brother wolf animal rescue

Brother Wolf controversy spotlights debate over ‘no-kill’ animal shelters

Some local animal advocates have taken exception at a North Carolina “no-kill” animal shelter’s declaration in December that it would put down dogs whose behavior prevented them from being adopted.

Asheville’s Brother Wolf Animal Rescue has informed Carolina Public Press that it has received death threats directed at its employees.

Though most opponents find such fanaticism repugnant, feelings are strong on the subject. Some claim that those animals may have been adopted by someone who would have taken them in or sent to sanctuaries. There were many who worked with the dogs and claimed they posed no threat.


When CPP inquired about how other animal rescue groups in the state addressed similar situations, they discovered that although Not everyone shared Brother Wolf’s viewpoint, and it’s not even entirely clear what “no-kill” means.

A no-kill shelter is defined as one that has at least a 90% save rate, according to the well-known national nonprofit Best Friends, which is based in Utah.

Its policy shift has generated controversy, although Brother Wolf is still well inside that margin. Brother Wolf stated on its website that “behavioral euthanasias” accounted for 0.07 percent of its intake in a post dated December 10. Ninety-five percent of live releases were reported.

However, other animal advocates contend that any group that bills itself as “no-kill” to the public, volunteers, and donors is killing too many animals.

The SPCA of Massachusetts’ director of communications, Darci VanderSlik, claims that the phrase “no-kill” is ambiguous, overused, and contentious Wake County.

“The public should not rely on a term as overused as ‘no-kill,’ but rather look at a shelter’s admission policies and treatment of animals.”

Brother Wolf and its critics

On December 5, Brother Wolf published a notice on their website announcing the change in policy. They said that the practice of “warehousing” dogs that were not suitable for adoption was unjust to both those dogs and other adoptable animals that could have needed the space.

The post mentioned that most of the dogs had been at the shelter for more than a year and that they were aggressive and not good prospects for adoption. The canines were given medication “to help them cope with the life a dog must endure when sheltered long term” and spent several hours in “isolation.”

When Brother Wolf started searching for shelters to accept these dogs in October of last year, it had already received word by December from around 20 of them that there was not enough room.

“We made contact with Every potential haven we could locate within the United States,” the group’s executive director, Leah Craig Fieser, said to CPP.

Fieser endorsed the statement. She noted that the organization’s previous leadership made the “well-intended but, I believe, misguided decision to adopt aggressive dogs into the community” in a January opinion piece in the Asheville Citizen-Times. She also added that it was “unsafe and unethical.”

She stated it would be a mistake to keep letting dogs with behavioral problems be around people, but in order to be fair to the dogs and the volunteers who developed a link with them, she did let volunteers visit the dogs before they were put to sleep.

According to Fieser, “They can only interact with certain people.”


“It is rare to come across a shelter that has animals for an extended period of time.” Because it’s warehousing, not a good practice, and unethical. So this really strange thing happened, which isn’t normally the case at shelters when a volunteer has spent years getting to know an animal. And since a shelter dog won’t stay in a shelter for an extended period of time, that’s a really unusual reality for them.

Fieser claimed that before deciding, Brother Wolf conferred with licensed animal behaviorists.

Brother Wolf employs the Ian Dunbar bite scale, which goes from level one—which is growling and similar behavior—to level six, which is the victim’s death.

Zurich, a dog who was put to sleep, bit two strangers—one in the adoption center and the other in public—level three. in addition to numerous level one and level two bites.

Additionally, according to Fieser, he had a “history of lunging and snapping at people he hasn’t met when they enter his space.”

1,376 dogs were taken up by Brother Wolf in 2019. Twelve of them were put to death because of behavioral issues.

She also mentioned that prior to the policy change, concerned volunteers may have adopted the pets.

Former Brother Wolf foster mom Victoria Barratt told CPP that she and others doubted these dogs were truly deadly.

“This raises questions about how and why so many dogs are now falling into this category after, frequently, months or even years of being considered ‘adoptable,'” stated Barratt.

“These pups were promoted via foster emails, the Brother Wolf website, and even the hallmark Channel as being lovable, kind, “perfect,” and up for adoption. For everyone who knew the pets, this disparity is unsettling.

According to Barratt, dangerous dogs are either “assigned to behavior remediation, special sanctuary placement, or as a last resort is euthanized.”

It would be necessary to document the incident, including medical records for any injured individual, and implement a management change for the dog immediately if an aggressive tendency was initially unseen or missed and later discovered, said Barratt.

“It would not include doing what Brother Wolf has done, which is putting dangerous dogs into foster homes, leaving them unmuzzled in open enclosures with volunteers, or letting them run loose in our neighborhood. Furthermore, if the staff behaviorist is incorrectly diagnosing so many dogs in a short period of time.

What other ‘no-kill’ animal shelters say

The executive director of the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society, Jackie Stickley, told CPP that she supports the national guideline of 90% live releases, which is supported by Best Friends, as suitable for a no-kill shelter.

However, her group aims to reduce the number of animals killed and restrict the justifications for euthanasia.

According to Stickley, Fayetteville’s save percentage is currently just above 97%. For space or “treatable or manageable conditions,” the shelter does not put anyone to death, the spokesperson stated.

Stickley stated, “For us, the most important things are to make sure that everyone is safe and, secondly, happy.”
Her shelter is not an open admission facility, which is one difference. It gets to choose which animals it gets.

The SPCA’s live release rate in Wake County was 98.7. But the SPCA only accepts animals into its shelter or foster care programs.

Director of communications at the SPCA VanderSlik stated, “Once an animal comes into our care, we will not euthanize that pet unless the animal is in cases of untreatable.
There have been 54 cases of animals “who, for medical or behavior reasons, cannot be rehomed” put to death, according to the SPCA’s 2019 impact report.

More than 500 animals are taken in by Juliet’s House Animal Rescue in Greensboro each year, according to director Susan Deaton.

According to Deaton, CPP, “Juliet’s House mostly deals with neonate kittens and puppies.”

Only one adult puppy that was thought to be hostile was brought back to us. A certified trainer evaluated him, and we worked with him for several months. After a span of ten months, he is thriving in his new residence.

“I am aware that shelters are not able to provide this kind of time and care. In these cases, rescues must take the initiative.

The problem was also addressed by the Asheville SPCA.

“Animal sheltering organizations should retain discretion to make the best decisions for those animals and the communities in which they live, especially in cases involving behavior or medical issues, and should make every effort to find placement options for the animals in their care,” the organization wrote to CPP via email.

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