According to numbers in the 2020 Public Animal Shelter Report, released to the public by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) earlier this year, North Carolina public animal shelters euthanized approximately 10,522 dogs and 25,254 cats during 2020.
For comparison, pets euthanized in the previous year (2019) numbered approximately 19,723 dogs and 40,699 cats.
Totals and percentages in this article are based on calculations using reported data, and may change if revised reports are issued.
- Total CATS taken into NC public animal shelters in 2020: 79,617 (2019: 108,260)
With 25,254 euthanized, that’s around 31% of cats put to sleep at NC public animal shelters.
- Total DOGS taken into NC public animal shelters in 2020: 69,123 (2019: 104,685)
With 10,522 euthanized, that’s around 15% of dogs put to sleep at NC public animal shelters.
With most of 2020 impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the year’s lower numbers may reflect the change in human activity.
Note that the state’s public animal shelters also “intake” other animals, including wildlife and birds, and many of these were euthanized at the shelters, according to the report.
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 2020, 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 annual 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.
The full 2020 report is available to the public at www.ncagr.gov/vet/aws/Fix/BytheNumbers.htm. Look over the report for yourself and see how shelters are performing in your county.
Prior year reports are also available via that link, in PDF and Excel.
Ed. Note: Shelters report total costs and per-animal costs in the report. Costs vary from tens of dollars per animal to over $900 per animal… If residents routinely spayed/neutered their pets, and the county “fixed” feral cats, many shelter costs could be avoided by the state. (Plus, no need for constant euthanasia services.)
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. (Some areas in the US have such a dearth of adoptable pets that NC shelter animals are shipped to other states. North Carolina should be able to do what other states have successfully done.
Dog/Cat Numbers for Several NC Counties
Edgecombe County/Tarboro Animal Shelters (2 reported)
- Dogs taken in: 572
- Dogs euthanized: 95
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 16.6%
In 2019 this shelter took in 119 dogs, 19 euthanized.
In 2018 this shelter took in 92 dogs, euthanized 21.
- Cats taken in: 600
- Cats euthanized: 295
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 49.1%
In 2019 this shelter took in 139 cats, euthanized 60.
In 2018 this shelter took in 137 cats, euthanized 55.
Franklin County: Franklin County Animal Shelter
- Dogs taken in: 807
- Dogs euthanized: 106
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 13.1%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,324 dogs, euthanized 178
In 2018 this shelter took in 1,406 dogs, euthanized 212.
- Cats taken in: 944
- Cats euthanized: 529
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 56.0%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,187 cats, euthanized 619
In 2018 this shelter took in 1,093 cats, euthanized 456.
Johnston County: Johnston County Animal Services Smithfield
- Dogs taken in: 1,330
- Dogs euthanized: 336
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 25.2%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,581 dogs, euthanized 500
In 2018 this shelter took in 1,776 dogs, euthanized 517.
- Cats taken in: 2,055
- Cats euthanized: 1,400
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 68.1%
In 2019 this shelter took in 2,242 cats, euthanized 1,739.
n 2018 this shelter took in 2,624 cats, euthanized 2,186.
Nash County: City of Rocky Mount Animal Services and Shelter
- Dogs taken in: 483
- Dogs euthanized: 61
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 12.6%
In 2019 this shelter took in 671 dogs, euthanized 77.
n 2018 this shelter took in 682 dogs, euthanized 85.
- Cats taken in: 371
- Cats euthanized: 184
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 49.5%
In 2019 this shelter took in 385 cats, euthanized 215.
In 2018 this shelter took in 418 cats, euthanized 211.
Nash County: Nash County Animal Control
This shelter’s numbers were not included in the 2020 annual report, nor in 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 Raleigh
- Dogs taken in: 3,155
- Dogs euthanized: 370
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 11.7%
In 2019 this shelter took in 4,926 dogs, euthanized 117.
In 2018 this shelter took in 5,055 dogs, euthanized 674.
- Cats taken in: 2,947
- Cats euthanized: 306
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 10.3%
In 2019 this shelter took in 5,043 cats, euthanized 742.
In 2018 this shelter took in 5,168 cats, euthanized 1,580.
Wayne County: Wayne County Adoption and Education Center Goldsboro
- Dogs taken in: 1,603
- Dogs euthanized: 207
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 12.9%
In 2019 this shelter took in 2,045 dogs, euthanized 337.
In 2018 this shelter took in 2,058 dogs, euthanized 453.
- Cats taken in: 1,485
- Cats euthanized: 630
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 42.4%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,915 cats, euthanized 898.
In 2018 this shelter took in 2,049 cats, euthanized 1,105.
Wilson County: Wilson County Animal Shelter
- Dogs taken in: 991
- Dogs euthanized: 91
- Percentage of dogs euthanized: 9.1%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,116 dogs, euthanized 191.
In 2018 this shelter took in 1,026 dogs, euthanized 148.
- Cats taken in: 1,007
- Cats euthanized: 568
- Percentage of cats euthanized: 56.4%
In 2019 this shelter took in 1,045 cats, euthanized 610.
In 2018 this shelter took in 925 cats, euthanized 568.
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 2020 Excel version of the Public Animal Shelter Report. If notice a calculation error/typo, please advise the editor.
Note 2: Originally published May 3, 2021. Updated May 11.