As people fill the reception area of the Carteret County Humane Society Animal Shelter in Newport, volunteer Kami Cartagena of Maysville showcases one of the many puppies up for adoption Saturday during the shelter’s open house. (Cheryl Burke photo)

NEWPORT — Not even a coastal storm could stop crowds from packing the county animal shelter Saturday for its annual open house.

Despite rain and high winds, it was a time for folks to check out the many adoptable animals and meet shelter staff, board members, animal control officers and health department workers.

There was also food and drinks, a 50/50 raffle for $1 per ticket and a silent auction. Volunteer Beverly Phillips said they were nearly sold out of raffle tickets by 11:30 a.m.

In addition, it was a time to showcase the shelter since repairs were made last year and the early part of this year to buildings and roofs damaged from high winds and flooding during Hurricane Florence, which devastated the county in September 2018. Insurance covered most of the cost of repairs.

Shelter Manager Rachel Hardin said she was pleased with the large turn out.

“So far we’ve adopted two dogs and two cats and have some adoptions pending,” Ms. Hardin said. “I think it shows that people are supporting us and think about us even on a terrible weather day. I hope this brings in new people who have never been to the shelter before and we get even more adoptions.”

As of presstime, 10 animals had been adopted according to shelter officials.

Shirley Belk of Emerald Isle was among those who braved the elements to attend the open house.

“I love animals and I wanted to come and donate,” Ms. Belk said. “I just don’t want any dogs or cats to go hungry or get injured.”

As well as residents coming to check out the shelter, there were many volunteers on hand to walk dogs and showcase the shelter pets waiting for a loving home.

Volunteer Sergio Garza, a Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, was among those walking dogs.

“I have two dogs and I love animals. That’s why I volunteer,” he said.

Ms. Hardin said given the fact the shelter has survived two hurricanes in the past two years, she believes she made the right decision to hold the open house on a bad weather day.

“This isn’t so bad,” Ms. Hardin said.

Her assessment is correct when compared to the major damage the shelter suffered during Hurricane Florence. Extensive repairs were made to the main kennel building and other structures used to house up to 80 dogs and 100 cats.

The animal shelter’s main kennel building flooded when high winds and rain caused roof damage during the Category 1 hurricane. The heavy rains caused major damage to ceilings, insulation and walls, among other things.

Animals were evacuated from the shelter and temporarily housed at Fort Benjamin Park in Newport, causing an outpouring of support from animal rescue groups across the nation. Animal welfare groups poured into the county and relocated the majority of animals that had been housed at the shelter.

Shelter animals were evacuated ahead of Hurricane Dorian in September of this year. Once again, animals were taken by numerous rescue groups from other areas Ms. Hardin has been able to network with.

The County Humane Society is operated by a nonprofit board of directors and receives donations. The county owns the building and property, and the society has an annual contract with Carteret County for animal control services.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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