Two teams of volunteers and staff just left the Charleston Animal Society’s Animal Care Campus in North Charleston, heading to the Ft. Pierce, Fl., airport to rescue more than 20 animals from the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). The USVI, suffering years of devastation from major hurricanes, has not recovered from the severe damage inflicted from these monster storms and is now trying to survive a tourist-based economy in the Covid-19 environment. The situation is dire.
Hurricane Laura came through the USVI, contributing additional damage to the islands, which are already overpopulated with dogs and cats. Charleston Animal Society, one of the leading disaster response animal organizations in the Southeast, will rescue these animals, then turn its attention to animal shelters in Louisiana and Texas to address their needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, which reached high-end category four status (stronger than Hurricane Katrina in 2005) as it made landfall.
Hurricanes are not local issues. They are regional and national issues requiring vast responses and resources.
The Animal Society has been a major disaster responder to hurricanes and flooding during the past six years, assisting animal shelters from the Caribbean to Houston to Louisiana to Florida. It has also led the animal shelter evacuation efforts here in South Carolina, particularly throughout the Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions. Since the “Thousand Year Flood” of 2015 in S.C., other animal organizations have come to the Palmetto State’s call for help numerous times. This “got-your-back” camaraderie among animal organizations in traditional disaster-stricken communities is the backbone of moving animals out of harm’s way and into homes.
The Animal Society continues to respond in spite of overwhelming challenges due to Covid-19. Having taken in 4,000 animals through August and providing care to hundreds of others to keep them with their families, the Animal Society shelters more than 90 percent of the homeless, lost and abandoned animals throughout Charleston County and cares for many more animals throughout the Lowcountry and the state.
With the pandemic restricting events involving substantial crowds, the Animal Society is prohibited from hosting its famous Chili Cook-off and its Gala. Those two events gross nearly $1 million. Other events throughout the year at area businesses on the weekends have also disappeared, creating an overwhelming financial strain on the 146-year-old organization.
Not knowing the word “quit,” the Animal Society has identified two virtual fundraising events that will hopefully offset some of the financial shortfall projected for this unprecedented year.
The first is the 2020 Rescue Brew Beer Spokesdog and Spokescat Search. Whether your dog is a champion couch potato or you simply think your feline is the cat's pajamas, Charleston Animal Society wants to hear their stories. The search for the first Spokesdog and Spokescat to appear on the labels of the “2020 Rescue Brew Beer” from Palmetto Brewing Company is underway. Pet owners are being asked to submit a photo of their favorite dogs and cats at www.CharlestonAnimalSociety.org/Rescue-Brew and share why their pet deserves to win. Submissions are open until September 8, 2020.
A $10 entry donation supports the lifesaving programs of Charleston Animal Society. Voting begins September 9, 2020. One Grand Prize Winning Dog and one Grand Prize Winning Cat will be announced on November 21, 2020 and the 2020 Rescue Brew Beer will be available at the Palmetto Brewing Company Charleston Taproom this fall.
The public will choose the three finalist dogs and three finalist cats through voting and three local celebrity judges will choose one winning dog and one winning cat to appear on the labels of the 2020 Rescue Brew Beer. The six finalist dogs and cats will each receive a $100 gift certificate for pet supplies at the pet supply store at the Charleston Animal Society and a “Mega Pupcake” from Cupcake DownSouth.
As an added benefit for people who nominate their pets for the 2020 Rescue Brew Beer contest between August 10 and September 8, the pet lovers at Cupcake DownSouth, voted best cupcakes in S.C., will give one free “pupcake” to each family. Any family who enters a pet in the Spokesdog or Spokescat contest can present their entry certificate at either bakery location, Cupcake DownSouth, 644-D Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, S.C., or Cupcake DownSouth, 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia, S.C. to receive their free pupcake.
The Animal Society needs your support of our 2020 Rescue Brew contest to continue caring for the most vulnerable among us. Stay tuned for a major announcement after Labor Day regarding the premier event for the fall.
Joe Elmore is executive director of the Charleston Animal Society.