A viral Facebook photo depicting a Stanislaus County animal shelter as inhumane over their euthanasia process made us ask a lot of questions here at ABC10.
Is this picture real? Is this practice common? And who would take such a picture?
We went inside the pictured shelter room, where pets are laid to rest, and talked with the head of the shelter, Phillip Zimmerman, about the agency's process.
“Dogs are already deceased when we lay them on the ground. We do not euthanize them on the ground, we hold them up here.”
This photo showing the final process of euthanasia at the Stanislaus County Regional Animal Services Center is real -- it shows multiple euthanized dogs lying on the ground -- but what it doesn’t capture is the context of what is going on.
“What’s seen and depicted in that picture is that euthanasia is complete," Zimmerman said. "The employees do a double check to make sure these animals are expired. They are getting a gurney which you don’t see, and then they put them on that and take them to refrigeration.”
According to the Sacramento and Stockton Animal shelters, as long as a pet doesn’t have to see a fellow pet euthanized, this is the common practice.
Chad Winchester, who has deleted his profile from Facebook, is the photographer of that photo. He was doing his alternative work release program for the Stanislaus County Sheriff. According to a post on the animal shelter Facebook page, Winchester is now in custody.
If seeing the consequence of euthanasia bothers you, shelter workers suggest adopting a shelter pet.
“That is our number one goal here from all staff. We want live animals out of here and how do we get them to their homes.”