By Elisa Black-Taylor
For those of you who don’t know, Greenville County Animal Care Services (GCACS) is the facility where my daughter Laura and I used to do rescue and fostering out of. This week they had a crisis, and they used news media to successfully adopt out several hundred abandoned, stray, and family pets instead of euthanising them.
Oversupply of animals
Wednesday was a very scary day for everyone who supports the shelter. Here’s the situation. On any given day, the shelter takes in 100+ animals. They have space for a total of 600. On Wednesday, they had 800 and were 30% above capacity. So they contacted the local news stations and announced to the public that 11a.m. Thursday was the deadline for finding homes or rescues or they’d have to euthanise. Thanks to everyone pulling together, in two days, 252 dogs and cats found temporary or permanent homes. This is a shelter I’m proud to say I’ve been involved with for almost three years.
Their Facebook page at Greenville County Pet Rescue has also been hopping the past few days. I don’t go on their often anymore, because it breaks my heart that we can no longer help the shelter. Now I can only use my writing talent to help the dogs and cats who find their way there. I saw a few things on their webpage that made my blood boil.
The first was one person commenting on the staff being “well educated in Murder 101.” I know the ladies that do rescue coordination for the shelter. They put a lot of time and effort into finding people who can take the pets. There were also comments on why aren’t adoption events held on weekends and why the shelter doesn’t go no kill.
I’d like to address the latter one first. The Greenville Humane Society IS no kill. And there are quite a few pets adopted out through them who do the revolving door act and end up at GCACS. These animals are spay/neutered, have tested negative for everything, and are up to date on vaccinations. It hasn’t stopped the 100+ animals from being dumped at the shelter on a daily basis. Quite a few are already altered. And kitten season isn’t really with us yet! Kittens will pose a whole different set of issues. I just want everyone to understand a cat being spay/neutered when adopted only stops reproduction. It doesn’t stop heartless owners from dumping the cat at the shelter for any number of lame excuses.
It’s my belief that no one should judge a shelter until they’ve sat in the lobby for a few hours and watched a line form 30 feet past the exit and into the parking lot. Most people lie and say the pets are strays. We took home a lot of strays that smelled of perfume or laundry detergent. I wonder how many cats were plucked up during a nap out of a soft laundry basket filled with comfy bedding and thrown away without a bit of remorse?
Our final rescues and fosters took place during the morning hours, usually before 11a.m. You wouldn’t believe how many people would show up HOURS before the shelter opened to the public. As if they had to get rid of a pet they once loved before sitting down to lunch somewhere.
The next issue is the shelter becoming no-kill. I love the idea of no-kill. I’ve written articles wishing all shelters could keep alive every healthy cat to come through their door. I’ve also read how no-kill shelters would tell people they were out of room, and a few angry pet owners have even thrown their so-called pets out the car window as they left the shelter. One man ran over his dog when the no-kill shelter told him they couldn’t accept it.
I don’t believe no-kill can happen for GCACS. It’s a nice idea until you do the math. The shelter takes in 600-800 pets a week. On a good week they may adopt out 250-300. How many weeks could they take in every single pet with a guarantee of it not being euthanised? If people knew the shelter had become no-kill, then it would only increase the number of turn-in’s by the public. Of course, many who turn in their pets under the current system have no remorse anyway. How long before accepting 1500+ pets a week would bankrupt a shelter? There’s just no where to put all of the cats and dogs. Many shelters, not just in Greenville, are struggling to keep their doors open.
As for the shelter not doing adoption events, what led the person who commented into believing there are no adoption events? The rescue coordinators take their free weekend time and spend it trying to adopt out as many of the animals as they can. I spoke to one of them before writing this article, and this was confirmed. Plus the rescues who pull from GCACS can be found at Petsmart or Petco EVERY weekend. Sometimes Saturday and Sunday. The shelter also has low-cost clinics, as well as periodic adoption events.
I’ll end this here, as I could ramble on until I’ve written a book about this wonderful shelter. They’re not like shelters in some places up north where an animal is said to be safe and killed anyway. The ladies here are very organized. Once an email is received from an individual or rescue that a pet is wanted, that pet is SAFE! I get very very angry at the remarks made to the rescue coordinators who spend the majority of their life devoted to the cats and dogs no one wanted.
Readers, is there an answer that will reduce the number of cats and dogs turned in to shelters? Do any of you who are in close contact with your local shelter experience any of these problems? Are the no-kill shelters as great as everyone is led to believe, or do they have their own set of problems? Your comments are definitely needed on this one.