Lake Co Pound Director Kills 147 animals in 9 Days, Gets Fired

Last year, Jacquelyn Johnston was a clinic supervisor at the Miami Dade pound.  She killed animals for convenience in spite of the fact that the county commission had unanimously passed a no kill resolution after voters overwhelmingly demanded it.  In an e-mail to rescuers last summer, Johnston described some of the pets she was going to kill unless rescuers saved them with just a few hours notice:

“Sweet big boy, now has URI’’ — upper respiratory infection.

“Nervous and shy, but warms up if you spend time with her.’’

“Older pet but would make a great senior retiree…’’

“Adopter never showed up, super sweet, already spayed, 35-40 lbs.’’

“This is the one who came in from a caring homeless man, conformed pittie’’ — pit bull terrier, illegal in Miami-Dade

“Has ticks that we are treating. Needs out by tomorrow, no more time.’’

“Just a puppy and been here too long.’’

On October 1, the troubled Lake Co pound in FL hired Johnston as director. The sheriff’s office that runs the pound reportedly clearly explained to Johnston that getting animals out alive was her number one priority and that killing animals was only to be done as a last resort.

Johnston apparently thought she was in keeping with this directive when she immediately embarked on a massive killing spree. In nine days, Johnston had killed 147 animals. Someone alerted the sheriff’s office and Johnston was fired on the spot. Too late for 147 animals, including “some dogs that could have made good pets for people” according to Lt. John Herell with the sheriff’s office.  But let’s face it, the death toll could have climbed even higher had she not been shown the door.

While I do not claim to know what Johnston was thinking while she was on her killfest at Lake Co, it seems to me the situation is symptomatic of our broken shelter system.  Instead of sheltering animals, they kill them.  Instead of calling it killing (which is what it is), they call it euthanasia – a kindness.  Instead of doing their jobs to protect and rehome animals, they violate their most basic right – the right to live.  When we criticize them for killing, they tell us they are doing the best they can, we all want the same thing and that we shouldn’t judge unless we are willing to go down there and kill animals ourselves.

Everything is ass backwards and tragically, this is the norm, not the exception in our broken shelter system.  When you explain to someone who would kill “just a puppy” for convenience that killing is a last resort at your facility and her job is to get animals out alive, she likely recognized the same old song and dance.  Riiiight, nobody wants to kill animals, nudge nudge, wink wink.

And then she started in doing what she apparently perceived to be her job:  Say one thing publicly, do the opposite behind closed doors.  Call it pet overpopulation, kill animals.  Blame the irresponsible public, kill animals.  Say you’re doing your best to get pets into homes, kill animals.  This is what these people do.  They are monsters.  I don’t know if they were always monsters or if working a job where they kill friendly dogs and cats for a paycheck made them that way, nor do I care.  What I care about is saving shelter pets.

If Lake Co cared about protecting the lives of the animals in their care, they wouldn’t have given this new hire a few talking points, a box of Fatal Plus and sent her on her way.  Lake Co should have built protections for the animals into the system.  No animal killing without veterinary authorization, for example.  No animal killing without approval from the sheriff’s office.  No animal killing without a minimum 2 business days notice posted online listing all animals to be killed along with their photos.  But apparently all Lake Co gave Johnston was the key to the drug cupboard and a nudge nudge wink wink directive that killing is a last resort.

Johnston is not an anomaly.  She is typical of the type of long term employee who seeks out work in pet killing facilities.  She knew the routine.  She listened to the Lake Co sheriff’s office talk about saving animals and got the message:  kill.  This is why shelter reform is so desperately needed in this country.  Not only are shelters killing animals, they are employing monsters.  In Lake Co, Johnston was stopped and the animals she hadn’t yet managed to kill got lucky.

Are the animals housed in your local pet killing facility lucky?  Or is the director there still killing at will, probably with the support of your elected officials who don’t care to know the truth?  And are you being marginalized for your animal advocacy, being told you don’t understand what a hard job it is and that nobody wants to kill animals?

To the person or persons who spoke up for the animals being needlessly killed in Lake County – thank you.  Keep going.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

61 thoughts on “Lake Co Pound Director Kills 147 animals in 9 Days, Gets Fired

  1. What I would suggest you do, BEFORE you spread mis-truths about this story is to get off your butt and actually INVESTIGATE what happen. She did NOT authorize the killing of these animals, and once the evidence is revealed and the full story of this situation comes out I suspect people like you will ignore the issues of retractions for this slanted story. It is embarrassing that you would report a story such as this and simply take the word of a sheriff involving a shelter that has long had a history of mismanagement and lying about its operations. And apparently the person who “spoke up” about this situation had her own hidden agenda in all this as well. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!

