Animal shelter continues to boast high adoption rates

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Six hundred and fifty-eight dogs and 598 cats were among the animals adopted or rescued from the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility in 2015.

According to the Humane Society of Beaufort County, those numbers mean 2015 ended on a high note for shelter staff and HSBC volunteers.

“Fortunately, far less animals are being put to sleep. … The numbers each year are steadily up,” said Marty Poffenberger, Pamlico Animal Hospital owner and HSBC president. “Some are adoptions, some are rescues — our shelter has been very good about working with rescues.”

Poffenberger said the HSBC’s ongoing spay and neuter program has also helped the shelter lower the number of animals that are euthanized.

“For several years, every animal that leaves the shelter has been spayed or neutered and that’s got to be cutting down on the numbers coming in,” Poffenberger said.

The shelter doesn’t just accept dogs and cats. Other species also make their way through the doors when the novelty has worn off: rabbits, chinchillas, hedgehogs, pigs, horses, goats and more. Some are farm animals that have escaped; others are pets that don’t quite work out. For example, goats tend to take the high ground — they like to jump on top of things, including neighbors’ cars, which is how one pair ended up in the shelter, Poffenberger said.

“The whole other thing is that people want to get animals that are unusual,” Poffenberger said. “They get them because they think it’s cute and unusual, but it doesn’t take long to realize they can’t keep them.”

In 2015, the goats, two pigs and a rabbit were also adopted from the shelter. Another pair of goats is currently up for adoption.

Though 2015 ended on a high note, it’s the summer months in which the shelter gets crowded with animals — especially with litters of cats, as spring and summer is “kitten season,” Poffenberger said. Unfortunately, that time of year is when less people are adopting cats and kittens.

“The kitten population starts to decrease in the winter months because it’s no longer kitten season, but around Christmas time you can find way more homes for kittens,” Poffenberger said. “It’s just a horrible reversal of what you’d like to see.”

That’s one of the reasons why HSBC is always looking for volunteers, Poffenberger said, especially in transporting animals that have been pulled from the shelter by rescue agencies. Volunteers are also needed for the daily tasks at the shelter.

“Volunteers — we always need them to clean cages, do laundry. We still use volunteers to maintain the courtyard, do landscaping. I’ve always thought, ‘I wish we could get a garden club or someone to do that,’” Poffenberger said, referring to the small garden centering the outdoor section of the combination indoor/outdoor dog pens.

The Humane Society of Beaufort County will hold its annual meeting Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in the education room of the shelter, located at 3931 U.S. Highway 264 East, Washington.