Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals: Fox Valley Humane Edition

This friendly dog was killed by Fox Valley Humane Association even though an adopter was waiting.
This friendly dog was killed by Fox Valley Humane Association even though an adopter was waiting.

Appleton, WI – Betsy Quaintance and her daughter Allie found a very scared female Beagle wearing a collar but no tags on October 20, 2013. Once they gained the dog’s trust, she was very affectionate and appreciative of the food and love they gave her. The women suspected she was a lost pet and took her to the Fox Valley Humane Association in order to give the possible owner a chance to find her. There, the story took a tragic turn. Betsy writes:

We asked what the process was, and we were very clear that if the no one claimed her, or if they would want to put her to sleep, to please contact us, as we would be willing to adopt her if that happened. They instructed us to call back in a week. We called and stopped in at the end of the next week (as instructed). They said that she had not been claimed and gave us the adoption application. They then told us to go home and watch for her to show up on their website as an adoptable dog. Once that happened, we could bring the application back and pursue the adoption. We watched the site daily and did not see her, so on Monday 11/4, Allie called them to find out what was going on. She was told that the dog was food aggressive and had been put down.

I went to the FVHA the next afternoon and asked to meet with Liz, their new Executive Director. Liz did not have personal first hand knowledge, so she had to rely on what her staff have shared with her. The 7 days stray hold was up on Sunday 10/27. They completed her temperament test on Wed 10/30. They determined that she was “food aggressive to humans and dogs”. I was unsure what criteria is used to make that determination, so Liz shared that this would include bearing her teeth, growling, posturing or a combination of these actions. Once this determination was made, she was put to sleep that same day.


I reviewed our actions in pursuing her – and Liz did state that the staff that received her when we brought her in reported that we expressed an interest in adopting her if she was not claimed, or if she would be put down. I clarified that we also followed up when we directed to by the staff[.]

I’m guessing that Fox Valley Humane Association poked this dog in the face with a plastic hand on the end of a stick while she was eating and the dog got scared by such an absurd action. She showed her teeth or adopted a posture out of fright. And then they whisked her off to the kill room.

There has been a massive public outcry over the killing of this dog, who was never accused of biting or even nipping anyone and who had an adopter waiting. In response to the backlash from compassionate pet lovers, Fox Valley Humane Association posted a statement on its Facebook page this morning. It reads, in part:

During testing, after numerous attempts to acclimate Peanut to a typical meal-time routine, she continually demonstrated severe food aggression. In cases of manageable food aggression, FVHA seeks to correct any negative behaviors through multiple training techniques. Unfortunately Peanut’s aggression elevated to a dangerous level.

FVHA is extremely sensitive to cases in which humane euthanasia is deemed necessary for the best interest of the animal and the community. For the safety of Peanut and those who would provide care for her in the future, FVHA was faced with making the responsible decision to humanely euthanize her for all those involved.

Humane. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

My takeaway from their statement is, when the dog reacted normally to being poked in the face with the stupid plastic hand while eating, they kept poking and watched her fear escalate to the point where they felt satisfied that killing was the super right thing to do. They didn’t feel any obligation to inform the adopters they knew were waiting on the dog. Because posture. In one part of one test given once on one day. They didn’t feel any need to contact local rescue groups. Because humane.

Betsy tells me that several local TV stations will be telling this dog’s story tonight. I hope Fox Valley Humane Association has topped off its Bag o’ Lame Excuses for the media.

Thank you Betsy for trying to do right by this dog. I’m sorry for your loss. It seems like the so-called irresponsible public is getting burned by these so-called shelters all too often.

Instead of trying to find an excuse to kill pets people want to adopt, maybe Fox Valley Humane Association needs to put away its plastic hand on a stick and start doing its job to shelter animals. At the very least, couldn’t they stop killing pets they know have adopters waiting to take them home?

If anyone comes across any local news pieces on this dog, please post links in the comments.

