“Nobody wants to kill animals” — Alamance County edition*

Pam Lee went to the Burlington Animal Shelter on Oct 31 looking for her missing cat, Sassy. She saw a large black cat who looked a bit like Sassy, so she asked the attendant if she could look at the cat’s hind legs, because Sassy was attacked by a hawk when she was young and had long furless scars on her legs.

The attendant showed her the cats legs, and it wasn’t Sassy. “The attendant said he believed that this cat was male, rubbed his head, and showed me the cat’s ‘fangs’ which he said were very rare.  The cat was very docile when the attendant was touching him, so I knew he wasn’t completely feral,” Pam said.

Pam went back to the Burlington pound again on Friday, Nov. 2. “I first went back to again check for my Sassy, but I had already decided that I wanted the black cat that looked so very much like her.  I had thought about him for 2 days and keep seeing his eyes.” She had already picked out a name for him: Spirit.

She told the attendant who escorted her that  she wanted the cat and pointed the cat out to him. “He told me that the animals had to go through evaluation and the adoption process before I could receive one.  He said he didn’t think there was anything I could do to get him before going through the adoption process, but that I could speak with the lady at the desk.”

Pam went back to the waiting room:

“I spoke with the clerk there. I told her that I wanted the cat. She repeated the mantra about the evaluation they would have to go through. I told her that money was no object; I would pay for any evaluation, spay/neutering, and necessary shots. Then she said that it wasn’t that easy, that first there had to be space for the animal in the adoption center. I told her that space was not necessary because as soon as the procedures were complete, I would be taking the cat home with me. She told me that people can’t just pick out one of the strays because it may not pass the health screening. She said that a common occurrence when there are many cats in a cage is the presence of an upper respiratory infection. (I know that is no reason to kill a cat; my cat had a URI at one point and responded wonderfully to antibiotics.) I told her again that I was willing to take that chance and would pay for it. She then explained how people get angry about not being able to get one of the cats back there, but that they just don’t understand how many animals go through the shelter and mentioned that there were thousands that pass through the doors.

“That’s when I told her that I didn’t understand; that if there were that many stray and abandoned animals, why wouldn’t they make a way for one to have a good home when it is wanted?  She told me that I would just have to check back with the adoption center the next week to see if the cat made adoption status. (I have no doubt she was well aware that the animals in the room that this cat was in are not even considered for adoption.)  I asked her if the Humane Society could intercede and help me get this cat, to which she said “no.”  I asked her if pulling rank by being the sheriff’s first cousin held any weight; again she said “no.” After slamming into the “brick wall” for over 5 minutes resulting in the same mantra (“check with the adoption center next week”), I finally left determined to call Bev [the woman from the Humane Society] anyway.

“I did stop by the adoption center on my way out which is where I held a third conversation with a staff employee. I explained to him what I wanted and asked if there was anything he could do to help me. He told me he couldn’t help; I would just have to check back next week.  I asked him about the availability of “space” for one to be evaluated.  He told me that they had recently expanded to get more cages and that there were two cages currently open. (So at this point, space was NOT a reason for sending the cat to be exterminated. How about maybe no one bothered to ASK if there was any space for the cat.) He quickly assured me that there was nothing he could do to help me.”

Pam left and called the woman at the humane society, who told her the names of supervisors to ask for. “I would like to point out that during this entire time, no one mentioned referring me to someone in charge, such as Tina Meeks or Tammy Penley.”

Pam went back to the pound and spoke with Ms. Meeks, who asked Pam to show her the cat she was interested in. “We went into the middle room and my heart sank when I saw the cages were all empty,” Pam said. “I pointed to the top cage and told her that the cat I wanted was in there. She then told me that she had filled out he euthanasia orders on all of those cats early that morning. She said he had been put down that morning. I asked her at least twice if she was sure that the deed had already been done and she assured me that it had been done. I am embarrassed to say that I sat there and cried like a baby.”

Ms. Meeks told Pam that incoming animals are separated into two groups: surrendered and most likely adoptable and strays who must be held for 3 days and probably won’t be “adoptable” (by whatever the pound’s standards are for adoptability).  The strays are generally killed after 3 days with no attempt to adopt them out.  “For all intents and purposes, it’s a death sentence from the time they are put in the cages,” Pam said. “They’re just faced with caged indifference for 3 long days before being executed.”