      1. All Jerry does is bash—-He rants and raves and actually does “Nothing” but that and calls that saving animals. People just ignore his negative banters as they laugh at him behind his back. We all just think it his “Napoleon Complex.” Truth is JJ was fired from MDAS for a reason, now fired AGAIN! Doesn’t 1 + 1 still = 2?

      1. You may be a wonderful shelter veterinarian, but I can tell you that if that is your main argument, it’s probably not going to fly here. There are “shelter veterinarians” who overlook the atrocities and killings that happen in too many places. What shelter do you work for? What is your save rate? What firsthand information do you have about this situation?

      2. Camile such an animal lover and I haven’t heard you stand up for the heart sticking they were doing to the cats, or what you don’t care? Jacquelyn Johnston didn’t get fired from mdas, they couldn’t do it, she had documented everything they tried to get her in trouble for. Her position was eliminated due to budget cut, very convenient all fire standing up for the animals. Db

      3. Mr. Benitez, I’m confused. Do you think heart sticking is good or bad? Your words are such a hash I can’t tell. Anyone who reads this blog at all, rather than just googling for his wife’s name, knows that Yesbiscuit very strongly opposes the cruelty of heart sticking.

  2. I just sent this to Scott Stringer’s office. Mr. Stringer is NYC Comptroller. He is the one, as Manhattan Borough President in 2013, wrote LED ASTRAY, a 30 page report on how disgusting the ACC is and what a miserable job they’re doing.
    ( A blog about it here:
    I had a meeting with his assistant, RJ, on Sunday to discuss the continued fucked up mess that is the ACC. He emailed me this morning to say ” I reached out to our policy shop re: ACC Led Astray 2.0.” He wants to have a full scale audit of the ACC. The last one was done by his predecessor and it was pretty much a rubber stamp, letting the ACC get by with murder, literally! So I hope that he passes your article above on to the policy committee. What happened in Lake Co. is pretty much what is happening here but unlike Lake Co. nobody is firing anyone at the NY ACC.

  3. Funny, (but not) before I came to see comments I said to myself I bet there’s going to be a bunch of Johnson fans! Such a nice person right? I knew one of these directors. So sweet. Massive kill rate. But nobody wanted to get involved in the politics. You know those pesky politics otherwise know as LIVE animals. If those are the numbers of the dead animals and she is the director then who did it?

    1. Frankly, I’m not sure which is worse: she killed 147 animals in 9 days or she stood by in ignorance for 9 days as 147 animals were killed right under her nose.

      1. This is my thought exactly. Even if she didn’t personally sign the final form necessary before they were killed or personally inject them with the poison or heartstick the kittens, she still stayed SILENT during her entire 9 days at animal services. She did not send out an email or call a single rescue that we know of and did not even bother to introduce before all of this went down. I believe she was also in charge of the shelter website which received one tiny half-hearted update in that whole time which isn’t going to get many animals adopted or help the networkers stay on top of things.

        When will these directors understand that being UP FRONT with employees, rescues, advocates, adopters, and the general community is the way to go?

        Suppose she didn’t make the actual order. If that was the case, why did she come to work each day and watch this happen (And there’s no way she didn’t know about it. She was in the building) without blowing the whistle on the operation herself if she had SUCH a problem with it? Obviously the animal advocates would have come to her aid and bombarded the sheriff with emails and calls of a different kind in support of her and of the animals staying alive and being given a last chance. It’s possible she could have lost her job either way but at least if she had blown the whistle herself then she wouldn’t be the one facing all the scrutiny and receiving the bulk of the hit. She would have stuck out as a real animal advocate but because she said nothing and let it happen, we can’t ever trust her again.

        I really do think that’s just as bad if not worse than if she had made the call herself (and still, I’m not convinced she didn’t.)

  4. Unfortunately, there are some, perhaps many, people who come from the “culture of killing” working at animal controls who become “rescues”, but they also “de-value” animals who can’t or won’t “do” things for people, but only AFTER the animal has exhausted their “crisis” and/or “sympathy/pity” donation value to squeeze every last cent out of naïve donors who are too kind hearted to see that some ‘rescues’ are actually “welfare rescues” whose founders are always asking for donations, but say they “try” to be self-funded” (and how can that be when they have not worked “a real job” since leaving animal control years earlier?) but then have the Open door AND OPEN HAND policy of “gimme, gimme, gimme more money so I don’t have to work”, and then the animals are “disappeared” or with “heavy hearts” (REALLY?!?!) killed just because not another penny does the rescue want to spend on an un-useable, or not easily placed animal.

