Grand Strand animal shelters battle overcrowding

(Myrtle Beach) Sun-NewsJune 23, 2014 

— Animal shelters across the Grand Strand are amping up adoption events and offering reduced fees to help alleviate overcrowding issues.

Paula Syms, with Coastal Animal Rescue in Murrells Inlet, said despite spay and neuter and trap and release programs, the problem isn’t getting better.

“We have so many cats and kittens with it being kitten season and this year is worse than ever,” she said.

Syms isn’t alone and the problem isn’t isolated to cats.

Wendy Goude, director of Saint Frances Animal Care Center in Georgetown, said a spay and neuter ordinance is desperately needed in Horry and Georgetown counties, though there are no organized efforts to draft such a law.

“We have a spay and neuter clinic that is in full swing Monday and Wednesday,” she said. “We are always booked every week, but it seems like we can’t make a dent in the overall population of these animals.

“We will remain confined to the hamster wheel unless the laws change. If we get a spay and neuter ordinance in play, we will finally see a change in this area. People seriously need to contact their representatives and get involved in the push for changes.”

Sandy Brown, director of the Grand Strand Humane Society which brought dogs available for adoption to two concerts at The Market Common last week, said the shelter “desperately needs to find loving, permanent homes for 70 to 75 beautiful animals,” to make space for the abandoned, abused or unwanted animals brought in by animal control and the community.

“We refuse to euthanize to provide space for incoming animals so adoption is our only answer,” Brown said.

Saint Frances in Georgetown, which is designed to house 150 animals, had 303 cats and dogs as of 3 p.m. Friday, not including a recently dropped off litter of dachshunds and kittens that were dropped off during a phone interview with Goude. She said the 303 still in the shelter came after the release of 24 dogs to a shelter in New Jersey and the adoption or fostering of 72 others last week.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Goude said. Efforts included lowering adoption fees to $9.99 for all animals over 1 year old in a week-long promotion that ended Saturday.

Elena Nicholas, board president of the Grand Strand Humane Society, is sponsoring 12 dogs over 6 months old, Brown said. That means adoption fees will cost $10 for the first 12 eligible dogs and includes the spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations, medical records and micro-chipping.

The Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach also is using reduced adoption fees for dogs during an event Saturday, June 28, said shelter manager Tina Hunter. The charge usually is $77, but will cost $40 during the event.

“Summer is an exceptionally difficult time for our shelter,” Hunter said. “There are literally hundreds of cats and kittens needing homes, and we have very limited space. We hope the adoption event will encourage those thinking about adopting a dog to come out and take advantage of the reduced adoption rates and let us help them find their new best friend.”

The shelter in North Myrtle Beach, as of Thursday, had 152 cats and kittens and 91 dogs and puppies available for adoption.

Goude similarly said summer is the hardest time of the year because donations are historically lowest while the intake is the highest due a spring mating season for cats and dogs that are not spayed or neutered.

She said boxes of kittens and puppies are brought to the shelter daily.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said of the community bringing the litters to the center. “But, unfortunately, at some point we have to say no. We’re only built to hold so many and we won’t euthanize one animal to save another.”

Shelters in Charleston are seeing similar problems.

The Post and Courier reported Wednesday that the Charleston Animal Society is offering free adoptions for adult dogs and cats and an adopt one, get one free on kittens, because it is overloaded.

This is the third consecutive year the shelter in Charleston used adoption promotions in June to alleviate pressure from overpopulation. Last year, 538 animals were adopted from the shelter in five days during the promotion. There currently are about 750 animals in the shelters and in foster care.

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