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Animal Control

Frequently Asked Questions



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Q. Do you board animals?

A. No. We do not have the space to board owned pets.


Q. Does Burke County require animals to be licensed?

A. Burke County no longer requires a county license for pets.


Q. Can I purchase a microchip for my own animal at the Burke County Animal Shelter?

A. No, we do not offer this service.


Q. Do you scan animals for microchips?

A. Yes, all animals that come into our shelter are scanned for microchips.


Q. Are you a no-kill shelter?

A. The Burke County Animal Shelter is NOT a no-kill shelter. We work with local rescue groups and adoption agencies to get as many of the animals that come into our shelter adopted as possible. The public is also eligible to adopt animals from the shelter.  However the unfortunate reality is that forever homes are not possible for every animal that comes in the shelter.


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Q. Is my animal required to have a rabies shot?

A. Under North Carolina State Law all Cats, Dogs, and Ferrets over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. For more information on North Carolina Rabies laws click here.


Q. Do you provide rabies shots at your shelter?

A. We only provide rabies shots to animal that are claimed from the shelter and do not have a

up-to-date rabies shot. We do NOT provide rabies shots to the general public. Contact your vet if you animal is not current on any of its shots, especially the state required rabies vaccination.


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Q. I’ve lost my pet; what do I do?

A. The first thing to do, after searching your neighborhood, is to visit the Burke County Animal Shelter and look for your lost pet and file a lost report at the shelter. You need to visit the shelter as often as possible to look for your pet. Only you can positively identify your lost pet, we cannot guarantee that a description you give of your pet over the phone will lead to a positive identification by our staff.  The shelter takes in over 4,500 animals a year and many animals look alike.


Q. What can I do to prevent my pet from getting lost?

A. The most important thing to do to prevent your pet from becoming lost is to keep your cat indoors at all times and keep your dogs on a leash or inside a secure fence when not inside the home. Your pets should always wear a collar and ID tags, including a rabies tag. Be sure to keep the contact information on the tags current.


Q. When will an animal control officer respond to my call?

A. Calls are handled on a priority basis. How quickly an officer responds to a specific call depends not only upon the priority of the call, but how many calls of a higher priority are occurring at that time. For example, calls involving immediate injury or harm to a person from an animal or an injured animal are the highest priority. Conversely, calls regarding a dog running loose in the neighborhood without posing a threat generally take much longer to respond to.


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Q. How do I get an animal picked up?

A. If you have a stray animal on your property, you can contact Burke County Animal Control at (828) 438-5465 to come pick the animal up. Burke Animal Control will only pick-up stray animals, if the animal is owned by the caller then it is the owner’s responsibility to bring the animal to the shelter.  The animal control officers will do their best to capture stray animals but doing so may require the setting of a trap if the animal runs from people or proves to be skittish.  Animals can only be picked up if they are on the property of the caller or in a public space, if a stray animal runs into a neighbor’s yard then it cannot be picked up without that property owner’s permission. 


Q .How can I get a dead animal removed?

A. Burke County Animal Control does not pick up dead animals. If an animal is dead on a roadway you can contact the NC Depart of Transportation (828) 438-6274 to pick up the dead animal if it is a state maintained roadway or if it is a roadway inside a city limits you can try to contact that city’s public works department. If an animal is found dead anywhere else, it is the responsibility of the property owner to properly dispose of the dead animal even if they are not the owner of the animal. 


Q. Do you pick up sick or injured animals?

A. If you find an injured animal you are encouraged to keep your distance, even the nicest and most docile animal can become aggressive or bite people if it is in pain. When a sick or injured animal is picked up in most cases it will be taken back to the animal shelter to be evaluated. In some circumstances it may be necessary to euthanize an injured animal due to the severity of its injuries.  If the animal is wearing tags then every effort will be made to contact the owner so they can come pick it up and take it to a vet.


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Q. Can someone trap animals on their property to catch cats and/or dogs?

A. Residents of Burke County are allowed to set box traps on their own property to catch unwanted cats or dogs. If a resident sets their own trap they must bring the animal to the Burke County Animal Shelter, if a trap is set by Burke County Animal Control then they will pick the animal up, or if a trap is rented from Animal Control it is the responsibility of the person who rented the trap to bring the animal to the animal shelter.


Q. Does Burke County Animal Control provide traps?

 A. Traps for catching unwanted cats and dogs can be borrowed from Burke County Animal Control via two options:

1.       Contact the Animal shelter and request a trap be set on your property. Traps are set as they become available and prioritized based on risk to public safety.

2.       Visit the animal shelter and rent a trap. Traps can be rented for a $35.00 refundable deposit. Traps are rented out on a first come first serve basis


Q. What happens if a dog trap or cat trap catches a wild animal?

A. Any wild animal caught in an animal control trap must be released on the property on which it was trapped. Any wild animal caught in a property owner’s trap must be handling according to the rules and regulations set forth by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission for trapping if it is not going to be released.


