County Animal Control’s adoption rate rises, euthanizations drop

Published 6:05 pm Thursday, January 28, 2021

Beaufort County Animal Control in 2020 reported its lowest amount of euthanizations since at least 2011, along with an increased adoption rate.

The Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility took in 1,666 animals in 2020. Of those animals, 1,166 were adopted, reclaimed or transferred to another facility. Animal control euthanized 471 animals, a decrease of 292 from 2019’s report. The shelter’s adoption rate in 2020 was 70%, an increase of nine percentage points from the previous two years.

“That’s a testament to Chief (Billy) Lassiter and the staff that he’s been able to manage in animal control, and the whole cooperative efforts that we’ve had with outreach partners and getting animals home, versus euthanization,” said Chris Newkirk, deputy director of Beaufort County Emergency Services. Newkirk’s department oversees animal control.

The county’s adoption rate has been on the rise since dropping to between 10-20% in the early 2010s. It jumped above 70% in 2016 and 2017 before dropping to 61% in 2018 and 2019.  The rate hasn’t dropped below 60% since 2013.

Animal control’s total intake in 2020 was the lowest it has been in at least a decade.

“If we look across the state, we do see that as a trend as a result of COVID, where intakes are down and adoptions are up, as people are home more and spending more time with their animals. ” Newkirk said.

Newkirk mentioned that animal control handles all types of animals, not just cats and dogs.

“We’ve actually had a ferret and a goat and a couple pigs,” Newkirk said. “We had a peacock,” he added with a laugh.

County Manager Brian Alligood commended the animal control staff for how they’ve handled themselves in difficult circumstances.

“(Animal control) is absolutely an extremely difficult job,” Alligood said. “They’re not always well-received by the public for the job they do, and then they’re also charged with having to euthanize animals. And if you have to do that on a daily basis, that is an extremely difficult job.”