Cat deaths prompt calls for animal shelter director to resign
Posted November 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — An online petition calling for the director of the Wake County Animal Center to resign garnered more than 1,600 signatures as of Monday evening, some from as far away as Europe and Asia. The petition comes two weeks after the center euthanized 61 cats that were taken from a Raleigh home.
Rachel Anderson, of Clayton, who calls herself an "independent animal" rescue volunteer, says she started the petition to find out why 60 of the 90 cats removed from the home earlier this month were put down.
"We do feel like it could've been handled better and those cats could be saved," Anderson said. "Were legal rights violated? Why were provisions not made for the animals?"
The woman at the center of the petition's ire, shelter director Jennifer Federico, said in an interview last week that the cats found at the house were in varying degrees of health, with some suffering from upper respiratory problems and dehydration.
The animal center didn't want to risk infecting healthy cats at the shelter, Federico said, adding that the center already was full. She did not comment Monday about the petition against her.
"We would like to understand what they mean by, 'They’re so sick that they can’t be held another day.' Upper respiratory is not a death sentence," Anderson said. "Every animal I’ve ever pulled from Wake County has had an upper respiratory. It’s common in every shelter situation. It’s easily cured by antibiotics."
Carol Jean De Olloqui, 44, was charged with three counts of cruelty to animals in the case. She was arrested after police found 90 cats and three dogs in her care at 3201 Sandy Bluff Road.
De Olloqui herself was a part of the animal-saving business. The founder and past president of Calvin's Paws, a nonprofit animal rescue, she often appeared on on WRAL's "Pet of the Day" segment to introduce cats available for adoption.
Anderson says the animals at De Olloqui's home should have been considered evidence in a criminal investigation and should have been placed on a stray hold by the shelter for 72 hours by law.
Joseph Threadcraft, director of Wake County Environment Services, which oversees the Animal Center, says there are facts that can't be released to the public yet because of the ongoing investigation.
"From the review of that data, I think the response was appropriate," he said.
In her interview last week, Federico said the shelter contacted its approved cat rescues, but only three could take in 30 cats.
Anderson says any time there is a large number of animals taken from a home, there should be a plan in place to help them. "There needs to be a triage station. Those animals need to held for a minimum amount of time," she said.
Threadcraft says establishing a protocol is a "valid suggestion" and said he would work with animal advocates on it. However, he added, there is no reason for Federico to resign.
"Now, the citizens have a valid concern. Euthanasia of animals is something that is taken seriously. But again, when all is taken in perspective, there were no violations of protocol," he said.
Threadcraft says he has received emails of support for Federico, including from cat rescue groups.