Year after year, animal shelter finds success

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hallways lined with wire cages. Puppies barking and wagging their tails. Kittens meowing and purring. A wet nose pressed against the door, and a glimmer of hope in the eyes of many.

The Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Shelter in Beaufort County is a temporary home to many animals of all ages, breeds and origins. Each animal comes with its own unique story, but all with a hope that they will soon find a forever home.

In 2016, the shelter had 1,553 adoptions and reclaims, surpassing the 2015 record of 1,439, adoptions by more than a hundred. According to animal shelter officials, that puts their 2016 adoption rate at about 72 percent, a nearly 30-percent leap from where they were just three years ago. Billy Lassiter, chief animal control officer, said the numbers are on track to be even higher for this year. As of Thursday, 371 dogs and 246 cats have been adopted this year. Thirty-three animals — 24 cats and nine dogs —have been adopted just this week, and that number is expected to rise, as well, according to Lassiter.

“From where we’ve been and where we are at now, that’s really good. We’re open five days a week and had almost 1,600 adoptions. You can do the numbers. That’s a lot of animals every single day,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter credits the high adoption success to both the low adoption fees and the many rescue groups that come into the shelter day in and day out.

“The rescue groups are here every day. They’re calling, they’re coming in to see our adoption board, and they’re looking at our animals posted on Petango,” Lassiter said. “We all have the same goal, and that is to save the animals.”

However, even with a high adoption rate, the reality of it all is that the shelter can become overcrowded relatively quickly. In 2016, the shelter euthanized 576 animals, a dip from the previous year’s 646. Lassiter said they euthanize animals that are especially violent or aggressive, and they try to keep animals for as long as they can.

“Nobody wants to euthanize animals. And we always try our hardest not to, but sometimes we only have so much room,” Lassiter said.

Even though summer months prove to be some of the busiest times at the shelter, Lassiter remained optimistic that the adoptions will only continue to rise in the future.

It’s not just dogs and cats that need a home. The shelter has rabbits, roosters, horses, and sometimes even goats available as well, according to Lassiter. Animals are adoptable all summer long at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Shelter, located at 3931 U.S. 264 Highway East in Washington.