Wake County Animal Center Completely Full; Humane Euthanasia for Space Set to Begin

Pit Bull with Tongue Out in Play Area
Sasha - a dog ready for adoption at the shelter right now; photo courtesy: @elizabeth_sechrist_photography

For the first time in seven years, the Wake County Animal Center will begin euthanizing pets from the adoption floor due to lack of space after the shelter was overwhelmed with more than 208 dogs and cats in just the last seven days. Staff are pleading to the community for help, discounting adoption fees and reaching out to partner rescue organizations in an attempt to quickly find homes for 220 homeless pets. As there are no open kennels left, the staff will be cancelling all appointments for owners trying to surrender their pets. Long timer animals, who’ve been waiting for families for more than three weeks, will be the first to be put down.

“We’re disheartened that we’re starting to sound like a broken record, but this repeating situation at the center is a reflection of our community and we know we can all do better,” said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “It’s unbelievable that there are more than 200 animals at the center right now and that doesn’t even include the 72 pets that are being cared for by generous foster families! Animal Center staff take no days off and each day is packed with heartbreaking surrenders, wandering strays brought in off street and the desperate search for homes so that not one animal has to be put down because of a lack of space on the adoption floor.”

Current numbers of homeless animals as of Wednesday, August 2:

  • 114 dogs
  • 12 puppies
  • 42 cats
  • 52 kittens
  • 72 pets living with foster families
  • 35 strays (on hold for owners to reclaim)

The Wake County Animal Center is the only shelter that never turns animals away. Owners who are giving up their pets to the shelter MUST have an appointment. The wait time to surrender a dog was 4-6 weeks because appointments were fully booked. No new appointments will be taken at this time. Owner surrender pets will only be accepted for humane euthanasia.

“We’ve worked so hard to avoid having to euthanize for space…we’ve offered discounts and free adoptions almost monthly, we’ve worked to expand our space within our current building, but now, more than ever, we’re seeing people giving up their dogs at a startling rate, leaving our shelter continually near capacity or overcapacity,” said Dr. Jennifer Federico, director of the Animal Center. “Adopting a pet is a commitment for the life of that pet. It’s not just until you decide to move, get a new job or have a baby. If you’re going to adopt a dog, make sure you invest time and energy into training them and our staff can help you with that. Training helps increase your bond with a pet. Make sure when you’re making life decisions, you include your pet in those decisions. We should not be having this many strays in our facility – families need to make sure their pets are microchipped so they can be quickly reunited after we find them. It’s not fair to these animals.”


Starting immediately, 89 dogs and cats that have been on the adoption floor for 15 days or longer can be adopted at no-cost. All adopted pets are fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped before they go home. The regular adoption fees are $95 for dogs, $45 for cats under five years old and $15 for older cats.

Animals that are brought in as strays for protective custody or for bite quarantines must legally be held by the shelter. When pet owners make an appointment to give up their pet, shelter staff are fully transparent and explain that if the center runs out of space, it is animals on the adoption floor who will be euthanized first. We strongly encourage anyone who needs to surrender an animal to work to rehome their pet by using these tips.

Photo above of Sasha courtesy of @elizabeth_sechrist_photography

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