Discussion: Six Cats Left at the Georgia SPCA Taken to Gwinnett Co Pound

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.
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.

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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:

From: eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com
To: info@georgiaspca.org

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
To: “eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com”


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.

Brenda Mueller
Operations Manager
Georgia SPCA


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):

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34 thoughts on “Discussion: Six Cats Left at the Georgia SPCA Taken to Gwinnett Co Pound

  1. I don’t see where Brenda Mueller from the Georgia SPCA actually answered your question. Yes, it is illegal to abandon pets in pretty much every State and we all know that. But people do drop off animals at the door step from a shelter after hours for one reason or another. I always questioning the “No Kill” status of a animal shelter that can not even take care of a litter kittens and instead is sending them to a known kill shelter. How much space would this 6 kittens have taken away? They could have been kept in a one large crate for the time being until a home was found. I don’t see any kind of efforts by the Georgia SPCA to actually do anything to preserve life.

    1. Her response made me feel defensive and definitely NOT wanting to call the place or deal with them in person, and I don’t even have a pet I’m needing to surrender. I can only imagine how someone in a desperate state with pets in need might feel after receiving a similar response.

      1. I agree – your question was not even addressed. The response was accusatory and of no assistance whatsoever. The response made me angry and disgusted.

  2. They’re doing the best they can! No one is giving them gas money to drive pets to the kill shelter, you know! That comes out of their own pockets!

  3. This is so sad.. poor kittens.. i think that every No-Kill Shelter should care for and respect the lives of the pets even if they are left at the front door.. i cannot think that it is ethical to kill pets because they are ” feral” or they are excess to what the shelter can handle.. as you rightly say all living beings have a right to life and these kittens definitely did.. it is a blot on the SPCA to have caused the death of innocent ones like these.. am sad.

  4. This is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine how I would feel, if desperate and having no where else to turn, I left my pets somewhere I thought was No Kill and would find them homes, only to have them turn around and do this. The reason shelters keep getting away with these things is because the people that need their services the most are usually the poorest among us, and have no resources to bring about a lawsuit or whatever.

  5. Similar situation in Greenville,SC. One “No Kill” facility and one “county facility”. A cat, Boo, was left at the local No Kill. She’s spayed . The No Kill promptly took her to county where she was put on the “to be killed” list. Thank goodness , a foster home stepped up… No one at Greenville Humane Society ( no kill) has answered my question on why they didn’t keep her

  6. I remember very well the morning that these cats were left at the side of our building, 5 crammed into a wire kennel, and one in it’s own feces with terribly matted hair, in a kennel of it’s own. We, like most rescues in Georgia are extremely full right now. We have to limit the number of cats/dogs that enter our facility because we put the health of the animals here at risk when we overcrowd the system. We do have signs posted everywhere at our facility warning people that it is against the law to abandon an animal, and we give our number and some suggestions on where they can turn. We rescue every animal we can, but we typically pull from animal control facilities, and take some owner relinquishment’s. It is always with a very heavy heart that we would take any animal to animal control, but we can not become a dumping ground for unwanted animals. The cats in question were not friendly, and were probably terrified, but there was not room at our facility to adequately handle them. We are not a sanctuary for cats or dogs, and we have to be able to handle the animals that come into our facility. We are a limited admissions shelter that finds homes for over 1,200 animals a year. We also quarantine all animals that come to us with an unknown vaccination history. These cats would not have been able to go to a foster, or be handled in a quarantine situation. It is sad that people spend their time bashing a group of people that have given their lives to help the unwanted animals in our state. We always try, not only to have compassion for the animals, but for the people that are caring for them. We do everything we can to help people keep their animals, rather than turn them into animal control. We offer food, vetting and spay/neuter surgeries to many of those in need. Again, I am sad that you want to concentrate on the animals that we can not take as apposed to the thousands that we do save.

    1. My intent in posting was to open a larger discussion on this subject which for whatever reason did not materialize. I still think it’s a discussion we need to have. As far as feeling bashed – if you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

      1. really you could have called snap 2 it or planned pethood and asked them to put them into a barn. rescues have to help each other

    2. Bashing you? You send 5 kittens to their death and then you complain about people bashing you? You had options but you chose death for the kittens. You could have setup a crate in your Office, in the bathroom or somewhere else.
      You should remember the question a shelter director in Tompkins County once asked his staff: “What is plan B?”

      1. You can’t get to Plan B if your Plan A is abandon at the kill shelter.

        Once you do that, there’s no opportunity for creative problem-solving. No opportunity to engage the community’s help. No opportunity to save those cat’s lives.

