Alabama Shelter Kills 30 Big Dogs After Adoption Event

In a newspaper interview, Montgomery Humane Society’s executive director Steven Tears lamented the number of dogs being surrendered lately, especially the ones over 50 pounds:

Only one name [on the adoption board] belongs to a bigger dog, one of more than two dozen medium-to-large dogs up for adoption at the Montgomery animal shelter’s main facility. And down a short walkway out of sight, dozens more are waiting in an intake and processing area for a chance to take their place while a stretched staff assesses and cares for them.


Those that make it through three levels of staging and waiting areas may get a chance to meet people interested in adoption.

By early this month the shelter had so many surrenders that they posted a plea for help on social media. They held a weekend adoption event, and a donor helped offset the fees that are usually associated with adoptions. They found homes for 79 animals at that event, mostly cats, kittens and puppies.

The day after the event, they euthanized 30 big dogs.

“We tried everything. Their adoption fees were next to nothing,” Tears said.


“We’re battling compassion fatigue, for sure.”

Well, Montgomery Humane didn’t try everything. Here are some things they can and should try immediately:

1. List every pet, including those on any kind of processing or other hold, in foster care or with an adoption pending, online with a photo. When I looked up Montgomery Humane’s adoptables and filtered for dogs, the first page showed roughly half the listings with no photo. Adopters don’t fall in love with a name. Get that photo, no excuses.

Screenshot taken July 29, 2021 from the first page of adoptable dogs listed by the Montgomery Humane Society at

2. Let potential adopters who come in looking for a pet meet as many dogs as possible, preferably all of them. There might be a case where a dog is very ill, severely injured or otherwise compromised and should not have visits from the public. That’s understandable and acceptable so long as the dog’s photo and info are listed on the shelter’s website and in the lobby. Other than that, stop obstructing the chances for adoption by locking dogs up in the back room. No one can fall in love with a dog who is literally “out of sight”.

3. Hold more weekend adoption events – every weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Montgomery Humane adopted out 79 pets at the one mentioned in the article – that’s great. More of those, definitely.

4. Take killing off the table and let the world know. Once killing for space is no longer happening, I’m betting staff and volunteers (which there will be more of) will not be suffering from compassion fatigue to the extent they are right now. Killing is the enemy of compassion and the opposite of sheltering. Look at the many open admission no kill shelters around the country for model programs.

5. Instead of offering reduced adoption fees, offer pay-what-you-will adoption fees. Try it for a month, see how it goes. If it’s helping to get pets into homes, try it for another month. Some adopters will pay less than your regular fee, some will pay more. Allow them to determine the donation amount that fits their budget.

Anyway, that’s enough of me prattling on. Montgomery Humane staff and volunteers probably have their own ideas about how to adopt their way out of killing. Right? I just hope they implement them before any more pets are killed.

4 thoughts on “Alabama Shelter Kills 30 Big Dogs After Adoption Event

    1. I’m the co-founder of Foster Paws Rescue, a cat rescue group in Upstate SC. I was told that I was insane for implementing “no fee” adoptions, later called “pay what you will” adoptions. Over a period of six years, we adopted out more cats than any other cat rescue group in the south within Pet Smart Charities, had a low return rate, plus an ever growing foster and volunteer roster.. Adopters came back and adopted a second or third cat from the group. A live save rate of 90%+ can be achieved. Does it take a heroic effort? Yes, it does, but if a shelter or rescue group is willing to work with the public, instead of vilifying them, the public will step up and adopt. Happy tails are the result.

  1. If the Retail Re$cues would stop trafficking in dogs from Korea, China, the Middle East, the Philippines and Mexico (along with fun diseases like active rabies-including a new strain resistant to current vaccines in the US- new strains of parvovirus and distemper, canine influenza and brucellosis; plus fun parasites like the Asian longhorn swarming tick, the parasite that causes leishmaniasis and who knows what else, there’d be plenty of people willing to buy a dog from the $helter Pet $tore.
    Unfortunately these trafficked dogs from unknown and unregulated sources are takingvspaces from dogs already IN shelters.
    THAT’S where the trouble lies.

  2. This is inexcusable and I’m terribly disappointed in this organization which enjoys a stellar reputation. So more owned animals were being brought to the facility – it is not obligated to take those animals. How about managed intake? How about doing community outreach to get to the heart of why people felt surrender was their only option? I know shelters all over are having trouble as people decide to finally take vacation or they try to navigate having their children safely return to school. But is no argument for the shelter to act like it did not see this coming and made no plans.

    I think what makes me the most angry is they had an adoption event and the public responded. But they killed dogs the next day. Why not thank the public for helping and plan the next event instead? Why not waive fees entirely? Why not do something other than throw your hands up in the air and act like you have no choice.

    I live in Alabama and will inquire as to what is really going on in Montgomery.

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