Free adoption weekend

The Charleston Animal Society will hold a fee-waived adoption drive this weekend at its facility at 2455 Remount Road in North Charleston.

The drive, which seeks to find homes for at least 200 animals, will be held noon to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Online: charlestonanimalsociety.org.

In its third of three free adoption weekends this summer, the Charleston Animal Society hopes to find homes for at least 200 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.

"In the past two weeks, we have been flooded with a summer surge of dogs and cats," said Pearl Sutton, the society's director of animal services, noting that during that time frame 251 dogs and 464 cats have been brought in. "We are rescuing so many animals that cages are lining the hallways."

With room to house 230 at the shelter and foster families helping with the overflow, the adoption goal of 200 is both a critical and realistic one, according to Chief Executive Officer Joe Elmore.

"The overcrowding is a critical situation for us," Elmore said. "We don't have any room left and we are asking the community to step in and help."

These fee-waived, adoption drives have scored big numbers in the past, including a record 530 on a five-day drive in June 2013.

Still, Elmore worries that the animal society, which adopted a "no kill" policy for healthy and treatable animals, may be finding itself facing "fee-waived adoption fatigue" and that the Charleston area may be reaching a saturation point for adopting animals, particularly adult dogs and cats.

"That's why we ask people who already have a pet to please make room for one more," Elmore said.

Even in the month of July, when shelters both tend to get more animals and adoptions slow dramatically, the animal society had a 61 percent adoption rate. That's compared with 21 percent in South Carolina and 43 percent nationally.

But the society is seeing less people show up at its Remount Road facility for free adoption drives.

Among the issues facing the society, along with many animal shelters across the nation, is the prevalence of adult pit bull and Staffordshire terriers or mixes of those dog breeds.

Elmore said those breeds constitute about 80 percent of the society's adult dog population. Many of the dogs that arrive at the society typically come from "urban and rural areas with low-income families," where the breeds with a reputation for toughness are popular.

"Pop culture drives so much of this (people's interests in certain breeds of dogs)," said Elmore, noting how the popular dogs of his youth, German shepherds and collies, are a more rare sight today. "It's been a long time since someone saw (the TV show) 'Lassie.' "

Elmore added that pit bulls and "Staffies" get a bad rap and, when cared for with love and kindness, are great animals, but that the prejudice can be hard for even the enlightened to escape.

"Charleston has a significant transient population (renters) and many lease agreements either prohibit breeds such as pit bulls, Staffordshires and Rottweilers or have a size limit of 35 pounds or less," says Elmore.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.