Transylvania County Animal Services has seen a steady increase in its animal population, and as the only dedicated animal shelter in the county, it is nearing capacity.
“We’re already seeing an almost 10% average increase in owner abandonment in the United States (according to the Shelter Animals Count database) and an 18% increase in our county alone,” said Megan Searcy, chief executive officer. shelter team and chief veterinary technician. “With adoption rates falling and admissions rising, many rescues across the United States have closed permanently or have been closed for the remainder of the year. Everyone everywhere is overwhelmed by the number of animals abandoned or unclaimed as strays.
Searcy said the shelter works with most nonprofit rescue organizations in western North Carolina, which report they are equally full.
Many of the animals that come through the shelter, she said, are older and have behavioral or health issues that significantly prevent them from being adopted.
Transylvania County Animal Services had a live release rate of 97% for the second quarter of 2022, with 3% being “humanely euthanized,” Searcy said.
“All of the animals that were euthanized were either too sick, had suffered traumatic injuries, and/or were considered a public safety issue due to assault,” she said. “We work closely with our shelter veterinarians to ensure that the decision to euthanize is made in the best interest of each animal. adoptions, we’re going to have to euthanize for space, and we’re not alone in these decisions, as other shelters across our state and country are all facing unprecedented times of full kennels, fewer adoptions and more animals arrive every day without space to house them.
Searcy said euthanizing animals was “the worst part of the job.”
“There’s more good than bad (at work), but no animal should be at risk because of space,” she said.
Although the shelter keeps animals in good health for as long as possible, once capacity is reached or if an animal arrives in critical condition, there is little there is much the shelter staff can do. Animals that are in critical condition have usually been seized by authorities from shoddy homes or from illegal farming conditions. According to Searcy, 24 animals have been seized so far this year.
To try to help pet owners who may be struggling financially, the shelter has a dedicated space for food donations, which can be picked up for free.
“I know what it’s like to only have $5 in your account,” said Searcy, who also pointed to COVID-19 as a possible factor in the increased number of animals at the shelter.
She said that during the pandemic, some veterinary practices and neutering and neutering clinics were closed, likely resulting in higher childbearing rates in animals.
Transylvania County Animal Shelter offers a low-cost spay and neuter clinic with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville who perform surgery in the shelter’s parking lot twice a month. These can be scheduled via www.bwar.org/mobile-clinic. The clinics are helping to reduce the number of animals entering the Transylvania shelter due to accidental litters.
Brother Wolf chief executive Leah Craig Fieser said her group also moves animals to and from various other shelters if they’ve been in the system for a while.
“If an animal isn’t adopted, we sometimes move it for a change of scenery, which can even be a positive thing for it,” she said.
Fieser said some shelters, especially those in Asheville, have a lot more foot traffic than shelters like the one in Transylvania County and therefore more opportunities to adopt animals.
In 2021, Brother Wolf welcomed 794 animals to shelters that were overflowing with animals. Over the past year, Brother Wolf has taken in 11 dogs from Transylvania County in response to lists of urgent needs that the county shelter shares with rescue partners.
To learn more about the Transylvania Animal Shelter, call (828) 883-3713 or go to www.transylvaniacounty.org/departments/animal-services.