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The Wake County Animal Shelter, maxed out
Bad news, animal lovers: The Wake County Animal Shelter, a relatively small facility on Beacon Lake Drive in East Raleigh, is currently out of room, which means any dog or cat surrendered today probably won’t be alive tomorrow.
Which is another way of saying, if you’re looking to add on to your family, today would be a hell of a time.
This morning the shelter posted a sign on its front door announcing that "WE ARE FULL. If you are surrendering your pet,” it says, “the risk of euthanasia is extremely high today."
Summer normally sees a flood of puppies and kittens, says Jennifer Federico, the center’s animal services director, mainly due to feral animals’ mating habits. But right now, the biggest problem is that people keep turning in animals, and there’s no more room in the inn.
"In the last nine days we received a total of 69 animals," Federico told the INDY
this morning. "That's 38 dogs, two puppies, 13 cats and 10 kittens. That's crazy. It's a lot when we already have about 90 animals on the floor."
Before that, the center was already caring for 70 cats and 90 dogs—but that’s just in the building itself. It also has nearly 200 animals of all ages in foster care (you can adopt them, too). And the shelter has a reputation for euthanizing a lot of its animals, which in turn has garnered it some bad press: In 2010, the shelter euthanized 59 percent of its animals
. In August 2011, for example, the shelter put down about 42 percent of its intake
. In January of this year, it euthanized 180 animals
, a 25 percent decrease from the previous January. In May, it euthanized 246 animals, also a 25-percent year-over-year decrease. Adoptions in that same period were up 23 percent, and intake was down 9.5 percent—all positive indicators.
Federico says that in the last two years—she only took over in 2012—the center has reduced its euthanasia rate by 14 percent, which won it an award from the ASPCA. So things are moving in the right direction. But that doesn’t change the fact that right now, the center full to capacity—and it’s not the first time this has happened.
Last fall, the center ran into similar trouble
The kennels at the Wake County Animal Center are full of dogs and cats.
The center is nearing critical capacity, and if the animals don't find a home, they could be euthanized for space.
"We took in 1,079 animals in the first 30 days of October," said Dr. Jennifer Federico, WCAC Animal Services Director. "Our adoptions were not keeping up with the amount of animals coming in."
Just this summer, the center finished a huge expansion, so why is it already running out space?
"It didn't do anything to the adoption floors, all the construction had to do with the back of our house," explained Federico.
On average, every 10 days, a dog in one of the kennels gets adopted or put in a foster home, and almost immediately a new dog will be in there.
"Of course we want people to come and adopt from us,” Federico told the INDY
, “but if you want to surrender your pet we need to be your last resort.”
If more pet owners acted responsibly, she adds—spaying and neutering their animals, keeping them contained, and actually taking care of and training them instead of spayed and neutered their animals, kept them contained and didn't surrender them at the first sign of difficulty—overcrowding (and the associated animal killings) wouldn’t be a problem.
"We'd be out of business," Federico says. "But since that's not happening, the animals add up and it's frustrating."
In Wake County the animal center is the only place that takes all surrendered pets. That doesn't just include cats and dogs, but also rabbits, guinea pigs and even rats.
"It's not just cats and dogs pouring in over here," Federico says. "People should think about us when they're considering the little critters, too."
Federico explains that most people coming in to adopt are looking for puppies or kittens. However, the shelter has many older dogs that have been waiting for a home for quite some time. These are the ones that need you to step up and open your home.
"Maybe you're not looking for the headache that comes with getting a puppy," Federico says. "We've got animals that are older, quieter and just want a place next to you on the couch."
Even if you’re not in a position to adopt, Federico says there are all kinds of other ways to help out.
"Advocate, please. I can't say it enough," Federico says. "Come volunteer, be a foster parent. Better yet, help a neighbor find their dog when it gets lost instead of bringing them here. Or help a friend relocate their animal so they don't come here to surrender it. There are so many things people can do to help. Little things like that really add up."
Looking to adopt? The center is located 820 Beacon Lake Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610. Here’s a list of its available animals
. And here’s some inspiration for you:
Wake County Animal Center