SALEM (CBS) – The Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem is full of adorable animals rescued from difficult circumstances across the country. But in the last week, a dozen former shelter workers have contacted WBZ with grave concerns about what goes on behind the scenes.
“I was devastated,” said Julie Orsillo, who worked as an employee and a volunteer at Northeast. She became especially attached to two dogs who were euthanized. One of them was named Abby. “I started messaging people and trying to get somebody to adopt her immediately to get her out of there, and I didn’t know what to do to save her,” said Orsillo.
The popular shelter advertises on its website, “We will never destroy an animal entrusted to our care.” One of the shelter’s directors, Laurie McCannon, admits the shelter euthanized three dogs in the last two years. “They had been through all sorts of processes to make them more adoptable, and in the end their behavior continued to escalate and became more severe and we had to make a decision that they weren’t going to be safe to put back in the community,” said McCannon.
Others say the shelter staff didn’t do enough to rehabilitate the dogs. Former workers say through the years, many more have been killed. “I did not go back through all the years,” said McCannon. “I can drudge up history from 25 years ago. I don’t know if we even have records.”
Former employee Peggy Fucillo said when she was there, she diverted 15 to 20 dogs to keep them away from Northeast. “I got them through my rescue network, into other rescues throughout the state.”
“We don’t kill adoptable pets,” said McCannon. To her, “adoptable” means an animal that won’t attack. Salem’s Animal Control Officer Don Famico backed her up. “Someday a little child’s walking a new puppy down the street. This other dog goes after it, child gets in the middle of it. Suddenly it’s a big to-do.”
It all comes down to whether any shelter can truly be a no-kill shelter. “A lot of the public assumes that means they do not euthanize any animal in their care, and that’s not true,” said Orsillo.