelters a terrible name. I quickly learned that OS animals take longer to adjust. Period. Most strays are happy to have a place to sleep and food, but OS animals are frightened, feel betrayed, and will act out, most of the time showing fear based aggression. We try and take these dogs home, even if just for a night, so we can see their true personalities to help them better. Even when dogs are surrendered for behavorial issues, I don’t always believe what is said about them. Often, people will make it sound worse than it really is, to make them feel better about bringing their pet there. I wish more people were honest about the dogs they turn in at our shelter, as far as being really stray or owned. Often people tell me they are strays, to avoid guilt or fees, but I try and explain that we can better help the animal by knowing more about it. I am sure the owner of this baby is heartbroken, and she has the right to be! If the staff had been honest with her, her beloved pet could have gotten home. I also believe of more shelters were honest, and didn’t pull the “oh it’ll find a home, don’t worry” crap, less animals would be surrendered! There have been a few that when I told them honestly that I doubted I could rehome their animal didn’t care. We even had one that was surrendered for biting a family member. I told them exactly what would happen to him if they didnt come back for him. My words shocked them, but they came for him, and he is still alive today. Bless the owner of the dog in this article, my heart goes out to her.

    1. Not all ACs are like this…which makes it even worse to read about the ones who are. What kind of ACO makes a judgement about a pet’s behavior within an hour of the dog having been left at the shelter? I’d be concerned if the dog DIDN’T get very agitated.

  5. unfortunately alot of shelters are this way. they work harder at discouraging rescues/adoptions to prove some point in their twisted mind, or feed their ego, or keep the good ole boys club alive. (which should have been removed a long time ago). the problem seems to be that no one wants to be over the kill shelters, the sheriffs dept do not want it, the county council does not want it?? and the aco’s are just doing their time so they can retire with a pension. which most do not deserve. they stopped listening decades ago, and that is the point they should have been removed. there are always better ways of doing things and as time goes on better ways are always developed, but they would rather kill in a feeble attempt to prove they are right and have been that many lives will die and to what end? they have only proved how ignorant and heartless they really are. some actually quote from imaginary policy books, which by State Law they MUST have one, does imaginary count?? i think not. and some are actually feeling threatened by rescues because they know they are doing wrong and do not want the light shown into the dark. again all goes back to fear of losing their pensions. and they should be very afraid, because dedicated rescuers that know how things should be done and how others are succeeding at no kill will not stop until the senseless killing of highly adoptable dogs/pups/cats/kittens stops. period.

  6. Ms Miller obviously never reads any articles about animals being brought to shelters. What a sheltered life she must have led. And when I watched the TV interview with her she had no emotion in her voice or in her manner. Sorry but this woman was completely in the wrong and killed her dog herself.

    1. No she didn’t, you unfeeling asshat! She was not in the wrong. The scum at the ‘shelter’ lied to her, and the ‘vet’ is the one that killed the dog. I hope no one ever asks you for any kind of help, because your serious lack of empathy is fucking sad.

    2. So she thought that a shelter would actually shelter her dog and rehome it (as they said they would) and you’re blaming her for her ignorance? That’s quite a heartless perspective you’ve got there.

      And you judge her grief, too. Just because she doesn’t grieve the way you think she should doesn’t mean she’s not grieving.

      Blaming the public for the killings of shelter animals is not a valid argument. Blaming this woman for the death of her dog when he was needlessly killed by a vet who works in and supports a system of killing is not a valid argument.

      Stop accepting the “shelters have to kill because there are too many animals” nonsense – http://www.doggedblog.com/doggedblog/2012/10/why-shelter-killing-has-nothing-to-do-with-pet-over-population.html

      1. i like that article. I may have to start reading that blog too. :) Thanks for sharing.

  7. I saw that all the time as a volunteer. Sadly for these surrenders they are taken to the “Hold” ward which is where they kill animals. They have a wheelbarrow sitting right next to the vet’s exam table. “But we keep it covered up”. Uh-huh, and you think the dogs and cats can’t smell the death? You think they don’t look outside of their cages and watch you kill them?


  8. How would u behave if the only people you knew dropped you off in a loud frightning place with people you didn’t know when i used to take my cat cat to the vet he was terrible hissed bit but he was scared he hung onto me so i don’t get it what if she woke up in a place she didn’t know with no one and nothing how would she feel this is so disgusting

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