Woman Claims Humane Society Let Her Adopt Sick Dogs

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Imagine adopting two puppies, taking them home and discovering they’re seriously ill. Then imagine the place where they were adopted from tells you there’s no problem to return the puppies, but know they may be put down.

The scenario is something Haltom City resident Katy Spates doesn’t have to imagine – she says it’s happening to her.

Now Spates wants to know how it’s possible the shelter didn’t know the dogs were sick with a highly contagious canine respiratory disease and inflammation of the lungs.

It hasn’t been two weeks since Spates adopted the puppies.

“When I walked back into the kennel it was the both of them and they were both very sweet and just loving dogs,” she said.

Spates adopted the two Australian shepherd mixes from the Humane Society of North Texas. When she got them home both were ill, but the 4-month-old puppy she named Mia was especially sick.

“She started coughing up mucus and had a bad runny nose and sneezing a lot,” recalled Spates.

The 23-year-old woman immediately took Mia to a veterinarian. It turns out the puppy had kennel cough and pneumonia.

As of Thursday, Mia remained at the animal emergency hospital and the other adopted puppy, Francis, has started showing symptoms of kennel cough.

Spates was told by the Humane Society that she could bring the puppies back, but if they were really that sick then they could be put euthanized.

“It’s not merchandise. It’s an animal,” said Spates. “It’s like adopting a child and finding out they are sick. Are you going to return them?”

A spokesperson with the Humane Society wouldn’t go on camera with CBS 11 News but said the organization doesn’t allow the adoption of animals that they know are sick. The person went on to say that animals could be fine one day and come down with an illness the next.

So far, Spates has spent about $1,000 on the two puppies.

“Having them sent home with me sick and all the complications… it’s just unbelievable,” she said.

Spates believes the Humane Society should refund her adoption fees and pay what pet insurance doesn’t cover.

The Humane Society of North Texas spokesperson told CBS 11 that they send new pet owners home with a list of veterinarians. If the owner goes to one on the list within five days of adoption — which Spates did — the vet will waive the office visit fee. But they say the pet owner is responsible for all other costs.


One Comment

  1. Robin Hongola says:

    Please don’t let this unfortunate, isolated incident scare anyone away from adopting from your local shelter. The Humane Society truly cares for all animals and are very careful selecting who gets to adopt, and which animals can be adopted out. I agree, this is a very unfortunate incident for both the kind lady who adopted, and the two sick puppies. Please don’t let this scare you away from adopting, there are literally thousands of unwanted animals here in DFW. It’s simply tragic when they can’t find a home.

  2. na says:

    people make me laugh and sick at the same time.. i mean HELLO you know they are more then likely going to get sick..its a damn shelter. do u expect a rescue that runs on donations to pay for EVERY animal for the rest of its life? isnt that y u adopted it. Because u saw it,wanted a family member and wanted to save a life by adopting and taking on that responsibility? do u really expect the humane society or any place to take in a sick animal and make it better? how would we help any if we saved them all? no one knows whats wrong with the animals unless its apparent. the second one starts sneezing/coughing/runny nose its no long up for adoption UNLESS the owners aware of it and its in rehab. inwhich it would have meds. i mean people are just stupid. who cares if u go to the news and a news lady isnt educated either and wants something to make the cover for the day.. sheesh

  3. Judy says:

    I agree with the other comments above. This is a Very Unfortunate story that should not discourage anyone from saving a life. That is why they are there, surrounded by every other stray unwanted animal. I think it says that the animals may have illnesses unknown at this time and the adopters will be responsible for all costs involved. She said it’s NOT merchandise, and she is very right, so why would she even get the news stations involved. They said they would take the puppies back AND put them to sleep. It’s a good thing that she does have the decency not to do that at least, but it is like adopting a child, it is now her responsiblilty to pay their medical bills, and be thankful she has pet insurance. These places are all strapped for cash to even operate and save the few they can, and for her to ask for a DIME back is disgraceful!!

