WAKE COUNTY (WTVD) -- For any animal lover, it's always hard to enter an animal shelter like the Wake County Animal Center and see so many cats and dogs peering out from cages with big eyes that seem to be imploring you to take them home.
But what's especially troubling is that this time of year tends to bring in an influx of what are called "owner surrenders," leaving the WCAC completely full right now.
"We are at capacity since Monday of last week we received 100 dogs in plus," says WCAC Rescue Coordinator Cindy Lynch.
Cats aren't quite as critical right now, thanks to other local rescue groups who came in and took some off WCAC's hands. But they need more rescue groups to step in, along with families looking to adopt.
This is especially important for dark-colored pets who tend to get overlooked, older animals, and "long-timers," those cats and dogs who've been at the shelter for a long period of time, months and months in some cases.
Those "long-timers" were offered at discounted rates this weekend in the hopes of encouraging people to adopt them first. It's important not just to make space, but also for the well-being of these animals who have to suffer after being in a shelter for an extended period of time.
"It's not a natural environment, and we do our best to give them lots of cuddle time, lots of outside time. We have fabulous volunteers who come in and walk our dogs, sometimes 3 to 4 times a day. But, it's still not the same as a family, and we need to find them good homes, permanent homes," says Lynch.
And, for those who can't adopt, there's always the option of being a foster family like Erica Perez and her husband.
"There are just so many animals here and they don't have homes. And we feel like if they do have a home base, it's easier date them adopted out," says Perez.
She and other foster families will often work with animals who have behavioral issues to ensure that they don't get returned by adoptive families.
"Fostering is the backbone of the center. They help us to be able to create space and give an animal a chance to get out for a few weeks, even if it's just a couple weeks, to get them out to, get them some fresh air, and be with a family. It's critical for an animal to be able to do that, especially our long-timers," reiterates Lynch.
And this weekend that foster program paid off for a beautiful long-haired female cat name Charlie, who went home with a new family after winning over Robert Belonga and his mom.
"I'm pretty excited I'm really glad to have a pet back at the house and she seems to like me," says Belonga with a big smile.
For more on the WCAC, including their foster program or the animals still up for adoption, check out their website.
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