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Inspectors Check Conditions at N.C. Animal Shelters

For years, city and county animal shelters flew under the radar, with no state inspections required. New laws are changing that, but getting shelters up to code can be a slow process.

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DUNN — For years, city and county animal shelters flew under the radar, with no state inspections required.

New laws have changed that, but getting shelters up to code can be a slow process. The state knows of 90 animal shelters run by cities or counties. Until recently, they were exempt from state oversight.

“When that fact came up, everybody in the room gave a little gasp,” said Dr. Lee Hunter, with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The law changed in 2005, and the Department of Agriculture spent the past year inspecting shelters and reporting the conditions.

If the conditions are bad, why not just shut down the shelters?

“Well, the goal is to bring them into compliance with the Animal Welfare Act,” Hunter said.

It can be a daunting task. In some cases, inspectors are stumbling across shelters. That’s what happened in Dunn. Inspectors didn’t know a shelter there existed until a complaint came in. The shelter has been there for 20 years.

An inspection noted several problems with the Dunn shelter. It was overpopulated, with 52 cats and 25 dogs. The temperature was an issue, and the facility wasn’t licensed, which the new law requires.

Dunn City Manager Ronnie Autry said the city was unaware of the law.

“We did not know, and no one that I know was aware,” he said.

Changes are already under way. A wall and concrete blocks are being replaced.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to get those remedied,” Autry said.

The Dunn shelter will be closed for the repairs. A worker there told WRAL they'll hold the animals for adoption until they re-open.

In about 30 days, there will be a follow up inspection. The shelter will have at least two inspections a year from now on.

Reports for private shelters and kennels will be available on-line in the near future.

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 Credits

Kelcey Carlson, Reporter
Richard Adkins, Photographer
Kelly Hinchcliffe, Web Editor

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