Animal shelter life is back to normal, busy, busy, busy

Trey Nodin and Stanley

19. September. Written by T.L. Bernthal. Residents are showing a lot of love at Cornelius Animal Shelter once again since the end of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re back to what we’ve been busy all along,” says animal control officer Trey Nodin.

“There has been a huge outpouring of interest since COVID.”

The animal shelter is open again on a regular schedule and volunteers are in their places.

Volunteer activities have been suspended during the pandemic, but volunteers are now “back in full swing,” he says. There are 15 volunteer applications pending.

Not just dogs

In mid-August, the shelter had seven dogs available for adoption and 19 cats.

“We have been busy coming in,” including the surrender of two older Siamese cats for which the owner had not made arrangements prior to his death. Noden says family members who don’t have a plan for pets when the owner dies is the reason many people give up.

And spring to summer brings a lot of cat litter.

“People say they feed their neighborhood cat but don’t have it, and then don’t know what to do when the cat has litter,” Nodin says.

“That’s how we get a lot of kittens,” he says.

Nodin says the shelter sometimes holds up to 36 cats, but usually not dogs. Dogs come to the shelter less often than cats, and the maximum number of dogs allowed is 19. There is plenty of wiggle room if the animals are small.

The average stay at the shelter in 2021 was 25 days for dogs and 83 days for cats. Last year, the average cat was higher than normal due to older cats taking longer to find homes, Nodin says.

The return of the pandemic

For the first time, Nodin says, the town shelter is seeing a trend of Cornelius residents surrendering to animals adopted during the pandemic from Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Services.

Nodin says Charlotte Mecklenburg will not take back the animals she adopted, which he understands due to the size of the animals she serves.

Many shelters and rescues are overwhelmed by the number of pets adopted during the pandemic that are being brought back because families can no longer care for them as inflation rises and concerns about the economy persist.

Cornelius Animal Shelter did not have this problem, mostly because pet surrenders are taken only from city residents, a smaller group of pet owners than other shelters and rescues serve.

plans to expand?

There are no official plans to expand the Cornelius facility, although Nodin says there is a need.

He is grateful for the town’s approval to add a garage and small storage rooms that were recently completed.

The garage allows an animal control truck to tow and unload an animal, Nodin says, a much safer process than moving animals through the hallway.

Donations of supplies come again

This summer has seen the return of individuals and groups who have stopped making donations, so the supply of towels and food is at good levels.

“Of course, as soon as I say that, something will happen and we will need more,” Nodin says and chuckles. “We pass by a lot of towels and supplies.”

Nodin, who has been a city animal control officer for 12 years, is one of two full-time officers. Officer Kenny Russell, too. They are joined by a part-time officer for 18-20 hours per week.

The part-time mode allows the shelter to be open to the public on a regular schedule as well as accommodate hourly or weekend appointments to see adoptable dogs and cats.

“The more we are around, the better chance we have of taking an animal home,” Nodin says.

Most dogs that come from larger breeds, are usually 50 lbs. And up, Nodin says.

“There is a lot of mixing between pit, pit, and labs. But really all kinds of strains,” Nodin says.

Cats run the gamut from rag dolls, to Siamese to tabby and everything else, he says.

animal control duties

Animal control officers are responsible for managing the Cornelius Animal Shelter and responding to all service calls related to animals in city limits.

Noden says the majority of calls for animal control revolve around dog and cat bites. Almost all of them are not serious, but the ones in which a person is trimmed while trying to trim a pet’s nails or while playing.

Doctors who treat bites are required to report incidents to the city and county.

Animals that have bitten a person should be quarantined either at animal control or at home.

Animal shelter tasks

Animal shelter staff supervise volunteers, clean kennels twice a day, feed the animals, dispense medication, handle required paperwork, and assist when potential adopters inquire about an animal.

Dogs are allowed to go out for a run in the fresh air, weather permitting, to go to the bathroom and play.

Most of the animals that come to the shelter are dogs and cats, although shelter has been taken by rabbits, birds, iguanas and ball snakes.

The only animals Cornelius Animal Shelter will take is the surrender of the owner from the city dwellers or strays located within the city limits. Surrender fee $40.

take care of ourselves

Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Control provides service to the county, but the Cornelius Animal Shelter tries to take care of itself, so it will keep the animals until they are adopted. The county charges $40 for any animal the city takes into the county, and $400 for any one service you provide such as catching a stray animal at night.

These charges can quickly add up, Nodin says, which is why he is grateful that other Cornelius police officers are so good at bringing in the stray when the shelter is closed and the staff is off duty. Inside the animal shelter building there is an animal control space. Nodin says Animal Control has its own breeding kennels where a patrol officer can get lost until shelter staff arrive in the morning.

How to count

The first step is to fill out an application for a specific animal. Applications can be found on the city’s website or at the shelter.

Nodin says adoptions never take place on the same day.

Brought in animals are screened for temperament and receive veterinary services including injections, sterilization/neutering, and microcutting before they are available to leave with their family for good, Nodin says.

The adoption fee is $85 for a cat and $95 for a dog.

What’s Next

The Friends of the Day program is being considered by city officials and Nodine hopes it will be approved soon.

This will allow someone to take a dog out of the shelter for a day so the dog can try a ride in the car, play in the garden, and get some one-on-one attention.

Less likely is an adoption program. The animal shelter did this early on, before Nodine’s time there, but it didn’t work because the raised pets weren’t always available when potential adopters wanted to see them.

how can I help

• Financial donations can be made online or in person at the shelter. Donations go to a designated fund used for maintenance or unexpected needs.

• Donations of clean blankets, urine pads, sheets, towels, toys, cleaning supplies, and dog and cat food are welcome. Nodin says cat food is especially needed.

• If you would like to volunteer, submit an application. Volunteers walk dogs, play with cats, perform administrative tasks, and help clean the shelter.

How is it paid?

The budget for fiscal year 23 for animal control is $248,692, according to Chief Constable Kevin Black. He said staff costs for salaries, over time, and budgeted benefits for animal control staff in fiscal year 23 are $197,208.

In addition, there are operating costs necessary to care for the animals and to operate the unit. Black said that in fiscal year 23, the department budgeted $51,484 for shelter operations.

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