Cumberland County animal control aims to cut euthanization rates

Pets and Animals

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina has the third-highest animal euthanization rates in the country, according to Cumberland County Animal Control.  

The shelter is working with the Best Friends Animal Society to get that number down.

The effort starts with volunteers.

Retired U.S. Marine Stan McLean spends five days a week volunteering at the center.

“It fulfills me to be here,” McLean said.  

He’s known for getting shy dogs out of their shells, making it easier for them to be adopted.

“These are good, lovable animals that just want love from us,” he said.

McLean ’s mission is to save as many of these animals as he can. That’s why he went with staff to the Lynchburg Animal Society this month.

He spent four days learning how to recruit volunteers, make the shelter more welcoming with community playrooms and get the more involved in the community.

“We need to get the public involved and the thought process changed that the animals are not throwaways — these are part of your family,” McLean said.

“We have 11,000 animals enter our shelter every year,” said Cumberland County Animal Control Director Elaine Smith.

Smith says 65% of those animals get sent to rescues or adopted.

The rest end up euthanized or die because of poor health.

Smith says it’s “a moral and mental drain on our staff.”

One of the goals is to find ways to better manage the intake schedule, and work with owners more so they don’t end up surrendering their pets.

“By doing that we can get to the point hopefully where we are no kill (shelter), to where we are not euthanizing animals simply because there’s nowhere for them to go,” Smith said.

McLean says they are always in need of more volunteers.

“We get a lot of volunteers come through our classes, and I never see most of them again,” McLean said. “Their intentions are good, but life gets in the way.”

The next volunteer training session is September 21.

“You get your exercise, the dog gets its exercise, they become socialized and if we get enough people doing that on a daily basis then it just helps the whole situation,” McLean said.

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