by Elisa Black-Taylor
Good morning readers (or good afternoon in Europe). Today I’d like to tell you about a program at the Greenville County Animal Care Services in Greenville, SC that is helping thousands of animals on the euthanasia list, at that shelter, find a home. They began operations in September 2007 and work with the Greenville Humane Society to offer a full service shelter to the residents of Greenville County.
I apologize for the long read here, but this is very important information about a model setup that can save countless lives.
I do a lot of crossposting on my Facebook page as far as working with shelters around the country and I’ve noticed similar programs out there. My experience with rescue is with the Greenville shelter, so that’s the program I’d like to describe.
It’s my desire that each reader will do their part in making their local shelter aware that this system works. It takes a bit of extra work and a person dedicated to the animals, but what’s a little work when thousands of cats and dogs can be saved each year.
When I decided to get into rescue, I contacted Andrea at the Greenville County Animal Care (GCAC SC Urgent Rescue Lists on Facebook) through the email address listed on their account page. Facebook offers an excellent way to get the word out about the animals available for rescue or adoption and all of the necessary information. If you check out their Facebook page under photos, you’ll find dogs and cats each have their own urgent pages. I call this the “euthanasia list” because these animals can be put to sleep at any time for lack of space. There is also a photo album for rescued pets (each month has an album) and a “rainbow bridge” page for animals who were never saved.
The rainbow bridge page will really hit you hard when you look at it. I feel it’s a necessary remembrance for the animals who couldn’t be saved. A few months ago I found myself looking at the cats available for rescue and then a few weeks later I’d see those same cats in the rainbow bridge album. It eventually reached the point where I decided to quit standing by and I entered the world of cat rescue.
The Facebook page is the basis for pulling the rescue together. Here is the link to their page: Greenville (GCAC), SC Urgent Rescue Lists.
After being approved as a rescue by filling out paperwork emailed to me by the shelter, I then began watching the euthanasia list cats and planning a rescue.
Each cat (or dog) is given a number that is used in all correspondence to the rescue program and contact is by email only. A photo is shown, plus age, sex, health, reason for surrender, pull fee and any other important information. The pull fee covers spay/neuter, tests and vaccinations that are performed before the cat or dog is released from the shelter.
There is a sponsorship program where a person who cannot rescue the animal can pay the pull fee. This doesn’t guarantee the animal will be rescued, but takes that expense off of someone willing to rescue. So even those who can’t actually take an animal into their home can help save one.
I decided to rescue 4 cats a few weeks ago. I went to their individual photo on the Facebook urgent list page and typed in a message below each saying “can rescue if sponsored.” I also sent this same message, along with their I.D. numbers to the email that must be used to save them. Within an hour all 4 cats had been sponsored. One died after being spayed, but I’m very happy I was able to save 3 little lives.
Here are the links to the two rescues I've made from the Greenville Animal Care Urgent List program and also the link with the video article which ran yesterday:
The Facebook GCAC SC Urgent List page is run by Andrea, who is very involved with this project and I really hate it when people get online and blame the shelter for the euthanasia rate. The fault lies with irresponsible ownership and the failure to spay/neuter.
Andrea also has a web site. The email to save or sponsor an animal is:
Even if you can’t physically help an animal, you can always pay the sponsorship for one. You can even choose which animal to sponsor.
There is also a mailing list sent out to those who rescue. This is updated every day or so and sent to everyone who requests it with information with available animals and the status of those who were recently helped. It’s nice to look at the photos of all of the cats and see some have been “bailed out.”
I feel I’ve been given a crash course in how to begin a shelter rescue program simply by watching the Greenville rescue system. Here are some of the key points in setting up such a system.
- Set up a Facebook page with the name of the shelter. Include photo albums for cats needing homes, dogs needing homes, cats and dogs rescued and rainbow bridge. I’d like to also recommend an album where those who have adopted or rescued can send photos of how happy the pet looks in their new home.
- Spread the word and ask your friends to “like” the urgent list page for your shelter.
- Make sure an email address is given on the urgent page and stress the importance of the I.D. number being used, the word “adopt” or “rescue” in the subject title along with the I.D. and “attention” and insert name of person in charge of the urgent list. This way the animal can be pulled before time runs out.
- Make sure emails are checked often and respond quickly.
- Once rescue or adoption is arranged confirm final details such as pick up time.
- Be sure to mention if transport is available. Here's the link to a story I did on the people who help get the shelter pets to their final destination. The bottom half of this article tells the story of The Freedom Train, owned by Rhonda Sims of Anderson, SC.
This program has saved over 5000 dogs and cats at the Greenville shelter and this number doesn’t include those that go up for regular adoption. The numbers alone are proof this system works.
Overall, this is organization at it's best. From a marketing standpoint, Andrea gets the word out, rescuers respond, crossposters spread the word and transporters co-ordinate with the shelter to help out. It's a finely tuned operation that rivals any large organization.
Andrea - you deserve a medal for all that you accomplish for the cats and dogs you serve.
Do any of the readers have any experience with similar programs? Feel free to add any information under comments that you think will improve a program such as this.
I’m also sending this article to Andrea in hopes she can add anything I may have missed. I’ve found this is the best way to complete an important article such as this. I give the basic information and ask the organization for a comment or two.
Please take a look at the above photos. These cats are on death row and begging for someone to save them. Help them if you can.