  4. Anya says:

    Wow. Why is this a news story? Does this Katy person have a friend at the station or something? Animal shelters get in so many unwanted cats and dogs everyday from all walks of life, and there is no known vaccination history. You can literally go look at all the dogs, everybody seems healthy, go back 1 hour later and one is sneezing. Its just the sad reality. The Humane Society of N. TX did exactly what they should have by offering to take the puppies back, and usually you are offered to adopt another dog/cat if you choose. If this woman choose not to do so, good for her for wanting to spend the money helping the puppies that SHE adopted and chose to care for. It isn’t the shelter fault she went and spent all that money at a very expensive vet. She had options, and she chose the right option to treat the puppies, but shouldn’t expect a NONPROFIT agency to pick up the tab. Shame on Katy Spates for trying to tarnish a shelter that tries to save animals lives by getting this public. Shame on “reporter” Arezow Doost for making this a story without really looking into the reality of the animals in the shelter or for even really looking into shelter policy on adopting an animal.

  5. J. says:

    It is sad that this Katy person and the news station didn’t educate themselves on HSNT and other shelters before deciding to try to make this into a news story. Obviously if Katy adopted from there, she could see how many animals were in need of homes at the Humane Society. By trying to bad mouth the shelter by her unfortunate experience(which is on her, not the shelter, no one made her spend the money, the shelter didn’t purposefully give her sick dogs), she is potentially hurting the shelter, and in turn hurting the animals. If someone decided not to adopt because of her story and an animal was euthanized, that’s on her. But I guess it is more important for her to have her 2 minutes. Because her story is more important than homeless animals lives. Good job Katy.

  6. stgertrudescottage says:

    I agree…why would the reporter waste time with this story? It is a nonstory. What happens if the next person buys a goldfish from a pet store and the fish dies? Will this reporter write something about that? Please. These animals come from shelters that run on what government funding is made available. They are pulled by caring compassionate animal rescuers who work for nothing and operate minimally on donations. Puppies and kittens have practically no immune systems. The instant they get stressed in a new environment, they will get sick. It is to be expected. Ask a vet.

  7. Richard B says:

    Our first experience with the NTSPCA was at the Texas State Fair. We adopted a Toy Fox Terrier puppy to start out a life of being loved and playing various dog sports. Now we took to the vet as soon as we could but turned out we were too late. The wife reminded me when I forwarded this article to her:
    How quickly you forget. Tex, had kennel cough and pneumonia. He gave it to all the other animals, even the ferret. We had a sick house for a month!!! Went to the emergency room with Tex. He slept with us because I was so worried from the time we brought him home. It is how I know he’s allergic to penicillin.
    He’s still alive today with more then 50 titles to his name and we all love him as one of our children.
    We still adopt but are leary through the SPCA. Our latest ‘child’ had a bad case of heartworm and were warned by the Arlington Animal Shelter. At least we knew and left with surprise that could have killed him if we had found out too late. We cured him and he is a joy.
    We need to keep adopting and stay away from Puppy/Kitten etc Farms but NTSPCA needs to be more responsible for sending out ill animals.

  8. K. says:

    How unfortunate that this incident was reported as if it were an every day occurrence. Please do not let this story discourage anyone from adopting from the Humane Society of North Texas in the future. As a previous poster commented, unless the puppies were visibly ill at the time of adoption (i.e. sneezing, runny nose, coughing) the shelter would not know that they had kennel cough. From my personal experience with my own dog, who is a rescue, kennel cough is something they can be exposed to and not show symptoms of until a later date. Much like a cold for us humans. And if they did appear to have these symptoms at the time she wanted to adopt them, why did Ms. Spates not inquire as to the state of their health? I find it highly unlikely that any shelter would allow a visibly sick animal, with a “highly contagious canine respiratory disease”, walk out the door with an adopter.
    Furthermore, I find it infuriating that an individual would expect a non-profit or not-for-profit animal rescue agency to reimbursement them for adoption fees and medical costs. They are not breeders where the “adopter” pays them hundreds to thousands of dollars with the guarantee of health and bloodline. These are shelters that do what they can with the miniscule DONATIONS (NOT taxpayers dollars, not government funding) they receive to vaccinate, spay/neuter, feed and provide homes for the hundreds to thousands of unwanted, neglected and abused animals that are brought into their custody daily, weekly and yearly.
    Way to go, Ms. Spates and Ms. Doost, to present this story in such a manner as to overshadow the endless good HSNT and these shelters do for the animals, and people, of our community, daily.

  9. CRS says:

    Stupid people. Kennel cough….they were kept in a kennel. duh. Pay more taxes or donate more and maybe the shelter can pay for more medicines for the pets. You take the pet back he will be killed. No the pets aren’t property but the eyes of the law they are property. what gets me is they compare the dogs to children. Not the same. Again stupid people.

