The trickle down impact of the COVID pandemic – unemployment leading to financial challenges, and in some cases even homelessness – continue to impact Charlotte Metro residents and the city’s canine population. Some residents simply can’t afford the cost of pet ownership because of vast economic inflation. 

For others – many who adopted puppies during the nearly two years of pandemic shutdown – the small, cute and easy to handle pooches grew up into large, strong and energetic young adults that can be extremely challenging for many individuals to properly care for and control. Far too often that results in inexperienced pet owners surrendering their animals to the local animal control center.  

As of the last week in December, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Animal Care & Control’s (AC&C) dog kennels are completely full with dogs in need of a new home.

During the past two years, AC&C has sent out numerous pleas for adoptions, fostering and breaking news about the kennels being near or over-capacity while the staff is tasked with making life or death decisions because of the overabundance of stray and owner-surrendered dogs coming into the shelter from Charlotte and Mecklenburg county.

“On a day that we are happy to have 20 dog adoptions/fosters going out the door, at the same time we have 15 strays/owner surrenders coming in and sadly we see no light at the end of this very long tunnel,” says Melissa Knicely, Communications and Outreach Manager at AC&C.

Currently, AC&C is caring for 208 dogs at the shelter, 47 dogs in foster care and 27 dogs on a staycation. That’s a total of 282 dogs they’re caring for.

Because of the massive lack of space issue and capacity for care, as of December 20, 2022, AC&C was forced to suspend acceptance of owner-surrendered dogs. “We simply do not have room for them, said Dr. Josh Fisher, Director of Animal Care & Control. “AC&C officers are doing everything they can to get lost pets home in the community before bringing them into the shelter, but between lost dogs that we are unable to find an owner, long-term case dogs, and dogs that pose a public safety risk to our community, our kennels are at capacity.”

According to North Carolina General State Statutes (G.S. 19A-32.1), stray/lost animals received by an animal shelter or an agent of an animal shelter shall be held for a minimum period of 72 hours in order to allow time for the owner to find their pet.

AC&C has the following housing areas for dogs: stray/lost, bite quarantines, treatment for sickness investigations/cases, and adoption kennels. Stray/lost dogs are not able to transition into adoption kennels until after the legal 72-hour hold is complete. However, AC&C does not have any room in adoption to move approximately 41 dogs that have completed their 72-hour hold, have had a medical exam, and are ready to move into the adoption area. 

As of the last week in December, AC&C had seven stray/lost dogs just coming into the shelter, but only two open kennels available. That means there is no room for dogs to be owner-surrendered and why the program is currently being halted. In the future, owner surrender requests will be considered on an available kennel space basis. At the rate the dog intake is climbing, it’s likely they won’t have space for surrenders for the foreseeable future. 

What if I already have an appointment booked?

You will be receiving a call from an AC&C representative to cancel those appointments as well as a link to websites that provide the ability to post your pet for adoption, a guide for making flyers and places to share them.

How can I help combat this situation?

Ensure your pets are spayed and neutered (low-cost Spay/Neuter options are available in Charlotte-Mecklenburg).

Have your pets micro-chipped and make sure the registration is up to date and in the AC&C local database.

Make sure your pet wears an identification tag at all times (come by AC&C for a free tag).

If you find a lost pet, take it to a vet or one of our Microchip Checkpoint Stations to have it scanned for a chip. No luck finding the owner? Make a report to AC&C then foster your new friend while you continue to look for its owner.

Foster a dog (which frees up a kennel here at the shelter for the next dog)

Adopt a dog (a win for the dog, for the next dog waiting on a kennel, and a win for you).AC&C often runs adoption specials on all animals. Check out their website to learn what kind of adoption specials are available.

David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...

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