Pet safety

​Animal Care Education​

​Part of AC&C's mission is to make sure the public is well informed of potential dangers where they live. This includes weather, traveling, boarding, and illnesses. These pages have information for pet owners to help keep their pets safe, healthy, and happy.

Seasonal Safety Ti​ps - Keep your pets safe during every change of the season; find safety tips for your pet for some of the biggest holidays of the year.​​​

​Pet Resources for Senior Citizens - This is a great guide for seniors who have pets or are thinking of owning a pet and resources for topics from pet ownership to adoption to state sponsored organizations.

Fleas, ticks, heartworms, parvo...oh my!

​​Dogs and cats are prone to getting many different types of diseases and viruses if they are not properly protected by monthly pills, flea and tick topical medicine​​​, or yearly shots from the veterinarian. Most viruses and diseases are easily preventable and are cheaper to provide than treatments.

One example: Heartworms. Monthly pills from a veterinarian can cost around $150-$200 for a 6 month supply. That may seem expensive but if an animal gets heartworms, treatments could cost upwards of ​$1500 or more!​ And, if left untreated, your animal could die from heartworms.​

Animal Services wants to make sure pet owners are informed on proper prevention for various diseases and viruses to keep pets healthy, happy, and safe. Listed below are websites that provide information about​ illnesses that pets can get if they are not properly vaccinated or on prevention.

Over all pet care (dogs and cats):

Cat care:​​​​

Dog care:​​​ <= kennel cough

About Heartworms:​​ <= This is a map laid out for you to see where the highest rate of heartwo​rm disease is in the US. And of course, that highest rate is right here in the southeast.


Heartworm Basics

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, and over time cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Dogs are a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring.

Mosquitoes play an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. They transmit the microscopic microfilaria from a host (infected animal) to a non-infected animal, which eventually migrate to the heart and grow into adult heartworms. If a dog is kept on consistent heartworm prevention its entire life, the risk of the animal developing heartworms is drastically decreased. Animal Services is dedicated to preventing dogs from developing heartworm disease through educating the public and aims to treat as many heartworm-positive dogs as possible through grant-funded programs.

When a heartworm positive animal comes into AC&C, we do everything we can to save it.​

Summer vacation

Winter and spring breaks

These are the terms that folks associate with traveling. It’s great to connect with friends and family but not everyone may be able to join in your travel plans. Some pets can handle trips but others are not as tolerant. Be sure you plan your travel carefully and be choosy about which trips your pet might also enjoy. 


1) Be sure that you bring your entire pet’s medical records and any medications, food, and supplies that they will need. Also be sure that you pack a first-aid kit and their favorite toy and blanket to make them more comfortable.
2) Always be sure that your pet is wearing an ID tag on their collar. In addition, you may want to get a microchip. A microchip is the best form of ID as it’s permanent and as long as you keep your information current you have a much better chance of getting your pet back safe.
3) Be sure that you know where the closest vets are located and find out which might be a 24 hour vet for emergencies.
4) Be sure that you research your hotels carefully if that’s where you need to stay. Not all hotels allow pets and though some do, there may be a fee per night per pet added to your bill.
5) Make sure that if you are staying with your family that they are aware of the fact you are bringing your pet and that everyone is on board.

Car Travel

1) Keep your pet safe by keeping them in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. Be sure it’s big enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in.
2) If your pet is too big or your car is too small to fit a good sized crate inside, fit your dog into a car approved harness to prevent choking and tie your dogs leash to something fixed inside the car. Usually tying the leash to a seat belt will prevent them from flying off the seat should you get into an accident.
3) Don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. It may seem as though they are enjoying this but this can cause serious problems such as inner ear damage, lung infections, and can even be injured by flying objects. There have also been instances of the animal falling out of the window or even jumping out an open window while the vehicle is in motion.
4) Try to void feeding your pet while you’re on the move. You may even consider skipping meals prior to the car ride. This could make them car sick and give them stomach problems if it’s time to eat, stop somewhere, feed, and allow at least 30 minutes for the food to settle before taking off. You may also want to consider giving a smaller amount of food so it doesn’t upset their stomach.
5) Be sure that you have enough water with you to last the length of your trip.
6) It might be a good idea to slowly help your pet get used to traveling in the car before going on a long road trip. Take them on short drives around the block and then gradually lengthen the time spent in the car.
7) A new law is in effect regarding pets sitting in a drivers lap. As of 12/1/2017, any driver that is operating a moving vehicle is not allowed to have an animal on their lap. Not only is this dangerous for the animal but also the driver should a wreck occur.
8) Never leave your pet alone in a parked car. On a hot day, even with the windows down and in the shade, the car turns into a furnace which could cause heat stroke. In the winter, a car can become a refrigerator which causes hypothermia. In some cases, both of these situations could result in death. Animals have also been known to be stolen out of vehicles.​

