Rescues overwhelmed with surrendered pets 1 week after Wake County Animal Control policy change

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Monday, January 8, 2024
Wake County animal rescues overwhelmed with surrendered pets
Wake County Animal Center policy change is being blamed for an influx in abandoned dogs and cats at rescues in the area.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many animal rescues have been overwhelmed for months by abandoned animals, and they blame Wake County Animal Center for amplifying the problem through a rule change last week.

The new rule had Wake County Animal Center turning away some pets that their owners needed to give away.

"I don't agree with the policy and I certainly don't agree with the way that they announced it," said PIPS Founder and Director Nicole Kincaid. "Closing your doors to our community and asking the rescues to pick up the slack is not the answer. We're not government funded. We're begging on a daily basis for donations and for foster homes."

Officials said some people are out of options and when that happens they end up abandoning their pets in communities.

Housing is one of the biggest reasons behind the influx of pet surrenders. More and more apartment complexes are putting stricter restrictions on breed and dog size, and it's leading to a crisis.

"We're saying 'no' left and right, not because we want to, but because we are full," Kincaid said. "In the span of 24 hours, from Saturday to Sunday, I got five requests to take in litters of puppies."

Wake County Animal Center Director Dr. Jennifer Federico said before the new policy, nearly 20 percent of the shelter's population was from owner surrenders and the center simply couldn't sustain the numbers.

Federico said she's between a rock and a hard place.

"If we say 'fine we'll take owner surrenders" then we're going to be euthanizing healthy adoptable animals point blank. We don't have the space," she said.

Federico said people were dumping their pets long before the change.

"It's a rampant problem of people thinking pets are disposable," she said.

From Jan. 2 through Jan. 7, Wake County Animal Center took in more than 130 dogs and cats who were strays or found by animal control.

There is some hope on the horizon. Wake County is planning to build a new animal center and $40 million is being set aside in the 2025 budget.

There will be resources for behavioral issues and low-cost vet care, in addition to more room for homeless animals.

The current shelter was built for a population of 190,000 residents. Wake County's population is now more than five times that.

"That new building can't come fast enough for answering all these issues," said Federico.