Euthanasia up for cats, down for dogs

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The number of dogs euthanized in Wilson County has decreased in the last two years, according to state figures. The number of cats euthanized has been rising the past three years, which is a statewide trend. Recently released numbers show North Carolina has the third-highest animal euthanisia rate in the country.

In 2018, the Wilson County Animal Shelter euthanized 148 of the 1,026 dogs brought into the shelter, which is down from the 181 dogs it euthanized in 2017, according to figures from the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Of the 925 cats taken in to the shelter last year, 568 were euthanized, which was up slightly from 2017 where 543 of the 1,000 cats taken in were euthanized. Although those numbers may seem high, 1,049 of the 1,333 cats taken into the shelter in 2014 were euthanized, according to state figures.

In comparison, the number of dogs euthanized in 2014 was 452, which is more than double than 2018 figure.

Wanda Samuel, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office chief of staff, said the office works hard to decrease the number of animals euthanized.

“First and foremost, we have a hardworking group of knowledgeable men and women at the Wilson County Animal Shelter,” Samuel said. “The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Spay and Neuter Program offers free spay and neuter to qualifying applicants. The educational aspect of the spay and neuter program is an asset to the community.”

Officials say current polices, laws, and local ordinances are a contributing factor in Wilson County’s declining dog euthansia rate.

Wilson County Animal Enforcement also offers a low-cost microchip program, which allows pets to be returned to their owners when they are found away from their homes.

In 2018, officials returned 276 dogs and 21 cats to their owners.

Adoption is also a key component. Samuel said the animal shelter’s adoption coordinator has a working relationship with rescue groups that find homes for the pets.

Last year, 571 dogs and 318 cats were adopted out of the shelter, according to state figures.

In comparison, Nash County, which includes the city of Rocky Mount’s shelter and Nash County’s Animal Enforcement, euthanized 288 dogs and 1,151 cats in 2018, according to N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services figures.

In 2017, those two shelters combined euthanized 230 dogs and 1,335 cats.