Cats are euthanized at high rates in North Carolina animal shelters, according to a report released by the state department of agriculture. 

A facility run by the Town of Ayden euthanized 91% of the cats they took in last year. Six other shelters had rates above 70%. But Heather Overton, with the state Department of Agriculture, says the statistics don’t tell the whole story.

“It's not really comparing apples to apples, if you have a number, because some shelters do get to pick and choose what animals they intake, where a municipal shelter or a Sheriff's Department shelter — they don't get to choose," said Overton. "They take everything.”

Overton says open admission shelters take in animals that other shelters won’t, like those with terminal illnesses. They also could be charged with euthanizing entire feral cat colonies. And, she says some highly contagious cat diseases may require shelters to euthanize large populations at once. All of this could lead to higher numbers. 

It’s hard to say for sure why certain facilities have vastly higher rates though. Shelters in North Carolina are not required to report why they euthanize certain animals. Nor do they have to keep euthanasia rates below a certain threshold. 

Overton says spay and neuter programs can help bring the numbers down. Adoption can too. 

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