    Really just sick stuff when the people who are “disassociated” from killing from working at animal controls that regularly kill animals out of convenience decide to become a ‘rescue’ instead, and then the killing continues under the guise of “kindness” with no vet reports ever posted publically for public scrutiny.

  5. I’m Jacquelyn Johnston husband, you’ll be hearing back from us. By they you got an F – on your homework. Your fail to get facts, you collected only opinions. Have great day sir, no hate over here, just a little hurt of the damage you are doing to my family. The truth will set you free.

      1. Did you ask who sign for the animals to get euthanized, they blamed my wife this week white are they going to blame next week. I currently fostering animals from mdas and I’m doig it because the other way was euthanasia. So it’s very hard when someone gets accused of something abd she never had the chance to Saud her side of the story.

      2. Mr. Benitez, was she or was she not the director during the time those animals were killed? If she was indeed the director, those animals were her responsibility. Nobody is stopping her from telling her side of the story, but the fact is that when you’re in charge then what happens under your watch is your responsibility, so I doubt anything she’ll say will change anyone’s mind.

      1. This is a legal matter already, you’ll hear the truth even time comes. I don’t have to prove myself to no-one we have save more animals than every one together in this chat.

      2. Mr. Benitez, you have no idea what people on this blog have done. None. And you seem to think it’s just mean for people to hold your wife responsible for what happened at the pound where she was the DIRECTOR. That’s not going to fly.

        And I suspect that if you talk to your wife’s lawyer, he/she will not be happy about you wandering the internet and making threats against people who criticize your wife. You are not helping her.

    1. So what’s her excuse for watching all of this happen and staying silent? I don’t care if she made the original order or was the last person to sign off on the killing or not. Anyone who can stand by in silence and watch that happen on their watch should not be running an animal shelter or calling herself an animal advocate.

      1. When you are rescue, you are a rescue 24/7 why rescues let dogs and cats get euthanized everyday . Miami population 417,650 and nobody comes forward for 8 bottle feed/neonate kittens, so the husband to the lake county county animal killer that doesn’t give a crap about animals take the kittens home and takes care of them. Does this equation sounds right.

    2. Mr. Benitez, using your own measuring stick, it would also be fair to say that you have killed more animals than everyone involved in this little chat. Since we all know each other’s business and keep totals. “I don’t have to prove myself to no-one we have save more animals than every one together in this chat.”

      1. Probably I have, I’m an animal control officer I’m certified to euthanized. I have euthanized animals hit by a car dying gasping for their last breath and I have also taken them derectly to an emergency vet because I thought they could make it. Do you know how many in my whole department does this no body. I’m the laugh of many when they find out we, yes we me and my wife spend 5000 dollars to save a stray puppy with a broken back, that the owner dumped in the streets or a parvo puppy or sick cats that the shelter policies were to euthanized. I take them all no body else does, I’m not only due the talking I do walking also. This is the type of people Lake county lost, but in a week of actually working in a place and people lying behind your back there was very little she could do. She never got the chance to mange a difference. If you want to know the truth public request who authorised euthanasia when my wife was not there.

      2. You are spending a lot of time here, making all manner of claims and accusations. It’s not clear to me what your point is.

        To clarify, are you saying that you and your wife spent $5000 of your own money to save a stray puppy? Or did you receive $5000 in donations from the public? Something else? Are you sharing this because you feel it somehow counterbalances the killing of 147 animals in 9 days at the Lake Co pound?

  6. Mr.Benitez, is there anywhere people like myself who are interested can read about your wife’s story? If you do not wish to post it publically, I can provide an email address.
    I will NOT share any information that is sent labeled “confidential. I am primarily interested in both sides of stories so I can make up my own mind.

    My comment above refers to an actual experience I had dealing with an animal control officer turned ‘rescue’ who quite frankly makes many animal control personnel look very bad indeed considering their behavior from being employed for many years with a large animal control, which they actually wrote to me and said they “disassociated” themselves from “euthanizing” animals, has extended with the same behavior in doing ‘rescue’, just not up to the same volume of “disappearing” and/or “putting down” as many animals (yet) when they can’t or won’t “do” for people, and have exhausted the “donation value” they had when “rescued”, only to be killed or “disappeared” who-knows-where.

    1. Angelsflight4ever, her side of the story was sent to the sheriff office it can be public request. Thank you for your interest of hearing the other side of the story.

