The Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a civil penalty of nearly $4,800 for Sampson County and a warning for violating state statutes.
Protesters said the fine was not enough.
"Well, first of all, legal action should be taken - this is a crime," said Carla King, one of the protesters, "and terminated from their positions because clearly they're not able to do it."
The citation accuses the shelter of premature euthanasia of 15 animals, and inadequate feeding, lighting and veterinary care for animals.
"It was just so sad that they weren't given a chance to be adopted and live their lives," King said.
The Sampson County Animal Shelter was inspected last month.
RELATED: Read the full citation against the shelter here (.pdf)
"I want to see a big change in them; not hurt the animals," said 8-year-old Delaney Caton, who was also there to protest. "I want to see them loving the animals and being kind to them."
Sampson County Manager Ed Causey said he was surprised by the notice and is working to determine what went wrong and how it can be fixed.
The county has two months to pay the penalty or file an appeal.
Sampson County is opening its own investigation of the shelter.
"We take it very seriously, and are doing our due diligence to work our way through concerns and if we find areas of concern," said Susan Holder, assistant county manager. "And if there are areas of concern that we have found, we will do what we need to do to resolve them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.