The cats I took to a shelter may have been used to train Emergency Medical Technicians


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Sadly, I was forced to abandon cats at a shelter 24 years ago. Back then, I was young and naive and truly believed that shelters helped animals. After all, I had adopted a kitten from one.

Before you curse me, please understand that this is a very hard thing to say. My mother passed away and I was left with the care of her beloved cats. I am not sure how many there were at that time.

My husband decided to move in with his brother and sister-in-law to help ease the financial burden for both families. She was pregnant at the time with their first child. All of us could save money and our rent would only be $100/month rather than $300 which sounded nice since Mike, my husband was going to college out of town. But I didn’t like the idea at all. Something told me “NO!!!” but I didn’t listen. I had no way to prove my argument. We moved in with Ann and Chuck the first of December.

My husband insisted that I could NOT take the cats with me. I was allowed to keep my cat (the shelter rescue) and three of my mother’s cats because he didn’t feel that these three would be adoptable. It broke my heart, but I had to decide between the oath that I had taken before God or give my mother’s cats to a shelter for adoption. I believed that I made the right choice. I believed that the shelter would find homes for them just like my shelter baby found a home with me.

There were two shelters near us. One was about 30 miles away and the other was possibly 20. I chose the closer one, Richmond County Animal Shelter (RCAS).

I believed that shelters were there to help animals, so I reluctantly loaded them all up in my car and we drove them to the shelter. It was a very unpleasant experience. The shelter staff kept asking me over and over why I was surrendering them. I told them the cats belonged to my mother who died and we had to move and couldn’t take them with us. They were all adults and spayed/neutered except one. They were so trusting.

I have thought about them over the years and wished things could have been different. I would have loved for them to stay with me and live out their lives together. But believing that they found homes, my conscience was not bothered.

Although a piece of me died that day because I took my mother’s cats there. I have been haunted with nightmares since then because I broke a promise to my mother. I have even cried myself to sleep thinking about them. I feel like a horrible monster. I founded Save Our Paws to try to help save other cats, both from declawing and from kill shelters.

Fast forward to today: A couple of years ago, I found out from a friend who was an Emergency Medical Technician that the shelter I surrendered my mother’s cats to had an agreement with the local EMS training hospital. They sent live cats to the hospital so that EMTs could learn how to properly handle trauma patients, accidental amputations, and severed arteries. They used LIVE animals to amputate limbs in order for these students to learn how to close blood vessels and stop bleeding in trauma patients. I presume that the cats were killed when they ran out of limbs. I do not know if these poor cats were kept asleep the entire time they were at the hospital, but I doubt it. I don’t know for certain that any of my mother’s cats ended up there, but my heart says they did. None of them were little kittens. They had all been fixed.

I pray that those cats and my mother are able to forgive me because I can not forgive myself. I feel as though I committed a great sin. I have even prayed for forgiveness. I know God will forgive me and comfort me someday. I guess it is not yet time for my sorrows to be comforted. Soon, I hope. I am so tired of carrying this horrific burden of guilt. That is the only reason I broke down and shared with you.

I know that most of you who read this will think “Good! You deserve to feel that way!” I completely understand how you feel. I just pray that none of you are forced into the same situation because it is not worth it to me.

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13 thoughts on “The cats I took to a shelter may have been used to train Emergency Medical Technicians”

    • Thank you Dee. It is difficult, but I am learning to “put my behind in the past” as Pumbaa would say. 🙂

      Big Lion King fans here!

  1. Thank you Michael for posting this article. Since sharing my story on a previous article, I have been so blessed!

    I am still shedding tears when I think of those cats and my mother’s trust, but I don’t feel the heart-crushing pain and guilt I felt a couple of days ago when I first shared. I suppose the tears take longer to go away.

    I feel like the injured Jew, beaten and left to die on the side of the road. I never dreamed that so many Good Samaritans would come to my aid. Thank God for sending all of you my way!

    • It is my great pleasure. And thank you for having the courage to share your story. It is a strong story. It immediately caught my eye. We all want you to feel better about it. It is hard to get over these events. I speak from personal experience but not the same sort.

