Animals have a remarkable and lasting impact on the lives of humans. Equally as invaluable as an animal’s companionship is a human’s ability to be responsible animal owners, embody animal welfare and support the efforts of the local community, and their dedication to making a difference in both the lives of animals and humans.

Nestled in the western part of the coastal plain region of North Carolina, and immersed in U.S. Army history, is Fayetteville’s Cumberland County Animal Control Department. CCAC stands to their mission to protect pets and wild animals from the many dangers they may face in the wild and on the streets, as well as protect the people and property of Cumberland County from the dangers and nuisance of uncontrolled roaming animals, striving to help people and animals live in harmony.

“The best part about my job is supporting the local community and knowing I am making a difference in the lives of animals,” said Elaine Smith, director of the CCAC Department. “This kind of dedication is a calling.”

Smith has been with the department since 2012, with a promotion to director in June of 2018. Through her evolution and advancement to various roles within the CCAC sector, she has witnessed and played a key role in the department’s ability to maintain its mission of safety, shelter and adoption.

“We pride ourselves on maintaining the highest quality of services to the community, relieving the pain and suffering of animals, encouraging responsible pet ownership, increasing public awareness of animal issues and continuing the effort to train and educate the management, staff and community,” Smith said.

The ongoing preparedness and mission of the CCAC Department ensures the handling of complaint investigation, cruelty investigation, animal quarantine and animal rescue and shelter within the county. The CCAC enforces North Carolina state and local laws, by highly trained, professional and loving personnel, providing quality service to citizens while dedicating themselves to improving the co-existence of animals and humans.

Pet ownership requirements remain consistent for both on Fort Bragg and off post in Cumberland County, requiring that “all dogs and cats must have a current pet privilege license,” said Smith. “The cost is $7 per animal if the pet has been spayed/neutered. However, if the pet is not spayed/neutered the fee for each animal is $25.”

Licenses are available at the Cumberland County Animal Control Office or most veterinary clinics. Additionally, North Carolina law requires all dogs and cats over four months of age to be vaccinated against rabies.

The CCAC strongly promotes identification and population control by spay, neuter and microchipping.

“Identification is a must,” Smith said. “Microchipping is currently only a requirement on post, but is still an inexpensive way to ensure safety and security of your pet. There is no county ordinance currently in place requiring pet owners off post to spay and neuter. But if a pet is found stray and taken under CCAC supervision, it will be returned spayed or neutered under local law requirements or adopted with similar stipulations.”

In the unfortunate circumstance of discovering a stray animal, help is just a phone call away. Contact information does vary between Fort Bragg and off post locations.

“If an individual finds a stray animal on post, their questions and concerns are required to be called into the Fort Bragg Military Police dispatch on post,” said Geneve Mankel, communications and outreach coordinator for the Cumberland County Public Information Office. “Do not call Animal Control first.”

Off post stray animals calls are to be directed to the CCAC at (910) 321-6852 or emergency related calls can be directed to the local sheriff's office or 911.

Animal control protocol that does remain the same between on- and off-post locations is the recovery of a pet from a shelter.

If a person’s animal is taken to Animal Control, they can pick up their pet during normal business hours. “It is best to come in person to the shelter and do a walk through of the pets,” Mankel said. “Owner’s will need a valid form of identification to reclaim a pet. If available, they should also provide proof of spay/neuter, rabies vaccination and pet license.” There may be fees and stipulations associated with reclaiming a pet.

“We all love animals and understand the community does as well,” Smith said. “The CCAC encourages responsible pet ownership and a community free of conflicts. The Cumberland County Animal Control Department is an advocate for animal and their rights and we want to make sure that pets have what they need. It is important for us to do our very best and find these animals good homes in comfort and in happiness.”

The CCAC offers pet adoption services as well as volunteer and foster programs to give back and save a life. To consider making a difference in the Cumberland County community. Call (910) 321-6852 or visit the Cumberland County website at www.co.cumberland.nc.us/departments/animal-control-group/animal-control.