Wake County Animal Center urges community to adopt a dog
Bobby is an energetic and friendly shepherd with a beautiful black coat. He is just over 2 years old, 60 pounds, smart, playful and clean. A perfect dog for an affectionate pet.
He is also one of more than 80 dogs currently up for adoption at Wake County Animal Center. The center strives for an ideal maximum population of 60 dogs on its grounds and has a capacity of 120.
But with an influx of dogs arriving, strays and lost pets at owner assignments — and lagging adoption rates — the shelter expects to hit that hard peak soon. After that, the dogs will have to be euthanized to make room.
As a government-run, open-admission animal shelter — the only one of its kind in Wake County — the center is legally required to accept every small pet brought to its door. But with space tight, the shelter asks community members for help by adopting a pet. You can also use other strategies to reduce the current supply from the refuge.
Dogs for adoption can be found online at www.pets.wakegov.com, and potential adopters can visit the adoption floor daily from noon to 6 p.m.
Those unable to adopt are encouraged to share the dogs’ profiles and the center’s call for help on social media.
“Why do animals come to us”
The last time the center appealed for help was in January, when it saw similar levels of overflow, according to Meagan Thomas, the center’s volunteer and outreach coordinator.
Owner-abandoned pets — encompassing both cats and dogs — account for about 25% to 30% of the shelter’s consumption, Wake County Animal Services Director Jennifer Federico previously told the News and Observe.
Not all of these animals are adoptable, due to medical and behavioral issues, but many end up needing new homes.
The center only accepts owner discounts by appointment. On Tuesday, appointments were made until July 25.
This level of owner buyouts represents a more recent spike that reflects the impact of the pandemic and a return to more normal, in-person living, Thomas said. Many people have stepped up and adopted during the pandemic, but have given up on their pets since offices reopened and some owners find themselves running out of time to train and care for their pets.
But the biggest issue driving the high level of owner buyouts, Thomas argued, is affordability. From housing, to veterinary care, to dog training, to pet supplies, and to the overall price hike amid a possible recession, the cost has become prohibitive for many pet owners or potentials.
Last month, around 40% of owners abandoning their pets at the center cited financial and housing issues – such as new owners banning pets or charging pet fees – that prevented them from keep their animals, Thomas said.
“Anecdotally, I think the housing crisis is playing a big part right now,” she said. “People cannot find affordable housing to live in. And they can’t find affordable places that accept their pets, and now they come to us.
And while a larger facility would help ease the pressure the center faces, Thomas added that “fixing the reasons animals come to us is better for us. We don’t need a bigger shelter. If people could keep their pets, we wouldn’t need a bigger shelter.
“Our community will mobilize”
According to Thomas, the main ways the community can help is to adopt and help reduce the center’s input.
Mac Ferland and Tristan Lewis of Raleigh were browsing the adoption floor on Wednesday afternoon after intermittently thinking about adoption. And while it wasn’t the overflow from the center that brought them in, Ferland, above the barking and yelping of kennel dogs around his feet, said they “understand that this is also part of the situation”.
Outside of adoption, the center asks that if you find a stray dog, try to find the owner yourself before bringing the dog to the shelter. You can ask a local veterinarian to check if the dog is microchipped, post in a local Facebook group or on NextDoor and TriangleLostPets.org, and put up signs around your neighborhood.
Pet owners who need to rehome their dogs should try to exhaust all other options — asking friends and family and posting on social media and rehome.adoptapet.com — before coming to the center.
“Every stray animal you help find the owner and every animal you own and place yourself will help save the life of an animal already at the shelter,” the center wrote in a press release Tuesday. “We don’t want to euthanize for space and this advocacy is to raise awareness in our community of the urgent need.”
The number of animals euthanized by the center has declined in recent years, The News & Observer previously reported. In fiscal year 2021, the center euthanized 769 animals, compared to 1,273 in 2020 and 2,268 in 2019.
The center has not had to euthanize animals on the adoption floor for space in the past seven years, according to Thomas. Instead, most euthanasia performed is requested by the owner, or for injured wild animals or carriers of rabies, bitten animals, or animals with major medical issues that would not be ready for adoption or release. .
The observed reduction in euthanasias can largely be attributed to the additional space built to expand the center’s dog adoption floor, Thomas said. She also credited a requirement implemented over the past decade that adopted animals leave the center spayed and neutered, in addition to the center’s “robust” foster and volunteer programs, its nonprofit rescue partners lucrative – which house a number of animals that the center cannot adequately care for. for or adopt — and community support.
“Our community has always done a great job supporting us and sharing content, coming to adopt, increasing foster homes and things like that,” Thomas said. “There is no reason not to believe that our community will step in to help us, as they have done so in the past.”
Writer Aaron Sanchez-Guerra contributed to this report.
This story was originally published June 22, 2022 1:54 p.m.