Air Travel


1) Air travel is very stressful for any pet that’s forced to fly. Before even thinking about taking your pet on to a plane, talk to your vet about your pets and their needs and if air travel really is safe enough for them.
2) If your vet thinks your small pet would do okay if they are in a carrier and can be placed under the seat be sure that they are comfortable and that the carrier is well ventilated. If they don’t think that they are ready for that kind of travel, ask about other options to get them to their destination.
3) Be sure your pet’s vaccines are current on everything. Bring all your health records with you as most airlines require these records before boarding.
4) Make sure your pet has ID through an ID tag on the collar or a microchip. This is especially important if your pet is forced to fly in the cargo compartment. Be sure that your pets USDA-approved shipping crate has information on it and travel destination in case you become separated from them.
5) Try to book a direct flight. This will decrease your risks of loosing your pet.
6) Make sure your crate or carrier has “Live Animal” written on it and place arrows to indicate which way are up. Also be sure they have a blanket, towel, or shredded paper to absorb any accidents they may have during the flight. Also keep a photograph of your pet with you during your travel.
7) If on a long flight or you have a layover you couldn’t avoid, freeze a small dish of water the night before you leave so it can go in the crate but not spill. Also tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate if the airline allows it.
8) Some pet owners feel that tranquilizing your pet is better than not. It’s not generally recommended as this can hamper their breathing, cause vomiting, or bowel movements. Check with your vet first to see what they recommend.
9) Be sure that all airline employees are aware of your pet in the cargo hold.
10) If there is a delay or you have concerns about your pets’ welfare, alert the airline staff and ask them to check on your pet. They may decide to remove the animal until they have a better idea of their take off status.

Finding a boarding facility

Some travel might be too much for your pet to go out with you. Instead, think about sending your pet to a recommended pet boarding facility. Check to see if they have tours and interview the right place that you think would be best for your pet. Be sure to call the facility early to make your boarding reservations. A lot of people plan vacations at the same time and boarding facilities can get booked very quickly.

​If you believe that your pet will be overly stressed from all of the holiday activities, you may want to consider boarding them at a facility that you feel comfortable with.

1) Be sure that you go ahead of time. Take a tour whenever they offer one to check for cleanliness, temperature, and comfort level.
2) Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they have no unresolved complaints.
3) Make sure that all pets that stay there are current on their vaccines.
4) Ask about their exercise and enrichment time while your pet is there.
5) Be sure that there are both indoor and outdoor areas that are secure.
6) Chat with the staff to be sure that they are knowledgeable and compassionate about working with pets.
7) Ask about their feeding routine and be sure they have special forms in place in case your pet has special needs, such as medicine.
8) Most important: they should ask for all the information you can provide about your pet, their needs, and emergency contact information.

These are just a few ways to make sure your pet will be comfortable and happy during their stay. For a bunch more information visit:

During any time of the year, be sure that you are taking precautions both inside and outside of your home when it comes to the safety of your pet. There are several natural and home grown plants that can be potentially harmful, poisonous, and even deadly to pets.

Click here​ to find out which plants are toxic and which are safe for your pets.


As Charlotte grows and the wildlife habitat is destroyed conditions are perfect for more human and wild animal interactions as well as pet and wild animal interactions.  

Regardless of the type of wildlife in your area, the following tips can help keep you and your pets safe.

  • Make sure your pet has a current rabies va​ccination.  If  your dog or cat comes in contact with a wild animal, this could save its life.

  • Make sure that your trash is secure.  Many wild animals are opportunistic and will go for an easy meal.  Put your garbage cans out only on trash collection day and secure the lid with bungee cords if necessary.



a raccoon looks like it has a mask on its face 

Do Not Feed Your Pet Outside

  • If you must feed your animal outside, remove any food that is left after your pet has finished eating.

  • Bird feeders often attract small animals such as squirrels and small rodents.  Larger animals will then prey on these squirrels and rodents thus attracting them to your property.

Do Not Leave Your Pets Outdoors Unattended

  • Dogs taken outdoors by their owners should always be leashed unless in a fenced yard, where they should still be supervised and checked regularly.

