Inflation: Dog owners give up pets to Charlotte animal shelter

Many pet owners struggling with soaring costs are dropping off their animals at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police’s Animal Care and Control — and space at the shelter is running out.

As of Thursday morning, the shelter on West Byrum Drive has 135 dogs, of which 98 are available for adoption and 28 for preadoption, spokeswoman Melissa Knicely told The Charlotte Observer.

Going into the weekend, it would be “huge” if the shelter could get 25 dogs either adopted or fostered a day, Knicely said.

The shelter has 155 dog kennels, the Observer previously reported.

“We need all of them to continue to move through the system quickly to make room for incoming dogs,” she said.

The main reasons for the shelter being full are pet owners moving and the increasing cost of care due to inflation, humane education specialist Julia Conner said.

“Everything has gone up,” Conner said. “Gas, groceries, etc.”

The cost of pet food increased 5.9% in March compared to the same time a year ago, and 2.3% from February, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Grocery prices went up 11.9% in May, and overall inflation jumped 8.6% from last year.

Pet staycations are still needed, Conner said, but they don’t help much with long-term capacity issues.

One thing the shelter is not doing to create space: euthanizing animals.

Lost pets have also been coming into the shelter, Conner says. Owners should check the shelter’s website first if they lose their pets.

The shelter also quickly fills up because of animals in long-term holds for short dates and rabies quarantines, Knicely said. The shelter is housing 40 dogs who are long-stay animals, which means 40 kennels are unavailable for incoming pups, she said.

Those who can’t bring a pet home can still help sharing the shelter’s social posts, Conner said.

“You never know who that post is going to reach and they may be looking to adopt or help in some way,” she said.

Capacity issues everywhere?

CMPD usually only transfers animals to approved rescue groups and the Humane Society of Charlotte, Knicely said.

“We have in the past, when we had construction going on in the kennels, used a national animal welfare partner to help find space elsewhere for some of our dogs,” she said. “These would only be organizations that were vetted and had room to take adoptable dogs.”

Most shelters around the Charlotte area currently have full kennels like CMPD’s, Knicely said.

Iredell County Animal Service, in a Facebook post, said its shelter is at capacity. To free up space and encourage adoptions, the shelter is waiving its fees.

Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement is battling with capacity issues for its dogs, spokesman Matt Hensley said.

“We cannot always control the volume of animals that come to the shelter, but we work extremely hard to find a home or rescue every animal that comes to the shelter,” he said.

The county’s animal specialists try to find the owners of stray dogs and explore alternative placement options before bringing the animals into the shelter, Hensley said.

“This type of assistance helps to keep the shelter population from becoming overcrowded,” he said.

The Catawba County Animal Shelter is not facing any capacity issues, spokesman Mark Pettit said. To manage its space, the shelter is running reduced-price adoption specials, utilizing its “amazing foster families” and working with rescue organizations, he said.

“We are very fortunate to have fantastic support from our community,” Pettit said.

NextDoor post ‘not true at all’

A NextDoor post this week suggested that dogs are being killed by the day because of spacing issues at CMPD Animal Care.

“They are having to kill dozens of dogs everyday because they have nowhere to put them and the public is surrendering faster then they are adopting,” Sierra Mass said in her post. Mass is a volunteer at the shelter, Conner confirmed.

Mass’ claims of daily euthanasia “are not true at all,” Conner said.

“I believe that she is exaggerating because she is trying to get a point across, but it’s not at all the case,” she said. “And certainly not by the dozen daily.”

Conner said the shelter euthanizes animals it believes are a risk in the community — including those that show extreme aggression toward people, have prior severe bite(s) or multiple bites or have been known to kill other pets.

“It is not responsible for us to place these animals back in the community knowing their history,” she said.

The shelter also euthanizes animals that arrive severely injured or have major medical issues that cannot be fixed or treated, Conner said.

“It is better for them to be humanely euthanized than to suffer,” she said.

Mass told the Observer that she posts on all social media platforms when the shelter is “super full” to encourage adopting, fostering and staycations.

“Usually I am able to get a few individuals to step up and help make a difference,” she said.

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Jonathan Limehouse is a breaking news reporter and covers all major happenings in the Charlotte area. He has covered a litany of other beats from public safety, education, public health and sports. He is a proud UNC Charlotte graduate and a Raleigh native.

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