Branch of U.S. Department of Agriculture Illegally Killing Pets

By Elisa Black-Taylor

According to Fox news¹ hundreds of family pets have been killed over the past decade by a little-known program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The name goes by Wildlife Services, which has a Predator Control division that we as taxpayers help fund. There are also plenty of allegations of wild animal abuses.

Wild Life Services animal cruelty
Wild Life Services animal cruelty. Comment from Michael: I have decided that this picture is in the public domain. The words were added by me from a Facebook caption.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Predator Control goes about this using several different methods. These include the setting of body-gripping conibear traps and leg hold snares. While these traps are meant to ensnare what the government calls a threat to people, agriculture or the environment, they also trap family pets. One reason is because these traps are often set close to residential neighborhoods. A family won’t even know they live close to one, except for perhaps a small sign listing the area as government property.

A few neighborhood associations have allowed the traps be set on their property when told it was to kill off some of the nutria (think large rats) that were negatively impacting the environment. They were never told of the dangers this could present to small pets or children in the neighborhood.

Not only are the conibear traps used, sodium cyanide capsules, known as M-44’s, are set to explode should a dog or cat use it’s snout to investigate the capsule.

As it turns out, it’s a violation of the Environmental Protection Agency rules to set any of these traps so close to residential neighborhoods.

I’m giving you a direct quote here as to what happens to cats and dogs when they are caught and/or killed. The Fox news article had a Predator Control management source state

“employees are told not to document the accidental killing of pets if it can be avoided. They are told to get rid of the leash and bury the dog.”

The Predator Control division can get away with murdering family pets, and it’s alleged in Arizona, California and Minnesota, they’re encouraged to do so. All the employee has to do is state he thought the animal rabid, vicious or feral. My guess is that would include any feral cats they come across.

Wildlife Services tries to minimize the killing of family pets by calling them “rare.” At the same time, one employee told Fox that he estimates the number of pets he’s killed over the past decade as at least 400.

A report by the Sacramento Bee told a different story. The Bee did an investigative report, and concluded at least 50,000 non target animals had been killed since 2000, with more than 1,000 dogs. This doesn’t include the number severely injured by the traps.

I haven’t found any statistics for the number of small children or adults caught in these traps, but I did read it’s happened in the past.

One Wildlife Services employee, Russell Files, was arrested a few months ago in Arizona for setting up a government snare for personal reasons in an effort to trap a neighbor’s dog. He was charged by local police with animal cruelty.

The government will likely continue to trap family pets, as pet owners have little recourse when suing the U.S. Government. They have limited liability in a lawsuit, and pet owners are responsible for their own legal fees.

I just wanted to write this to warn the readers in the U.S. this is taking place and it’s perfectly legal. What do you think? Do the benefits of killing predatory animals that would harm livestock outweigh the risk of killing or maiming a family pet or feral cat who has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?



  1. Click for URL of Fox news page (opens new window/tab) – over time, some links fail to work, please note.
  2. Comment from Michael: there is a report too that employees of this government agency were witnessed giving cyanide to dogs (“shot into their mouths”) destined to be euthanised while other employees were forced to watch. Sounds horrendous and totally illegal.

5 thoughts on “Branch of U.S. Department of Agriculture Illegally Killing Pets”

  1. It should be illegal to trap animals as the one in the photo above. There is probably no worse way to die than starving to death whilst your foot is crushed in a stupid metal trap. Trappers are the worst of the worst in my opinion. You can’t get a more cowardly and cruel way to kill an animal than to shoot it while it’s trapped with a broken foot or leg. People who do that are no better than child molestors, in my opinion they are worse even.

  2. As horrible as this is it does not suprise me one bit. Any organisation in the US with the word ‘animal’ or ‘wildlife’ in it is probably a horrible organisation full of animal disrespecting/hating *ssh*l*s – also the word shelter in the US has a very opposing meaning. This story is just incredibly and depressingly typical and falls into the general pattern of things there I guess.

  3. Well spotted Elisa. The story is horrendous. However, it does not surprise me one bit. I am sure a lot more illegality goes in government agencies and departments that we have no idea about. And that goes for any country including the UK.

    When it comes to animals there is little in the way of rights and protection for them behind closed doors or in semi-secret departments of government.

    One of the problems, which I have to refer to again, is the large number of stray companion animals wandering around. This devalues companion animals in the eyes of people who have dubious morals.


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