By Christina Hager

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.

dog2 Former Workers Say No Kill Shelter Has Euthanized Dogs

Dog at Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem (WBZ-TV)

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.”

animal Former Workers Say No Kill Shelter Has Euthanized Dogs

Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem (WBZ-TV)

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.

Comments (4)
  1. Harve Morgan says:

    Prior to 2010, only 5 recorded deaths by dogs that had been adopted from a shelter or rescue. Since 2010, 50, FIFTY deaths by dogs after their adoption from a shelter/rescue. This shows that the No Kill movement is putting dangerous dogs out to the public. For the first time in history, a shelter director was charged with adopting out dangerous dogs. Death by dogs was a rare thing until No Kill came on the scene, now we average a death of a person by a dog every 10 days. Deaths of other beloved pets are daily. Maulings are daily. This shows the sorry state of affairs of the humane community because of the No Kill movement to save them all.

  2. No kill is a misnomer. All shelters euthanize. The better shelters euthanize dogs that are medically unstable, where quality of life comes into question. Shelters like NEAS euthanize dogs because they lack the ability to appropriately assess the dogs in their care (and I use the term “care” very loosely). The appropriate question would be why does a shelter with donations of more than 2 million per year, lack anything, let alone a qualified trainer or behavior consultant. I have personally dealt with this shelter since 2014, and I’m happy to see that the truth is finally being revealed. To get the real scoop on this shelter, check out the Salem Patch, where you can witness great journalism at work https://patch.com/massachusetts/salem/shelters-punishment-based-training-techniques-raised-concerns.

  3. Cathy Clapp says:

    It is irresponsible to adopt out vicious, crazy, or seriously/chronically ill dogs. Period. Would you rather be running stories of another dog that mauled and killed their new owner? The only responsible thing to do is to euthanize these dogs, not dump them on some unsuspecting person.

    1. It is irresponsible to euthanize behaviorally sound dogs that may be exhibiting stress behaviors because of the shelter environment. Unless a qualified person is assessing the dogs, that determination cannot be made. No one at NEAS is qualified to assess behavior. Unless you are familiar with the shelter and how they operate, it is irresponsible of you to make comments.

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