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Shelter space, illnesses play into animal euthanasia

Posted November 11, 2013
Updated November 13, 2013

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— The story is all too common: Dozens of cluster of animals are found in a home, many of them sick or weak. The criminal justice system deals with the person, but many of the animals end up euthanized. Animal lovers wonder: Why can't more be saved?

The most recent iteration involves Carol Jean De Olloqui, 44, who was charged Friday with three counts of cruelty to animals. De Olloqui was arrested after police found 90 cats and three dogs in her care at 3201 Sandy Bluff Road.

Of the 93 animals taken to the Wake County Animal Shelter, 61 – all cats – were put down over the weekend.

Others in the animal rescue business say that is standard procedure in a world where shelter space and foster homes are in limited supply. 

De Olloqui herself was a part of that 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. 

Pam Miller, of Safe Haven for Cats in Raleigh, said even animal lovers can get in over their head.

"None of these people do this in any way to be mean to animals or to be malicious or cruel to animals," she said Monday. "They actually do it out of abundance of love for these animals and want to help in any way they can.

"Ten becomes 20, 20 becomes 30, 30 becomes 40, and then there's a detachment from reality. All of a sudden, (they think), 'I'm capable of taking care of 40 animals by myself.' And it's just not possible to do that," Miller said.

Jennifer Federico, a veterinarian and the director of the Wake County Animal Center, said the cats found at De Olloqui's 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.

So, she turned to the center's 16 approved partner cat rescues. Only five of them don't have restrictions as to the type of cat they take in, she said, and only three of those five had room to take in cats from the home.

Safe Haven took eight cats. Mitchell Mill Animal Hospital Hospital in Raleigh took in four. The three dogs and 14 other cats were transferred to the SPCA of Wake County.

At Safe Haven, Miller took in cats with breathing problems and intestinal problems. One cat has an ingrown claw, causing him to limp.

"We're doing everything we can to get 'em healthy, keep 'em happy, warm and well cared for," Miller said. Once they are healthy, those cats will be made available for adoption. 

28 Comments

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  • InterestedNurse Nov 14, 2013

    I have been a volunteer and foster for this shelter for a few years. Both of my dogs are shelter alumni and I can speak from first-hand experience (which many of those with negative comments do not, and choose not to have), that the people working and volunteering here are very compassionate and dedicated. I get emails DAILY begging for help to take more animals into foster to avoid euthanasia. As staff and volunteers, we walk and play with these animals every single day...we know them. And unlike other rescues, including the SPCA, we don't have the luxury of turning people away who want to dump their animals. We have no choice but to take them, and if there is no room, we have to make it...unless of course you nay-sayers would like to step up and foster...but I don't see that happening. The only entity failing these cats is Calvins Paws and their "president". I don't care what you say, 90 cats in a house is not safe or healthy. Thanks WCAC for making the hard but humane decisio

  • slmyrto Nov 14, 2013

    What's disturbing is how quick people are to point fingers, without knowing what really happens day in and day out at WCAC. Have you ever spent even just 5 minutes in the lobby? It is not uncommon for them to take in 40 plus animals per day. they cannot turn people away, as they are a government facility. they can only save as many pets as they have kennel and foster space for. It is simple math. I have seen post after post trying to find permanent and foster homes for these pets, or hopes for a rescue stepping in. Unless you try to help these animals, you have no right to bad mouth others who give their all. Foster. Adopt. Spay/neuter. DONATE. VOLUNTEER. Share their pleas for help on Facebook. Any small amount is helpful. Stop being negative and use your time and energy to make a positive difference!!

  • inpresto Nov 14, 2013

    If the shelter is full and only 3 approved rescues came forward, where exactly should the cats be housed safely and without spreading illness to other cats? Would you prefer the cats already at the shelter to have been euthanized to make up extra space? If we look at the reality of animal euthanasia in North Carolina the numbers are staggering. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or pointing fingers, get out and do something. We each have the ability to come together, promote spay and neuter, promote responsible pet ownership and foster animals until they find forever homes. Until we have more community involvement problems like this will continue.
    It is indeed a tragedy that so many cats were killed. But it also seems a tragedy that so many are pointing fingers at the WCAC. If you were really concerned that Wake County was unable to house these cats, then I invite you to head on over and sign up as an approved foster so that the WCAC has plenty of space and can easily house an extra fiv

