I'm not here to stir anything -- clearly strong feelings can come up on this kind of topic. Just let me throw in some info ... hopefully, balancing info ... to help others prevent this kind of experience.
While PETA may be against this R2F -- Return to Field -- program, in many circumstances it does work well. Those circumstances depend on the parties involved adhering to standards and criteria for the animals collected or surrendered. First criteria is that the animal is truly FERAL and not just a stray or homeless animal. Feral animas can seem very sad and neglected, but they are resourceful way beyond what you can imagine. The key is to SPAY or NEUTER them so they do not increase in population and act-out towards humans and their family pets or livestock.
It seems to me that the first mistake was trusting the local Humane Society. I'm sorry to sound so negative towards this organization, but I've had quite a bit of experience with them. Like many "chain" businesses, each location can differ remarkably. Many people still fear the local county animal shelters, but often they are the best facilities. More on that in a bit ...
This sweet kitty that was surrendered with the best of intentions, was NOT a feral cat. Cats like this should NOT be involved in a R2F program. Well managed, responsible animal agencies take in cats like this and work VERY HARD TO FIND THEM A HOME. I volunteer at such an organization. We NEVER euthanize for space, and go to extreme lengths to save/re-home companion animals. It is a county shelter -- we no longer call them POUNDS -- and our save-rate is high enough to qualify us for a no-kill shelter status. But we are the only one in the are than can euthanize, and sadly, sometimes this is THE only way to deal with extreme circumstances.
While this hurts the heart, I'm deeply grateful that my Shelter makes these decisions with intelligence, compassion and great care!!! In fact, we -- the large volunteer support organization that works in tandem with the Shelter -- have been allowed to take extreme measures to save ill animals that most places wouldn't hesitate the euthanize (and sometimes I would have agreed with that decision). We've saved cats with highly infectious diseases because a group came together to not only BUILD an offsite rehab center, but formed a round-the-clock group of volunteers to treat the cat. We researched treatment possibilities for a dog with a life-time disease who now has a VERY happy home, but at one time was bloated and miserable and days away from death because he was mis-diagnosed. We were all instructed to come say good-bye to him ... BUT I just photographed him in an agility contest a few weeks ago. We facilitated an adoption of a very sweet dog who was left with an UN-treated broken leg that had atrophied to the point of being impossible to save. It was confiscated and treated. I promoted this great animal on TV and people called immediately to take him home. He is living a VERY happy life now with a family who has had a 3-legged dog and knew just how to help him.
I'm so sorry to hear such heart-breaking stories, but there is hope. Many places work hard -- way beyond what I'm writing here -- to work to help animals. Keep the faith that much is being done, but don't trust an organization just cuz it has a well-known name -- check them out!!!
The advice here is to get to know your local facilities. You may find good one, but you may not. Fear and ignorance seem to the the norm today and many people who are involved with animals are still very ignorant. Usually, somewhere near where you are there is a "No-Kill" Shelter or one who's policy is equivalent. If you find a stray that seems very oriented to humans and you cannot keep the animal, a shelter with this policy can take a surrender -- usually for a small fee/ours is $10 -- and will work to find it a home. If after lingering, the animal has not been re-homed, they reach out to other organizations and rescue groups to help. There are the things you have to ask about, if you want to be an animal-advocate at any time in your life!
I hope this helps ... and I hope that more and more shelters across the country are morphing into the great facility that we have here in my area. Peace and comfort to all animal lovers here!!!