BY MARY KATE MURPHY
Have a pet you can no longer care for? Find a dog on the side of the road? Call ahead before driving to Moore County Animal Services.
Moore County’s only public animal shelter is no longer accepting surrendered pets or strays on a walk-in basis.
The county’s animal services department, which is run by Moore County Sheriff’s Office, announced a new “scheduled intake process” on its Facebook page last week.
“Due to the shelter being at capacity for the last several months,” the post reads, county residents who want to surrender a pet or turn in a stray at the shelter should call ahead for a place on its intake list.
According to Maj. Andy Conway, the Carthage shelter has 42 kennels for dogs and 31 for cats. But the actual number of animals in residence at any given time is usually higher, with some enclosures holding entire litters of puppies or kittens. Animal Services also maintains separate space to quarantine animals.
That’s especially true in the spring, when many of those baby animals are born and end up in the shelter.
“Yesterday we literally only had two kennels available,” Conway said Thursday. “We’ve moved to a scheduling of intake just simply because of the amount of animals.”
At this point the shelter is squeezed between an influx of animals and shortage of available homes. That’s also a seasonal trend — busy summer travel and vacation schedules leave little time to let adopted pets adjust to their new home.
Stray animals are brought to the shelter on a daily basis. As a government-funded shelter, Moore County Animal Services is obligated to accept strays found in the county.
But state law also requires that those strays be held for 72 hours before they can be offered up for adoption or euthanized.
“It’s a good law, it makes sense if someone’s dog is lost or got out it gives them a couple of days to find it,” said Conway. “But that holds that kennel for 72 hours regardless, so we have no control over that.”
According to data from public shelters collected by the state’s Department of Agriculture, Moore County euthanized 320 of 1,165 dogs that came through the shelter’s doors in 2022. That proportion was higher for cats: 414 of 920 were euthanized.
County residents who need to surrender a pet should call Animal Services at (910) 947-2858. They will be placed on the intake list and be notified when space is available for that animal.
Conway said that it should take “a day or two” in most cases for space to free up. But he advised anyone considering surrendering a pet to exhaust all other options first.
“Owner surrenders happen quite often unfortunately,” he said. “If there’s any way they could rehome their animals, whether it’s through social media or family members, that would be the best case scenario.”
In the case of strays, Animal Services can check animals for a microchip with the owner’s contact information. So can most veterinary clinics.
Contact Mary Kate Murphy at (910) 693-2479 or email@example.com.