  • jadubreck Nov 14, 2013

    It’s really disheartening that Dr. Jennifer Federico and the rest of the Wake County Animal Shelter staff are being scrutinized and bad-mouthed because of this situation. I'm a foster mom for the Wake County Animal Center and can personally tell you how amazing the staff members there are.
    I'm embarrassed to admit that I had a negative view of any government run shelter because they had to euthanize because at times, there just wasn't enough space. I thought to myself-
    WHY don't they find homes?
    WHY don't they find a rescue?
    WHY don't they make the facility larger?
    WHY are they putting helpless animals down?
    Well, the answer isn't easy or simple, but I decided instead of shying away from the issues or pouring negativity toward the facility and their employees, I decided to become a part of it and do ANYTHING I COULD TO HELP. I applied to become a foster mom and dragged my boyfriend along for the ride. When we showed up to the foster orientation I was scared to go inside of the

  • jadubreck Nov 14, 2013

    The shelter is flooded with animals daily- I was just in there a couple of weeks ago and saw a man drop off what appeared to be a purebred female chocolate lab. She appeared very well taken care of and was SO confused why she was there- shaking and trembling. I heard the lady at the front desk inform him that if his beloved family dog shows aggression, becomes ill or space runs low, she has a risk of being euthanized… he was oddly OKAY with this. After giving him the stink eye for about 5 minutes, I walked outside because it made me so angry. On his way out with her (I knew he was taking her “around back” to be processed into the shelter) I asked him “Oh, did you decide to take her to a rescue instead of to this place?” He said, “no- the dog is great with their kids but wanted to play and was just too rough so they couldn’t keep her, you know, I lost my job and we had to move into an apartment so we just can’t do it anymore.”
    THIS is what the WCAC deals with.
    Folks th

  • rachaelsabrina Nov 14, 2013

    Watching that 15 minute long interview with Federico was very disturbing. She admits that they have no protocol, no plans in place, and that they wing it on a "case-by-case" basis. Scary.

    And Carol DeOlloqui was charged with animal cruelty, she was NOT tried NOT convicted. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Yet they raided her house and quickly killed 61 cats in her yard (their so-called staging area). How is that right????

    Federico was hired to improve things at Wake Co. Shelter and this is what we get? Time for Wake County to try again because the way this situation was handled was a big time FAIL.

  • wvgurl Nov 14, 2013

    This tragedy is not the fault of WCAC. They are just the ones responsible for cleaning it up. From the general public who doesn't practice responsible ownership (spay/neuter/vaccinate/etc.) to the person who got in over her head, they are the ones responsible for this mess.

    Stop looking at the shelter and look at who created this mess in the first place. Why did it take a call from a neighbor to get the county involved? Who was there to help Carol before it got to this point? Nobody from WCAC went "looking for her". Remember, WCAC staff are not drones or heartless machines but loving, caring people who have a passion for saving animals. Your words hurt more than you know when you insinuate that they just don't care. As for Dr. Federico, she has done more for that shelter than you know. From bringing in trainers to organize dog play groups to changing policy on behavior assessments and sick animal procedures, every change has been made to save more lives. Get your facts straigt!!!

  • wvgurl Nov 14, 2013

    Any cat that was euthanized was euthanized for humane reasons. These were not all healthy, adoptable cats. Some were on feeding tubes and many were emaciated and diseased. They were suffering. Don't think for one minute that the staff at WCAC wanted to have to do this or that they didn't do everything they could to save as many as possible. I know most of the staff there and this whole thing has them very torn up. From the medical and receiving staff that had to evaluate each of these animals to the rescue coordinator who busted her hump finding rescues for the ones that could be saved to their self proclaimed "cat lady" who is the shelter feline's biggest advocate, the WCAC staff did everything they could to salvage as many as possible.

  • rachaelsabrina Nov 13, 2013

    Calvin's Paws was known for taking in Special Needs cats, who had FIV or other non-life threatening diseases that are NOT reasons to euthanize. Did Dr. Federico even know that or take that into consideration as she was deciding which cats to kill and which to save?

  • BernsteinIII Nov 13, 2013

    "So we shouldn't be too worked up about this because they're not human? That kind of ignorant thinking is what caused this problem in the first place."

    No, by saying cats aren't human, I'm saying we should be more able to put it in perspective and take the emotional element out of the discussion.

    There are more cats than can be cared for and in order to prevent more pain, more suffering, a significant portion will need to be put down. Hoarding them only makes the problem worse. I agree that in parallel, it is necessary to make sure cats are spayed and neutered, but until laws are enacted to force the that to happen, it probably won't as much as it should.

    What caused the problem in the first place is not putting cats in the proper perspective of being non-human, but something I think we all agree on: owners not managing their pets.

    As an aside, I think owners that let their cats wander outdoors should be charged with animal abuse, because that puts the cat at risk for harm.

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