Stop Kitten Killing Shelter in North Carolina

Nationally, one in every five cats surrendered to a shelter does not make it out alive. However, the Burke County Animal Shelter in North Carolina kills at a rate of more than four of every five cats it takes in! It kills a shocking 87% of cats and kittens surrendered to its care. That figure is horrifying enough, but it gets worse. The Burke County shelter has been selling the bodies of the cats it kills for use in laboratories. Act now to reform this Frankenstein shelter and save cats and kittens from being sold off for body-parts.

WLOS TV investigated and found that the shelter was selling off cats and kittens for body parts—effectively incentivizing killing, which might help explain why only 13% of cats and kittens entering the Burke County Animal Shelter make it out alive.

Sheriff Steve Whisenant ran the Burke County Animal Shelter until July 1, 2019 when Burke County Manager, Bryan Steen took over operations. Whisenant told WLOS that the practice of selling the bodies of cats killed in the shelter to labs started prior to 1997.

The shelter has taken a beating on social media regarding the practice with many people claiming that when the shelter needs money, it kills more cats so it can sell their bodies.

It's an outrageous claim to be sure. However, if there's nothing to the claim, why does Burke County have by far the highest kill rate for cats and kittens of surrounding counties?

Of six surrounding counties we ran numbers on, the average kill rate for cats and kittens is 20%. That’s still way too high, but less than a quarter of what Burke County's kill rate is. Given the numbers, it's easy to understand why concerned citizens would conclude that placing a monetary value on dead cats and kittens might be contributing to the ridiculously high kill rate at the Burke County Animal Shelter. This is all the more reason for Burke County to end the practice.

Help us end the despicable practice by Burke County of selling the bodies of cats killed in its county animal shelter for experiments. Demand Burke County stop this practice, and work to improve the shelter’s live release rate for all animals. There's no excuse to kill 87% of cats and kittens brought to the shelter.

What YOU Can Do — TODAY:



1) Selling the bodies of animals killed in municipal shelters isn’t as uncommon a practice as you might think. Underfunded shelters killing large numbers of animals often sell animals’ bodies to labs in order to recoup losses. If you suspect your municipal animal shelter is participating in this ghoulish practice, but need confirmation, contact the city or county agency that runs the shelter and ask. If you feel like you are being stonewalled, submit a public records request.

You can also find a wealth of information through Facebook groups in your area that deal with missing or lost animal companions. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation there. If you need assistance with the records request or help stopping your shelter from incentivizing killing, please email us at

2) Submit our letter to decision makers in Burke County.


Submit the letter below to deliver your comments to:
  • Burke County decision makers


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Stop Incentivizing the Killing of Cats and Kittens

Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]


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