  10. KH says:

    First dog I ever adopted cost $20 (had a full life) and last 1 cost over $100 to adopt (having only been in the shelter couple of days so she sure didn’t run up high food or shelter bills). But she has also turned into the most expensive dog I have ever had after surgery to remove bladder stones, 1 eye removed, other eye laser surgery yet a cataract has taken her vision and $79 every two months for medication to keep the pressure down. Her expenses to date have cost more than my car did, yet all of this set in 5 years after she was adopted.
    An animal might have been just property back when feed and medical care was cheap, but today we pay the same amount for an office visit for them as we did for human visits when I was 18. When we could legally give rabie shots they cost us $3 to give, yet today for the shot alone we have to pay a vet $19? As for other shots they don’t cost that much either.
    I did have to return 1 of 2 adopted kittens after it died so they could send it’s head off to check for rabies, yet I brought the body home and burried it. I have always selected the shy or those with the least possibility of being adopted except for the last one and she hated being in a cage.
    I’m sure the shelter had no ideal they where sick and even when coming to a new good enviroment they will still be suffering from the shell shock of different food, water, and over coming the ordeal they had at the shelter.
    The second you walk out the door it’s up to you to pay for any medical care they need and not the shelter. If the shelter had high adoption fees then I do feel they should refund everything over the price of a bag of dog food that you paid for them if they became sick in the first week or two when you provide them with proof of their high medical expenses.
    Katy your really a great person for not returning them to be needlessly killed and I really wish I had better finances to help you with the expenses. I’ve never in my 57 years had an animal with kennel cough, but I have caught the flu just from eating out and just as it is with kc you don’t come down with it right away or show signs of having it. I’m really glad you have pet insurance, none of my crew has it and I won’t be getting anymore as they pass on since I’ve already out-lived my brother and father and doubt I’ll make it long enough to get social security for a month like mom did. Enjoy what time you do have with them and when they pass on I’m sure they would want another animal to have such a loved life as what you gave them.
    Just beware no matter where you get an animal from this or other medical problems and even death can come not long after you got them. Your only condolense is they died in a good place with a loving person which many of them never get the chance to.

  11. Clarisa F. says:

    I AGREE– How is this news? The HSNT does the best they can with animals that have been dumped, abandoned, etc. They come to them with no medical/vaccination history, without any knowledge of what they may have been exposed to- and even a vet with a crytsal ball can’t predict what these animals can possibly incubate for 3-4 weeks before showing symptoms. I would also be willing to bet a lot of $$ that Ms. Spates signed a legal contract that SPECIFICALLY addressed the concern of possible illness before they released two dogs to her. It’s an unfortunate situation, but what ever happened to using common sense, and taking responsibility? (because YES- she did take responsibilty for TWO LIVING THINGS!) If the HSNT was asked to cough up vet bills for every animal that came down with a treatble disease after adoption, they would cease to exist, along with all other shelters, and euthanasias would be through the roof. The lack of common sense these days astounds me– keep up the good work HSNT, and people please continue to adopt from shelters!!

  12. Tracie T says:

    We also adopted our sweet Austrailian Shepherd/Lab puppy from the Fort Worth Humane Society of North Texas (11/2/11) and he began coughing and sneezing green mucous. Now after many days of medication to treat his respiratory infection he is doing better. The link HSNT provided for pet insurance went to our Spam box. When I found it and clicked on the link I was denied. My email explaining the situation was also denied. Our experience with HSNT was less than positive. However, we love our little Duke but will look for other options for future adoption.

    1. Sylvia F says:

      ……….why didnt you just call HSNT back so they could sort it out for you

  13. Traci says:

    Seriously?!?! SHAME on CBS for making this a story! Also I’d add this evidently highly immature Katy to the Do Not Adopt list, you are so uninformed on animal shelters and what little they have to work with and you go to the news to bad mouth them. SHAME ON YOU AND THIS “NEWS” STATION! You have done a HUGE disservice to animals in shelters!

