HALIFAX — Rainbow Animal Rescue of North Carolina is struggling to keep volunteers, resulting in the euthanization of dogs.

Dawn Vester, vice president and volunteer coordinator, said the nonprofit organization has four regular volunteers with two regular working jobs. Vester said they need volunteers to help free up time to work with the dogs.

“The more we can work with the dogs, the more we’ll be able to move dogs and save them from animal control,” she said.

Rainbow Rescue serves as a shelter for dogs that need adoption, which some are rescued from the Halifax County Animal Control facility before their time is up and they are euthanized.

Edna Crouch, director and president of Rainbow Rescue, said animal control is required to hold the dogs for 72 hours, which does not include Saturday, Sunday or holidays. However, if the dog comes in critically injured, Crouch said the dog is euthanized to prevent suffering. She recalled a time when a dog received a broken leg after being hit by a vehicle. Crouch said animal control staff called them to take the dog, which is the only reason it was not euthanized.

However, Vester said they are unable to move the dogs if they do not have volunteers to help the shelter.

Animal Control Supervisor Robert Richardson said the North Carolina statute reads that all animals coming into a public shelter must be held for a minimum of 72 hours and be available to the public for viewing.

“Any animal brought into the shelter is usually held for a week to give citizens the time to check the shelter for a missing animal,” Richardson said. “This is all due to the space availability.”

Volunteer work that needs to be done at the animal shelter revolves around taking the dogs for walks, cleaning their pens, washing dishes and laundry.

Another issue is the overabundance of return dogs, which Vester and Crouch said is due to people adopting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people adopted during the pandemic because they were lonely,” Crouch said. “We’ve heard from some people, ‘I’ve gone back to work, and I don’t have time.’ ”

Crouch and Vester said that even during this time of year, people are looking at vacation time for the holidays and travel, which dogs can come as an inconvenience.

Crouch said people are unwilling to pay for boarding, but people will also spend stimulus money on young dogs that require much maintenance, such as grooming.

“We had a man pay $1,300 for a dog, but that took his money,” she said. “Well, these dogs require maintenance every three months. They have to be groomed, and if you don’t know how to groom that dog, it can run you $45 to $60. Some people aren’t prepared for that expense. Then you got the expense of the shots. That’s why we get a lot of dogs in without vaccinations.”

Crouch said they make sure people who are adopting dogs understand the responsibilities that go with it.

People interested in volunteering can reach Vester at dawnvester@gmail.com or visit the Rainbow Animal Rescue Facebook page.

Vester said a lot of people think volunteering at the shelter is easy when it actually requires a lot of work.

“They need to be dedicated to what they’re doing, and they need to commit so that we don’t count on them coming and not showing up,” she said.