Facebook aids shelter cats

Published 7:08 pm Monday, June 13, 2016

Social media networking is helping offset the effects of cat overpopulation in the county.

ENC Shelter Cats Facebook page administrators have worked extensively nearly three years offset find rescues and good homes for shelter cats.

The organization relies heavily on volunteers and operates in cooperation with the Betsey Bailey Nelson Animal Control facility to save animals facing euthanasia at the shelter, according to Teresa Woolard, founder of the ENC Shelter Cats page.

Since 2013, the number of cats euthanized at the shelter has decreased, but there is still much work to be done, Woolard said.

In 2013, of 1,425 cats entering the shelter, 1,103 were euthanized, leaving 22.6 percent of the cats making it out alive. Last year, of 1,118 cats, 530 were euthanized, which means 52 percent were adopted or rescued, according to statistics from Woolard. In 2015, ENC Shelter Cats alone rescued more than 300 cats, she said.

“As far as the overpopulation of cats and kittens, it is a real crisis in Beaufort County,” Woolard said. “Spaying and neutering is key and educating the public on the benefits that are gained by having this done is vital. Not only does it help animals lower their risk of health problems, but it also cuts the rates of kittens and puppies in our shelter.”

The Facebook page advertises adoptable cats and kittens and pulls together donations to help with vetting costs, volunteers to help with transport once an animal is vetted, rescues who take in the animals for future adoption and other players, according to Woolard. Pledging is now tax-deductible, thanks to a partnership with the Inner Banks Canine Rescue, a local nonprofit organization that advocates for dogs. Ultimately, this legwork encourages rescue, Woolard said.

“(ENC Shelter Cats) has made it their mission to save these felines’ lives and find them forever homes,” said Dottie Walker, a member of Humane Society of Beaufort County and the photographer behind many of the photos. “The page is really exposing the cats so every time someone shares it gains them more exposure. They really beat the bushes, which I think is just so wonderful, and they get these cats out of the shelter.”

Woolard said it takes a team effort of veterinarians, volunteer animal advocates and even those from out of state — mainly because of stricter spay and neuter laws — who foster, transport, rescue and facilitate adoption. Williamston Veterinary Hospital, for example, is a rescue-friendly organization where many of the rescued cats are taken for vetting and rehabilitation, according to Woolard.

“I love animals, and it just breaks my heart to see so many of them in there. We need stricter laws in North Carolina. It’s a never-ending cycle, and it will never change until we raise awareness and educate the public about what happens to these animals when they come to the shelter. It just drives me to help them. It takes hard work and commitment. When you see they made it out of the shelter, it makes it worthwhile, regardless of how stressful it is. It’s a big process, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes place.”

For more information, visit Facebook.com/EncShelterCats or call Teresa Woolard at 252-944-3051.