According to animal lovers who’ve been helping the county’s strays for years, the problem of abandoned and stray animals is as bad as it’s ever been in Guilford County and is reaching truly alarming proportions.

The animals – often from owners who simply abandon them – are creating a tremendous strain on the county’s animal shelter, local animal rescues, and the people who work to collect and help the animals.

Corinne Grant, who’s worked extensively with area animal foster programs in for years, said that she’s stunned by how bad the problem has become.

“It’s like an epidemic,” she said of the number of cats and dogs currently running around Guilford County unclaimed.

Grant and many other animal lovers will be at the Thursday, Sept. 8 meeting of the Guilford County Animal Services Board, which has a discussion of the county’s spay and neuter policies on the agenda.   The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the new Guilford County Animal Shelter at 980 Guilford College Road in Greensboro.

Grant said she has a great affection for the animal control officers and they were doing all they could, but she added that staffing shortages and a lack of proper spaying and neutering practices at the shelter have created a tremendous problem.

For a while, the short-staffed shelter was giving out vouchers for spay and neuter procedures – rather than conducting those procedures in-house before giving out adopted animals.

Of course, many people never used the vouchers as they promised to do.

Add that to a host of other problems.

“A ton of people have dumped their animals,” Grant said.

She said the shelter and all the local animal rescues were slammed.

One part of the problem is that a huge number of animals were grabbed up by people stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic – but those people are now returning to work and no longer want a pet.

Another problem is that Guilford County Animal Services, like other county departments and businesses, is having trouble filling vacancies.

One frequent shelter volunteer said some people don’t go through any procedure when giving up an animal – they just drive up to the shelter and tie a dog or cat to the fence outside.  Others, she said, simply drop them off at a random house.

Even animals with identifying microchips often can’t be returned.  When the owners are called, they say they don’t want the pet back.

The shelter volunteer said the county is supposed to have an effective spay and neuter program, but that doesn’t appear to be anywhere near adequate.

Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega did not return a call to the Rhino Times, however, he is expected to be at the Thursday meeting.