Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Last week was a good week for St. Frances Animal Center.
Sixty-five dogs and cats were adopted from the Georgetown-based animal shelter. If only that were enough.
The place is packed full, almost double capacity, and the animal population continues to grow, according to Executive Director Wendy Goude.
The original St. Frances facility was built in 1951 and was designed to house 150 cats and dogs. Today there are almost 300 animals on the property.
She said St. Frances takes in about 15 – 18 animals per day in the summertime. Most of them come from rural areas through animal control; St. Frances is the only shelter in the county that’s contracted with the City of Georgetown’s and Georgetown County’s animal control services.
Although it’s not technically a no-kill shelter (which requires a 90 percent live release rate, Goude said), St. Frances has a 87 percent live release rate.
Goude said it takes $42,000 to run St. Frances each month.
“It costs us the same amount of money per animal as it does for an average pet owner, just multiply that by 300.”
Some may think the operating budget is high, but she said the money goes quickly when it’s spent on food, bedding, medical services, vaccinations and spay and neuter procedures.
“It adds up fast.”
Money is at the top of the St. Frances wish list for supplies, Goude said. Food and other necessities are also in short supply, in addition to foster parents and adopters.
“It’s the worst in the summertime because people leave town and go on vacation and forget about the shelter back at home, so in the summer we actually have the least amount of donations but we have the most amount of animals coming in. It’s a Catch 22.”
The facility is so overcrowded that since January they have been working closely with five animal shelters in New Jersey that have a small number of adoptable dogs. Once every two weeks about 20 dogs are sent to New Jersey to find forever homes there, Goude said.
Adoptions Manager Rebecca Ritch said she connected St. Frances with the northern shelters through the ASPCA.
“They reached out to me, actually,” she said.
Since January they have sent 150 dogs to New Jersey.
“It’s a miracle. It really has been a blessing,” Goude said.
Still, the support is not enough. As quickly as the animals are going out the door, new ones come in.
Goude said social media and many of the facility’s outreach programs have been helping get foster parents, adopters, volunteers and supplies in the door.
“Facebook has been the biggest help for St. Frances. … We have over 10,000 followers and we put pleas out there. … Last week we had a UPS truck literally packed down, filled to the brim with 17 huge boxes of food, litter, heating pads…”
Still, she said they can always use more.
“We need as much help as we can get.”
St. Frances Animal Center is located at 125 N. Ridge St. in Georgetown. They can be reached by phone at 843-546-0780.