Dallas Pound Secretly Kills Four Dogs Slated for Rescue

 Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.
Photo attributed to Deborah Whittington, as shown on the Daily Mail website.

Dallas Animal Services functions primarily as a pet killing facility, killing more than half of the animals taken in last year.  You don’t earn the moniker “pet killing facility” without putting forth some effort – specifically, killing most of the animals in your care.  There is not going to be a whole lot in the way of justifications for killing.  It’s just the thing you mainly do to your animals.

So hardly a surprise to read that on January 1, the Dallas pound killed 4 dogs who were slated for rescue.  The dogs were reportedly part of a larger group whom local rescuers were getting into foster homes after the owner reached out for help.  Rescuers say they in turn reached out to Dallas Animal Services for temporary assistance with 4 of the dogs in order to buy time to secure more fosters.  There was reportedly an agreement between rescuers and Dallas Animal Services that the dogs would be listed under “protective custody” which indicates a 10 day hold.  But at the pound, the dogs were listed as “owner surrenders” which indicates they are eligible for immediate killing, at the discretion of pound workers.  The pound housed the dogs for 2 days, then killed all 4, citing “health and behavior”.  When rescuers tried to visit the dogs a few days later, they learned of the killings.

Dallas Animal Services released this statement:

On Tuesday, Dec. 30, Dallas Animal Services officers picked up four dogs. The owner gave the dogs to DAS in hopes of finding them a new home. They ranged in age from about one to eight-years old. The officers took the animals to the City shelter, where they were entered into the system as “owner surrenders.” Two days later, on Jan. 1, all four dogs were euthanized by DAS staff based on their health and behavior.

On Monday, Jan. 5, community members said potential homes had been found for the dogs. DAS is now conducting a complete investigation to determine if system failures and/or performance issues may have contributed to the incident. Once the investigation is complete, we will share our findings and potential next steps.

Euthanasia of animals is tough enough for employees. To know that four dogs may have been euthanized in error has devastated staff, and they are also eager to look for ways to prevent incidents like this in the future. We mourn the loss of homeless animals that can be saved. DAS prides itself on caring for thousands of animals that staff members come into contact with each year. The City, DAS and community remain committed to our life-saving efforts and continued progress in this area.

Oh gee, I hope no one was swigging coffee when reading that part about being “committed to life-saving efforts and continued progress”.  If so, I hope your keyboard doesn’t stay sticky for too long.

Rescuers dispute the city’s claim that the dogs had behavioral problems requiring death and have filed a complaint with the city manager.  Dallas Animal Services is investigating itself in the matter.

Here’s the problem:  While advocating for the right that these 4 dogs had to live is a worthy effort, it does nothing to change the fact that Dallas taxpayers are paying for a “shelter” which primarily kills animals.  It does not alter the pound’s policy that owner surrenders are eligible for immediate killing, if workers so choose, without so much as a phone call, email or internet posting notifying anyone of the intention to kill.  This policy is entirely inconsistent with the “lifesaving efforts” the pound claims it is committed to and effectively dooms any animal listed, correctly or incorrectly, as “owner surrender” to the whim of whomever is making up the kill list for the day.  Pets whom the public is willing to save will continue to be killed under this system, as should be obvious.  And many more owner surrendered pets whom the public might be able to save if only they knew the animals needed help, will also continue to be killed.

Dallas Animal Services needs to immediately dispense with its killing for convenience policies and at the very least, adopt a slightly more progressive approach.  All animals, except those few deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian, should be guaranteed at least a chance to survive the pound.  Killing animals without a minimum of 2 business days notice to the public should be summarily abandoned.  Advance notification to all interested parties, including rescuers and potential adopters, should be made in addition to the public notices posted online for each individual animal.

It is human nature to hide those things of which we are ashamed and thus we see so much secrecy in the kill rooms of our animal shelters.  But that doesn’t make it any less objectionable.  As taxpayers, we must demand our shelters do their jobs and actually shelter animals.  Those who refuse must be held accountable through transparent government policies and actions. If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

16 thoughts on “Dallas Pound Secretly Kills Four Dogs Slated for Rescue

  1. Not surprised at the killings and not surprised at the rationalizing. It’s what we come to expect from some of these killing factories. Now, what are the people of Dallas going to do about it? I’m sorry for all of the animals that end up in these cesspools of ugly.


  2. these extermination facilities for dogs do nothing else but kill day after day. I am not the slightest bit surprised that this happens; it us simply what they do , and the rationalization and pseudo-apology is predictably disingenuous. Taxpayers must demand that these horrible institutions and policies are exposed to public ridicule and debate . A civilized society deserves so much better than this for their temporarily homeless animals . This is as usual shameful and appalling behavior, as is the daily slaughter of innocents in San Antonio.


  3. I don’t think these pro-kill facilities are all that ashamed of it. Rather, I think what they fear is interference which might prove disruptive to local power structures.


  4. DAS is the same pound where Nina Pham’s dog Bentley was quarantined and monitored. Nina Pham is the nurse who survived Ebola. I hate to think what the outcome for Bentley might have been if the eyes of the world had not been watching. I wonder if she would still support DAS if she knew how easily they kill adoptable dogs.


