Largely through the generosity of readers of The Greenville News, the Pickens County Humane Society will be able operate for another year. And it now has the money it needs to begin renovation of its kennels, the director said Tuesday.
The nonprofit organization, which was in danger of having to close its doors this month because of lack of funding and the condition of its kennels, has been overwhelmed with the community support that came in after the newspaper published a story about its plight.
"We are definitely guaranteed to be open for another year with the community support that we have received from, actually, your story," said Humane Society Director Samantha Gamble. "So we're definitely excited about that."
The county, which had cut its annual funding of the shelter from $120,000 to $70,000 in recent years and had been urging the Humane Society to look elsewhere for help, stepped up to help with the kennels, Gamble said.
Through the county, the Humane Society was able to get the concrete blocks for the project for $3,000 instead of the $9,000 it had figured it would need. And county employees will do the work, she said.
County Administrator Matthew Delk said, "I think the Humane Society is doing something that is certainly a public benefit for all county citizens as far as helping control the population (of dogs and cats) and helping provide adoption services for animals."
The society raised $9,000 from donors for the kennel project since the first article on the issue appeared on GreenvilleOnline.com on Dec. 3. The story was shared on Facebook 3,544 times, and the shelter phones started ringing.
The money will pay for concrete blocks to build higher walls for all 32 kennels, and for eight kennel doors, Gamble said. The kennels had been considered unsafe because the walls were too low, and aggressive dogs could harm dogs in an adjacent kennel, Gamble said.
Dogs also could be hurt by poking their paws through chain link fencing that will be replaced by concrete, she said.
"We're very excited that we can at least take away one of the harms to the animals," Gamble said.
The society is still raising money for the other 24 doors, which will come to $18,000, she said.
The shelter will have to close for about a week while the work is being done, sometime later this month, and the dogs will be moved temporarily to the Greenville Humane Society shelter, Gamble said.
Even with $70,000 a year in county funding, the shelter was going into the red to keep running a program that costs between $116,000 and $130,000 a year to operate, Humane Society officials have said.
Donors stepped forward to make up the difference in the annual budget for the coming year, Gamble said. They also dropped off hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food and other supplies.
The shelter's future will be secure beyond 2015 if more people will commit to making monthly donations, she said.
In the meantime, the society is continuing its fundraising efforts.
The next one will be at Monkey Joe's in Greenville, a kid's play and party place with bouncing, sliding, jumping things. Monkey Joe's will donate half of the $9.99 admission on Jan. 29 to the Pickens County Humane Society, Gamble said.
Monkey Joe's is at 2437 Laurens Road.
A $7 pancake breakfast to benefit the shelter will be held Feb. 28 at Gatehouse Restaurant, 116 Ann St., Pickens.
From Jan. 14 until Feb. 14, everyone who adopts an animal at the Pickens County Humane Society shelter will receive a gift certificate for one long-stemmed rose from Celestial Flowers, of 320 W. Main St., Liberty, Gamble said.
And the society has set up an online fund raising campaign.
The shelter is at 500 Five Forks Road, Liberty, For more information, call 843-9693 or email email@example.com.