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Charleston Animal Society sets record year in 2023


By Joe Elmore


Despite overwhelming odds that animal shelters faced throughout the country during 2023, Charleston Animal Society continued its record-breaking trek toward building the first No Kill State in the Southern United States, from the Atlantic coast to Pacific Oceans and across America’s heartland. Considered internationally as a model of lifesaving success through animal sheltering and prevention strategies, Charleston Animal Society operates around the clock to save lives and provide care to nearly 20,000 animals in need yearly.

Animal sheltering involves a comprehensive or holistic approach to effectively enhance public health and safety and is so much more than a destination for unwanted animals. The Animal Society is focused on positive community impact by ending unnecessary euthanasia of dogs and cats, overpopulation of dogs and cats and animal cruelty. Through leading practices and data-driven strategies and tactics, the Animal Society reached the following milestones in 2023:

  • Succeeded in finding families for 4,841 homeless animals, from hamsters to horses, mostly dogs and cats.

  •  Reunited 896 animals with their loved ones through 5,376 hours of research and casework and fostered 2,152 helpless animals to lead healthy lives with families.

  • Rescued 437 animals from harm’s way through 18 emergency rescue operations.

  • Prevented the births of unwanted litters by spaying or neutering 11,673 animals.

  • Alleviated suffering of 9,488 sheltered animals through needed veterinary care in the Bear Greer Medical Clinic.

  • Prevented the outbreak of deadly diseases by administering 28,726 lifesaving vaccines, such as rabies, to animals.

  • Prevented thousands of homeless kittens and free roaming cats, along with the deaths of countless birds, by sterilizing and vaccinating 2,518 community cats, followed by the return to their natural habitat, significantly reducing their population.

  • Fought animal cruelty by providing forensics investigation support to law enforcement agencies in 72 cruelty cases.

  • Assisted families keep and care for their pets by providing 3,914 dogs and cats with veterinary care, pet food, and emergency veterinary financial assistance.

  • Prevented suffering and cruelty for 163 displaced or threatened outdoor cats through permanent sanctuary.

  • Continued to reduce violence to people and animals by teaching 7,667 school-age children compassion education, reinforcing the 23,318 lessons into humanitarian values.


Additionally, CAS set multiple records during 2023, including the Guinness World Record for pet vaccines with the support of more than 30 veterinarians, the national record for organizing the largest annual statewide adoption event for dogs and cat for the sixth year in a row as well as celebrating 12 years as the top-rated nonprofit in the state.

We topped it off by winning a nationwide competition against 19 other nonprofits representing various causes and won a Land Rover Defender to assist with the society’s emergency rescue efforts. It was an astonishing year for CAS made possible by more than 20,000 members and supporters from the Lowcountry and across the globe.

This year marks the Charleston Animal Society’s 150th anniversary, and the challenges we face are numerous, from obtaining our fair share from already inadequate government resources and facing a nationwide veterinary shortage to an marked increase in the number of unwanted large dogs (mostly pit bulls) and weak or absent public policy to addressing the problem of animal overpopulation as well as the national problem of unorganized animal control agencies which lack leading practices and data-driven public health and safety strategies.

The support of donors and members will be crucial to continue moving our community in a humane direction. Remember, YOU are Charleston Animal Society.


Joe Elmore is the executive director of the Charleston Animal Society. 


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