On the morning of June 4, a pet owner in Gwinnett Co left six cats at the Georgia SPCA with a note explaining she could no longer care for her pets as she was being evicted from her residence. Someone from the Georgia SPCA immediately brought the six pets to the Gwinnett Co pound. I requested records from the Gwinnett Co pound for five of the six cats after receiving a tip from a reader. The address shown in the records below is that of the Georgia SPCA. There is a note indicating there have been “previous dispatch requests” at this address.
Portion of animal records from the Gwinnett Co pound in Georgia.
All five cats were apparently young and healthy. They were held until their “available date”, June 10, then killed for “aggressive behavior” including one cat whose head was cut off and submitted for rabies testing after scratching an animal control officer. The rabies test result was negative.
These were young, healthy pets, not “wild” cats and even if they had been truly feral, they had a right to live. Someone being evicted from her residence was obviously desperate for help when she opted to leave them at the Georgia SPCA instead of taking them to the local pet killing facility.
The Georgia SPCA describes itself on its website as follows:
As a no kill organization, all animals accepted by the Georgia SPCA are placed in an adoption center or foster home until suitable homes can be found.
Apparently these cats were not “accepted”. I reached out to the Georgia SPCA to ask how a person surrenders a pet and what happens to pets left at the facility during closed hours. Here is my inquiry and the reply I received:
How does a person go about surrendering a pet to the Georgia SPCA? What does the Georgia SPCA do with pets left at the facility during times when the business is closed?
From: Brenda Mueller
It is illegal to abandon animals at our facility or any facility. If you have an animal that you need to surrender you can call the center to see if there is space. You can also go to http://www.petfinder.com and search for other no kill shelters that might be able to accept your animal.
This isn’t the first time I have been contacted by people disillusioned with their local limited admission no kill shelter after learning they sometimes take pets to the pound. A limited admission facility generally makes it clear to the public that they do not have the resources to accept every pet in need. The Georgia SPCA however does not make this clear on its website or in its brochure. In fact, I did not see the words “limited admission” anywhere on the site nor did I find anything to indicate that pet owners in need can or can not bring their pets to the Georgia SCPA. I further failed to see any suggestions, advice or other information devoted to helping people who can no longer care for their pets.
So how is the average local pet owner to know what to do to help their animals in need or that pets left at the Georgia SPCA, or any limited admission shelter, may not have their right to live respected? Does a facility which describes itself as “no kill” have any obligation to protect pets left at its door, even if the surrendering party did not go through the group’s regular procedures? Is it appropriate for staff to immediately take pets left at a limited admission shelter to the pound? Do we simply lay the blame at the feet of the so-called irresponsible public and wash our hands of the matter because it’s a complex issue with no easy answers? Weigh in with your thoughts.
Here are the records for the five cats I obtained via FOIA request from the Gwinnett Co pound (click to enlarge):