Here at the SPCA we occasionally speak with good people who are concerned that an animal that has been surrendered to Animal Control or legally turned over to the SPCA as a personal surrender will be euthanized because it suffers from heartworm disease or has sustained an injury.
Because of their past experience with typical animal shelters that are beyond physical capacity, they assume that any sick or injured animal will be euthanized.
The truth is that most shelters in the south, whether they are nonprofits or operated by a government, are so overwhelmed that they cannot afford, nor do they have the space to save every animal admitted, healthy or not.
At the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare we do things differently. We treat for heartworm disease and preform surgeries in our clinic to repair broken jaws, legs and everything in between.
Louise is a very good example of an animal that entered an open admission shelter and was then transferred to the SPCA, which is a limited admission shelter.
Because we can control our intake numbers, we were able to provide the resources to save her life.
She had an infected leg that required amputation. We didn't throw in the towel when the vet bill was sure to outweigh any adoption fee.
Furthermore, she was going to need to be fostered through rehabilitation before she could be adopted.
Chrissey Miller was the lucky volunteer that offered to foster Louise after her amputation.
She said she will never forget the day that she and her daughter, Gracey, picked Louise up from Silver Bluff Animal Hospital.
The sweet dog came out from the back of the office tentatively on the slick tile, wearing the cone of shame and, upon recognizing Chrissey, began wagging her tail so furtively she pivoted back and forth on her one hind leg!
Gracey, who was 5 at the time, burst into tears when she saw Louise. She couldn't bear to look at the poor creature at first, cried all the way home, and once inside flew into her bedroom and shut the door.
When she finally emerged, face tear streaked, she told Louise she was sorry about her leg and that she was sorry the lack thereof had frightened her.
She slowly came across the room and settled on the floor next to Louise.
She tenderly examined the site where the leg had been taken, dozens of staples in an amazingly neat row. “It looks like they zipped her up, Mom! Can we call her Zipper?” Gracey squeaked. It was an immediate foster fail.
Just this past week, our skilled veterinary team performed three such surgeries on our dogs.
They delicately repaired a fractured lower jaw on a small puppy, a fractured femoral head on a playful mixed breed, and surgically plated a terrier's broken femur.
The point of this article isn't just that the SPCA goes the extra mile; the point is that if there were fewer pets entering shelters, more of them could be saved by limited admission rescues like the SPCA.
So what can we do about that?
We can continue to encourage people to sterilize their pets and provide affordable and accessible services.
Want to be part of the solution? Support Project: Spay Aiken! by contributing to the spay and neuter fund, hosting a lawn litter, or attending our SPAY-ghetti dinner on Feb. 25.
Look for details on our calendar page at www.letlovelive.org or call 803-648-6863.
Barbara Nelson is the president and CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.