Greenville County Animal Care Services(GCACS), a high-kill shelter in upstate South Carolina, has come under fire this week for euthanizing newborn kittens. Please click here for a must-read article written by Shirley Lyn Thistlethwaite.
It would appear the problem goes much deeper than killing newly born kittens. The word killing is appropriate because the kittens are killed, as apposed to euthanized, because fosters and rescues were unable to drop what they were doing to rescue these babies within the three hour window given by the shelter for them to be removed from the cat room.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines euthanasia as
"the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy."
Now word is spreading through different rescues stating pregnant females are undergoing the spaying procedure after a rescue has spoken up for them, but before the pregnant female leaves the shelter.
The shelter defends the necessity to spay a female if at all possible before leaving the shelter. Since GCACS is the dumping ground for unwanted litters, one of their main goals is to decrease the rate of reproduction in Greenville area pets.
One rescue has come forward saying two of the pregnant females they saved from death row had healthy, full-term litters. One cat had four kittens, and the other five. Those in foster and rescue are sharing experiences of once pregnant females who are grieving the loss of possibly heavy kittens.
This doesn't take into account kittens snatched from the mother cat's cage after their birth. A mother, whether human or feline or canine (yes, this horror occurs with newborn shelter pups as well), will grieve the loss of a litter.
Mother cats aren't stupid, and know the difference between losing a litter by stillbirth and having a litter taken away by humans.
The method used to kill the newborns is also puzzling. Since kittens have tiny veins, how is the procedure done? A procedure called heartstick is often used, where a needle is jabbed into the heart, where it causes agonizing pain as it passes through the nerves in the chest.
The heartstick method hasn't been confirmed, so if anyone knows whether this is the method of choice for newborns at GCACS, please leave a comment.
An excellent article on heartstick can be found by clicking here. Many states are trying to ban this method of euthanasia.
Having a litter taken away may scar the personality of the cat for life. Yet the practice continues on a daily basis, and is bound to get worse as kitten season is upon us.
Susan Buffano, media spokesperson for Greenville County Animal Care Services, is aware of this situation. She responded on the Facebook thread detailing this problem
"Animal Care is being very upfront with folks who bring in the kittens that are too small and orphaned, that they will be euthanized. With the help of Let 'em live upstate and rescue groups and sponsors, all mothers with kittens have gotten out. Let's hope that stays the same and that rescue groups are able to adopt them out quickly. Do not confuse empty cages with euthanasia. We have just not had as large of an influx of cats/kittens yet."
The shelter states they do try to contact fosters and rescues before euthanizing newborns. Part of the problem is not enough time is given to pick up the litter. The three hour window between whether a kitten lives or dies should be high priority on the list of needed changes.
Not only are animal advocates outraged about the murder of newborns (which is bad enough), and not being given time to save a litter, they're also upset that the shelter never asked rescues or fosters whether they wanted what is in fact a 'kitty abortion.' The mother cats were spayed and their litter killed before the mother was released.
The story on Greenville has now gone viral, and those who live outside the Greenville area can't believe a shelter is actually involved in such a heinous act. Many who have seen the post on social media have asked if the situation is a 'joke.'
Programs are in place in places like San Diego, where their shelter has a 24 hour kitten nursery. No-kill and TNR are also non-lethal alternatives to the kitten overpopulation.
Greenville is a progressive city, but it's a bad mark on the city to know county council, among other, must condone such an act. Advocates have met with member of the shelter and members of the county council in the past and nothing changes.
Anyone wanting to help end this cruelty should contact any of the following listed below. It will take a massive overhaul with the shelter agreeing to work with animal advocated to bring the Greenville shelter up to the standard it's capable of.
This may only be successful by getting rid of those in power who preach change but do nothing, or by shining the spotlight on issues the residents of Greenville demand their shelter system be fixed.
Thanks to Shirley's article, GCACS is becoming a household name in the animal advocate community-only not in a good way.
Contact information for change is listed below.
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NOTE: The photo used for this article is an example of the emails sent by the GCACS to those wish to help rescue cats and dogs. Amos and her pups may or may not be dead. A concerned SC resident contacted the shelter late Thursday afternoon and never heard back after telling them he'd provide a home for the mother and her babies.