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.
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.)