WRAL Investigates

Animal welfare advocates push for more support for rural shelters

Posted December 7, 2012

For dogs and cats that end up at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, the journey is like being sent to death row. The shelter, which has the highest kill rate in the state, euthanized nearly 1,200 animals - 100 percent of cats and 98 percent of dogs - last year, records show.

— Animal rescue groups are calling on North Carolina lawmakers to help shelters in rural counties that have a hard time getting state funding.

A WRAL Investigates story last month revealed that the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in Troy euthanized nearly 1,200 animals – 100 percent of cats and 98 percent of dogs – brought there last year. According to state records, the shelter has also failed 11 of 14 inspections for "deplorable" conditions.

The state enacted regulations for animal shelters in 2006, and rural shelters like Montgomery County's have been slow to comply with standards for animal conditions, staffing and training. In return, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offsets some of the costs the shelters incur in trying to control their local pet populations through spaying and neutering animals.

Rescue groups say meeting those guidelines and pursuing the reimbursements are complicated for poorer counties, and they want the state to do more to help.

"I think some of the rural counties are losing out," said Kim Alboum, state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "We're seeing some of our communities that are better funded receiving the (reimbursement) funds, whereas our rural shelters are just out there on their own."

The SPCA of Wake County recently pulled 14 dogs from the Montgomery County shelter for adoption. Mondy Lamb, the group's spokeswoman, said she likewise would like the state to adopt a formula that better helps poorer counties to raise their shelter, adoption and spay and neuter standards.

"It's our state lawmakers that need to take action on this," Lamb said. "They have to recognize who's falling through the cracks. There are smaller counties and smaller shelters that are falling through the cracks, and they're not getting access to the funds that they need."

Animal shelter generic State says rural counties must make effort to upgrade animal shelters

Penny Page, who coordinates North Carolina's spay and neuter training and reimbursement program, disputes the notion that rural shelters are at a disadvantage. Half of the state's reimbursement funds are set aside for so-called Tier 1 counties, she said, and those poor counties need to show some effort to meet standards to qualify for the money.

"It's not an excuse because there are plenty of Tier 1 counties requesting reimbursement," Page said.

Alboum said lowering the kill rate at the Montgomery County shelter will take more commitment from the county government and more community support in addition to a simpler way to distribute state spay and neuter funds.

"The county also needs to be more accountable," she said.

The Montgomery Humane Society, a nonprofit that isn't affiliated with the shelter, is raising money to build an adoption center next door. After the WRAL Investigates' story aired, viewers donated more than $2,000 to the group.


WRAL News reached out to Montgomery County manager Matt Woodard and offered to help promote an adoption clinic for the animals in the county shelter. Instead, Woodard asked that people who want to help should coordinate through the Montgomery County Humane Society, either by donating money or adopting animals.

To adopt an animal from the SPCA of Wake County, visit their website at www.spcawake.org.

To help Montgomery County build an adoption center, make check payable to:
Montgomery County Humane Society
1150 Okeewemee Road
Troy, N.C. 27371

To learn more about spay and neuter programs:
Contact Penny Page with the veterinary division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

To learn more about organizing and volunteer efforts:
Contact Kim Alboum with the Humane Society of the United States-North Carolina Chapter

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  • yellowhorses Dec 10, 2012

    In rural counties most spay/neuter procedures are paid for by rescue groups. I don't believe these groups are reimbursed by the state law. Poorer counties depend on volunteers who are not necessarily versed in dealing with state law in and outs. Poorer counties also do not have the tax base to allocate extra funds to their animal shelters.

    Here in Person county both the county and the city were dead set against any additional monies for spay/neutering or the problems at the shelter until the whole story turned up in a book when an out-of-state resident tried to adopt a dog from the shelter. The book exposed the ugly truth and shamed the county and the city into action such as it is.

    Some resident are very generous, some not so much, but there is little to none corporate sponsorship and support for programs run by the rescue groups here.