DOBSON — A highlight of news coverage this year included concern over what happens to dogs and cats which are unwanted, or which someone simply can’t keep anymore for some reason or another even if they want to.
It isn’t unheard of for people to discover dogs and cats, typically kittens or puppies, that have been dropped off on a dead end street or at a business or other location by someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them.
So if someone has an animal that they simply can’t care for anymore, what are their options? Where should they turn?
Rather than drop them off on the side of the road, local authorities are encouraging people to seek out guidance and help in finding them a home, albeit temporary with a foster family.
Kelly Payne, a North Carolina registered veterinarian technician with the Surry County Animal Shelter, said people can bring the animals to the shelter, or they can call the shelter and use it as a resource to find a local or state rescue group who can take the animals in until permanent homes are found for them.
“We can help them identify other family members who are good to take care of animals, or we can put them in touch with breed specific rescues and suggest local animal rescue groups,” Payne said, noting that the shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or can be called from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
“They should not feel afraid of bringing them by here,” said Thomas Williams, media relations and preparedness coordinator for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees the operations of the animal shelter.
“We’re after the safe handling of all pets,” Williams said.
Payne said the best thing people can do is drop animals off during operation hours. “They can give me more information about the animal’s adoption candidacy, its vaccination history, and other information,” she explained.
“Once an animal is in the adoption program (at the shelter), it is always in the program until a ‘forever home’ is found for it,” Williams said.
Payne and Williams encouraged people to bring them by the shelter during operation hours year-round, especially now that it’s gotten cold and the animals may be in danger of freezing if they are left in the cold overnight or over a weekend.
For people who may not want to leave animals at the county animal shelter, Payne said they should feel free to call one of the rescue groups, or they can call the animal shelter to get contact information and names of rescue groups that can help.
Payne said breed specific groups who may have a home base somewhere else in the state typically have foster groups and foster families who live all over the state and the rescue groups will work with people to find the animals a foster home.
“It is important to encourage people to call so we can work with people on which group is best to take their animal to,” said Williams. “Kelly has been with us about five months, and she’s still learning some of the groups, but we’re excited about the relationships she’s garnering with the rescue groups.”
Williams said the key to reducing the number of unwanted puppies and kittens is to encourage pet owners to be responsible and to have their animals spayed or neutered. “It helps control the number of unwanted pets,” he said.
“We also want people to be responsible and hand over their unwanted pets so they get a ‘forever home,’” said Williams.
For pet owners who may not be able to afford the full cost of spaying or neutering their pet, there are groups available to help offset the cost of the procedures.
Mayberry 4 Paws is a local nonprofit group which will help offset the cost of the procedure, and the Surry Spay and Neuter Clinic in Ararat provides low-cost procedures.
“With our adoption program, when someone comes in and we do the match for the potential pet owner, part of the fee for adopting is to offset the cost of spaying or neutering,” Williams said.
Most area rescue groups also include spaying and neutering of the pets available for adoption as part of the fee, or include a voucher for a low-cost procedure.
For more information or to learn more about placing animals at the animal shelter or in a rescue program, call the Surry County Animal Shelter at 401-8481.