BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Animal shelters across the Triad are reaching a breaking point.

The number of animals being brought in is exceeding the space they have available. It’s tough for people like Laura Michel to walk past full kennels of wet noses and fluffy tails.

“There are dogs we’ve had here for … two, three, four months, and that’s hard to see them because the stress of the environment really starts to wear on them after a while,” said Michel, the marketing and communications specialist for Burlington Animal Services.

The shelter currently has 80 dogs and 33 cats. The team has converted cat spaces into dog areas to take in more animals and put multiple dogs in one area that are from the same home.

The shelter has been at capacity multiple times this year already.

“I think we saw the slowdown start … last summer … I have always said that we are a reflection of what is going on in the world, so with the economy being stagnant, it has been a factor,” Michel said.

FO8 asked if the shelter is at the threshold to euthanize because of space.  Michel says they’re at a critical point but are doing everything possible for positive outcomes for every animal.

“When we’re full like this, it puts a stress on everything else like a domino effect … Mainly the staff. It’s a lot of work to care and clean and provide for the animals, and it does mean we have to up our food and our medical,” Michel said.

It’s a burden Jorge Ortega and the staff at Guilford County Animal Services share. Ortega has not seen an animal get euthanized for space since 2018. Ortega says his team, much like Michel, will do anything to avoid it.

“In the past few months, we have gotten to that critical point where we’ve thought … we are crowded, and we need to be creative whether that’s fee waiving or transfers to our partners out of state,” said Ortega, director for Guilford County Animal Services.

According to Ortega, the normally high numbers they saw in the summer of 2022 never came back down. Last year from January to July, the group took in more than 1,400 animals. 

This year during the same time period, they’ve taken in more than 2,700.

Strays are a big problem for both groups. More than 50% of calls to Alamance County Animal Control are for stray animals. 

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In Guilford County, they’ve taken in more than 1,600, which is double the amount of last year.

Advocates say now is the time for people who love these animals to get involved.

“These dogs and cats running the streets, they weren’t put here by us, so we’re going to need the community’s help whether that’s through adoption or fostering,” Ortega said.