Good evening, animal lovers. First I would like to thank the committee who chose me as the recipient of tonight’s Top Dog award. I would also like to thank everybody that is here tonight. You have spent countless hours donating time and resources to make the shelter itself, along with all of it’s events a smooth-running organization. Without all of your support, the Charleston Animal Society would not be as successful as it is today. I would like to thank the people who have adopted animals from the Society, and those that have fostered pets so that we could have more room for other animals in the shelter.
Every year, millions of animals are taken to shelters all over America. Homeless animals outnumber homeless people at least 5 to 1. Four million animals are euthanized each year due to overcrowding in shelters. The heartbreaking fact is that even if every person in America adopted a homeless or shelter animal, there would still be thousands of animals without a home. In Charleston County alone, we have about 227,000 homeless pets. It seems almost hopeless when we think about animal homelessness in these terms, but we are working to break the cycle.
In 2008, adopted pets within the county increased by 616 and 311 more at-risk animals were transferred to rescue groups. Overall, the number of animals saved from euthanasia in Charleston County shelters increased by 884. How can we continue this trend? One way is to spread the word about spaying and neutering pets. When you see your neighbors walking their dog, or other animal lovers with their pets at the dog park, buying food at the pet store, or even at the vet’s office, ask them if their pet is spayed or neutered. If the answer is no, ask why.
Studies show that the number one reason people do not have their pets fixed is due to cost. If that is the reason, please tell them about the affordable low-cost spay and neutering program that we offer. Sponsor-a-Spay takes donations from the public to keep the costs of fixing other people’s pets to a minimum. Low-cost neutering doubles the number of low income pet owners who get their pets fixed and cuts animal shelter intakes in half. Each day 10,000 humans are born in the U. S. and each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born.
With rates like this, something must be done. Remember that prevention is the cure to the overpopulation of pets. Across the U. S. , 20% of animals in shelters are purebred dogs. Most of these come from puppy mills. Often times when a person decides to get a dog, the first place they go is to a pet store or to the classifieds section of their local paper to purchase their new friend instead of deciding to adopt from a shelter. Most chain pet stores are known for reselling puppies purchased from puppy mills and classified ads have long been a selling point for breeders.
Unlike adoption specialists at shelters, commercial breeders do make sure that the purchaser is ready to handle the responsibility of a four-legged friend, so once the new puppy is purchased, the owner is quickly made aware of this. Puppies from puppy mills often have genetic defects and other health problems. These factors often lead to the purchaser turning the dog over to a shelter. By making the community aware of puppy mills-what they are and how they are cruel- we could help to end this heartless practice. That could end the unnecessary birth of the estimated 4 million puppy mill bred dogs every year.
As compared with other communities, we have a high number of feral cats along with a low adoption rate. Because of this, we are going to being emphasizing the Trap-Neuter-Return program. This will allow us to capture the feral cats in human traps, fix them and return them to the wild. With the help of the community, we can distribute the traps and have a greater chance of catching as many cats as possible. This can greatly diminish the number of feral cats in the community, Anatole France said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remain unawakened. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ” – Ghandi I’d also like to thank the countless of thousands of volunteers and workers that makeup the backbone of the Charleston Animal Society. These are the people that are most often overlooked, but are the ones that keep the organization going. Without their tireless efforts, there could be no Human Society. These are the folks that work with little pay, or no pay at all for those that volunteer their services to the organization.
They are here because they love animals and have a sense of duty that goes above and beyond that of “just an employee”. Many do their jobs without complaint and without expectation of monetary reward, these are the people that deserve the best, but are willing to do the most menial and plain “dirty” jobs and they should not go unrecognized. Our patrons and those that contribute to the Society should be recognized as being part of the organization. Some people are unable to contribute with their labor, but they support the Society by opening their wallets.
And while you won’t see them behind the counter when you come in to select a new “member of the family”, they are an integral part of the organization, and the Society greatly appreciates their patronage and donations. I’d like to speak now about the leadership of the Charleston Animal Society, folks like Society Percy Dovetonsills, whose unflagging leadership has always been like a beacon in the night, guiding the Society through good times and bad times, but always keeping the Society’s ship on course.
Then there’s Klem Kaddlehopper, whose innovations and new methods have lead to so many savings in time, effort and money that it would take too long to enumerate here, but I want to make Klem aware of how we feel about his work. Klem started as one of the many volunteers we have, but his ability to devise new methods of handling animals and his talent at teaching others these methods is only exceeded for his love of animals and the Charleston Animal Society. Klem has become such an important part of our organization that it would be inconceivable to think what the Society would be like if he had not come along when he did.