NC Public Animal Shelter 2019 Report: Cat and Dog Euthanasia Numbers

This older cat is shown in an Eastern NC shelter. She was adopted. Photo: Kay Whatley.
This older cat is shown in an Eastern NC shelter. She was adopted. Photo: Kay Whatley.

As with prior years, cats fare worse than dogs, overall kill numbers drop

According to the 2019 report released to the public by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) this month, North Carolina public animal shelters euthanized approximately 19,723 dogs and 40,699 cats during 2019.

For comparison, pets euthanized last year (2018) totaled 23,412 dogs and 47,658 cats, indicating a drop in the total number of animals put to sleep.

For 2019, the vast majority of animals euthanized were cats, with dogs as second-most euthanized. Totals and percentages in this article are based on reported data.

  • Total CATS taken into NC public animal shelters in 2019:  108,260
    With 40,699 euthanized, that’s over 37.5% of cats put to sleep at shelters.
  • Total DOGS taken into NC public animal shelters in 2019: 104,685
    With 19,723 euthanized, that’s just over 18.8% of dogs put to sleep at shelters.

Note that the percentages and total number of cats/dogs put to sleep has gone down from the 2018 numbers, which were:

  • 2018 Total cats taken into shelters was 107,413, with 47,658 euthanized. Over 44% euthanized.
  • 2018 Total dogs taken into NC public shelters was 109,244, with 23,412 euthanized. Over 21% euthanized.

Despite the state overall euthanizing fewer dogs and cats in 2019, for some county shelters the percentage euthanized did not go down.

A few shelters had cat euthanasia rates over 80%. These locations put the majority of the cat that they took in to sleep: Halifax County Animal Shelter, Martin County Sheriff’s Office Animal Shelter, Montgomery County Animal Control Facility, Person County Animal Shelter, Robeson County Animal Shelter, and Wilkes County Animal Shelter.

The shelter that put the most cats to sleep in 2019 was Cumberland County Animal Control, which took in 5,192 cats, euthanizing 2,299 (44.3%). This shelter did better with dogs, taking in 4,912 dogs, and euthanizing 941 (19.2%). Wiles County Animal Shelter was close, euthanizing 2,295 cats (82.2%) of the 2,291 taken in. Wilkes euthanized a lower percentage of the 1,794 dogs taken in, euthanizing 586 dogs (32.7%)

The shelter that put the most dogs to sleep in 2019 was the Robeson County Animal Shelter, with 2,195 dogs euthanized, 69.7% of the total dogs taken in (3,148). This shelter also euthanized 88.9% (1,890) of the cats taken in (2,127).

A second shelter with high kill rates was Montgomery County Animal Control Facility, which took in 1,936 dogs, and euthanized 1,384 (71.5%); and took in 1,312 cats, euthanizing 1,198 (91.3%).

Shelters with lower percentage kill rates of under 10% for cats and dogs: Burlington Animal Services, Alleghany Animal Shelter, Buncombe County Animal Shelter/Asheville Humane Society, Columbus County Animal Shelter, Davie County Animal Shelter, Haywood County Animal Services, Lincoln County Animal Services, Madison County Animal Services, Northhampton County Animal Shelter, Foothills Humane Society, and Rowan County Animal Shelter. Note that some NC shelters took in few animals and euthanized none, as can be seen in the report.

One final comparison: Charlotte/Mecklenburg Animal Control took in 9,037 cats+dogs, while the Wake County Animal Care Control took in more: 9,969 cats+dogs. While intake numbers were higher for Wake, C/M euthanized far more of these animals (1,813) than Wake did (859). (Wake County’s shelter has seen a big improvement over the past year, as is reflected in their numbers below.)

Additionally, in 2019 over 3,500 other animals, including wildlife and birds, were euthanized at public animal shelters according to the report. While livestock, wildlife, birds, poultry, fish, and other animals may be included in a shelter’s intake numbers, the vast majority of animals received by NC public animal shelters are dogs or cats. Numbers relating to dogs and cats, for several NC counties, are included below.

NCDA&CS’s Veterinary Division Animal Welfare Section issues licenses for public and private animal shelters and kennels. They also oversee the certification program for Euthanasia Technicians, and collect shelter data on animals “put to sleep.” For 2019, their report covers all animals handled by public animal shelters including county animal control facilities. Note that occasionally animals are transferred between shelters and may be double-counted.

The full 2019 report, dated March 19, 2020, is available to the public at Look over the report for yourself and see how shelters are performing in your county. The report includes data by species, the total number taken into each shelter by location, how many were adopted by a new owner, how many were returned to their owner, and how many were euthanized. Pets and wildlife numbers are listed together under each shelter name.

