Rescue groups, visitors answer Gaston animal shelter’s urgent plea for help

About 20 dogs and about 27 cats. That’s the number of animals that can be housed at the Gaston County Animal Shelter during a renovation that begins Wednesday.

But Monday morning there were still about 100 animals – 34 dogs, 65 cats and a donkey being housed elsewhere – waiting for adoption. That number seemed to be dwindling some by midday as people came in to check out the pets that needed a home.

Seeing so many people there was a delight to Kristine Blankenship, administrator for Gaston’s Animal Care and Enforcement unit, at 220 Leisure Ave. in Dallas.

“If we get the numbers low enough, we won’t have to euthanize,” Blankenship said.

Visitors can still come in to choose a pet until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Adoption are $90 for dogs and $75 for cats. Pets that are adopted stay a day or two at a spay and neuter facility before they can go home with their new owners.

Blankenship has been sending alerts to pet rescue groups and the media for more than a week to help reduce the number of animals in the shelter’s care. There were 149 animals there when the first notice went out July 24. That work paid off.

“Today we’ve got a lot of people,” Blankenship said late Tuesday morning. “It’s amazing.”

The renovation of floors at the shelter is scheduled to take about two weeks. The concrete surfaces in and around the pens will be refinished with an epoxy. The new surface should be easier to clean and is expected to reduce the spread of illnesses, including kennel cough, Blankenship said.

Siblings Sara and Rebecca Genaro of Mount Holly already have four dogs at home between them. Still, they came out Tuesday for one more.

“When we heard they were going to put down dogs quickly, we had to save one,” Rebecca Genaro said as they spent time visiting with an energetic white mixed-breed dog with brown spots.

Ashley McMillan of Gastonia had wanted to get a dog for more than a month but hadn’t yet been out to look for one. She was among the shelter’s visitors Tuesday and found a black lab mix pup.

“This is the only one I took out of the cage,” she said as she petted the dog. “The look she gave me said, ‘I want you.’ And she’s beautiful.”

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms