Shelter Pet Killing is a Scam

Protecting shelter pets’ right to live is the moral duty of every animal welfare group. The killing of healthy/treatable shelter pets by the very groups who claim to be sheltering them is a scam.  And tragically, it happens all too often, in both public and private facilities.

In July 2012, a reporter in Atlanta exposed a scam at the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter where the shelter would pressure donors to send money quickly in order to save a pet in the Lucky Dog program then, with cash in pocket, would take the “lucky dog” to the county pound to be killed.  Authorities have identified 17 dogs so far who were killed under these circumstances, their sponsors receiving cruel letters stating the dogs had been adopted into loving homes.

lucky dog scam
Screengrab from MyFoxAtlanta depicting 2 pets in the “Lucky Dog” program who were secretly killed by Boggs Mountain after funds were collected to sponsor them.

Buddy came to the SPCA of Southwest Michigan from the Carthage HS in Missouri via Rescue Waggin at the end of October 2012.  He was 8 months old.  Rescue Waggin had evaluated and passed him, which was a requirement for transport.  The Rescue Waggin website states they only deliver “behaviorally and medically sound dogs and puppies” to shelters.  After a few weeks at the SPCA of SWMI, Buddy was assessed and passed again.  A handwritten note on Buddy’s file describes him as “mouthy but very sweet” and “high energy”.  The SPCA of SWMI killed Buddy for supposed behavioral problems, along with another dog named Artie, whom they also obtained via Rescue Waggin.  When I spoke to the acting president of the SPCA of SWMI, she told me how proud the group was of its affiliation with the Rescue Waggin program.

Buddy, killed by the SPCA of SWMI who obtained him via the Rescue Waggin transport program. (Photo submitted by Stephanie Faulkner.)
Buddy, killed by the SPCA of SWMI who obtained him via the Rescue Waggin transport program. (Photo submitted by Stephanie Faulkner.)

At the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co, there have allegedly been dozens of dogs killed in the past year.  They were all apparently longtime residents of the shelter and many of them were part of a HS program called Anakin’s Buddies:

[T]he Humane Society launched the Anakin’s Buddies program, which allows volunteer dog walkers to sponsor the adoption fee for a rescued animal at the humane society.


Many of the Anakin’s Buddies dogs have called the humane society home for several years, and volunteers cannot understand why no one has adopted them. As a result, many of them sponsor more than one dog. “When a volunteer sponsors a dog, they are basically vouching for that dog,” said Kelly Jo Graves, executive manager. “Every Anakin’s Buddy is sponsored by a dog walker who knows them well and has bonded strongly with them.”

Animal advocates allege that after accepting the funds to cover the adoption fees for the dogs in the program, the HS kills some of them and pockets the cash.

Shelby Angel, a dog in the Anakin's Buddies program, who was killed on Valentine's Day by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co.  (Photo submitted by a reader.)
Shelby Angel, a dog in the Anakin’s Buddies program, who was killed on Valentine’s Day by the HS of Memphis and Shelby Co. (Photo submitted by a reader.)

Some animal groups give their fraudulent fundraising/secret killing programs special names while others scam compassionate pet lovers by using two simple words: animal shelter.  Make no mistake:  if your local “shelter” is killing healthy/treatable animals, it’s a scam.

12 thoughts on “Shelter Pet Killing is a Scam

  1. Why can this not be stopped….if nothing else this is outright fraud, if not a misdeameanor or a felony. i am particularly ashamed of the offenses ofThe Memphis Animal Shelter as i reside in Memphis!

  2. Thanks so much Biscuit for letting us know this horrible practice. It seems that I lose my faith in the human race a little more each day.  You never ever know where your money goes when you send it to at so called shelter to sponsor any animal.  So the best thing to do it just go to your local shelter and either foster or adopt one. This is the only sure fire way of KNOWING for DEAD SURE your money is saving a pet.   Thanks darlin’!!              “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened”                               Kathie


    1. It’s true that no donor can ever know with 100% certainty how their money will be spent. Each person must decide what their level of acceptable risk is. For me, posting complete stats online (or at least making them readily available upon request) documenting all intakes and outcomes each year is a minimum level of transparency needed from any shelter I would consider donating to. If those stats indicate that the live release rate is close to 100%, that addresses one of my main concerns. Of course it’s no guarantee that the facility is being honest but there are no guarantees in life.

  3. Governmental Animal Control departments should never take “sponsorship money” or “donor money” for a specific animal. There is no guarantee that specific animal will not get sick and euthanized or overstay it’s space and be killed. While I know that things can be done better at governmental, open admission facilities; there is simply no easy way to monitor these funds through the governmental donation bookkeeping system, and it should not be done. Private rescues and shelters are a different story. If they have a sponsorship program for a specific animal then they owe it to their donor to honor their end of the committment. The problem with these programs is that NO ONE can truly identify the speed at which any animal will be adopted. Therefore – how much of a sponsorship will go how far and how long on any specific animal? There is simply no real way to guarantee that the money for a specific animal will always be used for that specific animal. Just for example: A sponsorship plea for a cute little senior yorkie may bring in $1,000 – while a plea for a 1 year old bully breed may bring in $300. Who knows who long it will take to adopt out either animal?

    I’ve always felt that donations should go to the facility by the person and they can specify a specific thing they get spent on. Such as food, gas, vaccinations, etc. THIS is easily accountable at any type of facility. If a person is so moved by an animal – that they want to help THAT animal – I feel their best efforts are to try to find a rescue or foster for that animal to get it OUT of the facility.

  4. Does PetSmart charities know of this atrocity through their Rescue Waggin program? I hardly think that they would want to transport animals (which is an additional cost), only to have them killed. No one wants to put money into that. They are not only ripping off individuals but PetSmart who probably has a lawyer on staff that can help. That is fraud. This is by far one of my bigger concerns with transports. I seen a group on Facebook raising money in California to send their animals to Houston, which they said was a large highly reputable rescue organization (which I told them to check the stats), which is by far, one of the highest kill cities in Texas. Part of me worried that they were sending them from one high kill shelter to another.

  5. It saddens me seeing things like this, i can’t believe in this day and age the cruelty continues towards all animals. I’m a dog lover and have two rescue dogs. To kill a dog that is perfectly well and healthy and then scam people like myself that regulary donates to animal charities makes me so angry and sad. I’m glad that this as been made public even though it is heartbreaking to read.

  6. They have been a scam for as long as I have known them.

    Recently I received one of their pleas for donations in the mail. I let them have it, both barrels, about the dogs they have unnecessarily killed, by name, and left my return name & address on the reply.

    If they think the public doesn’t know about their scams, I will be the loudest to protest their taking donations & doing nothing much in return for animals.

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