To see all available years of public animal shelter reports, in PDF and Excel, go to

PSA: If you or someone you love owns a pet that has not yet been spayed (females) or neutered (males), now is a good time to “fix” pets to ensure unwanted offspring don’t end up at shelters in the future. If humans routinely fixed their pets, the shelters could be empty of unwanted cats and dogs.


Dog/Cat Numbers for Several NC Counties

Edgecombe County: Tarboro Animal Shelter


  • Dogs taken in: 119
  • Dogs euthanized: 19
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 15.9%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 92 dogs, euthanized 21 (22.8%).


  • Cats taken in: 139
  • Cats euthanized: 60
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 43.1%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 137 cats, euthanized 55 (40.1%).


Franklin County: Franklin County Animal Shelter


  • Dogs taken in: 1,324
  • Dogs euthanized: 178
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 13.4%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 1,406 dogs, euthanized 212 (15.0%).


  • Cats taken in: 1,187
  • Cats euthanized: 619
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 52.1%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 1,093 cats, euthanized 456 (41.7%).


Johnston County: Johnston County Animal Services


  • Dogs taken in: 1,581
  • Dogs euthanized: 500
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 31.6%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 1,776 dogs, euthanixed 517 (29.1%).


  • Cats taken in: 2,242
  • Cats euthanized: 1,739
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 77.5%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 2,624 cats, euthanized 2,186 (83.3%).


Nash County: City of Rocky Mount Animal Services and Shelter


  • Dogs taken in: 671
  • Dogs euthanized: 77
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 11.4%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 682 dogs, euthanized 85 (12.4%).


  • Cats taken in: 385
  • Cats euthanized: 215
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 55.8%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 418 cats, euthanized 211 (50.4%).


Nash County: Nash County Animal Control

Not included in the current version of the 2019 report.


In 2018 this shelter took in 748 dogs, euthanized 203 (27.1%).


In 2018 this shelter took in 1,167 cats, euthanized 940 (80.5%).


Wake County: Wake County Animal Care Control


  • Dogs taken in: 4,926
  • Dogs euthanized: 117
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 2.3%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 5,055 dogs, euthanized 674 (13.3%).


  • Cats taken in: 5,043
  • Cats euthanized: 742
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 14.7%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 5,168 cats, euthanized 1,580 (30.5%).


Wayne County: Wayne County Adoption and Education Center


  • Dogs taken in: 2,045
  • Dogs euthanized: 337
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 16.4%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 2,058 dogs, euthanized 453 (22.0%).


  • Cats taken in: 1,915
  • Cats euthanized: 898
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 46.8%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 2,049 cats, euthanized 1,105 (53.9%).


Wilson County: Wilson County Animal Shelter


  • Dogs taken in: 1,116
  • Dogs euthanized: 191
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 17.1%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 1,026 dogs, euthanixed 148 (14.4%).


  • Cats taken in: 1,045
  • Cats euthanized: 610
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 58.3%

For comparison, in 2018 this shelter took in 925 cats, euthanixed 568 (61.4%).


Spay. Neuter. Fix.

There may be factors in certain areas that contribute to high euthanasia rates. Human population differences, urban vs. rural, and shelter budgets may impact the rates of adoption versus animals put down.

Putting down animals cannot be considered a good path for the state of North Carolina — or any US location — to follow.

None of the animals put down can be helped now, obviously; however, if more humans “fix” their pets (male and female), the shelters can become emptier over the coming years. At a local level, this problem can go away with a local fix.

Some areas in the US have succeeded with spay/neuter to the point that unwanted pets are shipped in from other states for adoption!

If humans take the time to get their dogs and cats “fixed” the shelters could be receiving fewer animals. Fewer “unwanted” animals would exist to be euthanized.


Adopt from a Shelter

Humans with space in their homes and hearts, money for animal food, and time to care for pets, adopt from animal shelters to help lower the euthanasia rates. Adopt a fixed animal, or get it spayed or neutered. In doing this, you help lower the number of animals that end up in shelters in your area.

Keep an animal for its entire life-span. While kittens and puppies are cute, they may be different as adults. When you adopt an animal, take responsibility for it for its lifetime.

If you can’t adopt any [more] animals, you can donate to a no-kill animal shelter. Help them to continue their work, which often includes removing animals from public shelters to save their lives.

The future doesn’t have to be a future with unwanted domesticated animals. Let’s work together to get this under control for our children and grandchildren. No healthy animals should be euthanized if humans are doing their part.


Ed. Note: Any animals shown in photos were rescued. Red used above to highlight North Carolina shelters reporting more than 51% of cats put to sleep (euthanized). Numbers used for calculations provided in the 2019 Excel version of the Public Animal Shelter Report.

TGA Banner Ad
About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.