59 thoughts on “Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals: Fox Valley Humane Edition

  1. This is so sad and completely preventable, how do they feel that the plastic hand on a stick and sticking in the dog’s face while eating a true testament to character? How would any feel being bothered while eating? I’d be upset too! I hate this method, always have, what they don’t take in consideration is how scared any animal would be in a scary place that is not their normal environment. Any dog can be made into a loving family member regardless of tests at a “shelter”.

  2. On the Fox Valley Humane Association website they proudly proclaim that they saved 100% of adoptable cats and dogs in 2012, but when you look at their statistics – well, hmmm…… They took in 3614 cats and dogs and killed 1957 of them. So what is considered adoptable? Here is the criteria for dogs: To be placed for adoption, a dog:
    Must be eating
    Must be social (shy/nervous dogs are okay but need to safely meet the public)
    Must be reasonably healthy
    Cannot show aggression toward staff, animals, public or volunteers
    Must be reasonably housebroken
    Must not have any issues that would cause a concern for the welfare of the public (bite history, zoonotic disease)
    Must be controllable if/when excited by other dogs or cats

    And cats:
    Must be eating
    Must be able to be handled (shy cats are okay but must be able to be picked up briefly)
    Must be using the litter box (no spraying or indiscriminate elimination)
    Must not have any aggression toward staff
    Must test negative for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
    Must have no signs of ringworm (FVHA does not have appropriate facilities to completely isolate ringworm cats for the time needed to treat them)

    1. That’s a pretty good illustration of why percents matter less than numbers. Percents allow the shelter to throw out all a whole bunch of animals under various criteria, while still coming out smelling like roses. That is a positively obscene amount of animals to be ‘unadoptable.’

  3. I remember petting my cat as a kid while she was eating. She growled a little and my Dad yelled at ME for bothering the cat while she had supper. Guess times have changed- for the worse.

  4. Once again the shelters are covering their asses. Instead, they should use their heads! Everyone knows to leave an animal alone while it’s eating! We need shelter reform now, but it’s going to take the screaming public, law suits and many calls to shelter so they’ll know the public is tired of this!~

  5. Unfortunately, the story of Peanut is just one of the many problems of FVHA. High staff and volunteer turnover, a high euthanasia rate and “transparency” issues have led them to where they are today. Their former director still keeps a tight hold on the organization and it seems that things are not changing for the better. They do not report based on the Asilomar Accords, which most reputable shelters now use. Their method of reporting their “statistics” is random and fraught with error.

    According to their website “statistics”, 3,877 animals came in in 2012. 1032 were adopted. 1640 were killed. 533 were reclaimed by their owners. They kill more animals than adopt or redeem.They have in their cryptic reporting that 671 animals could not be adopted because of “owner request”. So they are saying that nearly 20% of their animals could not be adopted because the owners requested it? What owner walks into a shelter and says “take my animal but don’t put it up for adoption – just kill it” This is ridiculous! Anyone who actually looks at their “data” would laugh if it wasn’t so sad. Their “reasons for euthanasia” are totally arbitrary (one column is “aggressive pit bull” – way to not single out a dog based on looks). Most shelters now report based on the Asilomar Accords, which obviously Fox Valley does not use. This place needs an overhaul of management or animals will continue to be put to death unnecessarily.

    They have a big beautiful building with many empty kennels and cages. Unfortunately most animals never make it to the adoption floor. It is somehow a case of an organization disintegrating and losing sight of what it is there to do.

  6. The family states once they had Peanut’s trust she was affectionate and appreciative of the food and attention given. This sure doesn’t sound like a food aggressive dog to me. Did the shelter staff even try to gain her trust or just harass her while she was eating when they decided it was time to temperament test her. You cannot tell me this is ok behavior for animal care workers that have a clue.

