Lee County animal group aims to grow

By Todd Cohen

SANFORD, N.C. — In the fiscal year ended June 30, Lee County euthanized over 170 cats and dogs a month, or about 65 percent of the animals it handled, up from 150 a month in the previous year.

Working to provide shelter for unwanted pets in the county and to help educate pet-owners about animal care and welfare, including the value of spaying and neutering, are a handful of small organizations.

One of them, Carolina Animal Rescue and Adoption, or CARA, handles roughly 50 cats and 100 dogs each year, all of which it puts up for adoption.

Formed in 1980 as the San-Lee Humane Society, the nonprofit operates a 5,000-square-foot shelter at 42 Deep River Road, about five miles outside downtown Sanford, that was built in 1986 and purchased by CARA in 2003.

The shelter, licensed by the state Department of Agriculture, is a “no-kill” facility, euthanizing animals only when they are too sick or aggressive to put up for adoptions.

The shelter has 25 enclosures for cats and 25 for dogs, although it rarely is full, says Matt Daly, who is superintendent of grounds for the N.C. State Fairgrounds and board president for CARA.

“We’re not always filled because we’re limited on resources,” Daly says.

CARA also provides information and education through its website at www.cara-nc.org and through volunteers who provide workshops in the county’s elementary schools.

“The need is to educate the young people in the county to spay and neuter to eliminate unwanted population,” Daly says. “Our biggest impact is with young people. The older folks are more set in their ways and are unwilling to change.”

CARA also sponsors “adopt-a-thons” twice a month on Saturdays at the PetSmart store in Apex.

Now, the agency aims to expand its shelter by adding fencing and flooring for outdoor space for animals housed in the shelter.

To do that, the agency plans next year to launch a capital campaign to raise $100,000, Daly says.

CARA next year also plans to increase fundraising from events and foundation grants to create a county-wide program to spay and neuter animals, Daly says.

With an annual budget of $45,000 and employing only a kennel technician who cleans, feeds and water animals at the shelter, and administers medication prescribed by veterinarians, CARA generates one-third of its funds from individual and corporate donations, one-third from events and one-third from adoption fees.

Daly says he hopes to increase revenue from events so it will account for two-thirds of the budget.

A golf tournament last September netted $3,500 for the agency, which sponsored another golf tournament June 30 at Quail Ridge Golf Course, after the Sandhills Business Times went to press.

CARA also has launched a series of wine tastings and bake sales.

The first wine tasting, at Sandhills Discount Wine in Sanford this spring, netted $2,500, and a second one will be held late this summer in Cary.

And a bake sale this spring at Three Dog Bakery in Apex netted $700, with another to be held there late this summer.

CARA counts on 20 active volunteers who work at the shelter and provide the workshops in the elementary schools.

The biggest challenge the agency faces, Daly says, is finding and retaining committed volunteers.

Training volunteers can take up to eight months to a year, he says.

CARA solicits volunteers through its website and newspaper advertising, and at its adopt-a-thons.

“We’ve kind of wiggled our way into the community, and we’re getting community recognition every day,” Daly says. “And that’s what it’s going to take to push this thing forward – community recognition for the welfare of animals.”

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