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Clear the Shelters: New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:14 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The main focus for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services Unit is to protect the public from the threat of rabies virus exposure and enforce all state laws and county health regulations pertaining to domestic animals and the county animal control ordinance.

For shelter manager Stephen Watson, animal welfare comes first. “To steal a quote from Janice Covil, who is retired now: ‘If we’re not the voice for the animals, who is?’ While they’re here, we make them as comfortable as possible, we make sure they get good square meals and make sure they are adopted to the most appropriate placement that we can,” said Watson.

Watson has been with the shelter for 18 years. He has seen a lot of changes.

“Over the years, Animal Services has built bridges with reputable rescue groups and adoption agencies and they partner with us for any difficult placements or medical needs which we can’t cover,” said Watson.

Everyone at the shelter makes sure the animals receive the care and love they need. There are two large play areas for dogs to play in and there’s even a little baby pool the dogs love to splash around in. Watson calls it Summer Camp for the dogs.

If you are thinking of adopting a shelter animal, and we hope you are, it’s important to get an animal that fits your lifestyle so it’s truly a forever family for that dog or cat.

Watson has this advice: “Know your breed. If you’re a couch potato, don’t get a herding breed. If you’re an active person that runs a lot, don’t get a pug because of the breathing issues that pugs have. We invite people to come to our shelter to interact with the adoptable dogs and cats, and if there’s an existing dog in your household we require a meet-and-greet here on neutral property to see if the dogs don’t get along,” said Watson.

If you just love animals but can’t adopt one, you can volunteer at the shelter.

“We love for people to come to the shelter Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and then Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to interact with our adoptable animals. It gives them socialization. We start you off in the playrooms, and if everything is cohesive, we move you out to the play yards,” said Watson.

If you have an animal and can no longer care for it, Watson says to not be ashamed to take it to the shelter.

“If you can’t afford to feed yourself, how are you going to feed an animal?”

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