      Any future comments you make will be published immediately without moderation.

      • Thank you. I followed Michele’s link above and the article is fantastic for relieving guilt. I highly recommend it to others. It is also a blessing to have so many who are so supportive. Thank you everyone!

  2. Please don’t beat yourself up anymore. The reason you feel this way is because you are a good and caring person. You surrendered those cats to the shelter in good faith that they would be re-homed and perhaps they were. Had you been aware of the shelter’s arrangement with training EMTs, then I know you would have taken them elsewhere. You must not blame yourself for not knowing their secret.

    When one of my cats had to be euthanised after a vet over-sedated her for a routine blood test, I carried the guilt of choosing a bad for years. Her final day haunted my every waking moment and I could never think of her without crying. Then I came across an article called “Breaking the Power of Guilt” written especially for grieving pet owners. It was a great source of comfort to me and I hope it can do the same for you.

  3. No, you won’t get any anger or guilt trip from me. You surrendered those cats hoping that the shelter would do right by them. They didn’t. You’re not at fault, nor are you to blame.

    I was in a similar situation years ago. I surrendered a litter of six kittens to the local Animal Protective Association. Before I did I called in and asked what the qualifications were. The person on the phone told me that the kittens had to be at least 2 pounds in weight. This was my first time doing this and I had no idea what other questions to ask. Long story short, two weeks later a friend and I took the kittens out to the APA, and that night I received a call from the shelter director saying that the entire group had been euthanized because one tested positive for Feline HIV. I was guilty and heartbroken. Sometimes even today I still grieve for those little ones. They deserved better.

    One of my friends is a vet tech in another state. When I told her what happened, she immediately asked me if the person on the phone said anything about how old the kittens had to be. I said no; all that was mentioned was the weight. I told her that half of the kittens were barely 2 months old. My friend told me that the person on the phone was probably a volunteer. The weight was important, but so was the age of the kittens, because being just babies more than likely they would come up with a false positive on the test. My friend explained that at her vet’s office they saw young kittens who tested positive for this disease or that, and on several occasions the same kittens tested clean in a month or so. Since the shelter had to protect their existing pool of cats, and had no way of knowing if the test was true or not, all of the kittens I brought in were killed. I understood that on some level, but I still felt very VERY angry. I would have kept those kittens for at least another month or two. I’d gotten them that far, why not? None of them were sick. They were the cutest kittens I’ve ever seen.

    I said all that to ask you not to judge yourself harshly. Sometimes a person can do the right thing and still end up with a bad result. Anyone who tries to make you feel guilty is clueless.

    • Thank you Serbella. I am glad you shared your story with me. I am sorry that so many “shelters” are hiding behind facades and not showing their true colors until it is too late. God is working on healing my heart. I pray He is doing the same for you. 🙂

  4. crying as I read this. . . my heart just goes out to you. . . I thank God EVERY day that I am in a place that has allowed me to keep 12 kitties in my small apartment (all adopted/rescued). . .I cannot imagine the grief you are feeling for those kitties who were your Mom’s pride and joy. . .In any event, I will keep you in my prayers. . .Trust me, God has forgiven you for something you had little control over and did not have knowledge about. I am a fan of your Save Our Paws page. . . God bless you in all you are continuing to do for the babies. . . ♥♥♥

    • Thank you Diane. I do feel that my healing journey has begun, the first moment that I shared this story. God is Good! All the time! And He always answers prayers, but in His own way and time.

      Thank you for liking Save Our Paws. I hope it helps cats everywhere.

  5. I for one “DON’T” think you deserve to feel that way. You were hoping the shelter would care for these cats (you were young and trusting). Your mom loved these cats and you wanted to keep them but were not able to. I’m very sorry that you were not able to. I truly am!!! I think…it would have crushed me if I were you (to find out years later..what happened to them). That’s heartbreaking 🙁 I feel for you … it would make anyone sad. I hope that most don’t judge you harshly. I think…you’re more likely to feel bad enough without the cruelty of others.


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