UPDATED: 14 “Rescued” Cats Killed For Ringworm at TN Shelter

Update, 1:30pm:  Clarice sent me a link to a story that has been updated on WBIR.  Although the video report still says the cats were killed, the text version of the story has been updated to say the 14 cats were saved by an out of state rescue group.

Original post:

Some Petsmart stores apparently made a decision to stop supporting small rescues and partner with municipal pounds – at least, that was a complaint I began hearing from displaced rescuers whose cats were evicted from Petsmart in recent months.  But I hadn’t seen any third party confirmation until now.

Last month Annette Traore, who had been helping cats under the moniker Almost Home Animal Rescue for 9 years, told WVLT in Knoxville that Petsmart had turned her cats out in favor of the giving space to the Loudon County pound, which kills pets.  She was suddenly forced to take the Petsmart cats into her own home, along with a number of other cats who happened to be returned at the same time.  It was unfortunate timing but Ms. Traore says she did the best she could.  In addition to setting up her basement with cages, cat trees, scratching posts, and litter boxes for the fully vetted cats, she networked them online and contacted the Young-Williams Animal Center for help.  When she learned that Young-Williams’s idea of help was killing her cats, Ms. Traore resolved to find homes for them on her own.  Not long after, the sheriff’s office was pounding on her front door, screaming at her:

“It scared the crap out of me. I started calling my husband and the next thing I know they’re tearing up the stairs with a gun drawn.” said Traore.

Ms. Traore was accused of hoarding and charged with five misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.  Forty-one cats were taken from Ms. Traore’s home to the Young-Williams Animal Center.  She spoke to WVLT because she wanted to set the record straight that she was not hoarding animals.  She was actively seeking homes for them and was simply in a bind at the time of the raid due to circumstances.  Her lawyer stated they were hoping Petsmart would step up to help.

This week, Young-Williams killed fourteen of the cats because they had ringworm, a treatable skin condition.

“Sometimes euthanization is the most humane treatment. To put the other animals at risk in our shelter to contact this disease, as well as our staff and community, it’s a difficult situation but it’s a very necessary decision,” said Jeff Ashin, Young-Williams Animal Center CEO.


Young-Williams wants to make sure people are spaying and neutering their cats to avoid situations like this one.

“Until more animals across our region are spayed and neutered, overcrowding will continue to be an issue that leads to these unwanted life-and-death decisions,” Ashin said.

Mr. Ashin also admitted that rescue groups outside TN had offered to take the ringworm cats.

I assume CEO is code for Thug at Young-Williams.  That’s some kind of bullying on display there.  Dear Community, Until some unquantifiable thing happens region-wide, we’re going to keep killing pets.  Don’t think your pets are safe.  We’re coming for you.  Love, Your Local Animal Shelter

You may be wondering what Young-Williams is doing to move these pets out of the shelter – besides killing, I mean.  Shelter vet Rebekah DeBolt spells it out:

“We are completely full of cats right now. We don’t have room to juggle them at all so these are just sitting here waiting for ones on the adoption floor to get adopted,” Dr. DeBolt said.

Just sitting here waiting.  Brilliant.

Young-Williams by the way, is the same place that recently shipped dogs to a pet killing facility in Detroit because, you know, there’s a shortage there.

Thanks for nothing Petsmart, Knox County Sheriff’s Department, and Young-Williams Animal Center.  Every living being involved in this tragic story is so much better off now, thanks to your efforts.  Way to serve your community.

(Thank you Carlotta and Clarice for the links.)

17 thoughts on “UPDATED: 14 “Rescued” Cats Killed For Ringworm at TN Shelter

  1. “Young-Williams wants to make sure people are spaying and neutering their cats to avoid situations like this one.”

    Um, yet the cats they killed were all spayed and neutered. If these cats were intact and living in the woods, they’d all be alive, so…not quite following the logic, there.

    Apparently, the best way for a cat not to die is to not end up at Young-Williams.

  2. Killed for having ringworm? Really?

    I hope that they didn’t send any dogs to Detroit with any kind of skin condition, ya know. Course for animals with those “serious” treatable conditions, the easiest thing is to kill them.

    Oh yeah, be sure to spay/neuter because that’s going to help those we are killing now. Right? No? I’m confused!!!