      1. Clarice sent me two links this morning that quote from a letter from Johnston’s attorney to Lake Co.

        The attorney blames the killings on a rogue employee who killed the animals to get Johnston fired. The attorney also claims the vilification of Johnston in the media has led to “worldwide, non-stop death threats”, which strikes me as at least an exaggeration, if not a fabrication. I have no way of knowing how many of the other claims in the attorney’s letter might also be possible exaggerations/fabrications. But it doesn’t seem right to me.

      2. A “rogue employee” killed 147 animals? I can see how some wingnut, kill happy employee might kill animals out of spite, but seems like it he/she would only be able to kill a couple animals before the director would have seen it. This is 147 animals over 9 days. There is NO WAY that some “rogue employee” could kill that many animals and the director not know about it if she is in the building. That is over 16 animals killed every single day. How could the director NOT see the bodies piling up in the freezer or in the garbage or where ever they put the dead bodies? Seriously? That is just too ridiculous to believe.

        And, if that employee, were flagrantly disobeying the rules, why hasn’t he/she been fired as well?

      3. Maybe it’s a vast conspiracy. I agree that it doesn’t make sense. If you’re the person in charge and you fail to notice that the lab mix and the beagle and the tiger cat you petted yesterday have gone missing today – that’s one thing. But if you also fail to notice the other 146 animals who’ve disappeared, that’s neither plausible nor excusable. She thought the parade of animals to the kill room was a pajama party where the guests stayed FOREVER because somuchfun? She didn’t think to knock on the door and ask if they needed any new HANG IN THERE BABY kitten posters for the wall?

  7. I, for one, would like to hear more than threats from this director’s husband and supporters. What is the “truth”? The fact remains that there are 147 dead cats and dogs who won’t be able to live out their natural lives. And this director, as the director, is responsible for all that goes on in her animal control facility. I find Shirley to be a very fair person and to search for the facts. I have no doubt she would allow you, actually encourage you, to present the facts here.

  8. Of course Mr. Benitez is going to defend his wife. And I too would love to know what is incorrect about what Shirley posted. But honestly, if his wife was in charge of a “shelter” that killed SO MANY animals in such a short amount of time I can’t think of anything that would make me change my mind about her short of someone putting a loaded gun to her head .

  9. There are some disturbing parallels between killing culture and rape culture. Say one thing, do another, make excuses, blame the victims.

  10. One has to wonder if that was truly the husband or has this woman signed on as him Again. History repeats itself with this woman. AND anyone the disagrees with her or tells her she is wrong. Look at her MDAS history, look at the employment app. She was killing at MDAS without a Euth Cert required by law.

  11. Amazing that directors of kill shelters, go from one kill shelter to the next, and do the same thing over and over and over, somehow expecting a different result? We’ve seen this in Houston too many times. For instance, when there was an opening for the city pound’s director a few years ago, we met with the Health Dept director over and over and over and he told me that this time he was going to hire someone with “business experience”, instead of the usual “high kill shelter experience”. But, what did he do? He hired a guy who had run multiple high kill shelters in Florida.

    The only thing different in this story (and slightly hopeful) from so many stories just like it that I have read in the past, is that they actually fired the director, and they did it immediately. Most of the time, the city circles the wagons and makes a long list of excuses why they “had” to kill.

  12. Your story is total horseshit! Jacquelyn Johnston is an amazing animal advocate and was actually criticized by the directors at Miami-Dade Animal Services for NOT euthanizing enough animals! It is fairly typical in Miami to euthanize around 50+ animals per day — despite a “no-kill policy” and Jackie did her best to save as many of these as possible. Whoever the author of this article is needs to do some serious investigation and research before publishing such derogatory remarks and false statements. Don’t believe the hype!

    1. Sir, the only thing you and Ms Johnston’s husband are saying is that we are wrong and she is right. What facts do you have that we are not aware of? 147 animals died, were killed, on her watch and that is her responsibility. FACT: 147 animals are dead FACT: Ms Johnston was the director at the time these animals were killed

      Your turn . . .

    2. Did you really just use the word advocate?! There is NO advocate that I’m aware of that would kill ONE healthy animal. None, nadda. You can not advocate for an animal and then oversee its killing.

    3. This is a blog this writer can write her opinion and add facts. I do not understand why Ms Johnston doesn’t seem to like her name in the paper now. She always liked it before. She always blamed the Director of MDAS for being a killer, and now that she is a Director it is someone else’s fault. It is always someone else. And like the others that are asking the RIGHT questions, WHY didn’t she STOP the killing? She was in charge. It all happened on her watch as a DIRECTOR. So either way, she needs to answer why she let it happen, or why she made it happen.

