Local News

Shelter space, illnesses play into animal euthanasia

Posted November 11, 2013 4:47 p.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2013 6:02 p.m. EST

— 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.