Gilligan rescued off Folly Beach

Gilligan, a boxer-pit bull mix was found on a small island off Folly Beach last week. Staffers at Pet Helpers in James Island worked Thursday through Saturday morning to save the dog.

Holli Hartman // The Post and Courier

Gilligan spends some time with one of his rescuers, Jason Moore, an employee at Pet Helpers, on Tuesday. Staff at Pet Helpers was among the group that spent the weekend trying to save Gilligan from a small island off Folly Beach.

No one knows how the emaciated dog now named Gilligan got stranded on an uninhabited island off Folly Beach.

But when some kayakers spotted him Thursday, they knew he needed to be rescued quickly. He was so skinny, the bumps on his spine and individual ribs were visible. His chance of survival seemed slim.

The kayakers reported what they had seen to Eric Mills at Coastal Expeditions, the place where they had rented the kayaks.

That set in motion a harrowing weekend rescue from what locals call Cow Island, which involved six trips to the island and the help of animal lovers from Coastal Expeditions, Pet Helpers, Sea Island Tours and even Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin.

Mills called Pet Helpers, a no-kill shelter on James Island, when he didn’t get a quick response from the county’s animal control service.

Then he and Jason Moore, a dog kennel caretaker at Pet Helpers, paddled kayaks out to the island Thursday afternoon. They saw the dog’s foot prints, but he must have been scared and hiding, Mills said. So they left food and water and paddled back to shore.

Moore then borrowed another kayak and went back out to the island Friday afternoon. There he found

Gilligan lying by the food and water bowls. But the dog wouldn’t let Moore catch him.

Moore called Mills, who got with Capt. Charlie Kerrison from Sea Island Tours to use his boat to bring Pet Helpers staffers out to the island with supplies and a humane trap to catch the dog.

Moore decided he simply couldn’t leave the island without the dog. So he paddled back to shore, got a pup tent and some more supplies, paddled back to the island and spent the night.

“I could hear him walking around at night,” Moore said. Then at 4:45 a.m. Saturday, Moore heard the trap snap closed. He went out with his flashlight and found Gilligan in the cage. The dog seemed happy. “I could pet him through the cage,” Moore said.

He called or sent text messages to everybody involved in the rescue.

Pet Helpers founder and President Carol Linville called on Goodwin, who took the team out to the island in his jon boat later Saturday morning.

Unlike the 1960s TV character after whom the pit bull-boxer mix is named, Gilligan the dog did get rescued from the island.

Goodwin first brought in the caged dog, then made a second trip to bring in Moore, who was exhausted.

Gilligan is going to make it, said Kristin Kifer, Pet Helpers operations manager. He’s severely dehydrated, lost much of his body weight, has heart worms and was covered by more than 200 ticks, some the size of marbles. His care will cost more than $1,000, she said.

Pet Helpers soon will scour its foster care network for a home for him. Dogs usually heal more quickly at a home than in the shelter, Kifer said.

She’s not sure how the dog ended up on the island. “It’s possible he swam out there during a very low tide,” she said, although that’s unlikely because pit bulls don’t generally enjoy swimming. But she hopes that was the case.

If not, it means that someone likely abandoned the dog there.

Pet Helpers staffers have seen horrific cases of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment, she said. A dog was once brought to the shelter that was eating tile from a bathroom floor after its owners abandoned it in an apartment when they moved. “It’s like leaving behind a TV for people sometimes,” she said.

Gilligan seemed happy at the Folly Road shelter on Tuesday. He was calm, easy-going and surprisingly trusting of people when they petted him.

He was still weak. But when he got tired, Moore picked him up and carried him from room to room.

The only thing Gilligan didn’t seem to like was going outside, Moore said. He much prefers air conditioning these days.