  5. Allow me to take the counter position for just a second. Knowing that DAS is a high kill shelter, why would a rescuer allow them to be taken to a shelter knowing the risk of even an accidental euthanasia could happen? It just flabergasts me that all these people out “rescuing” dogs take them to kill shelters. How is this saving animals? I think some of the rescuers need to take some of the blame for this. If they had homes lined up, couldn’t someone foster the animals until those homes opened up rather than take them to a shelter where dozens of animals are brought in daily, risking those animals getting lost in the shuffle?

    People every day bring animals to shelters thinking they were doing the “right thing” by getting this animal off the street to save it from danger and then 3 days later the shelters put those animals down. How is this a rescue? How is that saving lives? People pick up strays but don’t have any way to care for them so they dump them into shelters where they will most likely be euthanized. Then they are out of sight, out of mind. What happens to them in the shelter doesn’t matter because the “rescuer” feels all warm and fuzzy inside for having got this animal off the street.

    My point is, more than just the shelter is to blame for the loss of life. So called animal lovers take strays to shelters every day hoping they will find a home when we know from statistics and experience that most of them will not.


    1. There generally isn’t an immediate and endless supply of foster homes. If your rescue organization or shelter has access to such, please share their secret. This rescue didn’t have foster homes available for these dogs yet, and the rescue had an agreement with DAS, which DAS violated. “Rescuers say they in turn reached out to Dallas Animal Services for temporary assistance with 4 of the dogs in order to buy time to secure more fosters. There was reportedly an agreement between rescuers and Dallas Animal Services that the dogs would be listed under ‘protective custody’ which indicates a 10 day hold.”

      The rescue did not kill these dogs. They tried to save them. DAS killed the dogs.


  6. I’d be very surprised if the staff responsible said more than, “Oh? Whoops.” about four more unnecessary deaths. Once you spend so much time killing, it doesn’t “devastate” you, it’s just a thing you do…


  7. This is the same facility that allowed a cat to slowly starve to death inside their very own walls. They heard her crying for DAYS and did nothing to help her. They didn’t bother to try to get her out until her body started stinking up their breakroom. I believe that the manager at that time, got fired or re-assigned. But, it appears that they hired the same type of monsters to take up where the last one left off.


  8. Hold on, hold on. We’re blaming a known high kill shelter for doing something we know they do. Do the “rescuers” of these animals have no responsibility here? It’s okay for an animal lover to take a dog off the streets in the name of saving the animal and yet that same animal lover takes the dog to a high kill shelter which will end up putting the dog down in 3 days? Even if DAS knew they had homes, what sense does it make to pull an animal off the streets and put them into a high risk situation? We have seen time and time again where shelters have put down animals that had owners or homes waiting for them. If the rescuers were so concerned with these animals, why didn’t they foster them, or find a foster for them. A safe house until they could go to their final forever homes?

    I’m not saying what DAS did was right, but every day so called rescuers and animal lovers take animals off the streets and deliver them to high kill shelters. How is this a rescue? How is this a better fate for the animal? Taking a dog off the streets and putting them into a crowded shelter with high kill rates dooms this animal to a death sentence.

    I’m sure there are employees at DAS that are truly mortified at what happened. Maybe even a few that feel some guilt and remorse for what happened. But DAS is a high volume shelter. Over 30,000 animals come through their doors per year. That’s 82 animals per day, every day. Winograd talks about having more people wanting dogs than are killed in shelters, but where are all these people? Unless the news picks up a story like the Empty The Shelter event, adopters don’t come out in droves. They trickle in, leaving tons of animals in shelters with more coming in every day. The shelters are full, the rescues are full. Where do we put them? I don’t see lines of people offering to foster animals that are waiting for homes. Sure it’s easy to blame the shelters, but doesn’t society and the community at large bear some responsibility? Everyone wants to save the animals but no one wants to do the work. They want someone else to do it. The old 10% of the people doing 90% of the work adage.

    What is the answer? Who knows? If it was that simple, wouldn’t we be doing it already? How about attacking the problem at the source instead of blaming the ones that get the end result. More and better mandatory spay/neuter laws. Our anti-puppy mill state law says that to be considered a breeder you must have at least 11 breeding females and no more than 50. Think about that. 11 breeding females having two litters of 8 per year. The law is a waste of time. Lets start hitting the legislators up for stronger laws regarding pets and pet ownership, mandatory sterilization, mandatory microchipping. Lets educate our school children about responsible pet ownership. We have been attacking shelters for years for euthanizing animals. Sure it’s better now than it was a few years ago, but we still have a long way to go. But I think we need to prevent the animals from going into shelters to begin with. Then we don’t have to rely on the government (a mindless entity with no face) to not kill animals.


  9. Hmmm, Patrice & Thomas Payne – same people, different names…? Both willing to let tax-payer funded ‘shelters’ off the hook to continue doing the shitty, immoral job they’ve been doing – and will continue to do unless forced by tax-payers and other interested parties. Nice try, but NO.


  10. I am hoping that all this attention on DAS will help Joyce get her Pomeranian back of 14 years that DAS quickly sent off to rescue even after they had a lost dog report on him when the dog came in.





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