Animal Shelter (copy)

Stephanie Hinkle holds a kitten named Willow close while debating whether to adopt a pet Thursday at the Guilford County Animal Shelter in Greensboro. “I heard on the news that they’re at capacity and it’s just so sad,” she said. “They are full.”

GREENSBORO — Children giggled as they looked at puppies Thursday at the Guilford County Animal Shelter.

Larger dogs barked and wagged their tails as families walked past their cages.

And women cuddled cats in their arms.

“I heard on the news that they’re at capacity and it’s just so sad,” said Stephanie Hinkle as she held Willow the kitten. “They are full.”

Hinkle and her husband were eating at Saladworks on Bridford Parkway when a news alert reported that a large number of animals — a mix of more than 40 stray and surrendered dogs and cats — arrived at the shelter Wednesday, bringing to 560 the number of animals housed there.

At 620 animals, the shelter can’t accept any more cats or dogs, said Lisa Lee, the shelter’s community engagement manager.

“If we have two more days like yesterday we’ll be over capacity,” Lee said Thursday.

Guilford County Animal Services will tackle the problem by waiving adoption fees, starting Friday, June 14, for animals that have been at the shelter for more than 30 days.

“We need people to come in and adopt,” Lee said.

She said the 30-day no-fee deal will end June 29, but other adoption events are planned throughout the summer.

Hinkle didn’t wait until today to visit the animals. On her visit Thursday, the kitten Willow climbed up her arm as a dog barked in the background.

She said she needed to convince her husband this was the cat for them.

Across the hall, Icus was flirting with a family of her own. The 9-year-old cat walked around Dixie McCoy’s legs before heading toward a glass door where she stretched out her front legs.

McCoy said her son had been begging for a cat despite his allergies.

As she watched Icus with her sons and husband, the family talked about what to do.

Lee said that for families who don’t want to commit to a pet, other options are available, such as volunteering to be a foster home for animals, that give the shelter space to take in more dogs and cats.

Not all 560 animals are on the adoption floor. Some are in medical care, some are on hold for their owners after getting loose and some are learning to socialize.

Some don’t even make it into the shelter.

On Thursday, a man pulled up with a dog called Minus in the back of his truck.

He told shelter officials his son found the dog Wednesday but the family can’t afford to keep him.

Lee offered the man a compromise. Shelter staff members loaded a month’s supply of dog food into his truck and promised to get the dog, named Minus, spayed and a rabies shot if the family would keep him until the shelter could find him a home.

He agreed.

“We always try to encourage people who bring animals to us to let us help them and take them back home,” Lee said.

She said the shelter tends to get more animals in summer. Dogs are outside more and escape their yards. And this time of year is kitten season and people bring litters to the shelter.

But Lee said getting 41 animals in one day is a lot.

By Thursday morning, she said, they knew they needed to do something to help clear up space at the shelter, and came up with waiving adoption fees for animals that had been there for a month or longer.

Contact Danielle Battaglia at 336-373-4476 and follow @dbattagliaNR on Twitter.

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