San Antonio Pets Alive accused of mistreatment

Videos of alleged kitten neglect at local animal shelter surface

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio organization committed to saving animals is being accused of not providing proper care to cats and kittens, resulting in many deaths.

San Antonio Pets Alive contracts with the city to help adopt out dogs and cats, but now several volunteers say the organization is not providing proper medical care, driving away volunteers and neglecting kittens to the point of death.

Shari Pearson took video of some of the kittens suffering and posted them on YouTube. They show sick kittens, medical supplies in plain view and a lack of staff. They were shot at the San Antonio Pets Alive kitten rescue on Marbach Road. One video even shows someone returning a dead kitten that they had kept stored in a freezer.

Pearson is a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, and said she went there as a volunteer.

"I love that they came into San Antonio and they're helping to lower the kill rate," Pearson said.

But she said she started taking videos when she and other volunteers noticed dying animals and a rescue in disorganization.

"It appeared that some of them had starved to death and we would actually find dead kittens," Pearson said.

Darla Evans and her daughter, Sara, also volunteered and say what they saw drove them away.

"They had several kittens dying daily," said Sara Evans.

Her mother told of being concerned with one particular kitten.

"That orange kitten that I was with, it was No. 15 that day that said, 'Deceased, deceased, deceased,'" Darla Evans said.

Sara Evans said she would always be surprised by what she would find while working.

"And I cleaned the cage and there was still a dead kitten in there that was wrapped under the covers with the other kittens," said Sara Evans.

Holly Livermore is the operations manager of SAPA.

"We have enough staff to take care of the kittens but we always need more volunteers and more donations," Livermore said.

She said there may have been problems earlier, but not now.

"Of course, we've had some losses unfortunately and it's been very, very sad and very, very difficult for us, but now we have all of our protocol in place," Livermore said.

Volunteer Darlene Rowland is a regular there and says this is a well-run, well-staffed shelter.

"I look forward to coming here on Tuesdays and we have a couple of kitties we took home to foster," Rowland said.

But the videos also call into question the recent claims by Animal Care Services that the survival rate is increasing at the city shelter, which counts animals taken by pets alive as saved.

"Sometimes a picture or a video is worth a thousand words," Pearson said.

PETA sent links to the suffering kitten videos to city officials.

The Defenders emailed those city officials in the afternoon and are waiting for responses.

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