Step 1: Consider your options


Wake County Animal Center does not accept animals from individuals that reside outside of Wake County or from animal centers or organizations outside of Wake County. Due to limited shelter space, we can only accept animals from Wake County residents.
We want to help you find alternatives to surrendering your pet to the Wake County Animal Center. Please consider using the resources listed here to help resolve any of the following problem you may be having with your pet(s).

Behavior problems

If your pet is having behavior problems, consider enrolling in a local dog training class or consult a pet behaviorist. Also, consult free online resources such as the Wake County SPCA's Pet Resources Library, the Richmond SPCA's Pet Behavior Library and the ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist.


You don't necessarily have to give up your pet if you are moving. Consult the Wake County Pet-Friendly Housing Guide for a listing of more than 200 apartments that accept pets. You can also consult People with Pets, which has a directory of apartments, homes and hotels in the United States that accept pets. Keep in mind that many landlords will allow well-behaved pets and responsible owners. Providing your pet's veterinary records, graduation certificates from obedience classes, and references from past landlords can help demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner. In addition, Best Friends Animal Society has Help Specialists dedicated to providing resources and advice on how to rehome foreclosure pets, even those with special needs. Other organizations, including the Hope Now Alliance, offer free counseling for homeowners hoping to avoid foreclosure.

Economic Hardship: Vet Care

If you are unable to afford spay/neuter surgery, there are several low-cost spay/neuter services in the area. Surgeries are as low as $20 per animal, for qualified individuals. Some of these clinics also provide low-cost vet care, including vaccinations, medications, deworming, exams and other services. Your pet can receive a $5 rabies vaccination at an upcoming rabies clinic.
The organizations listed here can also provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. Please keep in mind that each organization is independent and has its own set of rules and guidelines; therefore, you will have to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance:
Breed-Specific Assistance Programs:

Economic Hardship: Pet Food

If you are unable to afford pet food, consider using the Pet Food Pantry service provided by the SPCA of Wake County. Pets must be spayed or neutered to qualify for assistance.

Economic Hardship: Fencing

It is illegal for Raleigh residents to tether their dogs for more than 3 hours a day, using a rope, chain or other line for restraining a dog. If you cannot bring your dog inside and cannot afford fencing, consider contacting the Coalition to Unchain Dogs.

Military Deployment

If you are about to deploy, contact national organizations like Guardian Angels for Soldiers' Pet (GASP), Pet Foster Care and the NetPets Military Pets Foster Project, which have nationwide networks of pet foster homes to support troops. Some boarding facilities also offer significant discounts to military pet owners needing long-term boarding. If you live in North Carolina, you can post a photo and bio of your pet on the Pet Foster website. They promote pets needing foster homes in their weekly newsletter.

Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact Interact of Wake County.

Feral Cats

Feral (wild) cats that are surrendered to the shelter are normally not adoptable. If you have feral community cats living near you and would like to help control their population and welfare, contact one of the following TNR Programs for information about their services for feral cats:
 Cary Community Cat Program: 919-378-1867
 Wake County TNR Hotline: 919-743-2287 or

Step 2: Try to find a home for your pet

If you must give up your pet and have no other option, consider keeping your pet until you can find a permanent home for the animal. A shelter environment can be very stressful to an animal.


Make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. Make a poster and distribute it in your community. Ask friends and co-workers for help. Post online ad using local, free websites and local papers. Always ask for an adoption fee and evaluate adopters carefully. No matter your situation, it is your responsibility as the animal owner to screen prospective new owners.

Rescue groups

Although many rescue groups are filled to capacity, you can contact them about rehoming your pet. Often, these groups will allow owners to post online information about their pets on a referral basis. You can also post information about your pet on the NC Pet Foster network website.

Step 3: Bring your pet to the shelter

If you cannot resolve your problem and you cannot rehome your pet, please bring your pet to the Wake County Animal Center during normal business hours. Please bring your pet's vet records or some other proof of ownership. Failure to provide proof of ownership will result in the Center's requirement to hold the animal for 72 hours prior to placing that animal up for adoption or transferring it to a rescue partner.
Proof of ownership would include items such as; vet records, rabies certificate and tag, microchip registration tracing back to the owner, adoption paperwork, registration papers and licensure papers.
Be prepared to provide information about your pet's medical conditions, history and temperament. 
Understand that once surrendered to the Animal Center you have transferred your legal ownership rights to Animal Control. Animal Center staff will determine if the animal can be put up for adoption in accordance with Wake County Animal Control Ordinance and Center Policy. This is determined by the health and temperament of the pet as it presents itself during Center processing at time of intake and throughout the animals stay at the Center.
Please note: Although your pet may have always been friendly and loving in your home environment, ALL animals have the capability of becoming aggressive in times of stress. Due to the volume of shelter intake there is limited space and resource to allow for a considerable length of time for animals to calm in the shelter environment. Animals that are surrendered to us and display aggressive behavior, may be euthanized.
Upon surrendering your animal to the Wake County Animal Center, we recommend that you wait to insure your pet has made it through processing without incident. If your animal does display aggressive behavior, you will be given the option to reclaim immediately for $0. Beyond the initial processing into the Center, animals can be reclaimed by the owner as long as they remain the property of Wake County, however you will be required to pay the applicable reclaim and boarding fees. Please note: Animals that are surrendered to the Center may be humanely euthanized at any time, for space, health and temperament issues that arise over the course of their stay in the shelter.
Wake County tries to find homes for all adoptable animals but many animals are euthanized due to pet overpopulation and a lack of homes in the community looking to adopt. To increase your pet's chance at finding another suitable and loving home, please complete one of the appropriate Owner Surrender Questionnaires and bring it with you to the Center when you surrender your animal.

We understand the emotional toll that surrendering a beloved pet to an animal shelter has on you, the owner, and your family. We hope that by offering these suggestions, we have provided you with some resources to help you make the best decision possible for your family and your pet.