The Wake County Animal Center will remain closed at least through November after a canine influenza outbreak that has now killed four dogs, it announced Wednesday.
The shelter, which closed to the public Oct. 6 is reaching out to rescue organizations in and out of North Carolina to move dogs out of the shelter and take in strays that would normally be brought to the shelter on Beacon Lake Drive in Raleigh.
“It is a struggle,” said director Dr. Jennifer Federico. “We didn’t make the decision to close, and now remain closed, lightly. But it is the only solution to get through this with the dogs that are here.”
There are 156 dogs currently at the shelter and more in foster care.
The shelter is asking people who find a lost dog to do their best to find its owner. It is asking people to foster dogs, especially pit bulls and larger dogs, and to adopt fostered animals through its website. New foster dogs need to be quarantined.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 31, the center had:
- 30 sick dogs
- Four cases of canine Influenza, with one additional suspected case awaiting confirmation
- Four deaths due to canine influenza
- 77 dogs that have recovered
Infected dogs that have no symptoms can still transmit the disease, the Animal Center said in a news release.. It offered these tips to keep dogs safe:
- Keep pets up to date on their shots. Talk with your veterinarian if you’re not sure what they need.
- Do not take your pet to dog parks, doggie daycare or any public places where unknown dogs gather.
- If you board your dog, make sure the facility requires vaccinations and is taking precautions to prevent the spread of disease.
Services affected by Wake County animal shelter closure
The shelter closing affects these services, according to the release..
- All adoptions of dogs, cats and other small animals are temporarily paused.
- Owners may not surrender any animals during this closure.
- All five Animal Control agencies across the county (Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner and Holly Springs) continue to respond to emergency calls but are not picking up strays or owner surrenders in the field and bringing them to the shelter.
- The Animal Center often holds pets on quarantine following bite incidents. However, now those animals should be quarantined in veterinary offices or private homes.
Wake County Animal Control has been picking up strays and, if they are microchipped or have tags, driving them to their owners instead of bringing them to the shelter, Federico said.
“They’ve boarded them at different boarding facilities,” she said. “It is a big strain on our community. And we just don’t have any other options right now, with the illness that is spreading in the building.”
Services still being offered through the Animal Center
- Adoption of foster pets: All of the shelter’s foster pets are now available for adoption. There are 22 cats, 16 dogs, two guinea pigs and 69 kittens available for adoption.
- Lost pets: If you believe your pet is currently at the Animal Center, call at 919-212-PETS (7387) for instructions on providing proof of ownership and reclaiming your pet.
- Owner-requested euthanasia: If you need to euthanize your pet due to health or behavioral issues, you can call and request an appointment for euthanasia. Owners must provide veterinary notes detailing the animal’s medical condition or specific behavioral issues, and staff reserve the right not to euthanize animals that do not meet the criteria.
- Phone support for rehoming: If you need to rehome a pet adopted it from a local organization, contact them about finding a new home for it or returning it to them. Here are useful tips.
- Phone support for stray pets: If you’ve found a stray pet and are looking for its owner, the shelter provides guidance for doing that.
Rescue groups taking healthy shelter dogs
The animal center has worked with rescue groups that have taken dogs while the shelter is closed to the public.
Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson stressed the importance of these groups.
“We have dogs in our care that have not been exposed, those that have recovered and asymptomatic dogs,” she said in the release. “We need additional help from rescue organizations to make a difference in the lives of these dogs and offer them a chance for a fresh start.”
Staff writer Anna Johnson contributed to this story.
This story was originally published November 1, 2023, 10:23 AM.