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Clear the Shelters goes virtual, but thousands of dogs and cats need homes

Posted August 6, 2020 4:47 a.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2020 10:38 a.m. EDT

Dozens of North Carolina animal shelters have reduced adoption fees for Clear the Shelters, which will be a virtual event this year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina's packed shelters and rescue groups are turning to virtual adoption events for the entire month of August. That means adopters will look at animals online and call shelters to set up an adoption appointment.

Due to the pandemic, not every shelter can afford to waive adoption fees this year, but many are able to reduce them or offer other specials.

Thanks to a donation from PetSmart charities, the Cumberland County Animal Center in Fayetteville has reduced its dog adoption fees to $28 for the entire month of August. Included in the fee is a rabies vaccination, microchip and spay or neuter operation.

Cumberland County Animal Control Director Elaine Smith said the Fayetteville shelter takes in more dogs and cats than almost any other North Carolina shelter – around 11,000 animals each year. It can only hold 300 animals at a time, and Smith is hoping to find homes for all of them through Clear the Shelters this month.

This year, the normal Clear the Shelters crowds and lines just won't work, Smith said, but the shelter needs more help than ever.

In June, Wake County Animal Center Director Dr. Jennifer Federico told WRAL News that more than 10,000 dogs and cats are killed in North Carolina animal shelters each year because there is not enough room to hold them all.

Smith told WRAL News that more than 3,000 of dogs and cats were killed at the Fayetteville shelter in 2019 because there is not enough room to hold all the animals that come in. Robeson County and Hoke County shelters also struggled.

Overpopulation of stray animals and overcrowding in shelters is a real problem in the southeast, especially in rural parts of North Carolina. People can help save dogs and cats by spaying or neutering their pets, keeping them on a leash or in a fence while outdoors and spreading the word about adoption.

Want to adopt? Find a full list of participating North Carolina shelters online.

Even if you can't adopt, there are many ways to help shelters and rescues during the pandemic. Animal lovers can foster dogs and cats, donate money or supplies and volunteer inside shelters.

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