Letters to the Editor | Opinion | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 23, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: October 19, 2016 at 11:53 am
Wonderful volunteers saved pets from storm
This past week with the approach of Hurricane Matthew, we were all aware of the potential danger that existed for all those in his path. What people often overlook is the danger that these events pose to our animals. In the years since Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida, more awareness has been raised to the plight that our animals and first responders face when trying to rescue owners who refuse to leave because they will not leave their animals. However, we still have battles to fight for them on that front.
My experience in the past week has made me more optimistic that a difference can be made when people come together for a common cause.
Dr. Charlotte Krugler is the emergency preparedness veterinarian at our state veterinary office. She has worked very hard to come up with plans for our state for events like this and the coordination between counties. Some of her efforts came to fruition this past week.
On the evening of Wednesday Oct. 5, I received a phone call from her about a request for assistance that she had received from Jasper County. They wanted to evacuate their animal shelter but had nowhere to go and limited resources. Our Colleton County Animal Response Committee (CCART) has tried to make plans for our county but have fought a lot of uphill battles and misinformation. But as chairperson of this committee, I saw no excuse to not “be a good neighbor” and help these animals and their caretakers.
CCART had tentatively made plans to use the large bay next to the animal shelter offices to house animals in crates if needed. I immediately contacted our shelter director Reggie McNeil and got the OK to proceed with that plan.
Now the challenge … how do we transport almost 40 dogs and 71 cats and then care for them through a storm? I knew exactly who I needed to call. Laura Clark (with Friends of Colleton County Animal Shelter) and I had been talking for months about the collaboration of our groups for incidents like these and it was time to put it in motion!
As I expected, FoCCAS and their commitment never ceases to amaze me. In less than 12 hours, we had two large horse trailers and multiple vehicles on the road to Jasper County to pick up these animals and pull them further away from the coast and the risk of Hurricane Matthew.
For the next 5 days, FoCCAS volunteers flooded the shelter to aid in their daily care. I watched people put aside other plans to come assist us in their care. We received good news from the Jasper shelter director this past Monday afternoon that the national organization ASPCA would be coming to get some of the cats for transport north to other rescue organizations. But then another challenge confronted us. Most of these cats had never been tested for Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunosuppressive Virus. Most of the rescue groups would not take them unless this had been done.
After confirming Jasper had recovered enough to take the dogs back, once again our volunteers pulled through at the last minute. Within three hours, we had all the horse trailers we needed to get them all back to the Jasper shelter. But now the cats. How were we going to get them all tested and up to date on rabies vaccinations in less than 12 hours (when ASPCA was scheduled to arrive) so that we could maximize the generous offer that the ASPCA had made?
After lots of prayers and lots of wonderful volunteers, I am happy to report that 60 of the 71 cats made their way north to forever homes on Wednesday afternoon. Our ASPCA contact told me that was one of the larger transports that she had been involved with. We were all exhausted but certainly pleased at the results of our efforts.
To even begin to list all that helped would be longer than this paper would publish!
To my cohort Laura Clark, there is no doubt that we could not have pulled this off without your help. Your steadiness and determination was exactly what I needed to overcome the disappointments that we have so often faced in this county and know that we CAN do this. Watch out county, here we come.
To Director McNeil, I know that you had to be the one to be there every time we assembled to care for our charges. Having owned a business for 16 years and being the one responsible for it, I know how exhausting it can be to have to be there all the time. We appreciate your cooperation in this time of need. I hope that we can all find a way to work together in the future to make this the best darn shelter in the state and be a county that can work together with their neighbors for mutual benefit of the animals.
I want to thank the members of Sinbad Sadie Rescue who braved the storm and risked breaking curfew to come help out and help in the care of the animals and for their support throughout the year in finding homes for our shelter residents.
Now for my thanks to the volunteers of FoCCAS. The dedication of your group to the plight of our animals inspires me. For years I felt like there were a lot of animal lovers but no organized movement to make a difference. For years I went to council meetings, made calls and followed up with animal issues and felt alone in doing so. I have watched many animal rescue groups cannibalize each other just because they did not agree on things without realizing that they all had the same goals — helping our animal friends. But your organization, although not without disagreements, puts it all aside when it is time to get the job done. A mere “Thank You” seems to pale but it is all I have. Y’all are awesome! When we list the things that Colleton County has going for it, you top my list!
Dr. Lori Campbell
Chairperson, Colleton County Animal Response Team
What took so long to get power?
I do not understand why the power restoration has been, and still is such an issue, in and around Walterboro (Colleton County) for 12+ hours. As of 11 a.m. (Saturday), there were a significant amount of utility vehicles parked in and around two different hotel parking lots at the intersection of Hwy 63 and I-95. Also on the other side of I-95, there is another hotel with a significant amount of South Carolina State Troopers.
If the curfew was lifted at 7 a.m., and by 8 a.m. private citizens all over Colleton and Hampton County were out cleaning up and removing down trees from the roadways on their own, why were the power utility vehicles, the State Troopers and SCDOT personal not mobilized to assist them?
As of 5:45 p.m., from Islandton to West Ashley and all of Colleton County, not a single utility vehicle, state trooper, or SCDOT person has been seen in the field.
What is the purpose of having hundreds of personnel on hand, at state taxpayers’ expense, sitting in hotel rooms doing absolutely nothing, or helping in any form, when they could have easily been in the field, and facing no more danger than the citizens?
If these personnel had been dispatched into the field this morning, the great majority of Colleton County residents would have power. So my question is why have so many people on hand, if you do not intend to use them? Please explain that logic to me?