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Animal Services hopes to ‘empty the shelter’

Staff Writer

A new year means new goals for Lincoln County Animal Services.

All dog adoptions will cost $40 in January. Cats will continue to cost $20 in a drive LCAS calls its “Empty the Shelter Initiative.”

“Our goal is to definitely empty it,” Animal Services Director David Workman said. “At the very least, I would say at least below five to 10 animals.”

Thirty-two cats and 28 dogs currently populate the shelter, which received bad news last month from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. The state assessed the county $7,500 in fines for a series of violations stemming from an October complaint and subsequent investigation.

More than 200 animals were found dead in their cages between May and October, the result of a respiratory outbreak that was not well contained. The state determined that the shelter didn’t feed puppies and kittens under six months old twice per day or clean enclosures twice per day. No veterinarian-written program for disease control could be found at the shelter, and a written recommendation for fixing the problem did not exist.

Workman said the shelter has made some adjustments since, such as opening longer on Sundays and separating diseased animals from the rest of the pack. Whereas last summer out-of-control intake levels forced animals under overhangs outdoors, no longer will cats or dogs be forced to live outside of the shelter.

With breeding season on the horizon, Workman said it’s his goal help the public find alternatives to bringing in multiple litters.

“We are going to try to educate more in the public as far as pet retention and animal retention, as far as when people should bring in animals,” Workman said.

Once animals are brought in, Workman wants them taken out as quickly as possible, either by rescue or adoption. The average length of stay is 18 days, though some animals stay upward of three months.

Photos of each pet are now available on the county website. A poster of select animals hangs on the first floor of the James W. Warren Citizens Center and more images are posted on an animal adoptions Facebook page.

Workman will approach county commissioners in January to make further recommendations, including limiting the days and times when people can drop off owner-surrendered animals. Workman also plans on stopping the animal owner’s ability to call the shelter and have LCAS pick up their unwanted pets for free.

“Our officers will no longer go out and get those animals,” Workman said. “We’re hoping that that will help cut (intake) down, as well.”

In October, the Huntersville Petco made the Humane Society of Charlotte its primary adoption agency and reduced the number of days Lincoln County could hold adoption events from four days to one weekend day per month, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Helping Animals To Survive, a local animal advocacy group working closely with LCAS, will attempt to pick up some of that slack by hosting weekly adoption events at the Denver Canine Club, beginning in January.

To adopt a pet from Animal Services, visit lincolncounty.org/animalservices or call (704) 736-4125.

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