“A dire situation:” Animal shelter over capacity as owners can no longer afford pets

PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – More than 100 animals up for adoption in Pender County are anxiously waiting for a forever home. In the meantime, they are staying at the overcrowded Pender County Animal Shelter.

Shelter Manager Jewell Horton says the shelter has seen an influx of animals being brought in due to economic impacts and owners being unable to afford to take care of their pets. This means the shelter now has more dogs and cats than it does cages.

“Being a municipal shelter we’re open admission, which means we don’t get to turn away what our citizens bring to us,” Horton said. “Only having, you know, 50 dog cages and 50 cat cages and not being able to tell people no, it does create a dire situation.”

Pender County is not alone as the impacts of inflation have hit pet owners hard. This has created a crisis at animal shelters because of capacity limits.

“Last week we accepted 31 cats just from one individual because she had lost her home and had, you know, found herself living with her cats in a less-than-ideal situation,” Horton said. “We were already over capacity with cats anyway and then when you bring in an additional 31, that really tips the scales to a critical point for us.”

Rosey Milazzo with Rosey’s Rescue in Pender County says the pets are feeling the pressure, too.

“Unfortunately we’re not doing any adoptions lately, so we haven’t been able to help them get any dogs,” Milazzo said. “This past year has been really hard. We have one dog that’s been there for 14 months.”

Horton says if you are looking to bring home a pet for the holidays, make sure you are aware of the cost and responsibility and make sure you have the necessary resources and funds available.

“We don’t want people to come here and buy a Christmas present pet,” said Horton. “We want you to come get an animal because you’re prepared to take on that emotional and financial obligation.”

It has been years since the Pender County shelter had to euthanize animals because of space. Horton hopes the situation will not get to that point.

There are laws and statutes that we have to follow for space requirements,” Horton said. “And so there is a critical tipping point that if we can’t follow those guidelines, that euthanasia for space could be a problem and that’s not somewhere we want to be.”

If you are looking to adopt a pet from the Pender County Animal Shelter, you can visit the shelter’s website.