Influx of Animals Endangers Animal Center’s Six-Year Record of Avoiding Euthanasia for Space

Dog looking out through kennel gate
The Animal Center is open 7 days a week from noon to 6 p.m. for adoptions.

For six years, the Wake County Animal Center has avoided having to euthanize any animals because of lack of space. Now, another flood of stray and surrendered pets is pushing the shelter over capacity and putting that record in jeopardy.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of dogs in the facility is 87 on the adoption floor and 61 in the non-public room. That's more than the number double-sided runs available and it's forced the center to revert to single runs.  

The situation is concerning since the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians states that double-sided enclosures are very important to prevent the spread of disease, especially for young animals and those recently admitted to shelters. 

“We are putting these pets at risk and our adoptions, and transfers to rescue partners are simply not keeping up with the continual pace of incoming animals,” said Dr. Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center. “Appointments for families who want to give up their animals are booked full for the next month. Allergies, new babies and moving are among some of the common reasons that force families to give up their pets, but we really need families to try to plan and re-home their pets themselves. Shelters are full across the country, please don’t enter your pet into this already overwhelmed system.”

The shelter would like to be transparent and help owners surrendering pets understand that dogs brought to the shelter as strays, for protective custody or for bite quarantines must legally be held. That means if the center runs out of kennels, it is animals on the adoption floor who will be euthanized first.

The Wake County Animal Center was already in the middle its weeklong Home for the Holidays adoption special, with any dog over 6 months old just $25 and cats being available for a “name your price” discount. When that special ends on Sunday, the shelter will continue to offer discounts in hopes of avoiding euthanizing for space.

Starting Monday and running as long as needed, any dog or cat that’s been at the shelter for more than two weeks will be available for just $25 for dogs and “name your price” for cats. The regular adoption fees are $95 for dogs, $45 for cats under five years old, and $15 for cats that are greater than five years old.

“When there are no kennels left, we do not want our Animal Center staff to be forced to make these life and death decisions before the holidays,” said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “This is becoming a repeating cycle: the center gets an influx of animals, we make a plea to the community and then Wake County answers the call and saves these poor animals. We hope the community can once again answer the call! We have to stop this sad and disheartening situation. We can’t do it alone.”

Staff and volunteers at the center are already working overtime to make sure these pets are taken care of, making sure they’re ready for adoption and sharing their stories and personalities online in hopes someone will give them a second chance.   

Want to help, but cannot adopt?

  • Please try to rehome your own pets. YOU are your pet’s best advocate, and you can help make sure their new family is a good match. Re-homing sites, such as can help you find potential adopters for your pets.
  • If you’re able to cancel your surrender appointment with us, please do so. Your pet will be at high risk for euthanasia. We are advocating for your pet by pleading for you to do this.  
  • Before your surrender appointment, reach out to local rescues for assistance. Rescue groups can be found online, and some may be able to help with re-homing.
  • Do you need help with pet food or veterinary care so that you can afford to keep your pet? Does your pet have behavioral issues you want to fix? Email us at and we’ll help you find resources.
  • If you find a lost or stray dog, try to find the owners. Vet offices can scan the dog for a microchip. Post on neighborhood social media like NextDoor or your Ring app, on lost & found pet Facebook pages, or Triangle Lost Pets.

Ready to adopt? Check out our adoption gallery or come by and see the sweet faces for yourself! The shelter is open for adoptions daily from noon to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The Wake County Animal Center is located at 820 Beacon Lake Drive, near the intersection of I-440 and New Bern Ave. in Raleigh.

Press Release