“After speaking to Ms. Meeks, I realized that stonewalling is what is expected of the employees,” Pam said. “Ms. Meeks assured me that the desk lady did as she was supposed to do when someone inquires about the strays.”

The next day, while thinking back on events, Pam said “a sudden realization made the shock more horrific”:

“There was a roll up garage door in the room with the strays. While I was standing there discussing the cat’s adoption with the attendant that took me back, the door suddenly opened and startled me so badly I jumped. The attendant said it was just the overhead and started leading me out of the room. I kept trying to look in the cages on the truck that backed to the door, but couldn’t see any animals in them. I asked him if they were bringing more animals in and tried to look in case mine was in one of them. He said he didn’t know and ushered me back through to the entrance desk.  He told me to discuss the adoption with the desk clerk, although he didn’t think there was anything that could be done without the adoption process being completed. He also told me I would have to check back at the adoption center later. Then he went back in the rooms we had just left.

“The supervisor, Tina Meeks, told me she had issued the euthanasia papers early that morning for all the cats in the back cages and that they were put down that morning. As I didn’t leave until about 11:15, I wondered how it had happened so quickly after I left. Then it hit me: the truck that had backed up to the dock was picking up the cats to be taken to be gassed. That means the attendant that was standing right beside me and the cat telling me to check back with adoption next week, also knew that the cat I wanted was being loaded as we spoke to be executed.  He went back in there to help them load the truck. He lied to me; the desk clerk lied to me. And I figured out why: It was coming up noon on Friday and it would have been too much trouble to have to rework the paperwork that had already been issued.  I feel certain that if the clerk had called her supervisor, Ms. Meeks may have tried to stop that cat from being taken out. As I said, she apologized over and over yesterday afternoon and said she didn’t know. But she also said that the employees did their job by telling me what they were supposed to say to anyone who asked about he strays. This is obviously a common occurrence, but I guess they figure no one will be as dogged as I was about coming back to fight with them. Most people probably just check back, don’t find the animal they wanted, and figure it didn’t make it through the evaluation.”

People who defend shelter killing love to say “Nobody WANTS to kill animals,” before spouting some excuse for the killing like “There are just too many animals and not enough homes.” Pam Lee went to the Burlington pound repeatedly and begged several staffers to be allowed to give a cat a home and save it from being killed. But the staff at the Burlington Animal “Shelter” wanted to kill that cat. They lied to Pam Lee just so they would be able to kill that cat.

*Headline blatantly ripped off from YesBiscuit.


Filed under "Nobody WANTS to kill animals ...", Alamance County, Burlington Animal Services

15 responses to ““Nobody wants to kill animals” — Alamance County edition*

  1. This post has illuminated for me how blatantly this and many kill shelters are nothing more than a bureaucracy. The animals are not unique and special living beings but rather a rote chore regardless if it results in their deaths. Just like in the Flintstones at the quarry, the workers merely await the whistle blowing at 5 and the pets are no more important than the rocks.

  2. Cheryl Knox

    Thank you for writing this and posting it. You are a terrific writer, and I hate that I love your subject matter. I’ve shared it.

  3. Marie

    It happens all the time at The APS of Durham

  4. And the APS’s kill rate is almost as high as Alamance’s–APS: 68%, Alamance: 70%. Someone was asking me the other day why APS’s kill rate was almost twice that of Wake and Orange counties. I said probably because they turn away adopters.

