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How to help animal shelters and rescues in the Carolinas

Fostering, adopting and donating are key ways to help furry friends in need, along with volunteering to keep this important work going.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Animal shelters and rescues across the Carolinas have the same urgent message: They’re at capacity, and they need all the help they can get.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care & Control division is one of the shelters saying it needs more cats and dogs out of the kennels. Shelter staff recently shared they were in “crisis” mode and would have to make hard decisions about some of the animals in their care. 

RELATED: Clear the Shelters campaign launches as area shelters reach crisis levels

While there’s always a need for pets to get out of the kennels, CMPD Animal Care staff recently said a perfect storm of issues is making the problem more real, including the highest intake numbers in years and staffing shortages. And it’s not just Charlotte facing this either; at least three other groups in the area have put out a call for help. 

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So how can a person help the nearby shelters and rescue groups? Here’s a full breakdown of what you need to know. 

Requirements for adopting and fostering 

In both North Carolina and South Carolina, local governments are largely responsible for determining requirements for pet owners. Most cities and counties require pet owners to get a pet license after a rabies vaccination. Most county shelters and rescues will provide a collar tag indicating the pet has been vaccinated once the animal is adopted. Additionally, the person who is adopting the animal must be at least 18 years old and provide proof of age and residency. 

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Just like adopting, potential foster providers for pets must be aged 18 or older for most programs. People who want to help foster an animal should expect to fill out an application, receive training, and meet other requirements. The requirements may vary, so it’s best to check on them before applying and getting involved. 

Which shelters need help? 

WCNC Charlotte has reviewed calls for help from across our 22-county viewing area, from asking for adoptions and foster homes to a call for food. Here’s a list of shelters you can reach out to and ask how you can help: 

If you are a director at an animal shelter, humane society, or rescue group and want your information shared in this list, please email desk@wcnc.com. Provide the name we should list and the best website link to include. 

How else can I help? 

Not everyone can take in a new furry friend right now, but there are other ways to support local shelters and rescue groups. 

Monetary donations are one way to help, along with donations of food, toys, blankets, and more. 

Donate money to help Clear The Shelters

If you can give time to help, volunteers are also greatly appreciated to help with tasks like cleaning, playtime, and feeding. Some shelters and groups allow teens to volunteer as well. 

Check with your nearest groups to see what their needs are and what age requirements exist for volunteers. 

To help individuals and communities continue to practice safe social distancing measures, WCNC Charlotte's month-long “Adopt & Donate” effort will feature virtual pet adoptions and make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues. The campaign runs from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31.

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