The Craven County Board of Commissioners approved additional funds for the Craven-Pamlico Animal Services Center. The money will help cover the shelter’s in-house treatment for medical care and surgical procedures as well as new vaccination protocols.
During a presentation at the Board’s January 16 meeting, Alyssa Merget, shelter operations supervisor, requested a budget amendment in the amount of $27,500. She explained that in just under six months the shelter has seen a two-fold increase in adoptions, a 60% increase in animals being transferred to rescue agencies, and a 33% decrease in euthanasia.
As a result, Merget said, expenses in medical supplies for vaccinations, in-house treatment of animals and in-house surgical procedures have increased.
The BOC unanimously approved the budget request.
Merget began at the shelter last June along with Dr. Tanya Osler, who became the first veterinarian to be named as director of Craven-Pamlico Animal Services. Comparing numbers from July 1, 2023 through December 20, 2023 to numbers from the same time in 2022, Merget said animal adoptions had risen from 218 to 482, while euthanasia and deaths had fallen from 1,030 to 676. Animal transfers to rescue agencies, meanwhile, rose from 299 to 476, according to Merget.
Intakes at the shelter fell from 1,943 over the six-month period in 2022 to 1,682 during the same period last year. Merget said that while the shelter has seen more owner surrenders this year (771 in 2022 compared to 928 in 2023) they have also seen a decrease in stray and seized animals (1,172 compared to 754).
Merget attributed the increase in adoption rates in large part to the shelter’s presence in the community. She said euthanasia is now performed mainly for medical or behavioral reasons, not because of space or time concerns.
“We have worked really hard to do a lot of community outreach,” she told the Board.
Merget said improved community relations are also to thank for the increase in the animal transfer rate to other rescue groups.
“We work with different rescue groups that are generally no-kill shelters and we will send out animals to them,” she commented.
The budget amendment asked for $13,000 to cover the shelter’s new focus on Humane Society of the United States vaccination protocols.
“For some animals that means they are getting four vaccines in the time they are with us, or at least two, whereas previously they were probably only getting one,” Merget said.
A total of $13,000 was also requested for the in-house treatment of animals, including surgical procedures. Merget said the money will fund antibiotics as well as recently implemented anti-anxiety medications.
“A lot of the animals are very stressed out when they come into the shelter because it’s a new environment and it’s scary, there’s a lot going on,” she explained.
Merget said having Ossler on board to perform in-house medical procedures has decreased the shelter’s external care costs. Staff is also being trained to allow them to assist with spay and neuter procedures, and reading blood work, she told the Board.
The shelter has recently implemented improved sanitation and cleaning procedures as well, Merget said.
“We have done a lot of trial and error with different products cost wise and also seeing what really works in our shelter to kill the certain diseases that we see the most,” she said.
Merget credited the shelter’s foster-to-adopt program with playing a direct role in the increased adoption rate and decline in euthanasia deaths.
“Instead of an animal having to sit at the shelter for two to three weeks while it waits for surgery, we are able to send it out with that adoptive home where they can take care of it, love it and then bring it for their spay and neuter appointment,” she said.
By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.