Gimme Shelter - Pal's New Home Provides Hope For Adoptable Pets
Author: Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Four to five thousand unwanted and homeless cats and dogs are euthanized each year in Beaufort County. That is not a typo. Four to five thousand every year. It is a heartbreaking statistic.
Amy Campanini, executive director of Palmetto Animal League (PAL) witnesses that heartbreak every day. It is the reason she has dedicated the better half of this decade to being a part of the solution.
Palmetto Animal League (formerly Beaufort Humane Association) is a 30-year young non-profit organization dedicated to being the voice for animals in need in the Lowcountry. PAL works tirelessly promoting pet adoptions, providing rescue, educating people about the humane treatment of all animals and ending pet overpopulation through low-cost spay/neuter services.
In 2002, PAL launched a foster care program, and in the eight years since, they have helped over 5,000 animals through rescue, foster care and adoption. What is most remarkable is that they did all of this with no place to call home. PAL has no physical building, simply an extensive foster care network and a dedicated corps of volunteers.
However, this is all about to change.
On October 30, PAL will open its new Adoption Center in Riverwalk Business Park. There, they are creating a home-like atmosphere for the cats and dogs that need a home away from their forever home. “It is a halfway house,” said Campanini with a chuckle. “They are halfway home.”
She’s modeling the Fairy Tale Princess costume. Chloe is an adorable 5 year old that never leaves the side of her friend Riley. They would love a great home together!
And what a home it will be. Cage-less kitty condos will be available for the feline population. Puppies will room with their littermates and in some cases with Mom, too. A dozen kennels will allow dogs to live communally according to their pack profile—their personality types and dispositions will determine who their roommate is. The Lifestyle Room will feel like your family room at home, featuring couches and TV and offering a spot for the animals, and their human volunteers to horse around or simply relax.
Socialization is key for the animals to prepare them for their new families. The dual benefit for humans isn’t to be ignored either. In fact, Campanini mused about singles’ activities at PAL. Hmmm, she may be on to something here.
Campanini’s goal is to make the Adoption Center people-friendly too. “We want people to come in, feel comfortable and spend time here. And more importantly, we want them to return,” she said.
This 10 month old strutting the Dogicula costume, is the sweetest gentleman. He would love to find a new best friend.
After all, the success of PAL has been built on the backs of their volunteers. PAL has more than 100 active volunteers who bathe, groom, socialize, and train the animals. Campanini also encourages volunteers to have a doggie date: take a road trip to Petco or Petsmart; walk on the beach; visit an outdoor café; play fetch at the dog park. (A date who doesn’t talk your ear off or pick his teeth during dinner or belch the alphabet. Score!)
“The mantra at PAL is that we work hard, but we also have fun,” said Campanini. Her warm and engaging personality supports that theory. Her eyes smiled as she reminisced about a woman visiting the PAL booth at Mayfest this past spring. There, she happened upon two dogs humping and commented, “Wow. PAL really does have fun!”
The work is fun. But, their goals are lofty. The Adoption Center has room for 120 adoption-ready cats and dogs, and Campanini hopes to adopt out 500 pets in the first year. They can’t do it alone.
And sadly, she said, “We won’t adopt our way out of the problem that exists.” But we can change the perception of this problem, which Campanini indicates is the underlying cause. The negative stigma of shelter cats and dogs prevents many from making a shelter animal a member of their family. People hear “shelter” and they picture hundreds of skinny dogs, behind bars, with sad eyes. And then they are reluctant to pick just one, they feel guilt over leaving the other animals behind. So, folks avoid shelters. And, as a result six to eight million cats and dogs will die this year in the United States.
These animals are not damaged goods. They are sweet, innocent, unique personalities, each hoping for a place to call home. And we—YOU—should give them a chance.
Visit the new PAL Adoption Center. Volunteer. Laugh. Learn. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet the four-legged love of your life.
This 5 year old is sporting the Lil’ Lion costume. She is still full of puppy and needs a good family to love her.
PALMETTO ANIMAL LEAGUE ADOPTION CENTER
When: Saturday, October 30
Where: Riverwalk Business Park, Okatie, SC
Come dressed to celebrate “Howel-o-ween” and bring a treat for our furry friends. The Center appreciates donations of dog and cat food and treats, toys and cat litter.
Visit PalmettoAnimalLeague.org for more details.