Charleston Animal Society urges locals to adopt animals displaced by disaster

Marshall Coaxum was one of the veterinary assistants involved in checking in some of the many animals seized from a Huger house and taken to Charleston Animal Society's shelter. Coaxum also was a member of a team that helped rescue animals displaced by the flooding in Missouri.

Rob Timmerman

The recent flooding near the Mississippi River took almost everything one man in Kennett, Mo., had -- his home and his vehicles. But he still had his 10 dogs.

So he set up a camper on the fairgrounds near the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelters and he walked his dogs every day, according to three Charleston Animal Society members who volunteered in Kennett.

The CAS needs more loyal humans like him here in the Lowcountry. The animal shelter here is slammed with animals without homes. The number was nearing 250 Tuesday night after the shelter took in about 50 barn and domestic animals seized from a rural house in Huger.

On Wednesday night, a 60-foot ASCPA Animal Field Response Team trailer unloaded another 62 dogs and kittens that had come from a ravaged area near Memphis, Tenn. The animals were moved from the Humane Society of Memphis to CAS so the Memphis shelter could help more animals without euthanizing any.

The CAS volunteers came back Monday after 12 days in Kennett, where they had worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, sometimes later, with only a 30-minute break.

"We sheltered over 561 yard animals -- that's from barn animals to domestics -- we cleaned them every day, made sure they got food, we walked them, we made sure they got vaccines and we drew blood," said Marshall Coaxum, 37, a veterinary assistant and weekend manager here. "We transferred them twice and we actually had to get a bigger place since we went up from 250 to over 500."

Courtney Gumienny, 25, an adoption supervisor for CAS, said the evacuation of a nearby animal shelter meant they had needed more room in Kennett. They found an old cotton warehouse two minutes away from the other shelter to absorb the influx of animals. One housed livestock, cats and miscellaneous animals and the other kept the roughly 300 dogs that Gumienny and Amber Smyly, 24, a customer-service manager for the shelter, helped handle.

When the three got back to the Lowcountry on Monday, they went to work on Tuesday and were more than prepared for the rescued animals seized in Huger. "I was like, oh, that's it?" Gumienny said.

The CAS welcomes donations, preferably monetary, but items such as pet food, chicken feed, towels and cages are needed. Adoptions would help most, however. The CAS will be at the Summerville PetSmart at 470 Azalea Square Blvd. Friday, Saturday and Sunday trying to find homes for as many of the new animals as possible.

"The community in Charleston loves saving animals," Coaxum said. "Knowing they came in from a bad place, they will come in and look for these animals just because they had a harder life and they want to give them a better one. So the chances are way up for them."