The disturbing truth behind a viral Facebook photograph of a queue outside a Texas animal shelter

A photograph of a queue of people outside a Texas animal shelter, BARC, published on Facebook went viral. On 27th June 2017, an organisation, Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (SNARR), said that it showed a line of people surrendering their pets and that the all animals would be put down. The description was graphic and no doubt intended to highlight the unacceptable level of pet surrenders at animal rescue shelters.

“I want you all to take a good look at this photo. And then share the hell out of it.

This is the line at the Houston, Texas city shelter today [27 June 2017] to surrender animals. These dogs and cats are about to be DUMPED the face a death sentence…..”

Subsequently, a couple of large websites, and became involved to discover the truth behind the photograph. actually tracked down one of the people in the queue and asked questions. After some excellent research they concluded that statistically around 14% of the animals in the photograph were likely to be euthanised. This is in stark contrast to the allegations made by SNARR.

One aspect of the story is that the events unfolded on 27 June 2017, not long before fourth of July celebrations. On the one hand, we had people effectively killing their pets and on the other hand we have people about to enjoy themselves in the sun during celebrations. On the face of it, it presented a harsh criticism of the human race.

SNARR it would seem exaggerated things to make a point but the truth isn’t that good either. came to the conclusion that 52 out of 211 animals (a quarter of the animals) were brought to the shelter on that day by their owners to be surrendered. Twice as many were actually strays or lost dogs.

However, what struck me as surprising is that impliedly defends these pet owners in the queue despite the fact that a quarter of them are surrendering their pets. I would have thought that one quarter is a very high percentage indeed. I don’t think it is a statistic which should be brushed aside and by implication to be seen as acceptable. There is a case to criticise pet owners in this photo. That point needs to be made because it is said that such a queue can be seen across America in very many shelters. If that is the case then there as far as I am concerned there is a very high level of animal surrenders.

This viral photograph also tells us that animal advocates must be particularly cautious when making their point. They cannot exaggerate and they cannot mislead the public no matter how passionate they are about animal rights and animal advocacy. Eventually they will be found out and it will undermine their argument.

6 thoughts on “The disturbing truth behind a viral Facebook photograph of a queue outside a Texas animal shelter”

  1. If people can surrender their pets, without any emotion, I think the animals may be better off dead, or given a second chance with a caring pet guardian.

    There are extenuating circumstances behind these, which we can’t know by looking at a picture. Some pets are surrendered when their guardian dies or is placed in an institution. Other pets are surrendered when a litter has been born to an unspayed animal, and it’s either the first or last choice. Some pets are surrendered when medical care is unaffordable, and heavy debt is undesirable. Some cats are surrendered because they destroy things, and the guardians don’t know how to deal with it. Same for dogs who dig under fences or attack other dogs. I had this situation with a purebred German Shepherd, and returned her to the breeder, after she failed obedience school. If I’d adopted her from a shelter, I would have returned her. The whole experience was very stressful, and I tried to solve the problem the only way I knew.

    For those who surrender their animals easily, with no emotion, I think the animals are better off, out of a potentially abusive situation. What would be more telling than a picture like this, is the stats of reasons for surrender, even though they may not be entirely true.

    When my friend attempted suicide, while homeless, he had two cats living with him in his truck. He had left a note for me to euthanize them, which I did. I was unable to give them a home myself. Even with his written instructions, the shelter held them for 2 weeks in case he changed his mind. I didn’t tell him this, because he wasn’t in a healthy mental/physical state to care for them. I placed the cats’ welfare first.

    It’s the same way I feel about friends who die, after so much suffering. I’m sad, but also glad that their suffering is over. There were times when I wished I could have helped them with euthanasia,and I’ve been asked to do that a couple of times.

    Death is sometimes preferable to life. And anyone who’s contemplated suicide can relate.

    • Yes, wise words. Thanks Sandy. I feel though the percentage surrender is high even when taking into account genuine reasons. I just seems high to me. I have surrendered a cat and I bet you haven’t either even though you have struggled with accomodation etc..

  2. As with the politics of today, this cannot be seen as normal. Killing your pet should carry a huge weight. This is beyond shameful but these people should feel that at least. There should be tears, second-thinking and attempts at consoling, even hysterics. They aren’t waiting to get a burger and fry. This is consequential. There should be volunteer counselors and others willing to take up where they’re leaving off… take their pets off their hands… every effort to intervene. If I knew there was something like this going on at my shelter I’d be down there in a flash to do what I could. I’ve said it before, but what is wrong with Texas? And don’t anyone give me the lecture that they’re not all like that. Everything is to a degree but this is way out there!

    • If they were waiting to get a burger that should also be a time of sadness for animal lovers as the cows also stood in a queue of a different kind–a queue to be slaughteted.

      • I, for one, can accept that argument. People don’t really think about how livestock is slaughtered. It is packaged as “meat”. It is actually the flesh and muscle of an animal. Humans like to hide behind euphemisms. Although it is a different subject to queueing up at a shelter to surrender your cat. There are different ethics and values to be argued about.


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