At the Thursday, Jan. 10, Guilford County Animal Services Advisory Board meeting, Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega said that 2018 was a year of progress for the shelter in a number of ways.

One major improvement is that the shelter is a third less crowded than it was a year ago.

The county is building a new Animal Shelter but that new facility won’t be ready until 2020 and one of the county’s goals for the existing shelter has been to reduce the persistent overcrowding.  That goal was certainly accomplished in 2018.

In the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, Ortega told the board members and animal advocates in the audience that, though the numbers weren’t official yet, he could provide the preliminary statistics regarding the past year at the shelter.  He said he would come back to the February meeting with the official numbers.

“We started out Jan. 1, 2018 with 376 animals in the shelter and, as of Dec. 31, 2018 we had 242 animals in the shelter,” he said.

That 134-animal drop is a 36 percent reduction of the shelter’s population from the start of 2018.

According to the preliminary numbers he presented to the board, the shelter had 6,647 intakes last year.  Of those, 4,580 were strays and 1,093 were animals that were surrendered by owners.

The good news is that a large number of the animals that ended up in the Guilford County Animal Shelter – 5,313 – had what the shelter classifies as “positive outcomes.”  That is, the shelter found a home for them either with new owners, their original owner or with an animal rescue.  Last year, 3,585 shelter animals were adopted, 768 were returned to their owner and 837 were transferred to adoption partners.

“Out of the 6,647 intakes, we had 1,160 euthanized and 196 owner-request euthanasias,” Ortega told the board.

He said that, at the February meeting, he would put those numbers in context for the board and present a more polished annual report.

Ortega was hired as the head of the shelter in late 2017 and he began work right after New Year’s Day 2018.  He followed a string of directors who didn’t stay around long, with the gaps in leadership being filled in by Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier.

Ortega came to the county highly touted and many animal advocates have been watching closely throughout 2018 to see what changes he would make.  While there was plenty of criticism of shelter policies and practices during 2018, it was nothing like the chorus of complaints the shelter saw in the years leading up to Ortega’s arrival.  One major milestone he helped accomplish in 2018 was getting the shelter to pass a state inspection for the first time in more than a year.

At the Jan. 10 meeting, the board also noted a drop in the number of dogs with heartworms at the shelter and said the county is taking the steps necessary to construct the new shelter just north of the intersection of Guilford Jamestown Road and Hickory Grove Road, right outside the Greensboro city limits.