Shelter celebrating Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month

By Laney Tipton
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that animal shelters care for 6 to 8 million dogs and cats every year in the U.S.

Shafonda Davis, shelter director for the Durham County Animal Shelter, has been working at the shelter for 14 years. She and her staff are dedicated to finding good homes for every animal that comes into their possession. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kirby.

Three to 4 million of these animals are euthanized annually. In the Research Triangle Park area alone, about 75 percent of all incoming animals are euthanized to make room for more, according to

So many shelters are at maximum capacity.  Such is the case for the Durham County Animal Shelter, on 2117 E. Club Blvd. The shelter is run by the Animal Protection Society of Durham, also known as APS.

“Animals are dying by the millions in shelters across the country,” says Shafonda Davis, the shelter director in Durham. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

It could not be a better time to support your local shelter. October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month, and Davis says they have a hundred  dogs currently seeking good homes, along with cats, rabbits, igunanas and even pigs.

Durham Animal Shelter is known as an “open admission shelter,” meaning they accept all animals that people bring to them for help or care. Davis says they take in approximately 7,000 animals a year.

“If someone shows up with a crocodile, we have to take them,” Davis says.

“We are at maximum capacity right now,” Davis says.

Unfortunately, when spatial issues come into play, shelters like the Durham Animal Shelter must turn to euthanasia to make space.

“You can’t take everything in if you can’t adopt everything out,” Davis says. “We try to do it a little at a time, and stretch out the responsibility across staff members so it’s not too stressful, but it’s something that no one likes to do.

Some of the animals that come in are not eligible for adoption, Davis says. Whether it’s because of their age, health or temperament, sometimes the shelter has no choice. But for the animals that can be adopted out, Davis and her staff do the best they can to find good homes.

“If you can’t find them homes right away, you don’t give up there,” Davis says. “You start making calls, posting on the Internet — doing what you can to find them a home.”

On a good day, Davis says the shelter is able to place eight to 15 animals into new homes. She says she hopes this number will increase since October is dedicated to placing shelter dogs.

To celebrate the occasion, the Durham County Animal Shelter is running a special for adopted dogs this month.

Fees for adopting dogs are dropping $50, from $125 to just $75 through October. Davis says this includes spaying or neutering, all vaccinations appropriate for the dogs age, a heartworm test and a microchip.

Barn Supply of Durham has contributed a gift certificate for a free bag of dog food for every family who adopts a dog in the month of October.

The shelter also offers free training classes on Saturdays from 9-10 a.m. for families who have recently adopted or are considering it.

The class is lead by Sharon Ashe, who has been volunteering with the shelter on and off for seven years.

Ashe also works with puppies while they are in the shelter, socializing them so they are ready for new homes once they’ve been adopted. She works with them twice a week.

“We are just making sure they have some human contact, that they are getting touched, getting out of the cage,” Ashe says. “It helps to get them to sit and focus so they are well behaved when they’re adopted. They also get a lot of exercise.”

Davis says she encourages anyone thinking about adopting to come by the shelter and visit with the puppies. She is really excited about Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, and hopes it will mean good things for the shelter and the animals there which still need homes.

“There are great things happening here,” Ashe says.