Local News

Cat deaths prompt calls for animal shelter director to resign

Posted November 25, 2013

— 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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • rachaelsabrina Dec 2, 2013

    Yes, poor Sassy. That was heart breaking. As I understand it, the public outcry after Sassy was killed right after she was WRAL Pet of the Day led to replacing the previous shelter director with Dr. Federico.

    And since Federico came, we've had Tucker (killed immediately after his owner surrendered him - see the article in the N&O where Federico so compassionately says that Tucker was lucky to get 45 minutes).

    Then we had Federico's employee arrested for having sex with those poor shelter dogs (April 2013).

    Now the Calvin's Paws massacre. What an improvement, huh?!?

  • InterestedNurse Nov 27, 2013

    And trust me...there was MORE than enough photographic evidence. Instead of throwing stones, try helping for a change. Or just wear your arm out, becuase Dr. Jen isn't going anywhere.

  • InterestedNurse Nov 27, 2013

    Everyone keeps brining up Sassy. You do realize that Sassy was not put to sleep while Dr. Jen was the director, right? Furthermore, people are confusing the fact that this is and always has been a POLICE investigation. The shelter didn't willy nilly decide to go take these cats...they were ORDERED to do so by the CITY OF RALEIGH. That being said, I don't care how many different ways you say it, 90 cats in a HOUSE does not constitute good conditions, much less proper care. Finally, exactly where was the shelter supposed to put these cats to hold as evidence? When the puppy mill bust happened there was room in the shelter. When this occured there was none. Everyone understand math here? No quarantine rooms for sick animals = no ablity to take in sick animals. In summary, the CITY OF RALEIGH ordered the shelter to remove the cats. There was no PHYSICAL place for the sickies to go. I don't understand how this concept is so difficult to grasp.

  • sammi121299 Nov 27, 2013

    For those of you saying there are 100% healthy animals at the shelter, you must never have been to the shelter. Most of the shelters animals have upper respiratory infections, ringworm , stomach parasites, just to name a few. Where do you think Ms Deollqui got the cats from? They called her to come and get the sick animals cause she always always always nursed them back to health, and Dr. Federico knows that. They put four of ms Deolloqui cats down. This woman would not let her own cats suffer, never mind the others that they keep saying were sick.

  • sammi121299 Nov 27, 2013

    I volunteer with Calvin's, there was NO 24 hour notice. CALVINS VOLUNTEERS WERE THERE, WE WERE NOT ALOUD TO TAKE ANY OF THE ANIMALS, There was no reason to put those cats down. There were rescues on their way there to help. In dr. Federico's interview she said first, it was too cold outside, where they had triage set up, so the humane thing to do was put them down. Then she said they were all sick. I knew some of those cats personally and there was nothing wrong with them. DR. FEDERICO IS A LIAR. She has changed her story numerous times. How dare she put down Ms

  • sammi121299 Nov 27, 2013

    Not only was Ms Deolloqui not allowed to show records, one of Calvin's Paws vets was on site that night and they wouldn't let her show them medical recorded either. she was ignored and disrespected. There were many people on their way there that night to take those animals and they were just put down. I know some of those cats weren't even a year old! They were there to give them a break from being in a cage in the stores. Ms. Deolloqui was physically restrained from going back into her own home. I have worked with Ms. Deolloqui and know the first person wake county shelter called WITH A SICK ANIMAL was her! I know for a fact that most cats come from the shelter with upper resp. Infections, ring worm and many other TREATABLE infections. And yes they put them to sleep in her backyard. I have two babies right now that should NEVER have lived, if not for Ms. Deolloqui! The shelter has changed their story numerous amount of times to benefit them!

  • theblazer Nov 27, 2013

    Actually it ticks me off that they can't house, shelter, and pamper the animals. They extort you to get your animals back if they get loose as well as taking tax money to operate. They always seem available to harass you and visit when somebody complains, just not take care of the pets they confiscate...

  • Teacher-Scientist Nov 26, 2013

    Sure, let's take someone who is doing the best they can to handle a logistically and financially impossible situation, and ask him or her to resign because we disagree with the way it was done.


    Hang in there, Ms. Federico.

  • WF Zookeeper Nov 26, 2013

    kickchick2000 said we "did" volunteer, we don't any longer, but the shelter we were with is one of the few that DID take in some cats!

  • barbstillkickin Nov 26, 2013

    Why the director why not the people who put them down. Why do they always pick one person to be the scape goat.