Downey Pound Says These Kittens Took Up Too Much Space

Kittens packed into a cage at the Downey shelter in Los Angeles Co, CA, as posted on Facebook.

A reader sent me the link to this photo last month and I filed a FOIA request for the records of these kittens. There were 6 of them and all of their record notes are identical. Every note in each kitten’s record appears to have been copied and pasted from one to the next. All 6 kittens were surrendered to the Downey Animal Care Center in Los Angeles Co on October 25, 2012. Listed as 3 months old and weighing roughly 2 and 1/2 pounds each, they were vaccinated, dewormed and Frontline’d on October 26. Their “due out” date was October 31. On October 30, a note in each kitten’s records reads “pre-alter for Petsmart event this weekend”. I interpret that to mean that the 6 kittens were supposed to be neutered in preparation for an adoption event at Petsmart occurring on the weekend of November 3. On October 31, each kitten’s record has a note indicating they were too small for surgery. The next day’s notes indicate every one of the kittens was “found sneezing in the cage” and put on antibiotics. The day after that, the shelter killed them all for “space” and listed their condition as “ill”. They weren’t allowed to live long enough to finish their medication.

Since the notes were the same on all the kittens, I only scanned one kitten’s records for this post. You can view those records here.

If the so-called irresponsible public all neutered their pets, would that force the staff at Downey to do their jobs instead of cramming these kittens into a cage and killing them the first time they sneezed?  Because that’s what killing apologists say – blame the public, spay-neuter, blah.  The problem with blaming shelter killing on the public for failing to neuter their pets is three-fold:

  1. Most pet owners have already neutered their pets.  Most of those who haven’t would do so if the service was something they could access and afford.
  2. Neutering pets does nothing to save the roughly 22,000 pets who are in shelters today.  And those pets’ lives matter.  All of them.
  3. There will always be a need for animal shelters, regardless of how many people neuter their pets.  When shelter workers won’t do their jobs and shelter the pets in their care, reproductive status is irrelevant.

The bottom line:  If you are an animal shelter worker who does not know that it’s wrong to stuff 6 kittens into a cage and then kill them, you can not be helped by anyone neutering their pets.

25 thoughts on “Downey Pound Says These Kittens Took Up Too Much Space

  1. Why would anyone spay or neuter their pet if you make the claim that NONE of the animals in a shelter today would be saved? That is ludicrous. Just because you add the word ‘today’ in italics to make the statement so literal that it is true in theory for that day, does not make it true overall. On top of that, it is something you guys tout as being a low priority. Those kittens may have never been born, only to die in this case, if the person altered their animal to begin with and that is a fact, not a statement that is true in theory ‘today’.

    1. The point is that there are animals in the shelters (many of which are already s/n) right now that are dying for the simple reason that no one in charge has made the decision to get them out alive.

      Is s/n important? Yes indeed. It’s part of the No Kill Solution.

      But those kittens were there and they were alive. They *could* have been s/n and adopted out if someone made half an effort. But they didn’t. And now they’re all dead and cold in some landfill.

      S/N is not the solution. It’s a *piece* of the solution. But it won’t do a damn bit of good if shelter directors continue to use the old catch and kill model.

      1. Then, too, tell me – just what does blaming the anonymous irresponsible public for the births of these kittens get us? Does it make us feel any better about their deaths? Can we warm ourselves at night with the smouldering embers of self-righteous indignation?

        I really, really, really am so sick of this knee-jerk response to any animal-related tragedy – I’ve even seen people bring up spay/neuter when it had effing squat do to with the issue, such as cases when pets have been shot by the police – that I’m just about ready to start banging my head into the wall. Just because it would feel different.

        Spay/neuter is important, yes. We need to improve access to it, yes. But it is not the sole answer, and it will do bupkiss to save living animals in peril.

  2. This casual abuse and killing is what has become of our shelter system. Why do the laws not apply to them? Why are they allowed to continue?

  3. Killing ANY animal for these spurious reasons is murder. I am disgusted that this is legal, it’s certainly not humane. Yes, people are irresponsible to fail to neuter their pets, but it is immoral to kill the kittens. I can think of several people I consider a waste of space, but I’m not allowed to kill them, just because that’s how I feel. Nor would I consider doing so. The same should apply to animals. Kittens are innocent and didn’t ask to be born, Put the owners of the mother cats in a cage, not the kittens.

  4. The tragedy of our Shelter System in America is allowed to continue because Citizens do not vet their elected officials and DEMAND that they do better. 90% (at last listing I have from 2010) of the Shetlers in our country are attached to a County Government Animal Control. THESE faciliites are controlled by COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS. Most Directors report to Elected Officials. CITIZENS CAN be in control of the animals and programs BUT ONLY if they get together in NUMBERS and continuously go to Commission/Council Meetings and engage their government to better. In our country – the Federal Government does NOT control or engage in local issues such as Animal Control or Police and Sheriff Departments. This is pushed down to the State level – and then to the county level. BOTH ignore it because they have NO IMPETUS to address the animal welfare issues. It takes money and it takes education and it takes compassion and concern. NONE of this is acknowledged at State or County Levels across our country. SHARE the success of the NO KILL EQUATION with everyone continually. Attend meetings and continue to bring it forward.