Q. Can I used a trap I rented from Burke County Animal Control to catch wildlife?

A. No, any traps rented from Burke County Animal Control can only be used to catch cats or dogs. If you are having a problem with unwanted wildlife on your property you can purchase you own trap and trap the animals yourself provided you follow all rules and regulations set forth by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission for trapping OR you can contact a license Wildlife Damage Control Agent.


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Q. I have to surrender my pet. How long will you keep him?

A. Animals that are classified as an Owner Surrender are typically kept in the shelter for a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours. However once an animal is surrendered by its owner, it can be placed for immediate adoption.


Q. What do I need to do to surrender a pet?

A. To surrender an animal you must bring a valid government issued ID and be willing to sign a legal document attesting to your ownership of the animal. You are free to bring any of the animal's records with you as they may be beneficial to the new owner if the animal is adopted but they are not required.


Q. If I surrender my pet, can I get it back?

A. If an animal is surrendered by its owner, the animal can ONLY be returned to the same owner that surrendered the animal. The owner will be responsible for paying any fee’s or citations when claiming the animal. However once an animal is surrendered by its owner, it can be placed for immediate adoption. Once an animal has been placed for adoption, that animal can no longer be claimed by its former owner.


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Turning In


Q. I found a lost pet and turned him into the shelter. How long will you keep him?

A. Lost or stray animals are kept at the shelter for a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours barring extenuating circumstances pursuant to NCGS § 19A-32.1 (b)(2). After seventy-two (72) hours the animal is eligible for adoption and after five (5) it may be euthanized.


Q. If I turn in a stray animal, can I come back to pick-up if it’s not claimed?

A. Once an animal is turned into the animal shelter; it can only be claimed by its owner or be adopted. If you have turned an animal in and are not its owner the only way to claim that animal is the go through the adoption process. 


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Q. My animal was picked up or I think it might be at the shelter, what’s next?

A. If you believe your animal might be at the animal shelter the first thing you should do is come by the shelter to verify if it is in fact at the shelter. If you find your animal the shelter staff will be more the happy to help you get your animal back.


Q.  Will it cost me anything to get my animal back?

A. Yes, animals that are housed at the animal shelter are subject the fee schedule found below. These amounts are subject to change so please contact the animal shelter to confirm any cost to claim your animal. Costs can vary based on how and how long the animal had to be housed, how the animal came to the shelter, if citations were issued, and if the animal requires a rabies shot.


General Board Fee: $5.00 per day

Isolation Cell Board Fee: $8.00 per day

Rabies Vaccination: $10.00

Capture Fee: $10.00

Animal Bite Pick-Up Fee: $20.00

Owner Surrender Reclaim Fee: $25.00

*(If animal is reclaimed within 24hrs)*

Chemical Capture Fee: $75.00 

Adoption Fee: $125.00

*(Veterans eligible for 10% discount)*

Civil Citations (per violation): First Offense $50.00

        Second Offense $100.00

        Third Offense $200.00


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Q. What do I do if I have been bitten by an animal?

A. Seek medical attention for the bite immediately. Your medical provider should contact Burke County Animal Control if you have been bitten, if they don’t then you contact (828) 438-5500 to report it yourself. If you decide not to seek medical treatment for the bite you must still report the bite, even if it is your own animal that has bitten you.


Q. If my animal has bitten someone, will Burke County Animal Control take the animal from me?

A. No but the animal is required to be quarantined ten (10) days as a public health preventative measure. The owner is allowed to get the animal back after the quarantine period is over but if the animal dies for any reason during the quarantine then it must be tested by the state lab for rabies.


Q. Does my animal have to be quarantined at the animal shelter?

A. An animal that has bitten someone must be quarantined at a state licensed facility. This means that you can pay to have your animal quarantined at a state license boarding facility provided they are aware they are boarding an animal for bite quarantine and are willing to do so. You must provide Burke County Animal Control with the name, address, and phone number of the facility boarding the animal. Animal control will contact the facility to verify the animal is in their care, to verify the animal is being housed by itself, to check on the animal during the quarantine period, and to inform the facility when the animal may be released from quarantine.


Q. How do I get a copy of a bite report?

A. Bite reports are only released after the bite case has been closed which may not be until after the required quarantined period is over for the animal that bit the victim.

 Bite reports can only be released to: 

1.) The owner of an animal involved in the bite case

2.) The victim in a bite case


Q. How do I protect myself against dog bites?

A. Tips to prevent dog bites:

1.       Never approach a dog you don’t know or a dog that is alone without its owner, especially if the dog is behind a fence, tied with a rope or chain, or in a parked car.

2.       Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping or guarding something. Dogs naturally guard their puppies, food, bones and toys.

3.       Never chase or tease dogs. Don’t poke, hit, pull, or pinch a dog.

4.       Always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog.

5.       Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

6.       If attacked, give the dog an object, such as a jacket or backpack to bite or chew on.

If you are approached by a dog that may attack you, follow these steps:

1.       Resist the impulse to scream and run away.

2.       Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.

3.       Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.

4.       If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.

5.       If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.


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