        As for Shirley’s larger question, ” 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? ”

        If someone left cats outside MY door, you can bet that I would do my level best to get those cats to a safe situation. No, I couldn’t keep them. I would set up a dog crate in the garage or something, advertise them as “found” (who knows? some neighbor may have trapped someone’s cats and taken them), call around to local vets to see if they recognized them, get them scanned for microchips (you never know!), clean them up and keep them safe as I can until I got them into a good place – social media is certain to help me out there, so I’d be all over Facebook and talking to local rescue people to see what can be done.

        What I would NOT do is take them to the local kill shelter. Why not? They’re not my cats. I’m not obligated in any way to care for them. But I am committed to the idea that they have a right to live, whatever the failings of the previous owner. So I follow through on that commitment, though it costs me time, money, and effort.

        The alternative is unacceptable.

      2. At our shelter, people are dropping off pets during the night too. Yes, it is illegal but we rather have them dropping off pets during the night than taking them in to the woods and shoot them. At one morning we found 22 dogs in front of our door, most likely all from a puppy mill. 8 hours later all dogs had left our shelter again, picked up by a rescue.
        This are your options and choices too, Miss Stewart, options that save lives.

    3. Oh you poor sad soul. Let’s throw you and your “heavy heart” a pity party, shall we? “SPCA” my eye. You people should be absolutely and completely ashamed of yourselves. I wonder how you sleep at night.

  7. So an assessment was immediately done on a group of cats who were crammed into a small confined space in their own filth for who know how many hours? And this assessment of the cats who were in a horrible stressed situation, deemed them immediately unadoptable!!! Irregardless of what the owner did, whether it was illegal or not, they became the responsibility of the place who bills themselves as no kill. And this place let them down – making a judgement on them based on behaviour under a horrible stressful situation. shame on you – perhaps some lessons on normal cat behaviour under stress are in order. how sad, very sad.

    1. Seems I remember a situation here in rural WV, where 30 some cats were dropped off in the middle of the night at the local open admission, low kill shelter. Within 8 hours or so, half of them were in rescue or foster homes, the rest were set up in various spaces in the shelter, and the public was bringing in extra food, litter, blankets and offers to volunteer to help. this is a rural area, with low operating budget,and they did it without killing… so no excuses are accepted. all the cats but one have been placed in homes btw. there is a yes biscuit blog story about this btw.

      I get the impression that for this particular pound like place, no kill could be a marketing ploy.

  8. I ran into a situation where I had to drop off 4 cats & went during hours only to be turned away. SOOO I did the sneaky underhanded method of dropping them off after hours…It is a VERY limited admissions no kill shelter. I waited & waited to see if they’d post them for adoption or ship them off to the “pound” to be killed. I have to say I was impressed because within 2 months all 4 cats had been listed for adoption! So if ANY group REALLY cares about the animals – it won’t matter if they are beyond capacity or not – they WILL FIND A WAY to take them!

  9. i live in this county and there are rescues that have barns if the cats were deemed feral. rescues communicate with each other here. oh yeah what about the 3 kittens you dumped the next friday at gwinnett huh/””” they were friendly. I cry foul on you. you have a network of fosters for kittens. you would never ever do this to a dog and you know it.
    and to think you were on the animal task force.

  10. I’ve worked with the GASPCA and found them to be concerned and caring for the animals in our area. I cannot stand the thought that every day dozens if not hundreds of adoptable animals are put down in pounds in our state. If you get up in the morning and there is a mom cat and six kittens at your door and you find a place for them; what will you do the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that…some where there is the point where you can’t do anything. For some of you can that always find places for animals; there is a big bobtail tabby at Jasper County AC, in Monticello, GA, that has been given many extra weeks of life and is in critical need of rescue. Just contact them and I’m sure that they will be thankful for you to take him. I know that I, and a couple of other people that can do nothing, will be glad. If they are still there, I’m sure they will let you have his bob-tailed sibling/sires too.

    1. Just out of curiosity, what do you think how all the other open admission No Kill shelter handling situations like this? Do you think they snip with the fingers and the cats all magically disappear?

  11. The staff and volunteers at Georgia SPCA make every effort to rescue and rehome as many homeless animals as we possibly can. We found loving homes for 1,140 dogs and cats last year, and are on track to exceed that number of adoptions in 2013. This has been an exceptionally busy kitten season and we, as well as many other rescues, have been full for several months now. As quickly as we can find loving homes for our rescues, we’ve gone to animal control facilities and rescued more, accepted surrenders from owners who cannot care for their animals, and taken in mom cats and kittens brought to the shelter by caring people who’ve found them near death on the side of the road, suffering from starvation and dehydration.

    The Georgia SPCA is a limited admissions facility, and we are constrained by the size of our shelter and the number of available fosters. If we bring in more animals than we can responsibly handle, we risk compromising the health of the animals that are already in our care. Cats and kittens, in particular, are vulnerable to respiratory infections when they are housed in overcrowded conditions.