    1. Katy says:

      As the the story was portrayed, I can understand how you might think I am immature. I have had a lot of experience with animal shelters in my life, all of my personal dogs have been adopted from them, I’ve volunteered for years, and given many donations to the humane society and other shelters. Which is a big part of why I was so upset at how this was handled. I ended up with two very sick dogs. One who has kennel cough and pneumonia, and another who has kennel cough and mange. The big reason I went to the news with this story is that MANY shelters have policies that if you take home an animal and they are seriously ill within 2 weeks, (several DFW shelters do this) then you can take them to the shelter and they will be treated for free. This is obviously not the case with the Fort Worth Humane Society. Not only that but what I was told via the phone was that my dogs would be put to sleep if they were returned, which made me wonder, what if they had gotten that sick and not been adopted yet, would they have be put down instead of receiving medical care? This Humane Society center made nearly $150,000 last year, according to the IRS, after costs. They also put down over 5,000 dogs, which is more then they adopted out. (Though that includes ones that were put down by owners out of mercy for free) I just wanted attention called to these facts and that hopefully the Humane Society would change their policies and practices to the betterment of the animals. What happens to the animals that are adopted that the families can’t afford hundreds of dollars on medical care? Are they returned to be euthanized or dumped or are they just left to suffer and die?

      1. Cindy L. says:

        If you have “volunteered for years” you would be way more informed on the statements you are making. Unfortunately, none of those illnesses are uncommon in shelters, they are easily treatable and not newsworthy (shame on CBS, you should know better). You would also know most DFW shelters cannot afford a vet on staff and do the best they can with trained ACOs who have no actual veterinary authority. Who are these shelters that can afford to “treat for free”?! and where did they get their money fairy? As far I as I know, HSNT only has 1-2 vets for that huge facility that takes ANY animal from all of Tarrant County. (ANY meaning, extremely sick, injured, aggressive, feral, etc which explains the EU # you quote. Also, anyone with shelter knowledge knows their EU rate is well below national average.) Do you really think 150k is alot of money when you have an open door policy for a county of 1,800,000? Are you implying their proceeds are not going directly to animal welfare? I don’t think you want to go down that road, because you are incorrect, most of that staff makes well under 30k a year. Lastly, to answer your question, if you can’t afford hundreds of dollars in medical care, DO NOT adopt an animal. They are living creatures who WILL need medical care, at some point in their lives. I do commend you for adopting from a shelter and for getting them treated, but I feel you and CBS owe the HSNT an apology for this sensationalized story.

  14. Rose says:

    $1000? For an upper respitory infection? I too have adopted a puppy from a shelter, for about $125. Which included everything-she was spayed, had her vaccinations, and was microchipped. To me that was a great deal, and I was thrilled. About 3 days after I picked her up from her spay, she started having some green discharge from her nose. Alarmed, I didn’t called my vet, as well as the shelter to see if this was normal. Not being a self-indulgent twit who apparently has had everything handed to me, I understood the shelters policy, who also offered to take back my dog and let me adopt another one, with the understanding that they couldn’t treat her and would have to euthanize her. I of course chose to treat her, and looked around for a reasonable vet. I used my free vet exam, which only covered the exam fee, not any medication, again, which I understood. When I adopted, I chose to take responsibility for another life, and didn’t expect anyone else to pick up the tab. All in all it was only around $150 for antibiotics and something to help boost her appetite to keep her eating. So I paid $275 total for a fully vetted and microchipped furry companion. Still a great deal. So I don’t know what vet she chose, but that is her fault. Grow up Katy, and take responsiblity. You made an admirable choice in deciding to treat them, but shouldn’t expect somebody else to pick up the tab. That is why HSNT exists, having to take care of the homeless animals no one wants to step upfor. You (Katy) are no better than people dropping off their dogs not wanting to take care of them. Instead of trying to bash HSNT for trying to save lives, why not try to help them by spreading awareness about spaying & neutering, about how many homeless animals there are and what a need there is to help places like HSNT that are trying to do good work. Why do you have to be a part of the problem instead of part of the solution?

  15. RESA ROSE says:

    agree with all those on the side of HSNT, the ONLY
    open door shelter in N TX taking in over 30.000 a year. There is NO way HSNT can guaruntee the health of all the animals they take in-many are sick when they are surrended by irresonsible pet owners who DONT have the commen sense to S/N their animals to PREVENT 30% OR MORE the intake of animal shelters in our area. GET OFF THEIR CASE and S/N your animalls!!!!!!

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