Commentary: Animal Services bigger and better

November 5, 2013 

Much has changed since Orange County Animal Services was created as a department in 2005. Over the years, there has been lots of steady progress and change. We’ve created an award-winning spay/neuter program, transitioned to a new unified location and state-of-the-art facility, added online licensing and donation options, established adoption specials with lowered fees, expanded cat enclosures for more space, grown our volunteer program – and much, much more.

Our accomplishments span in all directions and come in all shapes and sizes, and many of the most exciting ones have come about in just the past few years. We continue to do much work on the community spay/neuter front, with the support of the Animal Services Advisory Board. Our strategic plan, our partnerships and our dedicated staff and stakeholders have helped us spay and neuter an average of 500 dogs and cats each year that belong to qualifying families at no cost or nearly no cost to their owners. Since implementing the program, we have seen intake levels drop significantly at the shelter and, subsequently, a drop in euthanasia numbers.

Partnering with amazing organizations, such as AnimalKind and The Coalition to Unchain Dogs, has been a huge factor in achieving our spay/neuter goals and we are thrilled to continue to work with them to do more and more as the years go on. New partnerships in other areas of outreach and adoption have also started recently. In August and September, we partnered with KIDZU Children’s Museum to create animal-themed art that is now being displayed at the Animal Services Center. And in November and December, we will be partnering with the Orange County Public Library to display photographs at the main library and promote our Home for the Holidays adoption specials and shelter adoptions in general.

Also new this calendar year is the county’s Community Giving Fund, which includes giving to the animals as well as other deserved causes. This fund allows the public to make tax deductible and dedicated donations that cannot go into the general fund and must be used for their designated purpose. Animal Services has available gift areas in spay/neuter, outreach and marketing, animal enrichment, and medical care for adoptable animals. Donations can be made online at

Other notable changes include our new senior adoption specials (for anyone 65 and older) and our microchip clinics to allow owners to permanently identify animals and help lost animals find their way home. Our growing Facebook page spotlights adoptable animals, staff, volunteers, happy endings and upcoming events throughout the week (!

We are excited as a county department to continue doing bigger and better things and are thankful for our wonderful community of residents and organizations that make it all possible. We look forward to edging closer to our 10-year anniversary with even more progress and accomplishment, and hope everyone will stop by and visit us in the near future in the county’s impressive Animal Services Center on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.

Bob Marotto is the director of Animal Services and past chair of the North Carolina Animal Federation. He can be reached at Andi Morgan is the Animal Services’ Communication Specialist. She can be reached at

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