Last month the good folks at the Animal Medical Center of Mount Pleasant had the idea to hold a supply drive for the Charleston Animal Society.

They got a list of items the shelter needed - and the shelter always needs something - and spread the word.

They printed up fliers, emailed their clients and even posted the list on Facebook.

A group of veterinarians knows, better than most, the kind of costs associated with running a nonprofit animal shelter, and they wanted to help.

They also wanted to show that the recent dust-up between the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians and the state's shelters was not indicative of how all vets feel.

The association is trying to pass legislation to curb the sort of services shelters can provide. The state organization says it is about quality of care; shelters say it's really about clinics cutting into some vets' business.

But it is nowhere near that simple, and has next to nothing to do with the state of affairs in the Lowcountry.

"It's just not how anyone I know feels," says Dr. Scott Senf, one of the vets at the Animal Medical Center. "We wanted the people at the SPCA to know that's not how we feel about it."

And did they ever show it.

In just three weeks, the Medical Center's lobby was half-filled with food, cleaning supplies, pet toys, animal crates and cases of peanut butter (don't ask).

"I don't think we expected the amount of donations we got," Dr. Steven Epstein says.

But hey, 'tis the season.

Part of the community

The Animal Medical Center has a long history of giving.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, the clinic filled two U-Hauls and a van with supplies and headed for the Gulf Coast. The docs stayed a week to help out.

And like a lot of local vets, they offer free office visits for pets adopted from the Charleston Animal Society.

That's just how they roll.

Mount Pleasant may be one of the largest cities in the state these days, but in many ways it is still a small town. And the attitude of the Animal Medical Center exemplifies that.

Take Epstein. When he was a student at Wando High, he helped out at the clinic after school. He went off to college, got his DVM, and now has his name on the door.

Some of the folks who come in still remember him as a kid working around the office.

That's the kind of story you can find at a local vet's office. These folks volunteer at shelters, take in animals when the society has them stacked in the halls.

They are just animal people, which means they are good people.

Joe Elmore, chief executive officer of the society, says this generosity from the vets does not go unnoticed.

"We wouldn't trade our vets for any others vets in the state," Elmore says. "We've got a great community of veterinarians."

It's the animals

Senf says the real credit for the Animal Medical Center's supply drive goes to all those folks who donated.

Some people carried in carloads of supplies. They brought in mops, bowls. One woman who saw the flier had never heard of the Animal Society. When they explained it to her, she donated two bags of food on the spot.

"People want to give, they just need an outlet," Senf says.

That's a nice holiday sentiment, and it has inspired the Medical Center to make its supply drive an annual event.

Goodness knows the shelter will always need the help. And luckily a lot of people around here always want to help out.

But that shouldn't be a surprise, especially around a place like the Animal Medical Center.

"That's why we're in this business," says Donna Krantz, the center's manager, "because we love animals."

Reach Brian Hicks at