The Charleston Animal Society’s “No Kill Charleston 2015” mission sounds wonderful.
But it also sounds far-fetched for an “open admission” shelter, a designation that means the facility takes in every animal that comes its way.
Then again, the CAS’ “live release” rate has soared from 34 to 77 percent since 2007. Six years ago, such a stunning increase would have sounded far-fetched, too.
So don’t assume that the CAS is reaching beyond its grasp toward this goal set by chief executive officer Joe Elmore — “to save every healthy and treatable animal” that comes its way by 2015.
After all, that steep live-release-rate jump wasn’t accomplished by luck. It stemmed from community involvement, generous donors, numerous volunteers, new ideas and old-fashioned hard work.
Thus, Mr. Elmore has reason for optimism as the CAS embarks on what he fairly describes as “the boldest animal welfare initiative ever undertaken in the Southeast.”
The CAS celebrated what it has already accomplished at its 139th annual meeting Tuesday night.
It also officially announced the “No Kill Charleston 2015” mission, which hinges on the three crucial elements of fund-raising, volunteers and adoptions.
Since 2008, the CAS has joined with Pet Helpers, a no-kill shelter on James Island, and Humane Net, a Lowcountry coalition of animal-care organizations, in a national ASPCA program to reduce euthanizations.
ASPCA president Ed Sayres told Tuesday night’s meeting that in the push to boost live-release rates, Charleston has become “the highest performing community that we’ve ever had.”
And as Mr. Elmore told the meeting, the CAS set state records in 2012 for the most adoptions in a year, a single day and a campaign, and the most spay-neutered operations in a year or a single event.
Those triumphs would not have been possible without wide-ranging community support.
A grass-roots commitment again will be crucial for “No Kill Charleston 2015” — including raising money for the shelter’s operation, and further raising the public’s awareness about the need to spay or neuter pets.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, the final speaker in Tuesday night’s lineup, said that as a Charleston County Councilman from 1995-2008, he “understood the necessity” of that panel’s annual appropriation to the CAS — though that now covers only about a quarter of its budget.
The senator also offered a touching personal reminder of the special bond between person and pet.
He recalled that after his grandmother died in 2001, his grandfather was understandably feeling very low. So Mr. Scott went to the CAS and got him a “nice, cuddly pup that grows into a 135-pound dog.”
That puppy became a “little cuddly Rottweiler” named Sam — and became utterly precious to the aging widower, who also takes great pride in his pickup truck.
As Sen. Scott tells it, his grandfather, now 93, still regularly — and joyfully — “sits out in the driveway in his chair, with his dog, next to his truck.”
The senator sweetly summed up by giving “the power of unconditional love” from that big dog credit for this heartwarming outcome: “My grandfather’s health and happiness are stronger and better because of his companion Sam.”
If you’re looking for a devoted companion, the CAS has plenty available.
And if you’re assuming that there’s no way for the Animal Society to attain “no kill” status, look at how far it has already advanced on the life-saving trail.