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Free pet food and low-cost spay neuter in Raleigh, Durham


Pupper is 1 year and 1 month old and is up for adoption at the Wake County Animal Shelter. Pupper is described as “friendly, affectionate, and I’d rather cuddle than be alone.” The Wake County Animal Center is full and is encouraging people to adopt dogs this week at the shelter to reduce the load.

The Wake County Animal Center is encouraging people to adopt dogs from the shelter this week, saying the facility is at full capacity and some dogs may have to be euthanized if they don’t find homes.

Wake County Animal Services Director Jennifer Federico told The News & Observer that owner-surrendered pets — that is, pets that owners take to the shelter because they feel they can no longer take care of them, either financially or for other reasons — make up about 25% to 30% of the shelter’s overall intake.

If you’re struggling financially to take care of your pet, there are local resources available to help you with some costs associated with owning a pet, from food costs to expensive surgical procedures. Hopefully, with the assistance from these resources, you can continue to care and provide for your pet — and avoid surrendering them to the shelter.

To help you navigate some of those resources in the Triangle, we’ve compiled this list.

Financial help for pet food in the Triangle

Like all of us, pets have to eat — and the cost of pet food has risen over the course of the pandemic, the same as with all groceries.

If you’re having trouble paying for your pet’s food, these resources throughout the Triangle — including pet food pantries — are available to help.

No Empty Bowl Project — Part of the Friends of the Wake County Animal Center, the No Empty Bowl Project has been providing free pet food and other pet essentials since March 2020. The organization distributes pet food and essentials on the third Saturday of every month from 11 am to noon at Open Door Church in Raleigh (9801 Durant Road). The organization also partners with Feed the Pack, a food pantry at NC State University, to help provide pet food to students. Learn more about the No Empty Bowl Project at

SAFE Haven for Cats Pet Food Pantry — SAFE Haven for Cats, a Raleigh-based nonprofit animal shelter, offers a pet food pantry program for “individuals with a true financial need for food assistance.” The pantry provides free pet food to approved individuals for up to three months. To participate in the program, you must fill out an application online or mail one in, and a pet food pantry employee will contact you if you are accepted. Learn more about the program and how to apply at

animeals — The Wake County SPCA and Resources for Seniors have partnered to offer this need-based program specifically for home-bound seniors and disabled adults who “may be having to choose between feeding their pets and heating their homes, paying their bills or taking their medications .” The program is open to members of Resources for Seniors, a Wake County nonprofit that provides services for aging and disabled residents of the county. Learn more about AniMeals at

Orange County Pet Food Assistance — Orange County Animal Services works to assist Orange County pet owners that need help providing food for their pets due to financial hardships. If you are a resident of Orange County, you may reach out to the county’s Animal Services to learn whether they have food available and if you are able to receive help. Contact Animal Services by phone at 919-942-7387 (menu option 2 or 3), stop by the facility at 1601 Eubanks Rd. in Chapel Hill, or visit the pet food assistance webpage at

Animal Protection Society of Durham Pet Food Assistance — The Animal Protection Society of Durham offers pet food to assist Durham County residents facing financial hardship. You must fill out an online form, and assistance is not guaranteed. Find out more at

Financial help & low-cost spay/neuter in the Triangle

Taking your pet to the veterinarian can be expensive — especially when a complicated procedure, such as surgery, is required.

If you’re facing an expensive vet bill, or you’re unable to seek veterinary care for your pet because of the cost, there are programs in the Triangle available to help, including many low- or no-cost spay and neuter clinics.

Friends of Wake County Animal Shelter — Friends of Wake County Animal Shelter offers low-cost spay and neuter services for pit and pit-mix dogs and cats and kittens. The cat program is $5 and the pit program is $25. The programs are intended for Wake County households with an annual income less than $125,000. Learn more about the pit program at, and learn more about the cat program at

SAFE Care Spay/Neuter Clinic — Through this clinic, SAFE Haven for Cats offers low-cost spay and neuter services for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. The clinic is located at 8411-133A Garvey Dr., Raleigh. Prices range from $30 to $110, depending on the sex and size of the pet, and whether the pet is feral. Learn more about the clinic, including pricing, at

Saving Lives Spay/Neuter Clinic — The SPCA of Wake County offers low-cost spay and neuter services for cats and dogs. Prices range from $50 to $165, depending on the sex and size of the pet, and whether the pet is feral. The clinic does not have income or residency requirements. Learn more about the services offered at the clinic, including pricing, at

Spay-Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina (SNAP-NC) — SNAP-NC is a nonprofit organization providing discounted spay-neuter services to North Carolina residents. The organization operates a fleet of mobile clinics that travel across the state, and there are several locations throughout the Triangle where the organization’s services are offered. There are no income requirements to receive services from SNAP-NC. Learn more about the program and find a location near you at

Alley Cats and Angels of North Carolina — Alley Cats and Angels, an Apex-based nonprofit cat rescue, offers low-cost vouchers for purchase for the spay and neuter of friendly and feral cats. The vouchers cost $70 and do not have an income requirement. Subsidized vouchers may be available for low-income cat owners and feral cat caregivers who cannot afford the full cost of spay and neuter services. Learn more about the voucher program at

Orange County Veterinary Care Assistance Program — Orange County Animal Services offers this program to assist Orange County residents with non-emergency veterinary expenses. The fund is available to Orange County residents based on their needs and ability to meet income criteria for the program. Note: The program is not currently accepting new applications, but is raising funds to reinstate the program. Learn more about the program at

Other tips for getting financial assistance for pet care

If you need financial assistance for other veterinary care besides spay and neuter services, you may be able to use these tips offered by the Humane Society of the United States to negotiate the cost of care:

Negotiate a payment plan. ”If you’re a client in good standing, they may be happy to work out a weekly or monthly payment plan,” the Humane Society says. “However, a vet you’ve never been to may not agree to such a plan.”

Get a second opinion. Another vet may offer other, less expensive treatment for your pet. Note: You may pay a consultation fee at another vet, but the total cost of services could end up being less than the quote you received from the first vet.

Try a vet in a less expensive area. Vets in smaller communities may charge less than those in large, urban areas. If you are able to travel farther away for your pet’s treatment, this may be a worthwhile option for you.

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Korie Dean is a reporter on The News & Observer’s service journalism team. She is a graduate of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill and a lifelong North Carolinian.


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