09/08/05 — New shelter law will help strays

View Archive

New shelter law will help strays

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 8, 2005 1:47 PM

A new state law requiring local animal shelters to meet higher standards will not only help the dogs and cats being housed there but create a better system for dealing with strays and better protect public health, say county officials and animal-rights activists.

The General Assembly approved the new requirements last month. They will require all private and public animal shelters to meet the same standards for cleanliness, space per animal, feeding, temperature and insect control.

The Department of Agriculture will be responsible for seeing that the regulations are enforced. The state Attorney General's office will also be involved.

Wayne County officials are planning to build a new shelter to replace the decades-old shelter on Brick Street. County Manager Lee Smith said the state regulations will help guide the county in building the new facility. The existing one would not have met the new state requirements, he said, citing safety and health issues related to the animals being kept at the facility as well as the county employees who work there and the members of the public who visit in hopes of adopting a pet.

"We knew these standards were coming, and we wanted to be in compliance," said Smith.

Smith said he has met with members of the Humane Society to discuss the needs of a new shelter and said officials with the organization have been helpful in coming up with possible designs for a new shelter.

"We want a facility that will last," Smith said, pointing out that some counties cut corners at the time they built their shelters and discovered within a few years that costly improvements had to be made.

Melody Drew of Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF), a private animal-rights group, said the new regulations were badly needed. She said her group has heard horror stories about the way sick and healthy animals were being kept in the same cages and how euthanization was not being carried out in a humane way. She called the existing county animal shelter "archaic."

Smith said he is preparing a design for a new shelter that he hopes to have ready to present to the county Board of Commissioners this month or next.

In Duplin County, volunteers say the new rules will help them in their efforts to save stray cats and dogs and to protect the public health.

Kim Lloyd is a member of the Duplin Animal Rescue Team (DART) that picks up strays and tries to find homes for them. She said the new state regulations are long overdue.

"It does seem that the animal control shelters should be forced to meet the same standards," she said, "and I can tell you they are far from doing that."