03/10/13 — Shelter helping 43 needy dogs find new homes

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Shelter helping 43 needy dogs find new homes

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 10, 2013 1:50 AM

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Bandit, a 4-year-old female Aussie mix, enjoys a cuddle with Vickie Falconer as they relax in a play room at the Wayne County Animal Shelter.

The Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center is asking for the public's assistance in its efforts to help save more than 40 dogs that have been surrendered by a Mar-Mac area man.

Officials are in the process of bringing the dogs into the shelter. However, not all 43 can be housed at one time because of space limitations. Doing so would mean that other animals would have to be euthanized, said Vickie Falconer, Wayne County Animal Control director.

The new dogs can't be adopted yet or placed in foster homes because they need socialization training to become used to living with people, and help is being sought from animal rescue groups to accomplish that task, Mrs. Falconer said.

Also, the shelter is asking for donations of food for the animals and for people to help reduce the shelter's dog population by adopting the dogs already there.

The case is a reminder that people need to be responsible pet owners, said Shelby Ostendorf, a member of a local rescue group.

"Ultimately, the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center will always be full if people do not spay or neuter their pets," she said. "Over 500 animals are surrendered to the center on a monthly basis.

"Most of these surrendered animals are unwanted litters. Spay/neuter assistance is available. People just need to ask."

The dogs were not abused and were not part of a puppy mill, Mrs. Falconer said.

"I have been trying to work with him for several months," she said. "He surrendered them to me last Tuesday night."

For the most part. the dogs are healthy, and at one point had received some o f their shots, she said. Since no animal cruelty is being charged, the Humane Society of the United States is not involved in the rescue, she said.

Currently 14 of the dogs have been brought into the shelter, Mrs. Falconer said.

The dogs are mixed breeds and will be medium to large dogs. They were segregated by gender in pens and were fed and watered. However, they had little interaction with people, she said.

Also, the living conditions were "not great" because the area were the pens were located became very muddy and messy when it rained, she said.

The man had been feeding the animals dog food mixed with scraps from a restaurant, she said. It became harder to feed the dogs when the restaurant stopped providing the scraps.

What brought the issue to a head was when the owner was jailed in an unrelated issue, and the water was cut off where the animals are.

That prompted efforts to convince the man to surrender the dogs, Mrs. Falconer said.

"He called and asked if we could work with him to get the animals off the property," Mrs. Falconer said. "He didn't want them to be euthanized."

"Wayne County Animal Control worked hard to find placement for the adoptable dogs involved in this case," said Kimberly Alboum, state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "It is situations like this that reflect what our animal control agencies are going through with pet overpopulation.

"The majority of our shelters cannot simply absorb 41 large dogs. Wayne County Animal Control turned to the community of animal advocates around them and took in as many animals as possible. The end result is that many of the dogs have a chance of finding a home."

And Wayne County residents are offering to help, too, said Ms. Ostendorf.

"Since sharing Ms. Falconer's call for assistance on our Facebook page, Friends of Wayne County Animals (NC), community support has been awe-inspiring," she said. "Visits to the shelter have increased and more importantly a steady flow of dog food donations have been arriving at the shelter on a daily basis.

"Our Facebook page has also received more attention which means more attention for the center's adoptable dogs and cats in need of forever homes."

The Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center is located at 1600 Clingman St. The phone number is 919-731-1439. Hours of operation are noon to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month.