NC Public Animal Shelter Report for 2018 Shows Statewide Euthanasia Numbers

A dog in a shelter. Photo: Kay Whatley.
A dog in a shelter. Photo: Kay Whatley.

As with prior years, cats fare far worse than dogs

According to the 2018 report released to the public by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) this month, public animal shelters across North Carolina euthanized approximately 23,412 dogs and 47,658 cats during 2018.

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 2018, 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.

For 2018, the vast majority of animals euthanized were cats, with dogs as second-most euthanized.

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

While livestock, wildlife, birds, 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 eastern NC counties, are included below.

The full 2018 report, revised and dated April 18, 2019, is available to the public at 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.

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.


Edgecombe County: Tarboro Animal Shelter

This shelter reported only dogs and cats taken in; no other animals.


  • Dogs taken in: 92
  • Dogs euthanized: 21
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 22.8%


  • Cats taken in: 137
  • Cats euthanized: 55
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 40.1%


Franklin County: Franklin County Animal Shelter

This shelter also took in rabbits, birds, a fox, guinea pig, horses, a lizard, pig squirrel, skunk, and snake. The fox, squirrel, and skunk were put to sleep.


  • Dogs taken in: 1,406
  • Dogs euthanized: 212
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 15.0%


  • Cats taken in: 1,093
  • Cats euthanized: 456
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 41.7%


Johnston County: Johnston County Animal Services

This shelter took in a variety of birds, wildlife, and small animals. In addition to cats and dogs, this county shelter put to sleep a rabbit, owl, crow, deer, and heron, and several raccoons, foxes, and opossum.


  • Dogs taken in: 1,776
  • Dogs euthanized: 517
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 29.1%


  • Cats taken in: 2,624
  • Cats euthanized: 2,186
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 83.3%

Note that there are other animal facilities listed for this county, with few intakes and no animals listed as euthanized.


Nash County: City of Rocky Mount Animal Services and Shelter

Report lists only intake of cats and dogs.


  • Dogs taken in: 682
  • Dogs euthanized: 85
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 12.4%


  • Cats taken in: 418
  • Cats euthanized: 211
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 50.4%


Nash County: Nash County Animal Control

Nash County shelter euthanized a variety of wildlife and one rabbit (not noted if wild or domesticated).


  • Dogs taken in: 748
  • Dogs euthanized: 203
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 27.1%


  • Cats taken in: 1,167
  • Cats euthanized: 940
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 80.5%


Wake County: Wake County Animal Care Control

This county found homes for over 100 rabbits, putting 2 to sleep. Also euthanized were 150 “wildlife” with no breakdown on the numbers, although opossum are listed separately as 4 euthanized.


  • Dogs taken in: 5,055
  • Dogs euthanized: 674
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 13.3%


  • Cats taken in: 5,168
  • Cats euthanized: 1,580
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 30.5%


Wayne County: Wayne County Adoption and Education Center

Wayne County also took in and re-homed 11 rabbits, various birds, and hamsters. This location euthanized a squirrel, a deer, and a coyote, along with several opossum and raccoons.


  • Dogs taken in: 2,058
  • Dogs euthanized: 453
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 22.0%


  • Cats taken in: 2,049
  • Cats euthanized: 1,105
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 53.9%


Wilson County: Wilson County Animal Shelter

Wilson County Animal shelter put 23 bats to sleep, along with a few other animals. They found homes for 6 chinchillas and 3 pigs, among other animals.


  • Dogs taken in: 1,026
  • Dogs euthanized: 148
  • Percentage of dogs euthanized: 14.4%


  • Cats taken in: 925
  • Cats euthanized: 568
  • Percentage of cats euthanized: 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 in 2018 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.

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


Ed. Note: Animals shown in the photos were both rescued. Red used above to highlight shelters putting more than 80% of cats to sleep.

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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.