Brad Nettles // The Post and Courier
This female beagle and her six 2-week-old puppies were brought into the Charleston Animal Society after being picked up as strays in the Hollywood area of Charleston County.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 20 adoptable animals were euthanized to make more space at the overcrowded Charleston Animal Society.
The society usually is able to avoid putting down healthy animals with good temperaments, and hasn't done so in about a year, officials said.
But more critters have flowed into the shelter than it can handle in recent weeks due to what shelter President Charles Karesh dubs the "perfect storm" of a natural increase in animal births during the spring and summer coupled with natural disasters in other states.
So far, 14 dogs and six cats have been euthanized. On Monday, the shelter will consider euthanizing more unless more animals are adopted out and fewer taken in.
The shelter has taken in 187 pets since July 1, but has had only 130 adoptions in that time, according to Kay Hyman, director of marketing and public relations for the shelter.
"There's no question, I don't want to talk about it, but it's just a fact," Karesh said. "When it becomes a health and safety issue for employees and other animals, we have to consider euthanasia."
While the shelter needs more help, Karesh lauded Charlestonians for adopting 123 animals over the weekend.
"This number (of animals euthanized) would have been 60 or 70 without people coming in," Karesh said. "A normal Saturday might have 20-25 adoptions, and we doubled that."
The shelter almost reached its goal of 125 adoptions this weekend, but it took in around 131 strays. Karesh believes many of the strays were animals scared away from their homes by fireworks. The shelter has set up temporary kennels to deal with the excess.
Pet Helpers also is begging residents to adopt. Of the 687 pets taken in by Pet Helpers from Jan. 1 to July 8, 155 were from the CAS. Pet Helpers is a no-kill shelter, so it can only take in so many from the CAS before filling up.
The CAS and Pet Helpers are offering limited-time adoption specials. At the CAS, at 2455 Remount Road in North Charleston, adult cats are free and kittens and dogs are $45.
At Pet Helpers, at 1447 Folly Road on James Island, adult dogs are $50, puppies are $125 and breeds under 25 pounds are $200. Kittens are $75 for one and $125 for two, and adult cats are available for a donation of your choice.
"We don't often slash our prices, especially not for kittens, however, we have 20-plus kittens on the adoption floor and 20-plus in foster homes," said Lauren Lipsey, spokeswoman for Pet Helpers. "If you're going to adopt one, it's easy to adopt two."
Animals at both shelters are up to date on their vaccinations, spayed or neutered, microchipped and come with a free health exam by your veterinarian and a bag of food. Dogs adopted from the CAS come with a free scholarship to Canine College, a six-week bond-building program between dogs and their owners.
Karesh said the real answer to Charleston's pet overpopulation is more people spaying and neutering their animals. The CAS is currently spaying and neutering animals belonging to North Charleston residents for free.