Local News

New Wake shelter director improving animal care

Posted October 3, 2012

A year ago the Wake County Animal Center was euthanizing every dog that came down with signs of a cold in an effort to stop the spread of disease.

The policy was suspended after public outrage and a WRAL investigation, but leadership at the animal shelter remained in flux until now.

Jennifer Federico is the first director of the Wake County Animal Center who is also a veterinarian. She was hired in May after a national search.

Federico says her experience as a veterinarian helps in her job, and she’s eager to take on the challenges. The furry faces of the animals in her care remind her that the goal is to find each one of them a home. Her own two dogs have made themselves at home in her office.

“Everything in this building has to do with animal health,” she said. “The way we clean, the way we move the animals, the animals we take in.”

One major change at the shelter is the addition of a surgeon on staff who can do more than just spay and neuter. Specialized surgeries, including amputations and cosmetic eye surgeries, are performed right in the shelter.

“So now we’ve just added that whole segment of animals we previously would have had to euthanize, unless rescues stepped up to another segment that we can get out of here,” she said.

A pup named Pumpkin Patch is an example. She has a fractured right leg that will be amputated – then she will be ready for adoption.

“And she’ll be happy as a clam,” Federico said, petting the pooch.

Federico says shelter workers are treating dogs with upper respiratory infections, instead of euthanizing them, as long as there is space.

They've euthanized 25 percent fewer animals this past summer than the same time a year ago, while boosting the number of animals in foster care by 25 percent.

Federico says she wants to expand that foster and rescue network.

“We’re trying to get more national organizations,” she said. “We have volunteers willing to transport animals to different parts of the state, out of state.”

It's all part of a new mindset, says the new director.

This month, the shelter will also undergo an independent evaluation to look at all aspects of operations and recommend how things can work better.

County leaders hope to have those recommendations within six months.

“We’re trying to work with what we have and make it the best we can for the health of the animals,” Federico said.


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  • hedgy_one Oct 4, 2012

    This sounds like good news! Now, we have to encourage people to adopt from the shelter instead of buying from "puppy farms" and cat breeders!

  • ldestefano63 Oct 4, 2012

    About time they addressed this ! Glad to know they got someone with a brain and a heart. Let's hope she continues on and it just gets better and better and maybe some of these other counties will pick up on it. The horror stories I hear from my rescue friends are horrendous and more needs to be done, like responsible pet owners to start

  • chattycat Oct 4, 2012

    @catwoman - I am with you on this. URI's are easy to treat in most cases and if a rescue is willing to take an animal out of the cty shelter then they should be able to and at NO COST! The fact that the county will not have to euthanize will save them money.

  • americaneel Oct 4, 2012

    catwoman1...wah wah wah

  • catwoman1 Oct 4, 2012

    and what about cats? Do you want to tell the public how you euthanized a Siamese/tabby within a few hours due to a URI? A director of one of our local rescues called and was going to pull this cat, ya just couldn't wait til she could get there. Do NOT give me the excuse that you have no isolation units..that's a lie and you know it. I volunteer for a rescue group who recieves NO funding other than donations. We have ISO areas and ccats with URIs are TREATED not euthanized. God forbid. Three of my furbabies had URI's when I got them..Clavamox is not that expensive.

  • hollylama Oct 4, 2012

    "Jennifer Federico is the first director of the Wake County Animal Center who is also a veterinarian."

    Wow...hiring a veterinarian to care for animals. Ingenius! What were the qualifications of the other directors?

  • kimsstressed Oct 4, 2012

    Wonderful news.... But not all counties in NC receive the funding that would allow them to do this.. Wondering if some of our less funded counties could pool together and hire a vet to divide their time between the County shelters and provide the same care... I have 4 shelter pets and wouldn't trade them for the world, they are SO awesome, but it's so disheartening to know how many animals are euthanized annually, partly because of minor health aliments that could be cured under a vet's care... A step in the right direction!!

  • exador7 Oct 4, 2012

    Cudos lady. Great work... Animals are deserving creatures. Humans are dangerous.

  • carlostheass Oct 4, 2012

    Wonderful news! Welcome, Dr. Federico!

  • JKKC Oct 4, 2012


    (talk is cheap, help them out if you can)