An ambitious effort is underway by animal advocates to prevent any healthy animals in South Carolina from being euthanized because they do not have a home.
The Charleston Animal Society is working with shelters and animal protection groups statewide for No Kill South Carolina.
No Kill South Carolina director Abigail Kamleiter said they got the idea to go statewide after Charleston eventually reached “no-kill” status five years ago.
The CAS began addressing the issue in 2008 when its euthanasia rate was 65 percent.
“We were not happy with it,” Kamleiter said. After concerted efforts, the CAS reached its no-kill goal in its first year. She said they focused on four major strategies: encouraging adoptions, reducing free-roaming felines, improving the spay-neuter program and increasing the number of foster homes for the animals.
“Rather than holding (cats) for a stray period for five days to see if anyone comes to get them, which happens in about one percent of the cases — and that’s no exaggeration — we alter (spay or neuter) them, then put them back where they came from because that’s where they live anyway,” Kamleiter said.
Kamleiter said CAS “altered” more than 12,000 animals in Charleston County in addition to its foster program. CAS could have as many as 500 animals in foster care at any given time.
“‘We achieved our goal, now what?'” Kamleiter said. “So the board looked around and said, there’s no reason that everybody in South Carolina can’t do what we’ve done here in Charleston County. So we launched No Kill South Carolina.”
Kamleiter said the first step was to reach out to the state’s 82 shelters and 350 animal welfare groups, who have been receptive to the idea. West Columbia has been no-kill since 2014. Some shelters, such as the Calhoun County Animal Shelter, have relationships with rescues in other states that will accept and find homes for pets.
“We’re all working together,” Kamleiter said.
No Kill South Carolina has received donations from the Petco Foundation and continues to solicit other revenue sources.
Kamleiter said the goal for 2018 is to find a home for every healthy, adoptable dog in the state.
“If we can get to that benchmark and save all our healthy dogs in 2018, where no healthy dog is euthanized, then we can use that as a springboard to bring more resources into the state for all those other organizations who are working as hard as they can and direct more money to treating heartworms or implementing intake diversion and TVAR (trap, vaccinate, alter, return) for cats,” she said.
The organization plans a statewide adoption event from October 5-7. The goal is to save 1,500 healthy, treatable pets through the weekend.