LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Pat McQueen has spent the past 21 years helping save more than 55,000 animals and assisting more than 80,000 people with pets or strays they couldn’t keep. Her labor of love is one that has helped prevent countless unwanted litters while creating a more humane environment for the Midlands animal world.
McQueen is the president and co-founder of PETS, Inc., which facilitates the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of animals. She stepped down from the post recently to move to Arizona to be with her family – but talked before she left about the job and the passion that has driven her.
What progress have you been most pleased with at PETS Inc, since you first co-founded the organization?
I’ve been delighted to have been part of making it possible for the neediest of animals to receive the help they need. Knowing that over 55,000 animals have enjoyed better lives because we were there for them makes my heart glow. It hasn’t always been easy but everything we have done was done with love.
What work do you think still needs to be done?
I agree that spay and neuter programs are critical but it is also important to recognize the animals’ physical and emotional needs. Far too many teenage and adult animals, that at one time had families, end up being destroyed at the pounds every year because of unrealistic expectations. Lifestyles have changed dramatically since the 1950’s but somehow our understanding of how that translates to a very boring and unsatisfactory life for our pets in the 21st century has eluded the average pet owner. Pet owners need help with containment, housing, training and even feeding issues. Animal rescue has become more complex than just spay and neuter.
What are you general impressions about the attitudes of area residents with regard to caring for pets and how do you hope the organization has helped mold those views?
I believe that most people in the Midlands are sincerely interested in the welfare of their animals. In my 21 years at this I can think of only a few of the tens of thousands of people we’ve assisted that didn’t have the best of intentions. They don’t always know what to do for their pets but they should be commended for asking for help. I wish we had had the resources to help every single one of them, but we are proud that we were able to help tens of thousands.
What do you hope has been your legacy here?
I hope that I have helped people enjoy the very essence of life with their dogs and cats. I hope that they were as enriched by the cat on their lap and the dog by their side as I was by the dozens of animals who graced my life. I hope that I was able to pass on to others the love and comfort I received from these giving creatures. And isn’t that what life is all about – sharing ? Animals teach us that you know.
How did you come about your own love of animals?
Born that way ... and blessed by a dog named Wacky who followed my parents’ car to the hospital and waited on the steps while I was entering this world. Wacky was followed by a series of amazing animals that taught me most of life’s greatest lessons. How could I not love them?
What pets will be heading with you to your next stop?
Just my regular ragtag bunch of misfits that make me feel normal. That would be four old dogs and two old cats with one old lady. We’re a family. We’re together for life.
So what are some of the best memories of this community that you will take with you?
I’ll push away from my memory all of the struggle and hard times and take with me thoughts of the people who joined me in this great adventure. Not many people have had the opportunities I’ve had to know so many compassionate and colorful people and to be able to call them friends.
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.