Central North Carolina animal shelters face capacity limitations as surrenders increase

Michael Perchick Image
Monday, August 15, 2022
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Animal shelters are reporting an uptick in owner surrenders trending towards pre-pandemic numbers, creating concerns over capacity.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Animal shelters are reporting an uptick in owner surrenders trending towards pre-pandemic numbers, creating concerns over capacity.

During the 2021 fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) in Wake County, animal shelters took in nearly 6,600 dogs and cats. Last fiscal year, that figure topped 8,000 dogs and cats.

"We have seen a high increase in dog specific surrenders and strays," said Joanne Duda, Foster Coordinator with the Wake County Animal Center; the intake of dogs increased by nearly 1,000 year-over-year.

Another notable change is the age of animals, with many just one or two years old.

"What we're seeing are dogs that are under-socialized. Especially during the high COVID times when we were more in quarantine. The animals were not getting socialized to outside things being people, sounds, other animals or whatnot," said Duda.

The rise has coincided with support groups facing struggles in placing homes with foster families, requiring more adoptions to keep pace.

"I think we're just getting close to saturation in a lot of cases. Anybody who was even thinking about adopting a pet during the pandemic went ahead and adopted. And so a pet is a lifelong commitment, so you're talking five, 10, 15 year commitment for most of these animals. So people aren't necessarily ready to turn right back around in another year and adopt another animal," said Elaine Smith, the Director of Cumberland County Animal Services.

Smith explained they've seen a nearly 45% increase year-to-date in owner surrenders, from about 900 to more than 1,300.

"Cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro they have multiple large shelters that help them deal with their capacity. Whereas we have one large shelter, and one small," Smith said.

Cumberland County faces other challenges, such as certain breeds being banned on post at Fort Bragg, military deployments and a transient community.

"We have struggled and had to euthanize for space in the past, and we have been having to do that for the past week or so. We have had days where we've had to euthanize for space. And that's something we never want and we would love to get to the point where that never happens again, but it is happening, and we're not the only shelter that's at that point," Smith said.

Both Duda and Smith encouraged owners to spay and neuter their pets, and potential owners to adopt from shelters.

From Monday, August 22nd through Saturday, August 27th, Cumberland County Animal Services is waiving all adoption fees. Wake County Animal Services is hosting their own Clear the Shelters event Saturday, August 27th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.