Unfortunately for the animals at Francis R. Willis SPCA, Noah and his ark were nowhere to be found on the morning of Oct. 3 when the skies opened up.
Once the rain started, it didn’t take long for the low-lying Summerville animal shelter to begin flooding.
The shelter’s staff “went into panic mode” trying to keep the water out, but “by the next morning we were completely flooded,” said Rachel Nisbet, a member of the organization’s board.
As organizations like Willis SPCA begin the long process of picking up the pieces after the devastating flood, groups from around the state, including in Beaufort County, are lending a helping hand.
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“It has been a devastating experience,” Erin Smith with the Humane Society of South Carolina in Columbia said. “But the community and the whole region has really pulled together.”
Last weekend volunteers and employees with the Beaufort County Animal Shelter took a trip to Summerville and delivered a trailer full of donations to the Willis SPCA.
“Some shelters in the Columbia and Charleston area have lost so much, so this was our way to give back and help in any way we could,” Tallulah Trice, Beaufort County animal services director, said in an email.
Dianne All, of Rogue Rescue and Sanctuary in Bluffton, has been collecting pet food and supplies and trucking them to the Charleston area for the past week.
“The thought of these animals being displaced is heartbreaking,” she said.
In Georgetown, which was hit hard by flooding, many displaced animals have been brought to St. Francis Animal Center in the town about an hour south of Myrtle Beach.
“Lots of people are staying in hotels and shelters, and these places usually don’t take in pets,” center adoption manager Rebecca Ritch said.
Because “people have no other option,” they are dropping pets off at shelters, she said.
Other pets were lost or separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the flood.
Bluffton-based mobiPET is allowing pet owners in the Columbia area free access to its technology, which is designed to help reunite people and their lost pets.
The company’s mobile application serves as a sort of Amber alert for pets. Users can upload photos and information about their pets, which the app sends to nearby shelters and animal control agencies.
Due to the influx of lost pets and pets in need of temporary housing, St. Francis, like many shelters in flooded parts of the state, is now filled.
The Palmetto Animal League in Ridgeland took in 12 dogs this week from overcrowded shelters around Georgetown and Horry County.
“Since the flooding started, our focus has been helping get the animals out (of flooded areas),” league president Amy Campanini said.
Nisbet and her team in Summerville are working around the clock to find their dogs new homes, even if they are just temporary ones in other shelters.
“We still have neighborhoods that are still underwater, and there are still strays coming in. But we don’t have a building to process and take in these dogs,” she said.
“We’ve cried quite a bit because this a huge blow for us. ... It is overwhelming and very, very sad. But we are beyond thrilled that people have come to help us. We just need that help to continue.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Pet food and supply donations are being accepted at:
- Rogue Rescue and Sanctuary, 15 Tillman St., Bluffton. Dry cat food is most needed.
- Hilton Head Humane Association, 10 Humane Way. All varieties of pet food are most needed.
- Quality Inn at Town Center, 2001 Boundary St., Beaufort.
Also, Palmetto Animal League is looking for foster parents for displaced pets. Visit www.palmettoanimalleague.org or call 843-645-1725 for details.