CMPD Animal Care and Control is at full capacity: how you can help

Animal Control is asking for the public’s help as rising pet numbers, staffing shortages and a growing population in Charlotte put the shelter in “crisis mode.”

CHARLOTTE, NC — Melissa Knicely’s eyes water as she reflects on the past few weeks at CMPD Animal Care and Control.

“The reason we’re here is because we care about animals,” said Knicely, the agency’s communications manager. “Our staff have had to do a lot of really difficult things over the past two weeks.”

Some of those tough things include euthanizing dozens of cats as a highly contagious feline virus spreads amid overcrowding, and culling dogs that, under less dire circumstances, might have had a better chance. to stay until the right family shows up.

From now on, the staff must be more demanding when new dogs arrive at the shelter.

“If we have a dog here, and he’s been here with us for three months, and he’s only one dog, but we have other dogs coming in, who are dog friendly and that could be adopted in a day or two, and there’s only one kennel, and this dog is in it, what do you do?” Knicely said. “We look at behavior notes, we look at medical notes, and someone here in our organization has to make this very, very difficult decision.”

After the COVID-19 lockdown drove down admissions and more families adopting new pets, the center is now facing a perfect storm of stressors: a growing human population, also bringing new pets in the area, the highest number of admissions in years, and staffing shortages.

Knicely also said there were dozens of dogs waiting for court cases or quarantines, taking up space that could be used for other intakes.

However, the problem is not just a question of space; agency resources, including staff, are stretched.

“Even if we were 100 per cent staffed, for the number of animals we currently care for, we would need 13 staff, working eight hour days just to do cleaning and feeding,” said Dr. Julie Hollifield, veterinarian at CMPD Animal. Care and Control, said.

The agency is now issuing a “crisis” appeal to the community for help.

While a permanent cleanup of the kennel space through adoption is the ultimate goal, Knicely said seemingly smaller gestures like fostering, giving pets staycations and breaks from the kennel for just one day can help.

Volunteers are also essential to help with shelter duties like laundry, cleaning dog bowls and kennels, and walking and socializing pets. Donations are also useful at this time.

“It’s a really tough time,” Knicely said. “Supporting the shelter and finding out what you can do…that’s what we need right now.”

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Benjamin M. Yerger