    What is wrong with people? Ringworm? Adopters/rescues available? Kill them anyway?

  3. Incidents like this … there was no reason for this raid, and from the sounds of it, it was triggered by Ms Traore’s inquiry about possible assistance. So, rather than help, they make her out a criminal and kill cats who were under her care.

    This is indeed thuggery, plain and simple.

    I’ve been wondering why they bothered. It can’t be concern over the cats’ welfare, because they clearly don’t give a shit about the cats. It can’t be because they genuinely thought it more humane, because they clearly have absolutely no compassion or empathy. All I can come up with is, they did this because they could.

      1. I have a couple concerns. 1. The original report clearly stated the cats had already been killed and the comments from Young-Williams seemed to support that. How does the station account for this discrepancy? 2. Young-Williams refuses to name the group they say rescued the cats. Why? Is it Michigan Humane Society or some other pet killing facility?

      2. Y’know, you’re right. They won’t name the vet either. Why not?

        Perhaps if these fourteen cats haven’t been killed … fourteen others have. That’s a disquieting thought, and would be perfectly in character.

  4. I am wondering if there was an issue that was going on in the background that nobody knows about. I had my rescue kicked out of a Pet Sense due to complaints from another rescue. The manager of PETSENSE told us about the complaint and that the person had gone over her head to headquarters and that there was nothing that she could do even tho she liked working with us more than the other group

    1. I started hearing from rescuers last summer that Petsmart was kicking out the small rescues and instead going with municipal pounds. If that’s true (and I have no confirmation from Petsmart that it is), I imagine it was done to improve Petsmart’s bottom line – either through revenue or some perceived benefit (such as image) that marketing execs in a board room thought up.

  5. YW’s stance on this has changed no less than 3 times. First all cats were healthy and adoptable but only had through the 11th due to space. The next day they report 14 are suffering from “a serious disease” and “must” kill them to keep the shelter and community safe. Then suddenly a $6000 donation allows them to save all the cats. So I figure 1) they must have killed 14 other cats and 2) since ringworm can be treated with a $5 tube of lotrimin they are profiting $5995 off these cats. Brilliant work YW. I can only hope this leaves a black eye on your very undeserved stellar reputation.

  6. so sad and when did ringworm become so deadly :\ –it’s not like it’s parvo. There was an incident a few years ago at a Long Island Shelter where there was an outbreak of ringworm and all those animals were to be euthanized because the union workers refused to come in and handle the dogs and cats (it would have endangered the workers–yeah right). It’s a fungus and for humans no big deal–I was sickened and disgusted. The whole shelter system needs a serious overhaul.

    One wonders if another rescue or just a neighbor reported the owner of the rescue–some people can be so petty and uncaring about the lives of a few cats :(

  7. Yes- there are changes going on at PetsMart. The adoption centers come under PetsMart charities. However corporate PetsMart rules who can come in and who can’t. Then at the store level rules are whatever the store manager wants them to be.
    Two years ago PetsMart Charities changed the rules so non 501c3 can participate- this allows the municipal animal controls to come in.

    In our area a memo went out to all the stores asking the store managers to kick out the small rescues in favor of the large taxpayer funded agencies. They want the adoption centers to be manned from an hour before the store opens to an hour after close every day the store is open. Most small rescues are all volunteer with volunteers who have full time jobs.
    So only those agencies who are large enough or govt. funded to have hot and cold running staff could accommodate this.
    Many of the National orgs are going the same way denying small rescues the benefits of being in their networks which allows them to get grants, marketing, and networking.

  8. Shirley, when a PetsMart Charities person was asked about this change in policy to accommodate the large govt funded agencies in the stores, the person seemed genuinely like a deer in the headlights and denied knowledge.
    There may be a complete disconnect between disclosing PS Corporate shenanigans to PS Charities. Regardless, PS Charities takes a hands off approach to rescues in the stores. It’s entirely up to PS Corporate.

  9. Update on the ringworm kits- just found out from several PetsMart pet care department employees that the guinea pigs, hamsters, etc often come in with ringworm. Petcare employees routinely assist in the Cat Adoption Center. The ringworm this rescue experienced may have come from PetsMart directly.
    Giving her a double whammy blow and a death keel for the kitties.
    PetsMart needs to practice proper quarantining and disinfecting as these spores can be airborne throughout the store.

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