Every day, newcomers come to the Berkeley County Animal Center.
Since moving into the new county shelter in mid-June – which offers a lot more space than the old building on Cypress Gardens Road – staff say it’s already overcapacity.
The county shelter moved to 131 Central Berkeley Drive in Moncks Corner over the summer. The 11,500 square foot shelter is designed to house animals indoors as well as horses, pigs and goats outdoors.
“Unfortunately, since we’ve been here we’ve hit a peak,” said shelter manager Heather McDowell. “We have too many animals coming in, so we still don’t have enough room, and I don’t know if we will ever do that unless people start to sterilize their animals.”
Although the shelter is still new, McDowell says that eventually they will likely need to add more space to accommodate the high volume of incoming animals.
“We are operating at full capacity or over capacity most of the time,” said Tiffany Hoffman, who is the events coordinator for the shelter. “I think with Berkeley County we are growing fast, and with the growth we will have more animals.”
The shelter is made up of less than 13 staff and is a collection of moving parts, from community members volunteering to people helping with pets.
One of the key players is Abby Garrett, who has worked for Animal Control for two years. Garret and other animal control officers frequently bring stray animals or abandoned animals into the shelter. From there, volunteers like Robby Levesque, who has been helping the animal center since the move, play a huge role in helping walk the dogs and helping to wash the animals and / or take care of the laundry as needed. Both individuals are currently fostering a dog or have chosen to adopt a dog they are fostering.
“We save a lot of lives because of our foster families,” Hoffman said. “We are saving thousands of lives and there is no way we can do it without them.”
Hoffman explained that when things started to stop at the start of the pandemic, staff noticed more families were looking to welcome or adopt.
“When it all came to a halt, we had a lot of people looking to accommodate,” Hoffman said. “We especially saw these families with children watching.”
But there have been fewer such volunteers in recent months, and the need to find homes for the animals at the shelter is still critical. Community members interested in foster care, Hoffman says, can come to the shelter and the staff there will help find a good fit for the individual and the pet.
“We give you crates, food, treats and we have a 24 hour welcome line,” Hoffman noted, explaining that staff members try to meet the needs of those who host an animal because ‘they are aware of the importance of their role. “We appreciate our host families so much and we don’t want to exhaust them. We can adjust to their schedule.”
The shelter is hosting several upcoming events to support the animal center and encourage adoption, including Woofstock, a lowcountry dog friendly music festival that takes place on October 10 at the Hanahan Amphitheater. The shelter is also having an adoption event on October 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Petsense in Goose Creek. All adoptable animals will be spayed / neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.
Those interested in adopting can stop by the animal center during adoption hours, which are Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.