Animal services

Empty the shelter: Iredell Animal Services at full capacity and waives fees to encourage adoption | Local News

Sheave White

Whenever someone passes by, many dogs jump to the front of their kennel to ask for a moment’s attention. They seem endlessly hoping to find that perfect home.

For now, these potential owners are getting a boost from Iredell County Animal Services. The group paved the way for homeownership by waiving all adoption fees for pets housed there as part of a special that runs through July 1.

“The fee waiver is just to really help clean up the shelter,” said Tracy Dixon, volunteer/host family and public outreach coordinator.

Dogs and cats are very visible and do their best to make their way into a new home. So why is this special happening now?

Because animal services fill up quickly, week after week. They accept stray animals as long as they have kennels available for them, but may need to close them for a day from time to time as legally they cannot keep an animal they don’t have space for sure.

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Owner buyouts are also accepted but are currently pending. It’s been a busy week at the Bristol Drive site, with 29 animals out for rescues, foster homes and adoptions on Wednesday.

Even on a busy day like this, they still welcomed 14 new animals. At this time of year, inflows typically parallel or exceed the number of those leaving the shelter, Dixon says. On Wednesday, the small staff kept busy, escorting dogs to visiting areas to meet families — and their pets — who were considering adoption. People took their time, spent time with the dogs before deciding who to adopt.

What does a complete shelter look like? As of Thursday, there were a total of 155 animals housed at the facility. Ninety-five of them were cats and 60 dogs. Not all are currently available for adoption, with some still being vetted and assessed and others awaiting spaying and spaying surgery. Some are still on hold in case their owners come to claim them.

All need the care of volunteers, from veterinarian Dr. Meagan Wentworth, who performs the necessary surgeries, to staff and volunteers who feed, water and clean up after the animals. Wentworth performed 30 surgeries a day earlier this week. There are dogs to walk and medicine to give. Then there are animal control calls that officers are monitoring, which can also result in more animals arriving at the shelter. On Monday, Animal Control responded to 48 calls.

Still, for the general public looking for a new pet, it can be hard to see the massive nature of the whole operation.

Rescue coordinator Jamie Deal explained why the public may not see all of the animals, or even a significant portion of them, at any given time.

“When you look at our adoption page, those are the dogs that are available. We may have eight dogs on the page, but we may have 30 dogs here who have already had checkups, have already had everything but they are waiting to be neutered/neutered because we don’t bring them up until they are neutered/neutered.”

She said they do surgeries on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the animals usually go for adoption on Wednesdays and Fridays, although sometimes a little earlier depending on space.

The animal count also includes court cases, confiscations, dogs that have an owner where there has been a wreck, and the dog is in animal control pending owner availability. So what you see is not necessarily all there is in terms of animals housed. There’s also a cat adoption center at PetSmart with animal service animals, though these still cost $20 to adopt, regardless of the fees at the main site.

“The public really rallied [Wednesday] and helped us,” Deal said.

The group also faces questions on social media when they hold a special. Some worry that animals will be adopted for questionable purchases or by owners who may not be as knowledgeable or well-meaning. However, employees point out that there are several places where free pets are available. Those that come from animal services are spayed and neutered, so they won’t breed, and they’re microchipped, which means they’re forever traceable to the owner.

“They checked every time they go out. In my opinion, if someone puts in the time and effort to come here and have a dog meet, bring their other dog, you don’t do that every time you get a free dog or you pay $25 for a dog at a yard sale,” Deal said. “…They cannot be raised. You get a driver’s license, an address, a phone number, so you get information.

In general, animal service personnel try to provide a service to the community and help animals find homes. When they run out of space and there are still stray animals arriving, they work to find a way to find them a new home. If you are interested in adoption, visit the Iredell County Animal Services site at