May 23, 2024

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Renovations looming, shelter makes dog adoption push

Noelle waits in the lobby of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control with her potential adopter Bill Fox on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated. Fox has adopted two other dogs from the shelter.

Noelle waits in the lobby of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control with her potential adopter Bill Fox on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated. Fox has adopted two other dogs from the shelter.

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With renovations about to make 47 adoption kennels unusable for the next three to four weeks at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control shelter, Melissa Knicely was on a time crunch and losing sleep about getting the dogs that occupied them adopted by Friday.

But by Thursday, thanks to a push on social media and local news, all but six of the more than 40 dogs available at the Byrum Drive facility were placed in a home, leaving Knicely feeling relief and gratitude.

“It just made me so happy to see the line outside,” she said. “We didn’t get to serve everyone … and I feel bad about that. That there were people that we missed, but I really encourage them to please forgive us for not being able to get to them and be understanding that we were doing the best we could.”

She said she hoped that they would either come back on Friday, or consider doing something else, like filling out an application to temporarily foster a dog in their home in the future.

Knicely said she was surprised by the turnout Thursday of people wanting to adopt a dog, with a line to the shelter forming down the sidewalk and a crowded lobby.

She said that the last couple of years have made her feel like a “parrot” because she’s been pushing the same message over and over again. But this time her message got through.

And on Friday, before the shelter was open, another line was forming down the sidewalk and the parking lot was backed up with people searching for a spot.

While the adoption kennels will be unusable for now, other recently-renovated kennels became usable on Friday, providing the remaining six dogs a place to stay while the shelter works on getting them adopted.

Fancy waits in her newly renovated dog kennel at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated.
Fancy waits in her newly renovated dog kennel at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated. JEFF SINER [email protected]

Knicely said she wanted to make sure the community knew that those six dogs would not be euthanized.

“I think people have the wrong idea that if these six dogs are left in the adoption kennels, those are the ones that are just going to get put down, and it’s not like that at all,” she said.

But even if a dog is considered for euthanasia, she said, the shelter makes an attempt to get them adopted or fostered first.

She also wanted to clarify that there are not only six dogs remaining at the shelter. While there was a push to empty the adoption kennels that are being renovated, there are more dogs at the shelter.

And more dogs will continue to be brought to the shelter, Knicely said. The shelter will just be operating with fewer kennels. One day this week, she said, 28 dogs were moved out of the shelter, and 21 were brought in that same day.

So despite the success from the recent push for adoptions, the shelter is always going to be looking for people to adopt or foster, she said. The shelter also hopes people will participate in “staycations,” or “rest and relaxation,” programs where dogs stay with people for a few days to get a break from the kennel or recover from a medical issue.

“It’s going to be more of a challenge the next month because we are down 47 spaces,” Knicely said. “So we still need people to come.”

The adoption kennels are the fifth and final phase of kennel renovations at the shelter. Previously, the shelter has renovated other kennels in the facility, including some meant for puppies, some for medical recovery, some for quarantining, and some for lost dogs.

Anna Belle Prince of Kannapolis, NC visits one of the dogs available for adoption or fostering in the newly renovated dog kennel at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated.
Anna Belle Prince of Kannapolis, NC visits one of the dogs available for adoption or fostering in the newly renovated dog kennel at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated. JEFF SINER [email protected]

Like the other renovated kennels, the adoption kennels will replace chain-link fencing with stainless steel bars, and also have upgraded latches and locks, said Dave Shrewsbury, events and community outreach officer for the shelter.

The outdated latches were difficult to repair and replace, and could pose a safety issue to workers because they were difficult to open from the inside, Shrewsbury said. The new kennels have upgraded floors and cots, and new mechanisms for serving dogs food and water.

Previously, workers would place a bowl at the bottom in a loose fitting hole, which would often result in a bowl coming loose and a dog missing a meal, or open a gap giving smaller dogs a chance to escape. But with the renovations, workers will be able to place bowls in secure holders at the kennel door, and swivel them in and out, Shrewsbury said.

The shelter is also enhancing sliding doors that allow dogs to walk between the indoor and outdoor portion of the kennels.

The shelter was required to begin renovations five to six years ago to bring it up to federal code, Knicely said.

It’s been emotional, she said, but an experience that makes the shelter safer for both the dogs and the shelter’s workers.

And although the renovations won’t add to the number of kennels, they’ll create a safer and more efficient environment for the dogs and staff.

“We’re doing great. We have a huge foster base,” Knicely said. “But we want to build it because there’s more animals. They don’t stop coming in. The city’s growing, so we need all the help that we can get.”

Potential foster and adoption owners line up at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated.
Potential foster and adoption owners line up at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control on Friday, April 12, 2024. The shelter has been undergoing renovations recently and they have moved into the next phase. When completed 166 dog kennels will have been renovated. JEFF SINER [email protected]

This story was originally published April 12, 2024, 2:38 PM.

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Jeff A. Chamer is a breaking news reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He’s lived a few places, but mainly in Michigan where he grew up. Before joining the Observer, Jeff covered K-12 and higher education at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts.

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