Pet adoptions free at Burke County Animal Services

Pet adoptions free at Burke County Animal Services

Staff Writer

If you’ve been wanting to adopt a furry friend, now is the time.

Burke County Animal Services has dropped adoption fees through Saturday. That means cats, kittens, dogs and puppies are free to a good home and the adoption includes up-to-date vaccines and an appointment for a spay/neuter.

Animal Services has been trying multiple ways to find homes for their animals, including lowering adoption fees and numerous adoption events.

But the number of animals it is taking in hasn’t slowed down.

In fact, the shelter’s intake is up 23% this year over last year, said Kaitlin Settlemyre, director of Burke County Animal Services.

She said August is normally a slower time for adoptions for Animal Services because people are finalizing vacations, kids are going back to school and families are not willing to really commit to adoption until the school year starts.

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But this year, in general, adoptions have been more difficult, but they have adopted more cats than dogs, Settlemyre said. She said it used to be that dogs were adopted out more than cats but that has reversed this year.

“And that is a nationwide trend that people are seeing is that their dogs are just sitting a lot longer in shelters and what they used to,” Settlemyre said.

Her opinion on why that may be is that people are a lot busier now than before. She said COVID-19 kept a lot of people in for a long time so now people are traveling more, they’re out and about and they don’t have the time to dedicate to a dog.

In addition, there were a lot more litters of animals being born during the pandemic because there was less access for spay/neuter.

“And we’re just really feeling the effects of that. I know we’re out of the pandemic but we’re still seeing the residual effects of that,” Settlemyre said. “And then also the economy. People are struggling.”

She said the shelter is currently seeing more people coming in for pet food assistance than it did at the beginning of the year.

“And I don’t know if that’s just because they heard that we were doing it or if we just have more people struggling in our community,” Settlemyre said.

It’s not something the shelter has been tracking at this point but it is something they want to start tracking, she said. Much of the food for pet food assistance is donated.

Even if someone can’t adopt, they can help in other ways including fostering, volunteering to take a dog out for a couple of hours, walking a dog, playing with cats or kittens, cleaning or feeding.

And if a dog or cat happens to wander onto your property, there are ways to help there, too.

Settlemyre said the shelter has a program called “The First 48,” which stands for the first 48 hours.

“Ideally, if somebody finds a pet in their neighborhood, they have a 60% chance of being reunited with their owner if they stay in that neighborhood,” Settlemyre said.

However, once that animal comes into the shelter, the chances of it being reunited with its family goes down by more than half, Settlemyre said. For dogs the chance drops to 27% and for cats its chance falls to 3%, she said.

If that dog comes into the shelter, which we all know is you know, it’s a safe place. If somebody has somewhere to hold on to that stray dog that drops to about 27% for dogs and 3% for cats.

“So that’s what we’re asking folks, it’s not that we’re turning strays away or anything like that, but if you can hold on to this animal for 48 hours, that’s going to give the animal the best opportunity to getting back with its family within that 48 hours,” Settlemyre said. “If we don’t have a family after then let’s talk about bringing the animal here to the shelter.”

She said Animal Services has the best interest of the animal in mind and keeping that animal in the community it was found is very important.

Anyone who finds a stray can email a photo of the animal so Animal Services can post the photo. The shelter also can offer that person a crate to hang on to that dog or cat, food or anything else they may need to hold that animal for 48 hours, Settlemyre said.

If the animal is returned to its owner, the person who housed it can let the owner know that Animal Services has resources for spay/neuter and containment system to ensure the animal doesn’t escape its home again, Settlemyre said.

“I just want people to realize we are a shelter, we do hold animals but the problems that we’re seeing with animals in the community, I mean, these are community issues,” Settlemyre said. “So it’s not a shelter issue, it’s a community issue. So we need community-based solutions, and that’s really what we’re trying to focus on.”

To adopt a dog, puppy, cat or kitten, no appointment is necessary, according to Animal Services.

Burke County Animals Services, which is located at 425 Kirksey Drive in Morganton, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Visit Burke County Animal Services on Facebook at or call at 828-764-9588.

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