In the movie Little Fish .. we see Emma putting numbers on dog cages. It appears to be days. Each day she counts down the numbers. When the number on a dog reaches 0, she takes the dog and gives it a lethal injection and kills it.

Why is Emma counting down days for the dogs and killing them?

  • 1
    Needs clarity? Really? It's a pretty simple question.
    – John
    Aug 3, 2021 at 5:42
  • From the script ---> INT. RESCUE SHELTER - LATER - NOW Emma walks down the hallway. She marks each white board. 5 becomes 4. 12 becomes 11. Countdowns. This is death row. She gets to the end of the row of crates and finds herself before a whiteboard with a big 1 on it. She erases it. She looks at the contents of the crate. A little mutt with saucer moon eyes is staring back at her. She kneels down to its level.
    – Valorum
    Jul 8, 2023 at 8:03

1 Answer 1


Because, at least in the US, a stray dog must be held for a number of days before it can be disposed of.

The time period varies from place to play but ranges, on average, from 2 to 7 days.

Over thirty states have what are termed "holding period" laws. These laws provide the minimum required period that an animal (usually a dog or cat) must be kept at a pound or public animal shelter before it is sold, adopted out, or euthanized. Typically, the holding period runs from five to seven days. However, it can be as short as 48 to 72 hours in some cases. The holding period allows owners who have lost their pets adequate time to contact the shelter and reclaim their animals.


  • Holy smokes! I did not know of this! I now get what she means by calling herself an executioner.
    – John
    Aug 3, 2021 at 5:41

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