Due to an enormous influx of animals dropped off over the weekend, Saint Frances Animal Center is now offering cat and dog adoptions free of charge to all qualified adopters.
“We are out of room and in need of the community’s help,” said Wendy Goude, executive director of the facility.
Since 2012, the shelter has stayed true to its goal of adopting animals out without having to euthanize any for space, but the center is now filled to its capacity.
“We range from anywhere from 100 to 350, depending on the time of year,” Goude said. “We hold a lot of animals, and that includes our cat sanctuary outside. We are at our max.”
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Goude said the shelter’s comfortable animal level is about 250, and right now the center is overflowing at 296 pets. Goude is hoping to get that number down to the high 100s through this and other adoption events.
“In the higher 100s, that’s when everybody has plenty of room and employees can handle the workload,” she said.
Free adoptions run through the end of the week, and Goude is looking at every option for those animals that aren’t lucky enough to find a new home.
“I am currently working with other rescues, from here all the way to New England, and we already have a few transports going out,” Goude said. “We’re going to try every angle we can to save their lives.”
Adoption fees usually range between $100 and $250, and includes spaying/neutering, all vaccines and a tracking micro-chip implanted into the pet. This week, all the animals will go home fully vetted at no charge to the adopter.
“Conducting the free adoption event doesn’t bring us any money. And we’re a nonprofit, so we rely on donations,” Goude said. “We have to do a lot of things, curing mange and other ailments, to make them adoptable and ready for any household. We’re just wanting to save their lives.”
This weekend’s influx isn’t a surprise to the shelter, since the amount of puppies and kittens explodes in the summer months. Since animals go into heat during the hotter season, people tend to see baby animals in their garages and on the side of the road, leading to the shelter’s break in capacity.
“The summer months is when the kittens and puppies are coming out of our ears,” Goude said.
Coastal Animal Rescue in Murrells Inlet sees the same problem in the summertime, only without as many canine companions.
“We actually have a greater influx of kittens in the summer, because the feral population here is just exploding in leaps and bounds,” said Sharon Wolbert, co-adoption coordinator and volunteer coordinator at Coastal Animal Rescue.
The shelter currently has about 300 cats, Wolbert said, and can’t fit any more meowing friends into the facility.
“About seven out of every 10 calls I get are from people trying to drop off kittens,” Wolbert said. “We’re not an empty hole; we’re totally filled with cats.”
The solution to the kitten and puppy problem?
“Spay and neuter your pets,” Goude said. “If everyone would just do that we wouldn’t have this problem.”
Alternatively, refuse to let domestic cats outside unless they are spayed or neutered, Wolbert suggests.
Saint Frances offers discounted spay/neuter clinics throughout the year, as well as micro-chip implants starting at $10. This week’s adoption frenzy hopes to provide abandoned or lost animals with new, permanent homes as humanely as possible.
All4Paws animal rescue in Pawleys Island also sees in increase in animal intake during the spring and summer, though Shannon Prouty, president and executive director, said the intake is statistically lower than other counties in the state.
“Statistically, it’s going to be dependent on the county, and Georgetown really has a relatively lower intake than say Columbia,” Prouty said.
All4Paws peaked at 1002 adoptions last year and already boasts 598 this year, and Prouty cites a far-reaching adoption program for the success.
“We reach out beyond our state to find qualified adopters for these animals,” Prouty said. Her solution to the puppy and kitten epidemic?
“This whole issue can be solved with certain government ordinances, like spaying and neutering your pets.”
For more information on Saint Frances, to view adoptable animals online, or fill out an adoption application, visit www.sfanimals.org, call 546-0780 or stop by the facility located at 125 Ridge St., Georgetown.
“We try to be as no-kill as possible, as long as it’s humane,” Goude said. “We need the community to help with that; we just want to be a stepping stone to a better world for these pets.”
Rather than buying a forever pet from a breeder, Prouty encourages people to make a financially smart move and adopt from area shelters.
“Especially with the economy like this, people think breeding animals is a way to make money and it isn’t” Prouty said. “When you adopt an animal, it provides an incredible medical package for the pet along with the animal you’re getting.”