The Animal Shelter Killing Room

Dead Cats and Dogs at a shelter
Dead Cats and Dogs at a shelter. Photographer: unknown.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Although very unpleasant, this is a picture that we should all see. Some PoC visitors have already seen it.

“….all of you people who have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or humane society should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes…..” (shelter manager commenting on the photo)

We discuss animal shelters quite a lot because it is where acts of life and death happen every day. They are very important places. You can’t get more important in the cat and dog world than the premature death of a healthy cat or dog.

Apparently the picture comes from Tri-Cities Craigslist (not sure what that is). A shelter manager posted the picture. Another shelter manager makes these points:

“….If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door…”

This is what the shelter manager says about killing. It is so poignant and it hurts. I have to quote him because he says and he sees it.

“Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room“, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.

When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.

What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?”

The shelter manager says he hates his job because he deals with this everyday.

People who surrender their cat because “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat)” and other feeble excuses should go to the shelter outhouse and watch and think and go away with their cat or dog and love him for the rest of his life.

To many people, animal shelters are sanitised places to kill your cat or dog. There is a counter and a person smiles at you when you walk in with your pet. You convince yourself that you are “rehoming” your pet. You block out the possibility of your “family member” being killed in the “Room”.  It is all a charade. Or you just don’t give a damn.

The solution is in the hands of people who want to keep a cat or dog.

Note: I would like to thank Dee for finding the picture and telling me about it.

16 thoughts on “The Animal Shelter Killing Room”

  1. How is it that owners are blamed for killing their pets when it is the people or so called “staff” that is killing them. Thats very sick.

  2. Just what exactly did you all think happened to the dead animals? Placed in little boxes with a toy on a fluffy cushion? The important thing is if they absolutely had to be euthanized it was done painlessly.
    Keep your tears for the Asian cats and dogs that die so horribly.

    • You make a good point about the Asian cats and dogs. Mind you not all cats and dogs in the West are euthanized painlessly. What about gas chambers. They are being phased out but they weren’t that uncommon in the USA at one time.

  3. I volunteered in a city shelter for 2 years, as a “cat cuddler”, although I did other things like feeding and cleaning cages/rooms. The shelter provided FREE and low cost neutering for city residents, and FREE microchipping.

    They had a yearly event called The Mutt Strutt, where dog guardians paid entry fees to compete, and vendors sold products. The last event made $10,000. This shelter also has a non-profit called The Shelter League, which provides funding for senior residents who need help with vet bills.

    The reality of shelter is that they have a limited amount of space, so they can’t take every surrender that comes to the door. Some pets come in with problems that make them “unadoptable”, so rather than keep those animals, and turn away others, they euthanize.

    If they are adoptable, but not moving, the shelter will transfer them to another shelter, and many times this helps the animal get placed.

    Shelters rely on volunteers. This shelter has over 100 volunteers, with a special summer program for teens. There’s a lot of turn over, so training has to be done on a regular basis. Many teens don’t have responsibilities for cleaning at home, and don’t know how to sweep or mop a floor. I found that even with supervision, many took short cuts.

    My main concern was in “kitten season”. Volunteers would place the food/water dishes near the litter box, when a better choice would be the alternate side of the cage. The litter got into the food and water, and then into the kitten’s tummies. Also, even though there were signs not to use “clumping litter” with kittens, it was still used. This caused kittens to die from ingesting it.

    Kittens whose eyes are not open yet are euthanized because they don’t have time to devote to them.

    Sometimes it is actually necessary to surrender and animal due to a move. I find more and more rental ads that say “no pets”. It’s very disheartening, and knowing that at some point I’ll have to move, I worry about this.

    My roommate’s cat, has done a lot of damage to the carpet because she’s left alone a lot. So, I understand why landlords are reluctant to rent to people with pets. Some ask very high deposits to cover potential damage.

    I’m just saying, let’s not condemn all guardians who find it necessary to surrender their pets when they need to move, and can’t find a place that accepts them.

    I hesitated to get a cat at my age, which was then 68, because I was concerned about not having money to take them to the vet, and also the fact that many landlords won’t take animals.

    I rescued my “unadoptable” cat when I worked at the shelter, days before she was to be euthanized. I begged my landlord to let me keep her in my room. Since she had been a semi-feral, she really wanted out, and did a fair amount of scratching carpet and doors.

    I got a velcro halter and leash so she could get outside, and that seemed to make her happy. Now, we’re renting a room in a mobile home that has a porch off my bedroom. I’ve enclosed it in wire, so she can’t get out, but can see the birds and other cats.

    But I will have to move at some point, and all the ads I look at say “no pets”….

  4. It has always been a no-kill shelter, and they will keep an animal for as long as it takes to get them adopted. If they should happen to have some room, they will also pull at-risk animals from other shelters in the state that do euthanize pets.

    There are some great “cat shelters” who live up to their name. The difference in standards and attitude surprises me. Some seem to push the “kill button” too eagerly while others bend over backwards to find a home. It must be down to the manager.

  5. This is such a horrible situation, and it always saddens me to think of the poor animals who are taken to kill shelters for no offense other than that they were considered “inconvenient.”

    I will say, though, that the shelter in our town is one of the exceptions. It has always been a no-kill shelter, and they will keep an animal for as long as it takes to get them adopted. If they should happen to have some room, they will also pull at-risk animals from other shelters in the state that do euthanize pets.

    One cat I adopted from them a number of years ago had been abandoned by her family when they moved when she was 14 years old. She stayed at the shelter for a year because everybody thought she was “too old” and refused to adopt her. They used to give her extra wet food to make life a bit more pleasant for her and tried their best to keep her comfortable and as happy as possible.

    When I went to the shelter looking for a cat, I couldn’t leave her there to die in a cage, so, at the ripe old age of 15, she came to live with me. She was a tortie and very small, but she ruled the house for a year and a half with an iron paw. I never regretted adopting her, and I am quite proud to live in a town that cares for and values its animal inhabitants and protects them as best they can.


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