  5. shelterbabies

    I have been trying to get this shelter to open its doors to the public for 2 years. I have had several conversations with Greg Seels ( Director ) who said he “would think about it ”
    This shelter is located in Alamance county in Haw River and run by the City of Burlington. It serves well over 20 towns and is rather small for the number of animals brought in. Although it is not in the top 10 worst shelters of NC – the shelters kill rate is above 50%. For cats from the numbers reported it is an 83% kill rate and dogs 55%
    Not many rescues pull from it and they have a contract with Carolina Biological for their cats. They claim that there is not one for the dogs. That the dogs go to the landfill. Yet when the landfill was contacted in January of 2011 they stated they had not seen any dogs from Alamance county. There are dogs ( over 400 ) and cats ( over 300 ) unaccounted for from state report. They were not rescued animals as rescues are counted as adoptions. The Humane Society has stated that they have not stepped foot inside the shelter in over a year. They are too busy trying to stop animals from entering the shelter.
    The shelter does have an adoption center, located beside the shelter. The Adoption center chooses which animals go into the center leaving the rest to suffer their fate.
    Alamance county still has a gas chamber. It is not listed on any sites. Mr. Seels claim they only gas ” Aggressive ” animals and that the employees treat the animals in the shelter with kindness, offering them treats and pats, knowing full and well these animals are going to die.
    Normally, the public is not allowed in the shelter. Only when they are looking for a lost pet. They are escorted through the shelter and are not allowed to take pictures.
    I have offered, on more than 1 occasion to take pictures and get the animals seen on Facebook to help them find homes. My request was denied. I was told that people could them see what animals are in the shelter and claim them for their own. To this I say…” You use Pet Harbor. Anyone can see them there. ”
    So for now I screenshot Pet Harbor pictures, post them on Facebook, hoping that someone will find their lost pet or that rescues will step up for these surrendered souls that because of IGNORANCE haven’t a hope in *ell of getting out of the place they call a “SHELTER “

    • Thanks so much for contributing this information. For a while, I was unsure of whether Alamance still gassed, because I had seen a news article from 2009 saying they had stopped, and their last NCDA&CS “euth” inspection was in 2009.

      I may be able to solve the discrepancy in numbers by requesting all records and combing through them. I have a bit of a backlog, though. And if the are selling dogs to BB, a records request should be able to get that info as well.

      • shelterbabies


        It took 2 months of calling, requesting, getting the runaround and finally demanding a copy of the paperwork showing that the shelter sold animals to Carolina. The result was a written letter from the City of Burlington Police assistant chief – Mr. Seel who runs the animal shelter, stating the amount made from sales of ” some ” animals…” Mostly ” cats from July 2009 to May 2010. It is my opinion that they did NOT want the true numbers or $$ to be known, as the number was low compared to kill.
        Most of the shelters in NC sell to Carolina ( both cats and dogs )as well as in other states. LBS also buys cats.
        The fact that carcasses are sold is not something the shelters want advertised and I have tried contacting many shelters in NC that refuse to divulge this information. I found 1 shelter so far that admits that it sells its dogs. While I understand that they have to do something with the bodies, The fact that they will NOT open some of these shelters for public adoption leaves one to believe that they make enough from the death sales to continue this practice.
        They make the excuse that the ones in the shelter are NOT adoptable. I have found this NOT to be true. I have been inside the shelter quite a few times ” Looking for my pet ” and have seen beautiful, friendly, tail wagging pets, begging, whining, pleading for me to take them home. It is heartbreaking.

      • I’m going to email you privately–I will submit records requests for more stuff and maybe we can piece together what’s going on. The thing is, I think the price for selling cats (I don’t know about dogs) is around $4 (that’s what Surry Co. gets–I got their receipts). That’s pretty close to the cost of killing via CO, and less than $2 more than the cost of killing via injection (http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/animals/adv-co-ebi-cost-analysis09.pdf) and way less than what could be made by adopting. So I son’t think it’s a moneymaker, I just think that killing is way easier for them than adopting, and then they figure, hey, dead is dead, may as well bring in a little revenue by selling the corpses.

    • Ginger

      I went there a week ago to look for my friends dog and was told I couldn’t go in unless it was my dog. But I could see that a lot of pins from outside. There wasnt a lot of dogs there which scared me.

  6. shelterbabies

    I’d also like to point out if you can’t get the truth from the police department that runs the shelter, there is a HUGE problem. Mr. Seels said in the letter that to date ( July 2009 to May 2010 ) that the Adoption center had adopted out 662 animals to new homes and money generated from animal adoptions is $41,749.12. But you have to wonder if that is factual or not.
    From the numbers on the reports of animals adopted/rescued – There are over 300 cats missing. Plus they adopted/rescued/killed 147 more dogs than they actually had on hand that year. Some might say they were carried over from the year before – But in 2008 the shelter had misplaced over 500 dogs and over 150 cats. 2007 was the worst for misplaced animals. Over 1,000 dogs and cats unaccounted for. Someone really needs to learn how to keep better records!

  7. Pingback: Truth and lies, or a tale of two shelters … | FixNC

  8. Pingback: Burlington Animal Services Oops-Kills Dog who had Adopter Waiting | FixNC

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