Shelter explains deaths of dozens of animals

Published: Apr. 17, 2018 at 9:52 AM EDT
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Pets Without Parents, a nonprofit shelter in Sevierville, issued a statement about euthanizations following multiple claims on social media. The shelter president told Local 8 News that 42 cats were euthanized Monday.

The organization said they have had sick cats for months in their intake area and their board made the decision to euthanize them. The shelter admitted to having "too many cats" due to taking in as many as they could to meet county and city contracts. At a news conference, board members said they are well over their 150 animal capacity. The Pets Without Parents website said they became Sevierville's only intake shelter and resumed the role of local animal control drop-off on July 1, 2017.

PWP Press Conference underway

Posted by WVLT on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pets Without Parents said their intake area was never meant to hold the amount of dogs and cats at the shelter.

"The public needs to take some responsibility on the spay/neuter issues," a board member told media outlets. She said adopting the animals is the best way for the community to help out.

According to a Facebook post by the shelter, a veterinarian evaluated cats and took 50 cats back to an office for further exams, then euthanized "the sick ones."

"Our vet did take 50 cats but we only euthanized the sick ones the rest went to new homes," the Facebook post reads.

Pets Without Parents President Lory Souders told WVLT that 42 of the 50 sick cats were euthanized on Monday and claimed that other cats were rescued. WVLT asked if the cats were sick due to overcrowding, but Souders would not immediately speak to that question.

Souders said they have not euthanized any dogs, but plan to euthanize one in the future because he is aggressive. She confirmed that the nonprofit identifies as a no-kill shelter unless animals are sick or aggressive.

Pets Without Parents said there were not any dogs being euthanized Tuesday and called for people to come adopt the animals. A Facebook Live by Jonny Preston on Monday night claimed that Pets Without Parents was euthanizing all of their dogs Tuesday.

Pets Without Parents Update

Social media firestorm prompts protest at Pets Without Parents Shelter

Posted by WVLT on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Sevierville Police Department said officers went to the shelter to monitor a peaceful protest Tuesday morning.

Here's the full statement made on Facebook by Pets Without Parents:

"To the community of Sevierville, I want to explain a few things. We've had sick cats for months in our intake area and the board had decided that if they were not getting better that we would have to euthanize only the sick ones. Yes, we had too many cats due to taking in as many as we could to meet the county and city contracts; not every realizing 100's of cats would enter our facility. We had to get our intake area ready as soon as possible but it was not ever meant to hold this many dogs and cats. Yesterday we had our vet come out and evaluate every cat in our intake area which then she took back to the vet office to further exam each one. Our vet did take 50 cats but we only euthanized the sick ones the rest went to new homes.....this is fact, please don't assume from all the posts that we're going through our shelter and euthanizing everyone. There are NO dogs being euthanized today. Instead please let's come together as a community and get these dogs adopted. We've had many of these dogs for 3-5 years....THEY NEED NEW HOMES! We will post in the near future a community event And yes there are many shelters helping us out due to the overpopulation. WE NEED YOUR HELP!"

The shelter president said they held an adoption event last weekend and sent cats to shelters in Newport and Jefferson County last week. They are currently working with eight other shelters.

On Sunday, Pets Without Parents said they would be closed for the week as they have "a lot of staff training and maintenance work that needs to be completed." The organization's president claimed the conditions of the 2-year-old shelter were clean and not deplorable. She explained the conditions further at a press conference, and claimed that the dogs get out three times each day while volunteers clean the facility.

Board members said they still have maintenance work to finish at the shelter, and they are working on getting a new area for cats.

This is a developing story. Local 8 News is working to confirm more information about the situation. Updates will be posted here.

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