December 14, 2013

Humane society wants folks to think twice before adopting new pet for holidays

All Christmas wish lists are not created equal but it’s likely the North Pole has seen pleas for puppies on quite a few Crayola-created notes that begin with “all I want for Christmas is ”

All Christmas wish lists are not created equal but it’s likely the North Pole has seen pleas for puppies on quite a few Crayola-created notes that begin with “all I want for Christmas is ”

Whether Santa shares a sleigh ride with bow-bedecked pups is his choice, but City of Myrtle Beach animal control officer Becky Ewing doesn’t believe giving puppies as a gift is a good idea – and Sandy Brown, executive director of Grand Strand Humane Society agrees.

Brown, described as “a devout animal lover” by Stefan Brown, the social media manager for GSHS, said Sandy Brown is in her sixth year as executive director and served on the GSHS board for about eight years before her current position. Prior to GSHS, she worked for Burroughs & Chapin Company for 15 years.

GSHS, a facility Sandy Brown said “doesn’t euthanize for space,” is contracted by the city of Myrtle Beach and was chartered in 1972. The two entities work together to keep animals safe, healthy and happy.

Ewing and Sandy Brown both said there’s no limit on the time animals stay.

“We keep them as long as it takes to find their owners or new homes.”

Ewing, a class 3 officer whose job allows her to enforce/handle animal related issues, works year round for the city to keep the city safe while answering calls for abandoned, injured and stray animals. She can arrest those who are allegedly abusing or neglecting animals.

Ewing also noted that while she doesn’t necessarily see an increase around the holidays of abandoned animals, there are still a hefty amount of calls throughout the year from owners who surrender their pets for numerous reasons, including one of the more common: “They didn’t realize the dog would get so big, so fast.”

Presently, there are more than 300 dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, rabbits and guinea pigs housed at Grand Strand Humane Society, said Sandy Brown, who also cautioned about bringing a pet into the family as a holiday gift. She advises waiting until after the holidays.

“People don’t realize the enormity of the responsibility they are taking on,” she said about some of those who buy pets as gifts. “They don’t think about the time and care and expense” involved in taking care of a pet.

Brown said animal lovers with giving holiday hearts can help in other ways. Angel trees for pets can be found at Paw Thrift Shop on Socastee Boulevard and Myrtle Beach Veterinary Hospital on Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach.

In addition, donating to “Dollars for Dogs and Kittens, too” is as easy as going to the GSHS website (

Donations of any amount are always welcome. Brown explained the cost to operate the shelter is approximately $750,000 a year. With only about $230,000 covered through the contract with the city, Sandy Brown said “there’s a wide gap” and “we utilize as many fundraisers as possible to stay funded and open.”

Sandy Brown explained that many shelters “are forced to operate strictly on budget” and this, she said, ultimately “affects many happy, healthy animals.”

“We have dipped into every resource and sadly, the day will come when we can no longer operate the way we do now,” she said. “Money only puts a band-aid on the problem.”

She urges pet owners to do their part by having dogs and cats spayed and neutered, as well as make sure they get preventative care and vaccinations – all services that are offered by the clinic at GSHS.

“We offer these services to anyone’s animal and not just those who live within city limits,” Sandy Brown said.

Although the shelter is reaching over-capacity – and this happens because a lot of animals come in as litters – Brown emphasized that they “don’t euthanize for space” and have developed creative ways to reunite pets with their families.

Stefan Brown said manages the shelter’s Facebook page, its PetFinder website and its Twitter account.

“I’m also the in-house photographer, giving us the opportunity to post photos of the family and pet when they adopt on all social media,” he said. “I also post photos of missing animals when MB City Animal Control picks up a stray or a good Samaritan brings one into the shelter in hopes of reuniting the pet and family.”

Stefan Brown said the idea to post photos of all their animals on social media sites “enhances the opportunity to get them adopted; a photo of a loving pet speaks more than a thousand words and our adoption and reuniting rates have gone up exponentially since we started posting.”

He credits the work of adoption specialist Holley Bradshaw and the exposure by social media as contributing factors to the uptick in success.

Stefan Brown, who holds degrees in political science and history from Winthrop University also has a degree in digital media and has worked at GSHS for “a little over six months.”

In that time, he said “there have been changes but the mission never changes: Care for unwanted, abandoned and abused animals until we can find them a permanent home with a loving family.”

“I work for GSHS because it is rewarding and fulfills me like other jobs have not and my advice to a new adoptive parent is to provide the love, medical care and home every animal deserves.”

Ewing seconded that by admitting it’s a tough job that’s “not easy” but, also noted the “rewards of having a puppy lick your face” make it worthwhile.

Sandy Brown said “the goal of GSHS is to save and find loving homes for every, healthy, happy animal in our care” and that’s why she and Ewing stress that folks who are thinking about buying a pet as a gift this holiday season think it over with care and make sure they are fully prepared to add another member to their family.

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