Asheville Humane Society and Buncombe County Animal Shelter launch Community Sheltering Center

Press release from Asheville Humane Society

Asheville Humane Society, in a comprehensive redesign of the intake procedure at the Buncombe County Animal Shelter, has launched the Community Sheltering Center (CSC). The CSC provides accessible resources to the animals in our community while maintaining an expectation of operating within the shelter’s capacity. This new center will mitigate overcrowding and the spread of disease while maintaining the most humane conditions for the animals housed in our care and our staff who care for them daily.

“Buncombe County Animal Shelter is pioneering a visionary shift, empowering the community to lead the way in rehoming owned pets and reuniting lost pets with their families,” says Adam Cotton, Director of Community Solutions. “By equipping individuals with essential resources, we’re fostering a stronger, more collaborative bond between our shelter and the community, ensuring every pet possible finds their home.”

The CSC features a five-step system that matches people with resources to reunite pets and house lost pets in the community. Statistically, 70% of stray dogs are less than a mile from their home, and 42% are less than 400 feet. Cats with a healthy weight and no identifiable health concerns are usually taken care of by one or more community members and are likely NOT strays.

We are operating on the research-backed understanding that the chances a pet will be reunited with their owners increase dramatically when pets stay in the area where they were found, and are not brought to the shelter. Nationally, less than 2% of cats and 22% of dogs (without a microchip) are reunited with their owners. That means 80% of dogs placed in a shelter must be rehomed. “We can do more for our community,” says Jeff Hassel, the Executive Director of Asheville Humane, “by intentionally providing the resources to keep pets and their people together. We want to move from primarily being the drop-off point for animals to being the best resource in our community for reuniting lost pets with their people.”

The Community Sheltering Center will also work to provide temporary resources and supplies to people who think that surrendering their family pet is their only option. In a recent study, 88% of people who surrendered their pet say they would have kept their pet if they had access to temporary assistance. Our highly qualified Community Support Counselors will be able to match people with individualized solutions to reduce the burden of saying goodbye to a beloved furry family member.

The CSC steps are as follows and are identified upon arrival at the shelter:

Step One: Stay in your car and use the signage to text the shelter and begin the process of being matched with the correct services

Step Two: Use the microchip scanning location outside of the shelter to determine if the animal you have found is microchipped and has updated owner contact information

Step Three: Connect with resources, including temporary pet supplies and reunification tools

Step Four: Once you are invited into the shelter, meet with a Community Support Counselor to identify solutions

Step Five: Finalize the support pathways by confirming the appropriate next steps

With pet supplies such as food, bedding, flea/tick preventatives, and community resources such as flier templates, new lost and found pet technologies, and the support of the shelter, we anticipate the number of pets remaining with, or being reunited with, their people will skyrocket.

“An important part of this new effort,” continued Hassel, “is that although we are thrilled by the prospect of keeping families together, we also know that it is not always an option for someone in the community to house a pet they have found, or an owner to keep their pet. After our CSC Team engages to find solutions, if a person cannot or will not keep the animal, we will make arrangements to take the animal into the shelter.”

Our Community Sheltering Team will be ready to serve the community from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. For all other shelter services, including vaccines, microchips, end-of-life services, lost and found reclaim, and donation drop-off, the shelter is open Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 AM-6:00 PM.

We will be launching the CSC for the public on November 1st at 10:00 AM. Please attend to hear from our Executive Director and our Director of Community Solutions.

About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.