By Bonnie Drew | Walking into the Beaufort County Animal Control and Shelter completely dissolves any negative stigma generally associated with a “pound.” Forget the prison scene in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. The atmosphere at Beaufort’s office is friendly, clean and bright starting in the reception area. Animal control officers are prepared to educate a prospective new pet owner about responsibilities including vet checkups and expenses. They are also proactive about safeguarding every animal’s future by implanting a microchip after adoption. These microchips can be registered with the owner’s contact information. Any lost dog or cat can then be scanned at the shelter or a vet’s office and reunited.
Alice Schmett gave me the tour to meet ready-to-adopt dogs that were housed in spacious enclosures in the next room. It is worth noting that for a room housing eight dogs and six puppies, every space was immaculately clean. Humane conditions are expected of course, but this building is beyond reproach. At 8 AM the dogs are released outside to a large, grassy area to play for two and half hours and once again from 3 PM until 4:30. This schedule works well for housetraining and is plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors in August in the Lowcountry!
Visitors may take a dog outside, so I was accompanied by a large white and brown pit bull mix named Thor. Being the loyal type, she was more attentive to Alice than to me. I have no doubt that she will transfer this devotion to a new owner after a short time in their care. Next, I met a smaller black lab mix who has not yet received a name. She was a ball of energy and literally “followed me like a puppy.” To get a picture, it was necessary to throw a ball to get her nose away from the camera lens. Most of the cats are “free range” in another large room. Only a few kittens were confined for safety. One green-eyed beauty was sprawled on the exam table while another was curled in a ball on a cat tree/scrating post.
Devoted as they are, the shelter is meant to be temporary. Another 6,000 animals are brought in every year. As stated on the shelter’s facebook page: “Due to new programs at the shelter, we have been able to lower the euthanasia rate by almost 50%; however, we still have a long way to go.” The Beaufort shelter is located at 23 Shelter Church Road (between the Marine Corps Air Station and the Drive-In Movie Theater). Help including donations, food and care for the animals is welcomed.