  13. Dio Benitez I am familiar with people being blocked from trying to make a change. If this is what happened with your wife and their are higher ups that overturned her decisions then this is the place to out them. Everyone here is only interested in the animals welfare and the truth.

  14. $5000 put on our care credit, raised $1000 in donations we still owned $3000 the we have been paying little by little. We are transparent we have nothing to hide, it’s very hard to raised money in the rescue community now a days. Everyone one wants the animals saved but then they forget about the dog once the recur takes it, example I have a foster name Nikko hundreds of shares everyone wanted to save him I pulled him on foster $300 of dollars in pledges, we only got $90 dollars for his care, everyone forgot about Nikko I till have Nikko.

  15. Lr , She submitted her statement to the sheriff office, it can be public request. Her sided of the story of course they didn’t want her there because she was not going to lied to the public or the rescue community and she would stand for what’s best for the animals she had great ideas of changes, like the stupid idea of them closing the shelter on Friday because if one parvo puppy, she tried to reach out to the rescues and volunteers by sending a written statement, higher authorities said no. She told the people responsible for running the shelter to posted on Facebook and they failed. I don’t know what their point is but they are covering up dirt for somebody and the difference between her and the last director she is an honest person that would never quit helping animals.

    1. All of your comments have been published. Not one has been edited.
      You appear to be implying that either I haven’t posted a comment of yours or have edited a comment of yours – both of which are false.
      This blog is not your personal forum to make your case. I’ve given you a wide berth but your comments are very difficult to follow. I think you’ve been given more than ample space to have your say. At this point, unless there are new developments, I would ask you to stop commenting on this thread.

  16. The following link is a response to the false accusations and reporting, made by the attorney representing Ms Johnston, not only contained in this article, but many others in the press. It is NOT the full response, which I am in possession of but just a quick version as reported by this source. As to Ms Loge’s rantings about me, I could care less. She has done NOTHING in shelter reform advocacy to ever illicit a response from me. To those who truly know my work, it stands on its merits and I have no reason or desire to respond to her inaccuracies or uneducated responses. This is and will continue to be about the sad situation in Lake County and NOT about me or anything else and it is sad that someone would attempt to make it otherwise as she clearly is trying to do.

      1. I’m starting to love your blog why are shutting me down, are you friend with someone that’s doesn’t want to hear the truth. I’m screen shot all my post I’ll see if you don’t let express my ideas and defend my wife.

  17. How come they didn’t fired the person that signed and killed the animals, why didn’t they gave my wife the power to fired to fired the employee that failed to follow standing protocols when she was not there and how convenient that they broke protocol when she was 300 miles away. You ask the questions? It’s your county and this people are still working there. They are very nice people there don’t get me wrong, but the person that was transparent abd would not lied to the public they got rid off.

  18. Heart sticking is the worst thing you can do to an animal it’s painful and inhumane and it’s also illegal if the animal is not unconscious.(meaning under anesthesia)

  19. I don’t have a dog in this fight but I know Lake County. The SO as far as I am concerned is enept- they seem to have a network both within the dept and with certain civilians that is almost like the mob. The fact that there were financial/bookkeeping issues as reported in the audit could mean the SO and their buds at AC didn’t want the pilfering to be found out. Nothing surprises me about shams in Florida government.
    What makes no sense is that the NEW director is claiming she wasn’t on the job but was 300 miles away when the murders took place. I can tell you if it were me I would be on my soap box hammering the required life saving rules and taking each “sick” animals case one by one and getting the staff behind saving them.
    At this point I would want to know that the animals were actually murdered and not sent out to a dog fighting ring. Anything is possible in that place.

    1. Sorry to sound critical, but hate the expression “don’t have a dog in this fight”. Makes that instant connection for me between pits = fighting dogs.

  20. Oops- sounds like they kept 40 dogs out of sight so Fergy could get her rocks off killing….Lake County needs a Federal Investigation- because more than killing animals is at stake in that crapola place.

  21. Sorry DB- I will try and be more aware of this sensitivity in the future. It’s like the “dead cat bounce” which I also find offensive.

  22. Something is rotten in Lake County. True, the underlings don’t sound like animal saviors. However,even if Ms. Johnston wasn’t “aware” of all the killings, she isn’t a No Kill Advocate either. Her rebuttal pieces contain the usual apologist language. She was “hoping” to end heart sticking, “hoping” to one day stop killing so many, (yah I am paraphrasing) she was just taking orders (from a subordinate no less?) etc etc. Nothing about how she insisted on the end of killing of healthy and treatable animals from the day she entered office and nada on how they were going to proactively accomplish this mandate. As my father always said fish stinks from the head. ( No offense meant to fish)

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