Local News

New law puts requirement on animal euthanization

Posted January 4, 2010 5:17 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2010 6:44 p.m. EST

— The lives of dogs and cats in shelters are now protected under provisions of a tougher state law requiring domesticated dogs and cats to be held for at least 72 hours before getting euthanized or put up for adoption.

The only exceptions under the law, which went into effect Jan. 1, are for animals considered to be dangerous or those that have health issues that pose a public health risk.

Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, who sponsored the legislation, says the goal is to help people searching for a missing pet.

"I felt that it was extremely important to make sure that persons who became disconnected from their pets had a reasonable and adequate opportunity to reclaim their pets before they were euthanized," McKissick said.

The bill also requires shelters to be open at least four hours a day and three days a week for people to view the animals.

Wake County already practices both of those requirements.

"It could have an effect on some smaller shelters that may not have the staff to offer animals for adoption," said Michael Williams, director of the Wake County Animal Care, Control and Adoption Center.

Williams says the biggest change his office will see under the new law has to do with a new owner ID requirement, which mandates that anyone dropping off an animal must show proof of ownership. If they can't, the animal must also held for at least 72 hours before it can be put up for adoption.

That, Williams says, takes up space for other animals.

"That would probably be the most significant impact on us," he said.

Supporters say they understand overcrowding can be an issue, which is why the new laws also allow county shelters to work with rescue groups without being held liable for the animal's care there.

"We believe that, with the ability of the counties to enter into agreements with the rescue organizations, they can relieve any overcrowding issues whatsoever," McKissick said.