State’s animal shelters in crisis-here’s how you can help

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By: Jessica O’Connor

Animal shelters across the state are facing critical levels of overcapacity. The vast majority of South Carolina’s animal shelters are currently housing many more animals than they are designed to accommodate.

One of the more grave consequences of this issue is the increase in numbers of animals that must be euthanized. Although this is certainly a sad reality for the public to face, nobody finds themselves more affected than shelter employees and volunteers.

These individuals work tirelessly to save as many animals as possible, with a number of shelters operating understaffed. The work is physically and emotionally taxing for all involved, and given the current situation it can seem there is no end in sight. However, staff and volunteers keep pushing forward.

In short, shelters need all the help that they can get right now. There are a variety of ways the public can provide support. Families and individuals can tailor their efforts to fit their time constraints and/or budgets.

First and foremost, ensure that you microchip and spay/neuter your own pets. Microchips help displaced animals find their way home as quickly as possible, freeing up a kennel that may be needed for another animal. Spaying and neutering also reduces the number of unwanted animals that make their way into the shelter due to accidental breedings.

Colleton County residents can take advantage of a reduced price spay and neuter program that is facilitated by SNAC in Okatie. Rates for dogs are $30 for females and $20 for males. The rates for domestic cats are $25 for females and $15 for males, with feral cats being spayed or neutered for $10 each. There is also an option facilitated by FoCCAS and the Colleton County Animal Shelter to drop off your animal for transport to SNAC on select dates. More information on this program can be found at https://www.foccas-sc.org/spay-neuter.

Those interested in helping the shelter can also provide their assistance in the form of lending an extra set of hands in caring for the facility and animals. Volunteers are needed at the shelter to help with laundry, cleaning kennels, and exercising/socializing the animals. There is also a need for assistance at community events such as adopt-a-thons, Walk and Wag, and the Rice Festival. Lastly, help is needed with transporting animals to other rescues, vet appointments, and picking up donations/needed items. Anyone that is interested in assisting in these capacities can visit FoCCAS on the web at https://www.foccas-sc.org/volunteer to learn more.

Fostering animals in need also frees up much needed space at shelters, along with improving their chances for adoption as they learn how to adapt to life in a new home. Bringing a foster into your home can be just as beneficial for you and your family as it is for the animal-pets are good for the mind, body, and soul! Showing prospective adopters how well an animal behaves and fits into your home environment greatly increases the animal’s appeal. And well, if you become a “foster fail” and decide to keep your new friend for yourself-that’s fine too! More information on fostering can be found through FoCCAS and the Colleton County Animal Shelter.

If you don’t have time to volunteer or foster, the opportunity to support shelters via donations of food and supplies is always a great option. Most shelters can provide you with a Chewy or Amazon shopping list that you can purchase from and have items shipped directly to the facility, making this avenue of assistance fast and convenient. No matter how big or small your donation may be, the animals, staff, and volunteers will thank you. You can find Colleton County Animal Shelter’s Amazon and Chewy wish lists at https://www.foccas-sc.org/donate-1.

No gesture is too small. If you have the ability to help the shelter, please do so-and do your part as a responsible pet owner to reduce the strain on facilities and their staff as well.

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