  5. So when the shelter realized these kittens could not be spayed/neutered, it did not bother to contact a foster or rescue to temporarily take care of them until they reached the weight required. Idiots working at the shelter-as the workers should have known the weight requirement for spaying/neutering.

  6. You said: “Most pet owners have already neutered their pets. Most of those who haven’t would do so if the service was something they could access and afford.”

    Yes, some studies have shown that as the primary reason, but they don’t say if it’s 90% or only 30% of the reason. Here, I have seen many cases that go beyond any cost issues. Where you explain the reasons and procedures and get them to agree, then find a free service and even offer them transportation. But, they still don’t get around to doing it. Others simply won’t even agree that it should be done. And some of those are even surprised when their pet who spends times outside just turns up pregnant and they don’t seem to know how that happened. Yes, that sounds rather silly, but it also happens.

    How much of the problem this is, nobody seems to know. Yes, the income level is still probably a good indicator for other reasons, but I feel that factors beyond the simple cost often enter into this issue, and these must be addressed to really impact this part of the issue.

    1. Education plays a role as well. And there are the unfortunate cases of men who don’t want to neuter their dog because big balls are an extension of their own masculinity. I had one of those guys living next to me with his two Dobermans…which he couldn’t bother to walk, so he just let them out to run the neighborhood every morning.

      There will always be jackasses and dumbasses (and just plain asses), which is why we will always need shelters. And why we need massive shelter reform.

      1. Mikken, very true. But much seems to go beyond the masculinity thing. In a small town I moved from, many treated pets like their great-grandfathers did and didn’t see any reason to change. More than just education, you need a cultural shift in values. And while shelter reform is needed, it won’t change this, and there are many-many of these people around. I suggest this is the hardest area of all to change.

  7. I am very curious to know how many of you are in rescue and for those that are – how long have you been in rescue and how many animals do you place in homes each year?

    1. And I’m curious to know why you ask. If I place 600 animals per year, does that make me a better person than someone who places 6 animals? What if I don’t place, but I do foster? What if I don’t foster, but do work to reform the shelter system? What if I don’t work to reform the system, but do work to reform my local shelter? Or just TNR? Or just help the local strays?

      Now, what if I don’t do any of that, but I do volunteer at my local shelter where they routinely kill healthy, adoptable animals for “space” and when people criticize the shelter’s practices, I defend them as “doing their best” and “working so hard because nobody wants to kill kittens”, etc.?

      1. I will answer you, but it seems like a very valid and logical question to me. I ask because one cannot make judgement calls if they have little or no experience when it comes to placing animals. I have more than 25 years experience and find it VERY difficult to do. If we could curb the amount needing homes thru s/n, there would be less puppies and kittens available for those who want a new pet and the adult dogs/cats would have a better chance at adoption. People often want the perfect pet and they think if they adopt a puppy/kitten they can train (as if they know how to train an animal) it to be the way they want instead of adopting an older one. As we all know, some of them soon find out that is not always the case and the poor animal winds up back at the shelter.

        Also, if you placed 600 animals a year versus six or none, you would be very educated in this subject! So now that I have explained why I asked, I would like to know the answers to my question from all of the people that commented on this story.

      2. Please don’t feed the troll, people.

        Weed – This is a one time warning to quit trolling.

        On Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM, YesBiscuit!

  8. Ah yes the killing because they have a cold. Old standby- first 2 1/2 lbs is not too small if you have a vet qualified in juvenile s/n. having a cold could preclude it. Second these kittens were probably responding to the vaccinations which can cause signs of URI.
    So I guess a foster program was out of the question? Or a little quarantine until their precious little bodies developed immunity?
    There is no doubt about it but shelter environment is extremely stressful to kittens- I’ve pulled enough to prefer taking them from John q public before they enter the shelter environment.
    So the next time you get the sniffles remember in some places you are killed for that.

  9. Out of curiosity is it true that animal shelters are paid to hand over the remains of the euthanized animals/pets to the rendering plant? There must be something that is hiking up the death rate and reasons why there are more reports of a family pet missing for an hour later euthanized at the local “shelter”.

  10. Think about it…most articles I see mention euthanization as though it is some burden and they have to pay to euthanize yet if rendering plants are using these euthanized pets from the shelter…surely there must be some profit made. It’s sick and sad that these “proteins” are often put into dried dog and cat food “Meat by product”…it means any type of meat it could be including a euthanized pet at a shelter or vet.

  11. And livestock in the US are fed dried food made of their OWN dead species. Livestock are NOT meat eaters! And those who eat these animals after they are butchered are taking all that into their systems.

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