Protecting your pets: 9OYS looks into keeping your furry friends safe

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Are you animals in good hands when you go away or take them to the veterinarian?

9OYS looked into how you can protect your pets and ensure they’re being well cared for.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture regulates vets, kennels, shelters and even animal rescues in the state.

The different operations have different rules designed to be in the best interest of your animals.

The Department of Agriculture has eight inspectors responsible for the entire state.

One inspector is responsible for a large portion of eastern North Carolina.

9OYS checked in with a veterinarian group, a boarding kennel, and the Pitt County Animal Shelter to see how their inspections work.

Heather Hoell is the practice manager for Tenth Street Animal Hospital, Firetower Animal Hospital and the Animal Hospital of Pitt County.

She said the clinics’ inspections are unannounced.

“Overall, what they’re checking on is safety for your staff and for the animals,” said Hoell. “…It’s not really anything outside of what we do for our regular, everyday business. The criteria for it is what is required simply to remain open.”

Inspections for kennels in North Carolina are similar. They are unannounced and focus on the condition of the facility.

“It’s just basic maintenance of the building and maintenance of the facility, making sure that everything stays clean,” said Amy Graham at Four Paws Inn.

Hoell said her clinical group works beyond the state inspection to ensure they are providing the best medicine for the animals.

“An evaluation that we do prepare for is our AAHA evaluation, and that is the American Animal Hospital Association,” said Hoell.

The AAHA accreditation looks at 900 different standards when determining if a practice will be certified.

Hoell said if a clinic you are considering is accredited, it shows they are willing to go above and beyond.

“It’s elective,” said Hoell. “It costs money and it’s difficult so going through that shows that you want to provide the best medicine.”

Graham said when considering to board your dog or cat, you should closely consider the animal’s personal preferences.

“Boarding is not always the best situation for each pet,” said Graham. “If the kennel that you’re visiting will not allow you to see the accommodations, then that’s a red flag.”

Graham also encourages pet owners to ask what happens to their animal in case of an emergency.

The main point Graham stresses is to never leave your animal with a kennel that wouldn’t handle a situation the way you would.

“Ask questions until you are comfortable with the location before leaving your pet,” said Graham.

You can look at the Department of Agriculture’s inspection reports by county to make sure your kennel and vet are covered here .

You can see if your vet is AAHA accredited here.

Animal shelters in North Carolina are also regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Since they care for animals for longer periods of time, their resources are stressed. We went inside the Pitt County Animal Shelter to see how they are working to comply to standards set by the state.

“Often a lot of shelters built back even in the 60s and 70s, you will find that they are all designed the same,” says Pitt County Animal Shelter Director Michele Whaley. “A lot of shelters are located by the trash dump or by the airports, they have cinder block walls. They were very, very short term. Now you have the focus on adoption and re-homing.”

The culture has changed when it comes to saving homeless animals. That shift means facilities are holding animals longer which translates to a breakdown in materials and supplies.

“The materials can be kind of expensive,” says Whaley. “With the amount of chemicals and disinfectant we use on a regular basis with our deep cleaning, the materials break down. So, often times, it’s hard to stay ahead of the curve.”

Whaley says her staff is getting creative when it comes to working with tight budgets and increasing demands. She says shelters around the state are doing the same.

“It’s really hard for the shelters to either make their existing facility up to code  and a lot of times new construction is not in the picture for them,” says Whaley. “So you have a lot of shelter workers working really hard to comply with the laws the best they can. The key is working with our inspector and always try to think outside of the box.”

From finding new ways to coat metal cages, to working with local community supporters, Whaley says government run shelters are essential and hard work is necessary.

“If our doors were shut, we process over 3,000 animals a year,” says Whaley. “Where would those 3,000 animals go?”

She says she and the countless other shelters working to remain operational in our state are not willing to find out.

To see animals available for adoption, click here. To contact the shelter about volunteering, click here.

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