  7. Where was the food “aggression” when Betsy and Allie fed her at home? They fed her before taking her to the shelter, and no aggressive behavior was noted. I hate the temperament testing done at shelters. It is done on animals that are stressed by being IN the shelter, being alone, and in many cases, rightfully a bit cautious…and done in antiquated ways. I’d love to stick that fake hand up somebody’s very real backside. What a shame. And then we talk about an irresponsible public, and that not enough people come forward to give a needy dog a home. Unbelievable. And shameful beyond description.

  8. NO one “wants” to kill, yet that seems to be the SOP. If you don’t wish to kill…don’t. It’s that simple.

  9. This place is a disgusting kill shelter and I’d be happy to speak from personal experience. When our cat escaped it truly was my fault for not having him chipped or tagged. But I caught the CSO officer from APD as he was dropping Jet off. He told the intake manager that I was on the phone and would take him back to me (yes, I would be fined) But FV “humane” association said no. I would have to come and pay their fees to pick him up in 2 days when they opened. I called and asked if we could wait to re-adopt him as we were in financial straits at the time. The lady told me that he would likely NOT be put up for adoption because of his age and the fact that he was black and they aren’t very adoptable. We borrowed the money and got him back. Thanks FVHA for educating me on what a real rescue does, which is the opposite of what you do.

  10. People want shelters to…shelter. To do anything else is a breach of trust. To kill a dog who had an adopter waiting is evil.

  11. This shelter sounds absolutely disgusting. Yeah, and what dog DOESN’T get excited when seeing another dog/cat. I guess all three of mine would have been put down if they were in this shelters hands. It always amazes me how people like the ones who run this shelter manage to be placed in these positions in the first place. When is life going to be fair for these and all animals. It hurts my heart tremendously.

  12. I have a story of a very similar thing that happened to me at FVHA at the beginning of October!

  13. Sounds to me like the interested citizens in Appleton, WI need to demand changes be made to this “shelter” and it’s policies. After all, this is all paid for by the citizens. Maybe some different people need to be elected.

  14. who or what is running theses shelters? They sound too kill happy to me. They just do not want to put the effort into the adoption process. It’s easier to dispose of than handle the situation rationally. Why call it a “shelter”. Call it the “euthanizing house”. Gets me sick!

  15. Do you really believe a humane society can continue to receive funding if it adopts out dogs who are likely to bite?

    1. All dogs have the potential to bite. The result from a single assessment using a widely contested technique in a high stress environment is not in any way indicative of a dog either being unlikely or likely to bite. So your position is baseless. If they are concerned about their own liability, they can have the adopter sign a waiver or release the dog to a rescue group. There is no excuse for killing this dog.

  16. This is an outrage! I pray nobody loses their pet around there. Poor baby. She looks like she was well taken care of so I am sure her actual owners are crushed at losing her – and, now to find out she is gone. I am so sorry for the Adoptive Parents’ loss and the loss of such a beautiful and (I AM SURE!) SWEET dog! This just breaks my heart! Just terrible!!! The “shelters” are worthless if this is how they operate.

  17. FVHA manipulates their statistics to say what they “proudly” want to say … That is baloney!
    And if the dog was only there about two weeks, just how much time did anyone, including their “trainer” put into helping the dog? Unacceptable — but this is not the first time. Like most shelters, FVHA is not a good place for small dogs. They need to adjust their practices to deal with small breeds better — they don’t know how the stress affects the small dogs, they just don’t get it!!

    My money and support go to Neenah Animal Shelter and Oshkosh Shelter and breed rescues.

  18. It is ALL BS!! They did that to me here in Maricopa County AZ with 2 dogs that I found. After a (ridiculous) 72 hour hold they said the dogs were fearful and had resource guarding issues and would be PTS the following morning. It took Heaven and Earth but I paid the price and after their surgery finally adopted them. Their original owner did end up seeing my ad on Craigslist and they ended up back with their owner… he was one lucky and thankful guy! Now I am FULLY aware of the games that the shelter plays. After a 72 hour hold, if these dogs and puppies are not “perfect” they go on the ‘e’ list and are euthanized the next morning. In 2010 Maricopa County killed over 50,588 animals. It is an absolute disgrace what is happening in our shelters all over the United States. It is not about the animal….sadly it is about the money, the numbers and the politics.

