The relocation did have an effect - a positive one.
As the shelter prepares to begin its third year in St. Pauls on Thursday, the number of dog and cat adoptions has actually increased over the two years prior to the move.
In 2003 and 2004, the first two years at the new pound, there were 1,786 dogs adopted, an increase of 32 percent over the 1,354 dogs adopted during 2001 and 2002. The numbers are even more dramatic for cats. There were 773 cats adopted during 2003 and 2004, an increase of 82 percent over the 426 adopted during 2001 and 2002.
The consequence appears to be fewer dogs being put to death. The number of dogs euthanized decreased by 1,285 during 2003 and 2004, a drop of 25 percent over the previous two years. But that trend does no hold for cats.
The number of cats killed actually rose by 809, an increase of 58 percent. That can be explained in part by the fact that 1,167 more cats were taken to the shelter during 2003 and 2004 than the previous two years..
Shelter Manager Jeff Bass doesn't have a complete explanation for the numbers, but points to the better conditions for the animals.
"The biggest thing is all the animals are out of the weather, the heat and the cold," he said. "I don't have to put as many in a pen, just a couple of dogs because of their size."
Shelter officials made the move to St. Pauls because the 2,000-square-foot building on Elizabethtown Road was too small and in poor condition.
"The place was rundown and getting old," Bass said. "It couldn't accommodate the volume of pets coming in."
The current 14,000-square-foot, $370,000 facility is state-of-the-art and climate-controlled. The 42-by-350- foot building can house up to 100 pens for up to 200 dogs and 50 cats, with canines and felines in separate areas. It has a pitched floor to improve drainage, and separate rooms for dogs that need to be quarantined, something the previous shelter lacked.
Because of a number of thefts at the old location, the new shelter is equipped with security cameras and a gate that locks.
Bass said most people are happy with the pound.
"I get a lot of comments on the way it's kept," he said. "It's a whole lot cleaner, so when they bring an animal in, they feel better about leaving it with us."
Bill Smith, county health director, said he's pleased as well, especially considering the county was working off a design that had never been used before.
"It was used as a model for Sampson County," Smith said. "They thought it was excellent for the purposes, and the costs were in their budget."
But in spite of its success, there are still some who aren't completely happy about the pound being in St. Pauls. The complaints before it was opened were that Robesonians would not travel to a remote area to adopt and animal or search for one that was missing. But county officials pointed out that there are actually more people living within a 30-mile radius of the St. Pauls facility then there were at the Lumberton facility.
"The new pound treats animals well," Katherine Floyd, animal cruelty investigator, said. "but I wish the location was more central."
Bass said some people may stay away because of the distance it takes to travel to the pounds, but the move opens the facility to other customers.
"The old Lumberton shelter was a central location for folks," Bass said before the pound opened. "I just hope we don't lose the folks coming from Fairmont and Rowland. But maybe we'll pick up people from Bladen and Cumberland County."
The numbers suggest that has happened.