Ready for a dog? Mecklenburg shelter is crowded and officials hope you’ll adopt

Crowded shelter urges animal adoptions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jane Wester/Charlotte Observer) - The county animal shelter is calling on people to adopt pets — especially dogs — as soon as possible, because space in the shelter is running out, officials said.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control shelter is still accepting cats and dogs, but with more than 500 creatures at the shelter or in foster care as of Tuesday morning, they’re looking for people to adopt and ease the situation, director Josh Fisher said Tuesday.

Seventy-three pets were adopted Saturday at a “Clear the Shelters” event, Animal Care and Control spokesperson Melissa Knicely said. Daily adoption numbers tend to be in the teens or 20s on a normal day, according to a tracking board at the shelter.

Ready for a dog? Mecklenburg shelter is crowded and officials hope you’ll adopt

“We were all very excited ... until we regrouped the next morning and realized that all of those spots just filled, immediately, with the dogs that were waiting in the stray kennels,” she said.

Fisher said shelter populations spike in the summer across the country. In warm weather, he said, more litters are born and people spend more time outside, which means more pets run away. They’re also more likely to be found and brought to the shelter.

The shelter also has more healthcare and training options than it did in the past, Fisher said. That’s good news — they’re able to help animals who might not have had a chance before — but those cats and dogs are also spending more time in the shelter and lowering turnover in kennel space.

People who aren’t ready to adopt can foster animals or participate in the shelter’s staycation and daycation programs, Knicely said. With space at a premium, even short-term vacancies make a difference.

Animals can spend up to five days at a time on a staycation. The program gives the dog a break from the shelter environment while helping potential adopters learn more about the animal’s skills and preferences out in the world.

“You know, this dog loves to ride in the car and absolutely loves to swing through Starbucks and grab a coffee with its owner,” Fisher said.

The main risk is staycation volunteers will get attached. Almost half the shelter’s recent staycations have turned into permanent adoptions, shelter officials said.

Fisher said the shelter has some flexibility in how many animals it can accommodate. However, they haven’t reached the point of a “one in, one out” policy.

Animals are evaluated constantly for mental health issues, Fisher said. If an animal isn’t handling the shelter environment well and hasn’t found an adoption or a foster situation, the shelter will consider putting it to sleep. That’s based on health, not shelter capacity, Fisher said.

“We have to do what’s right for the animals,” he said. “There are times that having the animal continue to sit in the kennel isn’t what’s best for it.”

The shelter’s address is 8315 Byrum Drive. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. People can browse adoptable animals online before coming to the shelter to meet them, shelter officials said.

Adoption fees have been waived for people willing to donate to the shelter’s programs, and pets are available microchipped, spayed or neutered and with all their vaccinations, shelter officials said. A $10 license fee is required for Mecklenburg County pet owners.