  19. I am the finder of our sweet little peanut. She was nothing but loving and affectionate during the short time that she was in our care. We have 3 other dogs of our own and we have, in the past, gone out and hired professional (by that I mean this woman had her masters degree in this field) animal behavioral specialist to work with one of our other dogs who is a hurricane Katrina rescue. I personally work at a local doggy daycare and I work with dogs that have food aggression on a daily basis and I have found it to be one of the easiest behavioral issues to remedy.
    If you tried to stick a plastic hand on a stick in my face while I was eating, I would probably growl at you too.
    I read over the requirements for FVHA’s adoptable animals and I am appalled. They would have put down all of my dogs had they ended up in that shelter. They make it sound like this dog has to be ready to be given away ASAP without any/little work to be done by the shelter. You are there to fight for these animals, not assess them once (yes, the director told us they only assessed the dog once before putting her down) and then give up on them. When I open my own shelter someday, things will be much different. And in the meantime, I will be contacting the director of FVHA to discuss with her my list of ideas and changes that I would be more than happy to help her make. I will offer to personally go in there and volunteer my time with these so called “aggressive” animals. I never want another little peanut to suffer this same fate.

  20. I am floored that FVHA doesn’t have facilities to treat ringworm positive cats/kittens in it’s fairly new, and very large, facility. I say this because I know another area humane association is currently TREATING a number of kittens for ringworm. If they can do it, why not FVHA-which has a much larger facility.

    1. Easier to kill them and then blame the public for not taking care of their animals. These folks are simply not who they would like you to think they are.
      Thank you Allie, for loving little Peanut and for offering her a wonderful home. She should be curled up at your feet as I write this. Please don’t allow her death to be for nothing. This place has got to make some serious changes and stop making excuses.

  21. They need to be put to death for what they do to these helpless animals…. Morons for using some stupid hand on a stick to tease a dog or any animal they use an excuse like that to do what they do…..It infuriates me to read this….

    1. Comment left. They claim that they’ve only had one call concerning this. Hope there are others who will let them know that what they did was wrong!

      1. So in addition to misleading the public with their numbers, it sounds as if they are also liars. There’s no way they’ve received one complaint about this dog’s killing.

  22. I have no doubt that the severe food aggression was either maximized because of the poor dog’s stress or completely made up. As others have said, this dog had been fed in the adopters home without any trouble at all. Just an excuse to kill another animal. And people wonder why we often say some of these animals have a better chance of survival on the streets than in some facilities? These places are bringing in on themselves!

    I hope this family does not let this one drop.

  23. I despise seeing stories like this! Have these people never bothered to even try and watch Mr. Cesar Milan show you how to quite EASILY deal with a dogs food aggression? Well I have and it’s NOT using a FAKE HAND and POKING at the dog with it! It takes about 30 minutes for him to SHOW someone how to do it and it’s quite easily done. I watched him show a girl that had a Lab that had, for some reason, gotten to where he was very food aggressive. She had the dog under control in about 30 minutes. The dog either stopped growling and trying to bite, or it didn’t get the food. She used a racquetball racket to keep the dog away from her if she needed it, but she didn’t. In about 30 minutes, of coming in and out of the enclosure with her dog to get him to behave. I checked on this story this morning and the dog is still doing great and winning championship contests! Pay attention to things you don’t think will work. SOMETIMES THEY ACTUALLY DO! There are ore ways than poking at a dog with a fake hand to get them to behave at dinner time.

  24. This is so sad,somebody would have taken this good and loved it and gave it a good home,The shelter acts like they care,I know first hand thy dont treat the animals well,something has to be done!

