The Charleston Animal Society has a problem they’ve never encountered before – they’re running out of room for large dogs given up for adoption.
Charleston Walks the Dog is a brand new program launched this month to help pair 42 large adult dogs with forever homes. As an incentive, the shelter is currently waiving all adoption fees for these dogs, as they often take longer to be placed in homes because they are, well, big.
“In an effort to showcase these big guys out of the shelter in a more normal environment, we’ve created a new promotional series called Charleston Walks the Dog through which local photographer Heather Moran donates her time to take photos of our big featured dogs in the community with notable Charlestonians,” said Sean Hawkins, director of advancement for the Charleston Animal Society.
The shelter will also send dogs home with one month of food and three months each of heartworm and flea prevention, which equates to about $300 worth of supplies. All adoptable dogs have been veterinarian examined, vaccinated, microchipped and spayed or neutered.
“The percentages are up for animal intakes entering the shelter,” said Kay Hyman, the company’s director of community engagement. “But the number of animals leaving the shelter has really slowed down dramatically over the past two months. It’s not just us. It’s across the country.”
Large dogs tend to sit on the foster floor longer than other animals because it takes longer to place them for various reasons. For example, some people who might want to adopt a large dog can’t because rental units have weight limit rules that freeze large dogs, Hawkins said. The Charleston Walks the Dog program is the shelter’s proactive approach to housing its larger dogs that remain for adoption for longer periods of time.
The new promotional series program also focuses on harder-to-place dogs who need extra help to be seen in a positive light, Hyman said. Some of the dogs featured in the program are not placed on the shelter’s adoption floor because it’s too stressful for them and they find it harder to be social with strangers.
Economic strains in the Lowcountry also appear to be impacting lower adoption rates, Hawkins said.
“When the belt gets tighter at home, you’re probably not going to add the expense of adopting a new adult dog,” he said. “For dogs that are already in homes, the economy impacts those families when they move because many, especially with rental units or apartments in Charleston, have weight or size restrictions, or exorbitant pet deposits or even pet rent – and what does the [adoption] inaccessible.
“We see dogs being abandoned at the shelter when families have to move into this environment [or families aren’t] able to adopt a new dog.
There are other ways to help out if you can’t make room for a dog, Hyman said.
Charleston Animal Society also offers placement opportunities if adoption is not suitable. People can also volunteer with Paws Around Town, which helps a shelter dog get a change of scenery by going on walks and adventures with volunteers.
Visit the Paws Around Town Facebook page or email [email protected] to inquire about adoption, fostering and volunteer opportunities.
“[It’s] critical…for people to share the pictures on social media of dogs available for adoption,” Hyman said. “You never know who might be in the market for a dog. Share, share, share – I can’t say enough how important this is.
A list of all dogs up for adoption with biographies and photos is available on the Charleston Animal Society website.
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