At its essence, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is in the business of saving dogs and cats and other animals from harm. But that description seriously sells short the work of the staff and volunteers of the Elizabeth City shelter and its operations.
Recent events illustrate the scope and magnitude of the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina’s responsibilities. Over several months this year, the SPCA staff had to find shelter and care for 80 pit bulls seized from a dogfighting ring, 72 cats taken from a rescue operation gone awry, 31 cats saved from a hoarding situation, and 11 dogs and one guinea pig seized in a cruelty case.
Just over a week ago, 25 cats and kittens were turned in at the shelter on one day, Kim Parrish, SPCA board chair said.
Daunting does not begin to describe the task of sheltering, feeding and finding permanent or even temporary homes for these animals. It also does not capture the emotional toll on the staff and volunteers who care for the animals knowing many will have to be euthanized due to temperament, age and/or sickness.
Yet the staff and volunteers attacked these challenges with their typical commitment and passion. The pit bulls ended up at the abandoned Pasquotank County Jail, the cats were housed at the building the SPCA hopes to renovate into a new shelter. The other animals were squeezed into the confines of the current building, where on any given day, there are crates of cats in the cramped lobby and dogs sharing the front office with the staff.
Most of the animals seized have now found safe harbor either in the regular shelter, with foster homes, other shelters, rescue operations and in a few cases, permanent “forever’’ homes. The last of the pit bulls left the jail earlier this month.
Providing a temporary, clean, healthy and loving environment for lost, stray or unwanted animals and attempting to reunite them with their families or adopt them to good homes is just part of the SPCA of NENC’s mission. The organization also promotes public health and safety by working with Animal Control to confine feral, stray and dangerous cats and dogs that are unvaccinated.
The SPCA also promotes and facilitates with free clinics the spaying and neutering of cats and dogs to improve their health and curb the overpopulation. In addition, they try to educate the community about animal welfare issues and how to care for pets.
Pasquotank County once operated the shelter but turned over operations to the SPCA of NENC, which was able to improve the shelter and to keep it open seven days a week. The shelter receives some of its funding from Pasquotank and Camden counties and in turn steps in to house and care for animals seized by the local law enforcement agencies, such as the nearly 200 dogs and cats from earlier this year.
About 18 months ago, the SPCA of NENC launched a campaign to raise more than $350,000 to renovate the building on property the organization had purchased on Enterprise Drive in Pasquotank County.
Today, they need just over $100,000 to reach their goal and to begin soliciting bids for the new shelter project.
The 6,000-square-foot building would allow the shelter staff to separate sick and injured animals from the rest of the population, would provide separate space for intake and for adoption, would allow for educational programs and the surrounding land gives workers a place to safely exercise dogs.
Now’s the time for the community to step up and close the gap, complete the campaign, so the shelter can get on with its work.