    1. Agree, good letter. Why is it that they refuse to see the community displeasure with the killing and support for saving these animals? I hope that Peanut’s finder doesn’t let this one drop.

      1. Just having a guess: Nobody likes to admit when they were wrong. In the case of pet killing facilities, they often take it to an extreme level: We weren’t wrong and to prove it, we will KEEP KILLING ANIMALS in spite of lifesaving alternatives.

      2. At another guess, I think they may also view criticism as a challenge to authority.

  25. I have only two words…
    SHELTER REFORM…. Your statistics are
    Horrible… You should be ashamed of
    Yourself for calling your building a shelter.
    Perhaps you could learn a thing or two from
    The exemplary shelter we have here
    In door county. The building is neat, but
    The staff and volunteers are what make
    It great! Their adoption rate is amazing
    Because they work very hard to
    Take care of the animals that arrive there!
    Fvha, take a step back, do the right thing…
    Review, change, and become a better
    Place. Learn something from this.
    You will come out a much better shelter
    For it…

  26. Infuriating!! this is abominable. these people should be put in jail. It’s all i can do not to write profanity and obscenity about the people who did this!!

  27. The people at the FVHA are very experienced, they make their choices based on experience, research, and studies. What happened if that same dog was adopted by a family with a 4 year old child, Feeding the dog, kid goes to pet the dog, bits its face off, the 4 year old is rushed to the hospital and had a $20,000 bill to perform plastic surgery to re create her face, well then who is responsible? It would end up being blamed on the FVHA. They are there to save animals and give them new homes, they have done this thousands of times, and you people don’t seem to take into consideration, that once in a while one of those dogs poses a threat and has to be put down. I personally have adopted from there, and Liz is a Wonderful person, she has contacted me to ask how everything with my dog is and it shows just how much she cares.

    1. I am impressed by your willingness to stand by your convictions, JOHN DOE.

      That said, it’s a bit of a stretch to go from “adopted a posture while being poked in the face with a plastic hand in a high stress environment” to biting the face off a 4 year old. But to stick with your super example, the people who wanted to adopt the dog didn’t have a 4 year old and weren’t concerned about resource guarding. All Fox Valley Humane had to do was not kill the dog.

      1. I am not an animal expert, but the people at the FVHA have lots of experience, sometimes you need to leave things to the experts. If some of these peoples wishs would come true “that the FVHA goes out of business and gets shut down” well thats like killing the dream of every stray animal to ever have a home again

      2. I’ll leave it to the experts when it comes to sending robots to Mars, brain surgery and air traffic control. Fox Valley Humane forfeited being an expert when they killed a pet who had an adopter waiting – unless you want to label them pet killing experts.

        On Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM, YesBiscuit!

      3. I like how people who work in a shelter are automatically “experts”. If they were “experts” with dog behavior, they would know that the assessment they did meant NOTHING and was beyond useless.

        They kill because it’s easy for them.

    2. Experts. Yeah…sure. Just because they work in a shelter? What are their “specific” credentials? Education? Degrees? Experience? How long have they been in a “sheltering” environment? There’s far too many true no-kill shelters out there in this country, open admission, municipal, public shelters…that do not “test” dogs in this manner, and that have save/adoption rates well into the 90+% range. The “adopter” who surrendered this dog, had experience as well. And fed the dog and lived with the dog for a few days, before doing the RIGHT thing, by turning it in to the shelter so THAT IF an owner was looking for their lost dog, they could find it. The dog was turned in with the specific request that if the owner could not be found, that the family that found her WOULD WOULD WOULD adopt her. The tests used for evaluating this dog are antiquated, and even within the old “standards” should not have been tested until she had been held long enough, i.e. over the course of a week or two…until she had time to adjust to her new environment. Stressed dogs should not be tested, because they ARE stressed, and it is not a reliable benchmark. And the dog did NOT exhibit any of these behaviors at the potential adopters home prior to surrender. This is bunch of “experts” alright. Experts at killing.

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