CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The Charlotte animal shelter is facing a crisis: too many dogs coming in and not enough homes for all of them.
There’s also another issue many may not be familiar with – case dogs.
These animals are evidence in criminal cases that are taking up precious kennel space for months, sometimes longer.
“It just doesn’t feel like we’re making any headway at all,” Melissa Knicely, with Animal Care and Control, said.
Not too long ago there were celebrations at the animal shelter. A record number of dogs and cats were adopted, none of them in fear of being taken to the back room where they wouldn’t come out of.
But those days seem like a lifetime ago.
“You come to work and you try to get through your job and you try not to let the emotions affect you too badly,” Knicely said.
The shelter is at max capacity. Sometimes entire families of dogs share the same kennel.
Like an onion, there are many layers to what’s going on here. There’s not enough places to put the animals, more animals are coming through the doors than being adopted out and there are the long-termers.
“That is causing a lot of the space crisis,” said Knicely
The case dogs are treated as evidence in criminal cases against their owners. These cases can range from dogfighting to hoarding to abuse.
“You’re waiting on court dates to come, literally the animals are just sitting here,” Knicely said.
Some of these dogs have been in these kennels for over a year – isolated and alone – waiting for the justice system to get to their turn. Most of the time the person responsible for the animals being in the shelter is roaming free.
“Over half of the lost dog kennels are being used for cases and for rabies quarantine,” Knicely said.
It’s a problem that is literally life and death. The case dogs need to be held for court, but if there’s no more room and nowhere to put animals coming into the shelter, the reality is cold and dire.
“It could absolutely cost other animals their lives for sure,” Knicely said.
The key is to get these animals out of the shelter and into loving homes, including foster homes.
It’s not just individuals stepping up to help. Businesses like Hounds Town, which run boarding and day camps for dogs, have opened up their doors to help take the pressure off overworked shelters.
Hounds Town is currently fostering two dogs until they can find homes for them.
“It would be a great time to start and take on this challenge,” Hounds Town owner Julia De Oliveira said.
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