Gaston Co Kills Owned Pet Upon Impound, Tries to Hide Killing from Owner

Ace, as pictured on the WBTV website.
Ace, as pictured on the WBTV website.

The Gaston County pound in NC spent more than $1.3 million last year and killed well over 1/3 of its pets.  The pound falls under the county police department.

When Ace, a senior Chihuahua mix owned by Brian Humphries, dug out of his yard on May 3, his family immediately began looking for him.  Ace had walked with a limp since birth but got around very well (obviously!) and was not in any pain.  The family searched the neighborhood all weekend and tried the Gaston Co pound, only to find it closed.  Mr. Humphries kept checking the pound’s website to see if Ace’s photo had been posted but never saw his beloved pet.  When the pound opened Monday morning, Mr. Humphries was there to look for Ace.  But pound staff denied that Ace had been picked up by the county.

Since Mr. Humphries was unable to find Ace anywhere, he kept calling the Gaston Co pound, pressing them for information.  Finally the pound staff admitted Ace had been picked up on May 4 and killed immediately upon impound.  The reason? Ace “wasn’t able to put much weight on the leg” he had limped on his entire life.

The reason that most shelters make exceptions for the mandatory holding period is to avoid forcing a pet who is medically hopeless and suffering to linger in a cage for several days.  An example would be a pet who’d been so severely injured by a car that a vet determines there is no reasonable hope of saving the animal’s life. But this was a senior dog who “wasn’t able to put much weight” on one of his legs – hardly a case where immediate euthanasia to prevent further suffering in a medically hopeless animal is required.

Still, when asked by Mr. Humphries for an explanation as to why Ace was killed so quickly, the county police chief e-mailed a response “citing North Carolina law which says the animal can be put down before the minimum holding period is up if the animal is seriously ill or injured.” And Gaston County Animal Control Sgt. Jim Phil classed the whole thing up by blaming the owner:

“There was no kind of ID on this dog,” he said. “If we don’t see that on the dog, it doesn’t do us much good. That’s a responsibility as dictated by the county leash law. If the dog wasn’t running loose, we wouldn’t have picked it up.”

Gosh, the Gaston Co police seem nice.

Mr. Humphries is heartbroken and angry:

“They continued to deny they’d done it,” he said. “If they had given me another 10 to 15 hours from when they picked my dog up, I would’ve been up there to claim him.”

“He might have injured himself getting out of the fence and they could still say, ‘Well he’s injured, so we’re going to kill him.’”
“That was my little buddy, and my daughters’ too,” he said.”

Pets are family. But in Gaston Co, the so-called irresponsible public gets blamed for everything, including the scrapping of a proposal to go no kill last year:

Officials say the problem stems from people not spaying or neutering their pets.

So long as Gaston County officials continue to kill pets and blame the public for the killing, animals will pay the ultimate price. But since the county hasn’t been able to kill and blame its way out of its myriad pound problems so far, maybe they’d be open to trying something different? Maybe doing their jobs even?  Or not:

WBTV reached out to Gaston County Animal Services multiple times. They have not returned our calls.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thank you Clarice, Bonnie and Patricia for the links.)

18 thoughts on “Gaston Co Kills Owned Pet Upon Impound, Tries to Hide Killing from Owner

  1. They made a medical determination without any sort of medical training. They decided to kill a limping dog. Don’t tell me that “no one WANTS to kill pets”.


    1. Oh, but they would have gotten a real medical opinion and possibly treatment, if only the dog had been wearing a tag. Because apparently only dogs with tags deserve medical attention. If your dog escapes during a bath or if they happen to be naked because of neck irritation or any other reason, they’re SOL.


  2. I’m so sick of the abuse caused by shelters! They need to be our main target for change! If they hide their actions, they know they’ve done something wrong! I’m sick of the abuse and their efforts to hide it! We need strong legal action and attacks on the abusers! We are great in numbers and we need direction to fix this atrocious problem, one by one!


  3. This is heartbreaking! I think they always like to leave a loophole so they can kill at will. In this case a limp. As someone with older dogs this really hits home.
    My sympathies to the family and bad cess to the killers.


  4. I am blocked from commenting on the Urgent Pets of Gaston, NC Facebook page. Why? Anybody else here blocked? I know a rescuer who is blocked, and she even has rescued cats from there. If the admin of a Facebook page that supposedly exists to aid in rescue and adoption of animals from said pound is prejudiced insofar as who comments, likes, shares, etc., that leads me to believe they sympathize with the director of the pound, and not the animals.


  5. Had an experience today where I picked up an ancient little dog that was wandering the neighborhood. Had a collar, but no tags. I ran him over to our vet, who confirmed he had no chip. The pup was nervous, but sweet and walked well on a leash/rode well in the car. So clearly someone’s pet, but also not in the very best of physical condition. Just kind of scruffy, a little thin…but also clearly an old guy, so it could have just been age related. Walked him around for a few hours trying to find his house and eventually did find some people who thought they recognized him, but there was no one home at the house they thought he belonged to. So I taped a note to their door (uh…hi, I think I have your dog?) A little bit later the owner showed up and was very thankful.

    My rambling point…if I had taken him to our local shelter, I have very little doubt they would have found a reason to kill him. Probably because he had no teeth, or because he had some hair loss. Well, he’s an old man! Old men go bald and loose their teeth…that’s no reason to kill them! It’s just terrible when you’re trying to help an animal, and you know the shelter is the LAST place you can go to for assistance. Even when I called the vet to ask if I could bring him in to scan him, the tech told me NOT to call animal control. She said every time someone brings in a stray and the hospital calls animal control to file a found dog report, animal control tries to convince them they MUST turn the animal over (even though that is not an actual law.) So even just calling can end up with animal control trying to seize the pet so they can either kill them eventually or force the owner to pay outrageous fees.


    1. So glad you got him home and safe! Why is it some animal controls feel a need to impound everything in sight (and kill with wanton abandon)?


      1. You’d think with all the ranting shelters do about being overloaded, they would be very very happy if a member of the ‘irresponsible public’ was willing to hold onto a lost pet until their owner was located. I once overheard the director of a our local shelter telling someone they HAD to bring in a litter of orphaned kittens they were bottlefeeding. This is a shelter that kills better than 85% of cats that come through the door. WHY would you do that?!? Why wouldn’t you just offer them some information on bottlefeeding and THANK THEM for helping out? That sort of thing is why I can’t buy the line about ‘not wanting to kill’ anymore. That’s downright bloodthirsty!




  6. The term “shelter” is so much BS now days. Reminds me of the “what the definition of “IS” is” crap we are being fed on so many different levels of the matrix we live in. And people who can see the reality are labeled nut jobs or expendables.


  7. This is a very sad story. It is imperative that we take care of our pets and not let them wander off. It is the job of a shelter to give pets an opportunity at a healthy and happy life. The system is skewed and has turned into hoarding unwanted animals.


    1. “Hoarding unwanted animals”? No.

      The system is DESIGNED to kill pets. That’s what it does. THAT needs to change.

      And by the way…choose your words better, eh? In a shelter does not equal “unwanted”. Speaking like that starts you out in a negative mindset.


    2. The vast majority of shelters are still not No Kill, or anywhere near it, and they kill large numbers of animals without putting forth much effort to find out if anyone wants them. Actual No Kill shelters do not “hoard unwanted animals.” They take care of animals that haven’t found their homes *yet*, and a good No Kill shelter will do everything they can to make the animals more desirable and more likely to be adopted, with medical treatment, grooming, behavioral help, and marketing.



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