Overcrowded Facilities Forced to Euthanize Thousands of Animals
NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- For animal lovers, it's difficult to visit an animal shelter without falling in love with an adorable kitten or loving dog. But local shelters have an overpopulation of the sweet animals, and many are unwanted.
In 2004, New Hanover County opened a spay and neuter facility. Since then, they've done more than 17,000 procedures, and they encourage pet owners to be just as responsible.
While the goal is to adopt out as many as possible, the animals' stories don't always have a happy ending.
In fiscal year 2005, New Hanover County Animal Control took in close to 4,500 cats and dogs; 2,596 had to be put down. And the statistics are similar in neighboring counties. Brunswick County killed 5,596 animals in 2005, while Columbus County euthanized 3,251.
"I look at each animal that comes in that we have to euthanize, and say, ‘Why did this happen? Why is this animal here?'" said Nancy Ryan, from New Hanover County Animal Control.
Note: WECT's Sarah Warlick spent a morning with one pit bull, Sweet Pea, before she was put down. She has Sweet Pea's story in a special report, which is available to view online through a link on this page. Viewer discretion is advised, because the story does contain some images that are difficult to watch.