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Shelter-Skelter: A true story of death, deceit and betrayal at the Boise Humane Society animal shelter

I wrote this article a few year back when my wife & I used to volunteer for the Boise shelter…

Fostering animals for the Boise Humane Society is at best, a dodgy enterprise; take a litter of kittens home with you and they promise total care and support, but bring them in for minor care, and the best their veterinarians have to offer in the way of prescription is a holistic, self-styled medicine that the shelter won’t carry in stock because they are not recognized as legitimate treatments and of course, the Vet refuses to prescribe anything else until you have given that a try first.  So, run around town to find a “holistic” store (for pets) that carries the alleged medicine, use it on the animals without getting any response (In 10 years, I have yet to have a single positive outcome from using Homeopathic medicines on pets) for a couple days, because there is only one 3000Th of 1% (Usually between one part per 1000 to 3000) of any useable medicine ingredient is contained in any homeopathic concoction.   Come back to get a legitimate prescription which clears up the problem in two evenings.  Oh!  And don’t forget to double-check all paperwork and medicines you’re handed by the Shelter staff…  Twice I’ve gotten Canine medicines for the kittens because the staff has not even the faintest clue what is going on at any moment in time.  We even found that one of the cats we turned in to be adopted had been left in a back hallway and forgotten for two weeks before they called us wanting to know where it was.

In fostering animals, we sometime pay for medicines that are refused to be provided because we chose to put their care over whatever personal grief we receive from shelter personnel.  It’s not really a big deal and the costs are not especially high either.

Sadly, the Boise shelter is run so poorly, they often misplace animals in their care, lose paperwork or hand over the wrong animals.  On one occasion, we dropped off 6 kittens to be fixed in order to get them ready to be adopted and the vet gave them no sedatives with which to recover, leaving them in agonizing pain for the next four days.  How do I know?  They howled, and hissed and scratched anyone that came near them, even each other until we took them to an independent Vet who was outraged at the poor treatment and the kittens were given pain medicine for a few days to ease their pain after surgery.  I later found out that this was due to a paperwork mix-up at the Shelter between the vet staff and their own foster care representative.  They even gave me paperwork for those kittens that belonged to other kittens that had already been adopted a week before.

As half-hazard as their service is, you would think that they would be especially welcome to anyone that would lend a helping hand; alas, that too is overlooked.  Shelter staff regularly use guilt, insults and outright abuse to get foster care volunteers to do what they want them to do.  Volunteers are made to feel guilty if they do not take in even more pets into their already crowded homes.  We had at one time 12 Cats in our home due to the fact that my wife was made to feel that it would be her fault if they were put down due to lack of space at the shelter.  I can only imagine how many animal collectors are created in this manner by the Boise shelter’s own staff…

As we delve even deeper into the quagmire that is the Boise animal shelter, we find managers and employees who rule enthusiastically over their own tiny little kingdoms where they feel that they rule supreme.  At this point, the process becomes more important than anything else, even the lives of the animals in their charge.  One such person is a vet-tech, one of those ladies who sits behind the counter at the vet clinic.  We recently had the misfortune of all 4 of us getting hit with a rather severe bout of the flu, so when my wife called the shelter to ask them to care for our 4 foster kittens who had a slight cold, which we were treating with a mild medicine from our own Vet, an easily treatable problem that needs but a few days of medicine to cure them and send them on their way to happy homes.   She did this because all of us were sick and she was overwhelmed and need a couple days break.

A friend of ours who brought the kittens to the shelter for treatment was told that they would be kept overnight, to await the blood tests to make sure nothing more serious was wrong with them.  She offered to take them home to recoup, but were told that would not be necessary.  Now this comes a mere 30 minutes after my wife had a disagreement with the on duty vet tech about treating the kittens and questions we had about how they were treated.   Less than an hour after we dropped off our lively bunch of rambunctious kittens, Dee, the shelter’s manager for foster care, called up my wife to inform her that all 4 of our lively (and overall healthy except for slightly drippy noses) kittens had been put to death.  The vet tech my wife had an argument with, had told her superiors that the kittens were deathly ill and unresponsive and so ordered them to be put down.

We have since taken the remaining kittens from that same litter who all shared the same symptoms to an independent Vet and found nothing seriously wrong with them. They are being treated with a very inexpensive and mild medicine and are recovering very nicely.  The shelter has since refused to tell us the results of their own testing, but have released those results to other foster volunteers and we have come to find out that their tests as well proved negative, proving only that they killed innocent kittens for no other reason than to prove a point.

We understood very well what had just happened, because sadly, we have seen it all before.  We had dared to question the process by which the shelter operates, and as a punishment, they reacted with the one action that would surely hurt anyone who volunteers three weeks of their time to helping tiny living creatures; they killed the very animals we had spent so much time caring for.  They showed us that they were willing to kill those animals just to prove a point to us.  The point being that they are in control, and that unless we want to see more innocent little lives flushed away, we should do as we are told without question.  They even went so far as to call our friend a liar when we questioned why our foster kittens had been killed.  They told us that the person who dropped of the kittens had refused to take the kittens back home and so their policy is to put them down.  They told us that the policy of the Boise Humane Society Shelter is to put down any animal that shows any signs of illness.  Period.  No exceptions.

