Animal shelters in SC inundated with stray, abandoned animals

Not all victims of the pandemic walk on two legs. The four-legged victims are flooding animal shelters in the area.

The impact goes beyond finding homes for the dogs. Staff at the Abbeville and Greenwood shelters are pressed for time to work with the animals to ensure they remain adoptable.

Part of the problem is finding homes for humans. Moratoriums on evictions began to expire in August.

People are now being evicted and often have to abandon their pets, said Samantha Brooks, director of operations at the Humane Society of Greenwood. Up to 75% of surrenders at the shelter come from evictions, she said last Monday.

The Abbeville refuge faces a similar situation.

In some cases, landlords choose to sell their buildings and tenants are forced to find pet-friendly accommodation. Jessica Bridges, Director of Animal Services for Abbeville County, has first-hand experience.

It happened to him during the summer. Bridges said she was lucky enough to find pet-friendly accommodation. She was also fortunate that her dog was a Chihuahua, so she didn’t face any restrictions on dog breeds, which some owners demand due to insurance.

Shelter staff follow Facebook and other social media sites and regularly see posts regarding pet-friendly accommodations, she said. With no other option, people give up their pets.

A better option is for people to contact the shelter before it gets to the point where they have no options left, Bridges said. Shelter staff can help with pet food if a pet owner has lost their job.

The shelter is a small facility, with 30 dog courses, including 22 for large dogs, Bridges said. So far this year, the shelter has welcomed more than 300 dogs. During a three-week period in September, the shelter received calls for 60 stray dogs. Staff could have filled the shelter three times. This is not a singular incident.

The Greenwood facility was home to 98 dogs and 59 cats as of Oct. 11, Brooks said. In a hallway, up to six crates, each containing a dog, lined the wall.

Recently, the shelter was overcapacity of 16 dogs. Adoptions and foster families released three kennels during the week, Brooks said. Then, over the weekend, surrenders again filled the shelter.

In addition to dogs and cats, the shelter has cared for rabbits, guinea pigs and even turkeys. Four rabbits were taken from a shelter in Charleston that was inundated with deliveries of more than 50 rabbits and had called other shelters across the state for help. Last Monday, a rabbit jumped into a cage in a meeting room.


November 8-14 is National Adoption Week at PetSmart. The shelter is also planning a Halloween-themed adoption event. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month. Brooks said the shelter has several promotions. They understand:

– Tuesday: Special early bird for seniors. If an adopter is over 50, he or she benefits from a 50% reduction on adoptions.

– Weighing Wednesday: the weight of the animals reduces the adoption costs. This helps with the adoption of large dogs, Brooks said.

– Thriller Thursday: Adoption fees for black and white animals are waived.

– Foster Fail Friday: any foster family who wishes to keep their foster animal benefits from a 50% reduction on adoption costs.

– Saturday Saturday: cat adopters benefit from a 50% reduction on adoption fees.

Legal action is another tool for overpopulation issues. Brooks said city and county governments were pushing orders to spay and neuter pets.

If an animal is captured, the owner will have to pay to retrieve it or have it sterilized. The owner can pay for the sterilization or pay a fine. Owners must show proof of rabies vaccination or pay for vaccination; they must agree to have their animal microchipped before leaving the establishment; boarding costs must be paid before the animal is released; no pet can be redeemed without having been surgically sterilized, unless the owner pays the appropriate redemption fee.

If owners choose not to sterilize the animal, they must pay a fee of $ 200 to retrieve the animal, she said. If the animal is re-captured during the exercise, the redemption fee will be $ 400.

So far, the choice between paying the redemption fee and having the animal spayed is around 50%, Brooks said.

“I firmly believe that these kinds of orders will eventually prevent us from being overcrowded in the future,” said Connie Mawyer, executive director of the shelter. She estimated that the ordinances can take two to three years to come into force.

Another COVID-19 concern that shelter staff have faced is reduced attendance at events, such as fundraisers and adoption programs. People were afraid to attend such events, Brooks said. Concerns arose when the pandemic first struck. He returned with a second round of the pandemic.

Any fears people might have hasn’t reduced support, Mawyer said. The community helped by providing food and meeting various needs. It was a collaborative effort that helped the shelter get by.

Brooks added that foster care and foster adoptions have increased. She and Bridges encourage people to adopt animals out of a shelter, even if it’s only for a day or two.

Education is another part of the solution. Bridges said part of the job of shelter staff is to educate people about the responsibilities of pet ownership, such as spaying, medical care and training.

A table in the front room of the shelter is filled with papers providing information on the behaviors and training of the pets. “It’s a pet health office that helps you on your own,” she said.

It will take a lot of effort to sort out the food, immunization, housing and medical care situation, Bridges said.

It’s really the owners’ responsibility at the end of the day, Bridges said.

Southern communities do not have strict animal control laws like in the northern states. As a result, the South has many wanderers.

People rarely call for a single dog, she said. Shelter staff handled calls regarding packs of up to 10 dogs roaming the neighborhoods.

Animals that are attached to chains are trapped and if an aggressive dog comes along they can injure themselves, she said. People might say they don’t see any other dogs in the neighborhood and a few months later their dog left outside starts to get bigger.

“We hear a lot of people say, ‘We live in the countryside. Dogs are not meant to live in pens; they are supposed to be free, ”she said.

Abbeville officials have spoken to Laurens County animal control officials regarding educational workshops for residents, Bridges said.

The shelter is also working with Animal Allies and Speak for Animals, two groups that help provide access to sterilization and sterilization services and offer discounts on procedures, she said.


No matter how difficult things get, the shelter staff always have a goal. For Bridges, the light at the end of the tunnel is simple: “The dream of every shelter worker is not to be needed.

It’s so overwhelming sometimes, said Brooks. Each day you go away hoping to do all you can for each animal and you hope that all of their needs have been met.

“We can’t just want to provide food, water and security; we want to make sure they have human touch and affection, ”she said.

“Everyone I talk to is stressed out, stressed out, stressed out – overcrowded with animals, staff issues, donations. All these little things come together.

How does she manage not to pull out her hair?

“Because I love animals. No matter how stressed you are, you just want to love them, ”Brooks said. “Sometimes you think of it as’ you need them as much as they need you.”

When she is stressed, she knows she will feel better after taking care of the babies. The refuge even does music therapy with animals and staff listening to soothing music.

“Everything revolves around this inner peace and this healing. it gives you a quiet moment to regroup, ”she said.

Comments are closed.