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Cornelius News

Cornelius Animal Shelter adjusts to pandemic

Dumpling is a wild little ball of fur that is around 4 months old and doesn’t slow down

Jan. 14. Throughout the pandemic, Cornelius Animal Shelter has remained open, but you do need to make an appointment to visit the shelter on Meridian Street if you’re interested in adopting a pet.

Business has been consistent this year, not necessarily busier than usual like some larger facilities nationally are reporting, Trey Nodine, animal control officer, says.

Nodine says most cats and dogs picked up as strays or surrendered have moved pretty quickly into new homes. Available pets can be found on the shelter’s website and petfinder.com.

Of the 100 pets (mostly dogs and cats with a handful of exotics) that came to the shelter as of mid-December 2020, about a third were returned to their families, another third were cats adopted out and the remaining third were dogs adopted out.

Blondie was surrendered to the Shelter when her owner was no longer able to care for her.

This year, with more children home because schools are doing remote learning, more dogs than usual have made an escape when a child opened a door and wound up at the shelter. But not for long.

The good thing is that the families have been aware the pet is loose and proactive about looking for it in their neighborhood and checking with the shelter, Nodine said. Most lost dogs were returned within a day, and some within hours, he said. Still, it’s a good idea to microchip your pet.

The shelter takes in owner surrenders from town residents and picks up strays.

This year, because of the economy, there have been more owner surrenders than usual, Nodine said. Six animals came in during two weeks in December, a time when families are usually looking to adopt not surrender.

“It’s been tough on owners,” Nodine said, with surrenders being done because families couldn’t afford to care for the pets.

Most dogs and cats are adopted out fairly quickly, Nodine says, but an older cat and two cats with FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) have been at the shelter longer. Cat adoptions are $85 and dog adoptions cost $95.

The shelter will also take in exotics, Nodine says, but owners are encouraged to try to find a home for the rabbits, hedge hogs or guinea pigs first. Three ball pythons that were surrendered this year were sick and were sent to the county for treatment.

Pandemic changes everything

At the beginning of the pandemic in March and April, the shelter closed to walk-ins and volunteering was stopped as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

Nodine and fellow animal control officer Kenny Russell took over all the shelter duties in addition to their animal control duties. They limited donations such as accepting towels and blankets, for example, so their time and energy could be spent on intake of animals, caring for the pets and cleaning the shelter. The shelter is a town facility, falling under the jurisdiction of the Police Department.

In September, the town loosened restrictions to allow some volunteers to return, and Nodine says more of the existing volun

The February cover of Cornelius Today

teers should be allowed to return in 2021. When the public health crisis dissipates, new volunteers will be recruited.

What’s next

Nodine also has a goal of developing a fostering program. He likes the programs that offer  “day vacations” for the pets, in which a person can take a dog out of the shelter for the day and spend time enjoying  a park or other activities. It’s also a good way for potential adopters to spend a little time with a dog before making a decision, he said.

For now, if you’re interested in adopting a pet, check the shelter’s website or petfinder.com for availability and call 704-237-3602 to make an appointment for a one-on-one visit with the animal.

How you can help

If you’d like to help out, the shelter is accepting donations of  kitty litter and cleaning supplies such as paper towels, cleaning sprays, wipes,  disinfectants. Nodine says the cleaning supplies have been harder to find for the shelter, just like for households.

Kong brand and other durable toys are welcome as well.

“We tend to be a bigger breed shelter and most of the dogs destroy what we get,” Nodine said.