Update on Kassidy: An Important Message from Dr. Blackwell

Earlier this month, Young-Williams Animal Center announced that Kassidy, a pregnant Lab mix in our care, had been placed with a local rescue group, Adopt a Golden Knoxville. We asked for the public’s support in our efforts to tackle the larger issue of East Tennessee’s pet overpopulation. News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy wrote a stirring column on the topic, and we’ve received kind words from community members.

Kassidy’s case, while it created controversy, allowed us to remind everyone why responsible pet ownership is so important.

Young-Williams is required by Tennessee state law to spay or neuter every animal that is adopted through the shelter before it leaves the property. Once Kassidy had been held in our lost-and-found facility, she became our legal property and responsibility. She was then scheduled to be spayed. If she had not given birth before being spayed, the surgery would have resulted in the pregnancy being terminated.

An animal shelter is not equipped to care for newborn animals. By isolating the delicate newborns to protect their health, we would forfeit available room for other adoptable animals. As an open-intake shelter, Young-Williams must focus on the 50 or so animals brought in every day to a building that can house only 500. This is the harsh reality we face.

Young-Williams is required by law to spay and neuter all animals or reach a contractual agreement with a suitable adopting organization to do so at the appropriate age. Therefore, the options to handle Kassidy’s case — and others like hers — are limited. Young-Williams explored legally viable options to place Kassidy with a rescue group or foster parent. We were pleased to place her with Adopt a Golden Knoxville.

However, some misinformation that led up to the statement about Kassidy’s placement is still being perpetuated.

Emails and social media posts that circulated insinuated that Young-Williams was planning to euthanize her while pregnant, had already euthanized her or planned to remove her puppies via Caesarean section and then euthanize them. These statements were completely false.

The woman who turned Kassidy in to Young-Williams was advised by staff and signed a document forfeiting any and all rights to the dog. Claims that she was not fully advised are also false and seem to have been spread by people outside Tennessee.

Young-Williams’ staff members work tirelessly to care for the dozens of animals coming through the shelter doors daily. They often must do what is difficult but necessary — including euthanasia when that is the most humane option for animals who come to us too ill or too aggressive because they’ve been abused, abandoned or neglected by irresponsible pet owners. I commend our staff and volunteers and thank them for their service.

We appreciate the ongoing support of the community and look forward to working together in our efforts to better animal welfare in East Tennessee. We aggressively promote adoption. We’re working to help many more animals find homes and have started regular transport trips to Northeastern states where there is a demand for adoptable dogs. In January, we will announce exciting updates to our spay/neuter program.

Please encourage others to spay and neuter. For more information about spay and neuter services or adoption, please contact Young-Williams.

Dr. Michael Blackwell is administrator of Young-Williams Animal Center.