American Humane Society declares 'dog shortage'

Shelter directors in the Triangle say there's never a shortage of dogs or cats, who need homes.

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Bryan Mims
, WRAL reporter

Being stuck at home these past two months has inspired many people to adopt or foster pets, and that has cleared shelters across the country. So much so, the American Humane Society has declared a "dog shortage."

Rarely is emptiness so fulfilling.

"This is the first time in history that the Vance County shelter has ever been empty," said Frankie Nobles. Nobles is chief of animal services for Vance County.

With stay-at-home orders, pets found homes.

"We had our local rescues and other rescue groups come in and try to get us empty," Nobles added. Those groups helped get those animals adopted -- often out of state.

The lonely kennels in Vance County are not alone. In Durham County and in Wake County, shelters have also seen a great emptying-out. But it's not expected to last.

Coronavirus restrictions forced shelters to limit animal surrenders. Many took in only emergency cases.

Dr. Sandra Strong said, "We didn't want to be bringing in a lot of healthy, adoptable animals not having an outlet for them." Strong is chief veterinarian of Wake County Animal Services. She says about a hundred animals are in foster care.

"That's how a lot of shelters got animals out of their buildings, and they're being cared for in homes. And they're adoptable, too," she said.

Many people who sheltered animals in homes were inspired to foster pets or fully adopt.

But when normal returns, could there be adopter's remorse?

"Year-round, pets will be surrendered for reasons out of their control," said Darci Vanderslik, a spokesperson for the SPCA of Wake County. "It's possible, but my fingers are crossed that if people are fostering pets, they became part of the family."

Still, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, shelter directors are bracing for a comeback of stray and surrendered pets.

Vance County is slowly taking them in again.

"Just wait, it's coming. We are going to see an influx of animals very shortly," said Nobles.

Which is the status quo. Until then, he savors the quiet.


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