    We have clear signage posted on our door about our admissions program, and that it is against the law to abandon an animal. Owners are required by law to sign a written agreement surrendering the animal to the shelter. When animals are abandoned at our facility, we never know if they belong to the person who left them, or if they have been taken from their owner without consent. Without signed consent, we have no legal right to put them up for adoption.

    We will continue to rescue of as many animals as we can. We will continue to address the overpopulation problem at its root, by promoting low-cost spay/neuter procedures to reduce the number of unwanted litters, and to encourage responsible pet ownership. We will continue to help owners keep animals in their homes by offering low- or no-cost vetting, and by providing food to those in need. We are continually searching for more foster homes, so we can increase the number of animals we can rescue. We invite you to visit our shelter and to help us find more critically needed fosters so we can save more lives.

    1. Is there a law preventing you from holding them for the legally required period while giving notice to the local pound that you have them? I have heard of pounds that happily accept notifications from private groups and citizens who have found pets and are willing to hold them (for 3, 5 or whatever the legal number of days is in the state) to see if an owner comes forward. Some municipal facilities post the photos and descriptions online as well, which is great, since presumably the private group has done the same, giving an increased opportunity for the owner to locate the animal if indeed he was stolen. Animals can be adopted out after the hold period expires.

    2. [quote]
      When animals are abandoned at our facility, we never know if they belong to the person who left them, or if they have been taken from their owner without consent. Without signed consent, we have no legal right to put them up for adoption.

      After the legal holding time, you are the owner of the animals, Regardless from where they came or how they came to you. It is an oxymoron to say you have no right to put the kittens up for adoption and at the same time exercise the “right” to send the kittens to the next best kill shelter. The kittens had a right to live which over rules your right to have them killed. You knew exactly that they would be killed.

  12. I would like to say that none of our so called rescues are willing to help anyone i have had for 3 years now 4 female cats they are all spayed and up to date on shots i have asked every rescue i can find in georgia to help this year i had a heart attack i can’t look after these cats the way i used to my only option is to turn them into a kill shelter i don’t want to have them die they don’t deserve this but i also have four of my own people just don’t care!!

  13. Shirley- this is one of the things that make my blood boil. Where I live the “No-Kill” shelter
    Doesn’t even take them to AC. They have AC pick them up!!! All at the taxpayers expense.
    I have had crates stacked three high where I only had a small walk space to get around and never once thought of calling AC. It’s not a two way street at our place. Once in the only way out is adoption or transfer to a rescue I know and trust to NEVER kill.
    Yes people can be shits- its not the animals fault and they should not pay with their lives.
    In fact the cozy relationship with AC and this NK shelter only shows those they pull not the ones that are sent to be killed.
    Maybe that’s why this NK in my area doesn’t apply for grants- they would have to show their numbers sent to AC- or would they dummy that to and list it as a transfer.
    These faux NK should be outed.
    There should have at least have been a BIG sign warning people that if they leave an animal that the animal will be turned into AC.

  14. The problem we were facing is that we had no place to hold them. The shelter was completely full, all of our fosters were full. We had just taken in several cats that had been relinquished by someone living in a car. To whom do we turn for help? We are continually begging for more fosters so more lives can be saved. The killing of healthy, adoptable pets is as deeply disturbing and abhorrent to us as it is to all animal lovers. That’s why we work in rescue. We’re working every day to try to help solve the problem. The terribly sad reality is that, despite the incredibly hard work of many committed rescues and caring individuals, at this point in time we cannot save them all. Much progress is being made toward the goal of ending the euthanasia of adoptable pets, but we still have a long way to go. Animal owners have to embrace spay/neuter and we work very hard to promote that.

    1. Cindy, You asked “To whom do we turn for help?”

      The question I would ask you is: Who DID you turn to for help?

      Did your organization turn to ANYONE at all in an effort to save these cats before bringing them to the pound? If your answer is that the pound is who you turn to for “help” when faced with abandoned cats, I would suggest that killing is not as “deeply disturbing and abhorrent” to you as you say. Is there any harm in trying to get help for the cats from the public if you can not help them yourselves? It doesn’t cost anything to ask.

    2. No large dog crates in your office areas? Nowhere for these cats to be held until you could make arrangements? Did you ask anyone besides AC?
      You did not euthanize these animals ~ you flat out killed them for space and that’s just plain wrong.
      Maybe now is a good time to put a Plan B (and maybe C and D) in place for the next time something like this happens.
      And I never saw that you asked anyone else on here what they do when they get more animals in than they can handle. It is my understanding that Peter Masloch and Ann Brownell both work with no-kill shelters. Why not look at those who are successfully dealing with the issues you are to see how to change the “solutions” without mass killing (or letting someone else do the killing?

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