  • Dogs should not be tied outdoors, unfenced or unsupervised in areas where wildlife and rabies are prevalent.

  • Cats should be kept indoors unless trained to remain at home

  • Dogs and cats should not be left outside for any period of time unsupervised especially at night, even in a fenced enclosure.

  • Invisible fences do not protect your pets from predators.

Protect Yourself
If your pet comes in contact with or is injured by a wild animal, protect yourself first!

  • Wear gloves to handle your pet immediately after the encounter.

  • If there are any  injuries to the pet and they are not life threatening, wash off your pet with a garden hose.  This will remove any of the wild animal's saliva from your animal.

  • If the injuries are life threatening, wrap your pet in a towel or blanket and transport to a veterinarian.

  • If you come in contact with a wild animal immediately wash any areas of exposure with soap and water and contact your physician.

  • If you or your pet come into physical contact with a wild animal, please call 311.

Finally, consider removing habitat that provides protective cover for wild animals or their prey.  This will dissuade wildlife from using the space as part of their territory or home range and will reduce the likelihood of conflicts.

Other great resources when it comes to wildlife:

We also get a lot of calls for baby wildlife from birds, to rabbits, and deer. There are multiple resources for baby wildlife listed on NC Wildlife's website.


  • See a baby bird that needs to be in a nest? Put it back! Mom will not reject the baby.

  • See a baby that is not flying but has feathers? It's a fledgling and needs to be left alone. Mom and dad are near by and it will learn to fly soon.


  • ​​Check your yard for baby rabbits before mowing. If you see a nest, you can move them out of the way that's close enough for mom to find.


  • ​See a baby deer that appears to have been abandoned by its mother? Leave it alone! Mom is near by and she will be back by the end of the day.

  • ​See a baby squirrel that looks like it should be in a nest? Find the nest and put it back! Mom will not reject the baby.
If you have found a baby and it is injured or mom doesn't return for several hours, please contact a wildlife rehabber instead of calling AC&C. The quicker the rehabber gets the baby, the better. Find local rehabbers​.

See a raccoon, opossum, fox or coyote out during the day? That's normal! They don't always sleep during the day, especially if they have babies that they need to feed around the clock. If they are acting drunk or attacking inanimate objects or themselves then you need to call us. Otherwise, they are likely just passing through.

coyotes are thinner and more brown in color than fox

Coyotes in urban areas normally run in a family unit consisting of a female, a male and their pups.   A female may have four to seven pups in each litter and can reproduce twice a year.  Although they can live 13 years most coyotes in urban areas will die within the first three years of life.  Coyote sightings usually increase in the fall because the pups have matured and they are moving onto form their own pack.

The urban coyote's diet mainly consists of small rodents, rabbits, snakes, squirrels, and even fruits and vegetables.  Coyotes are not predators that will normally attack humans and in most cases will become frightened and run away if they see a human.

Even though they don't pose a threat to people, their prey can include domestic pets.  Keep your pets indoors if you have seen a coyote in your area.

Coyotes range in size from 20-40 pounds.  They will have erect, pointed ears, a slender muzzle and a dropping bushy tail.  Coyotes are predominately brownish-grey in color with red behind the ears and on the face and the belly is light grey to cream-colored.  However, color can vary among individuals from grey to black.  The coyote's eyes will be a vivid yellow with large pupils, unlike a dog's eyes which are brown or blue.

Coyotes fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.   NC Wildlife will not typically respond to a coyote sighting because they are indigenous to this area and it is not uncommon to see them.  However, if you have questions or concerns, you may contact them at 919-707-0030.

Animal Care and Control will respond if you physically come into contact with any wild animal or if your domestic animal fights with or is wounded by any wild animal.  A report will be filed but that does not mean the animal will be caught or trapped especially if it is no longer in the area.  To file a report please call 311.

If you are having a nuisance wildlife problem you can contact one of the many animal removal companies listed in the phone book.

Links of Interest:

NC Wildlife - Coexisting with Coyotes

For trapping information and trappers for hire, visit NC Wildlife - Trapping 

Mecklenburg County Park and Rec on Coyotes​​

Geese are getting more and more used to the human and human environment. This includes new housing development, lawn and landscaping noises, and even domesticated pets. During the spring nesting s​eason geese become extremely aggressive as they protect their eggs, nest and territory. Several people have been attacked by geese that are nesting.
Generally, the go​ose (female) will be on the nest but the gosling (male) will be near by, usually no further away than 20 feet, and will hurry back to the nest if he sees his mate and territory is being threatened.
The best thing to do is to avoid the nest and goose by going around it or maybe taking another direction. If there is a goose outside of a business that you work that refuses to let you get to the main door, then go in through another door to avoid confrontation.

canadian geese floating on a pond

If you encounter an aggressive goose, it’s best to do the following:

  • Do not turn your back on an aggressive goose. Maintain direct eye contact and keep your chest and face pointed at the goose.

