Orange County Animal Shelter sees rise in adoptions after hitting capacity, lowering fees

Orange County Animal Services lowered fees in an attempt to ease strain on its capacity. Image licensed via Shutterstock standard license.


By Michelle Cassell
Assignment Editor

CHAPEL HILL — Now is the time to adopt a pet if you have a place in your home and heart.

Orange County Animal Services reached its capacity for dogs last week and lowered its adoption fees through the end of the month to encourage people to bring furry friends home.

“We are reaching out to the community to consider adopting these wonderful animals that desperately need a permanent place to live,” Tenille Fox said.

Fees have been lowered to $25 for adoptable cats or dogs over four months old. The number that determines full occupancy level fluctuates daily, according to Fox.

“The lowering of fees has resulted in a slight increase in adoptions,” Fox said.  We also had some wonderful rescue organizations step up to help get some of the dogs out of the shelter.”

The special will end on the first of July, but the shelter will consider offering another incentive if it gets too crowded.

The number of animals the shelter can accommodate fluctuates.

“Dogs with medical conditions require a lot more time from our staff. If we have a dog with a cough that we have to place in an isolation room, then that leaves us with four kennels that can’t be used,” Fox said.

The shelter has open admissions, so it attempts to take every cat and dog it can. To make that happen, the shelter counsels people to ensure they are making the right decision when surrendering animals, schedules admissions to keep them manageable and relies on foster families who will take in pets temporarily to alleviate overcrowding

“Dogs that have been in the shelter for a long time benefit from getting some time out of the shelter to help them feel normal in a real-life environment,” Fox said.

The service’s biggest problem placing adoptions is not the breed of the animals. Larger dogs are more difficult to adopt.

“We are always trying to make people understand what wonderful companions they make even though they are larger,” Fox said.

The shelter’s live-release adoption rate is more than 90%, which experts classify as a “no-kill” shelter. According to Fox, OCAS does not embrace that label because they perceive it as carrying a stigma and instead prefers to refer to itself as “open admission.”

OCAS rates will return to normal prices on July 1, $175 for puppies and small dogs, $125 for medium and large dogs, and $30 for dogs eight years and older. Rates for cats will return to $130 for kittens, $110 for cats and $30 for cats eight years and older.

Seniors get discounted rates; if they are willing to adopt an older cat or dog, there is no fee.

Anyone wishing to help support the shelter if they cannot adopt can visit their website and donate.

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