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Too many strays; not enough space

Ray Gora / LTN
The number of stray dogs and cats has flooded county animal facilities with more than they can house, and large numbers are being euthanized.

Refurbished ambulance helps promote pet adoptions

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Due to limited shelter space and a large number of unspayed animals reproducing in the area, Lincoln County Animal Services have had to euthanize large numbers of animals — more than 500 dogs alone — since the start of 2012.
To help alleviate the situation, county officials recently refurbished an ambulance from Emergency Medical Services, which will be used as an animal adoption vehicle. It can also be used as a tool during a local mass rescue of animals, though an incident which has yet to occur since Animals Services acquired the vehicle, according to Manager David Workman.
The ambulance, which has been equipped with cages, bowls, leashes and a portable air conditioning unit, will take animals to various adoption events throughout the area including 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday at the Huntersville Petco store. Workman said between three and five more animals have been adopted out each weekend since county officials first started taking animals to the site in 2010.
Additional adoption sites have included both Lincoln County Wal-Mart stores, Buddy Stasney’s GMC in Lincolnton and Southern States in Cherryville.
“We hope to increase or adoption/rescue rate, which in turn, decreases our euthanasia rate,” Workman said.
Strays typically flood the shelter during the warmer months when unspayed mothers have litters of puppies and kittens.
At the end of August, the shelter, funded by county taxes, housed more than 300 animals including 180 dogs and more than 150 cats, although the facility does receive a variety of other animals from time to time, including pigs, goats and chickens.
“We try our best to rescue and adopt out all the animals,” Workman said, “but unfortunately, we are forced to euthanize some due to space.”
Since January, the shelter has euthanized 525 dogs.
Officials with Animal Services plan to continue educating the community on vital topics such as pet spaying and neutering along with responsible pet ownership.
In addition, with five confirmed rabies cases so far this year in the county, including four rabid raccoons and one rabid fox, rabies clinics are also a significant topic among shelter officials.
“It is important for people to know they need to have their animals current on rabies vaccinations,” Workman said.
Officials have yet to use the ambulance but are working on last-minute renovations.
The shelter itself is open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
For more information on the shelter or a current list of adoptable pets, call (704) 736-4125, (704) 736-4126 or visit lincolncounty.org.

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