When Charleston Animal Society unveiled our No Kill Charleston 2015 initiative in April of this year we knew that it would come with both increased expectations and unprecedented challenges. With our dedication to building a No Kill community came a commitment to save every healthy and treatable animal that enters our doors.

Charleston County is overwhelmed with over 12,000 unwanted and homeless animals each year. Take into account that we open our doors to 90 percent of all local unwanted and homeless animals, most of whom are injured or ill — a monumental task.

As a result of our efforts on behalf of our community and its animals, Charleston Animal Society is facing a challenge that is unprecedented in our history. Since late spring, our sheltering system has operated far beyond its capacity even with our traditional “summer rush” behind us.

Right now, we have almost 700 animals in our system in need of homes. And when I speak of animals in need, I do not refer to “hand-picked” animals, imported from areas outside of the county based purely on their desirability. These are local animals — Charleston’s animals — just waiting for a second chance with a local family.

When adopting, please ask if the animal is local or imported. Until we can take care of our own community’s animals, no matter how they look on the outside, let’s not import other animals that may be more desirable simply for profit. Right now, we need our community to help alleviate our critically overcrowded sheltering system. You can make room for one more in your home and support our mission by attending the 14th Annual Celebrity Chili Cook Off and Oyster Roast, our largest annual fundraiser and our next big adoption event. On Saturday, Nov. 23, from 1-5 p.m. at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park (the Riverdogs’ stadium), over 1,000 people will be in attendance, as well as our community’s adoptable dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to support our local animals. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and include all the oysters and chili you can eat. Proceeds go to Toby’s Fund to help care for our local, unwanted animals. We have never needed your help more as we continue toward our goal of No Kill Charleston 2015.

At the unveiling of No Kill Charleston 2015, Charleston Animal Society made it clear that our initiative was a community-wide effort that calls for each and every one of us to do our part. The Chili Cook Off and Oyster Roast is the perfect opportunity for the Charleston area to come to the aid of our community’s most at-risk animals.

Please come out and open up your heart and home for one of these endearing local animals. They need you — and your community needs you — more than ever.

Sarah Heilman Boyd, DVM

Director of Shelter Health and Wellness

Charleston Animal Society

Remount Road

North Charleston