Dogs and cats voluntarily surrendered by unable or unwilling owners to the Regional Center for Animal Care & Protection fill its cages, as officials said they have no space remaining for unwanted pets, and a significant need for the community’s help adopting them to new, caring homes.
“We’re already at capacity, and we haven’t even hit Fourth of July yet,” said Mike Warner, RCACP Interim Executive Director. “It’s that time of year, and I think COVID now, with people moving around and the uncertainty where they might live, has caused more animals to be dropped off at the shelter.”
Summer — especially around Independence Day — is always the busiest time of year for the regional shelter that takes in between 4,000 and 6,000 animals annually. Celebratory firework volleys cause dogs from Roanoke and Roanoke County, Vinton and Botetourt to panic and run astray, with some of those area pups eventually locked up, awaiting their owners at the big doghouse on Baldwin Avenue in Roanoke.
“Last year, we really didn’t have any trouble with space, because everybody was home and taking care of their animals,” Warner said. “This year, we’ve had a lot more owner releases. We’re just seeing a lot more animals come through our front door.”
The government-funded center with a $2 million annual operating budget is required by state law to have space for sheltering stray pets taken in by animal control officers, he said. A certain amount of space must be guaranteed for those animals, but at the same time RCACP, being a government facility, can’t turn people away from surrendering their pets.