  • Calmly and slowly back away.

  • Maintain a neutral demeanor, i.e. do not act hostile or show fear.

  • If a goose flies toward your face duck and move at a right angle to the direction of flight while maintaining your front toward the goose.

One way to deter geese from hanging out in your neighborhood is to make it unappealing for them.

  • Do not feed geese. When they are fed by humans the fear of humans diminish and this will cause greater attacks from geese.

  • Don’t give them shelter. Geese won’t migrate to an area that has a lot of bushes and trees surrounding a pond or home. They’ll be too afraid that predators are hiding in the brush.

  • Reduce or eliminate their food source. They are mostly attracted to golf courses and airport yards; especially when they are freshly mowed. These areas give the geese an all-you-can-eat buffet. One type of deterrent is to use methyl anthranilate which is a grape flavoring in our food after your lawn is freshly mowed. This stuff tastes terrible to geese.

Geese are federally protected which means that it is illegal to harm geese, their eggs, or their nests in the US without permission from the US Fish and Wild Service. Geese can be scared away, humanely, using loud noises or by trained goose-herding dogs. However, trying to scare them away during their nesting season is a bad idea! They will become more aggressive and likely attack.

If there are any issues with geese nesting in a populated area or being aggressive, you can contact NC Wildlife for the best advice on how to handle or relocate them.

Links of Interest:

NC Wildlife - Coexisting with Canadian Geese

For hunting information, visit NC Wildlife - Hunting 

Goose Conflict Manual

More info from
 Carolina Waterfowl Rescue​ ​

​There are a lot of wild animals in my backyard. Do you deal with them in any way?

No. AC&C is prohibited by the State of NC to handle wild animals unless they are sick or injured; even then that person must be a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Do not confine them as we will end up releasing them back into your yard anyway.

Can I own a wild animal?

​No. Char-Meck ordinances prohibit people from owning wildlife of any kind. This includes animals that could be dangerous (such as venomous snakes) and animals that are considered to be hybrids (such as wolf/dog or Savannah cats). If you are caught with a wild animal in your possession, they will be seized. Even turtles, both store bought and taken from the wild, are not considered pets.

I found a baby wild animal in my yard. Can you come get it?

Each baby animal differs in regards to our response. In general, please leave them alone unless they are injured. Below are some helpful tips if you come across certain baby wildlife.

  • If you find a baby bird that has fallen out of the nest and is not injured, you can return it to the nest IF you can safely reach it. If it is injured, an AC&C Officer will pick it up and bring it to the shelter. From there, if the injury is minor and can be treated, staff will contact the local bird rehabbers.
  • If you find a baby rabbit (or a nest of baby rabbits) and they are not injured, we will not pick them up. Leave them be and their mother will find them. If they are injured, an AC&C Officer will pick them up and bring them in. If the injury is minor and can be treated, staff will contact wildlife rehabbers.
  • If you find a baby deer in thick weeds/grass, or inside/under bushes, leave them be. Mom is nearby and will not return while you, or any other danger, are there. Leave the baby there for 24 hours. If it is still in the exact spot after that time, call 311 and an officer will respond. From there, as long as the baby is healthy, staff will contact a wildlife rehabber.

If you would like to find a rehabber on your own, you can visit Carolina Waterfowl Rescue website or NC Wildlife website to find a list of licensed rehabbers.​

I found a wild animal in my house! What do I do?

​​If you have found a wild animal in your home that is considered dangerous or possible rabies exposure you can call 311 and have an AC&C Officer respond to your house. Animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, and large birds will be removed from the home and released outside per NC State law. Animals such as bats and raccoons will be removed from the home and impounded as they pose a potential rabies virus risk per NC Health Department law. Because of this risk, it’s extremely important that any dogs/cats/ferrets you have in the home are vaccinated against the rabies virus.

There’s a wild animal in my yard/in the woods behind my house and it’s the middle of the day. Should I be concerned about rabies?

Not necessarily. Not all wild animals that are out during the day have the rabies virus. It just means that they are out foraging for food or heading to a new location for safety.