OBX Housing has not had this happen until recently but it is really a horribly sad situation. An abandoned pet does not have the same storage rules as abandoned property, nor can it be put at the curb. No landlord is required to keep an animal abandoned by a tenant.
The first thing we at OBX Housing recommend you do is to attempt to notify the tenant that he/she “forgot” their pet(s) and needs to pick them up NOW or we were calling Animal Control. Chances are, you won’t get a response, but you need to make the effort and document that you did. The easiest way to do this is by email or text.
Then, you need to notify Dare County Animal Control that the pet(s) has been abandoned at the property. Do this whether you want Dare County Animal Control to take the pet or even if a neighbor is going to keep it. Dare County Animal Control will create an official file on the matter and will attempt to contact the owner.
Abandoning a pet is considered “animal cruelty” in most states and the tenant can be charged and (at the very least) fined. THIS IS A FELONY IN NORTH CAROLINA!
Once you have made every reasonable effort to locate the tenant, it’s up to you to decide what to do with the pet. You can turn it over to Animal Control, keep it, or give it to a friend or animal rescue.