I wonder at this point how this internally stated policy coincides with their public statements about how they care very deeply for animals and make every possible attempt and finding good homes for all of their charges.   Hmmm.  Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

Now we come to look at some recent events made very public in the media regarding a recent recovery of some 200 Dogs from a collector in Oregon:  firstly, we spoke with Sandy, the Foster care representative at the shelter whom we deal with, and she told us that all of the dogs they received were in such outstanding health that only about 6 had to have any treatments whatsoever, and those were mostly related to age, not neglect.  The shelter was processing them as fast as possible in order to find them all new homes, and they had raised their adoption rates because these dogs had been so publicly advertised and promoted.  This came as a hug surprise to us, since we had just finished listening to the Boise Humane Society’s radio pitch asking for donations to help them cope with treating those very same dogs, saying that they had been desperately neglected and were in need of immediate treatment due to their horrendous conditions at the hands of the evil animal collector.

Hmmm…  Which story is the truth?  We have no idea. One story comes from the inside to us, and a completely different story is enthusiastically played out to a willing news reporter (Yes I was there to see the Channel 7 reporter get handled) being spoon-fed propaganda designed to embellish the truth as much as possible in order to maximize the potential of driving in more donations from the public by shamelessly tugging at their heart strings with severely embellished tales of woe and brave deeds.   All I know is that when I was at the shelter watching the Channel 7 girl prepare to interview the director, the director of the Boise shelter had such a self-satisfied smirk on her face that said volumes about her obvious disdain for the young reporter.  I wondered how this reporter could possibly miss the fact that she was being handled and maneuvered so easily, but she appeared to be so eager to get in front of the camera with this story that she did not see what was truly happening around her.

The Boise Helter-Shelter:  Behind its public facade of compassionate care and heartfelt duty to the public, lies a dark underbelly of wanton disregard and wholesale slaughter of animals whose only problem is being more than a few dollars away from being completely healthy.  If it costs more than single day’s time and a few bucks to treat an animal, it’s put to death without a moments thought; unless of course, there’s an eager news reporter standing by to tell the world what a wonderful job they are doing.

Death is their tool in trade, (why not, they get paid by the corpse) and kindness is only a commodity to be bought and sold for cash donations, so if you want the animals at the Boise Humane Society’s Shelter to stay alive and find new homes, you better pony up the cash quick, before they decide those animals have outlived their usefulness as grist for the publicity mill.


Bob Duker,

Former animal foster care volunteer for the Boise Humane Society Shelter.

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5 thoughts on “Shelter-Skelter: A true story of death, deceit and betrayal at the Boise Humane Society animal shelter

  1. Remarkable things here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and I”m looking forward to contacting you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  2. Bob, while I'm not a fan of the Idaho Humane Society, your story is full of inaccuracies pointing to a complete lack of knowledge about your subject. So, in short, I call BS. For example, the IHS has never had a female director. You don't know the name of the shelter. Dee is not the kennel manager. If you have some weird agenda, try to write while you are sober and do some fact checking first.

    1. Susan, thank you for your response.

      Let me clarify for you, since you have brought the subject down to the level of a personal attack:

      I’m going to assume here for argument’s sake that your response is a genuine one and not a personal attack by offended shelter representatives…

      This is not a research paper or a hit piece derived from some overriding agenda, this article is a first-hand account from my wife and myself and reflects our own personal experiences with the Boise shelter. You can claim whatever agenda you like but the facts remain as they are and also involved our Nanny at the time who also happens to be the daughter of a former Congressman whom Dee called a liar when they put down all of our foster kittens out of pure spite.

      As for what precise title Dee holds over there: She is the only Shelter manager we were allowed to talk to when we demanded to speak to the director, perhaps that means we never got to speak to the actual director, which would be par for the course as far as our personal experiences with them went. Were constantly being “Handled.”

  3. It's the IDAHO humane society by the way and is the only large, non-profit community in IDAHO. Go see how well your pets are treated at Canyon County Shelter before you diss on one of the biggest networks for animal care.

    1. Yes, of course it is the under the auspices of the Idaho Humane society, but each shelter has a different local management running it. Our experiences are strictly with the Boise Shelter, so that is specifically what I am referencing. I can’t speak to the head office, because I’m not about to begin tossing statements out there about something I know nothing about.

      I have first-hand experiences with the Boise Shelter, so that’s where the focus remains. The fact that your experiences at Canyon County are even worse, only makes my point even more poignant.

      Whether it is big or not is not the point; the point here is whether their management actually shows any concern for the animals beyond their bottom line. At Boise they are not above misrepresenting any given situation in order to gain public sympathy in the hope that the guilt and sympathy turns into cash donations.

      At the Boise Shelter, It’s all about the money. We’ve volunteered at shelters in 3 different states over the past 15 years and though Boise is not the worst of them by far, the management their has shown a wanton disregard for the truth whenever it suits their needs. They have many volunteers who care very deeply and do their best in all situations, but the management there doesn’t give a rip about any of it and often gets in the way rather than facilitate volunteer efforts to assist them.

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