Charleston Animal Society gains national attention after 'best year ever'

Charleston Animal Society gains national attention after 'best year ever'

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - In his office, at the back corner of the Charleston Animal Society (CAS), CEO Joe Elmore is crunching the numbers. Elmore is looking at trends, animal adoptions, and overall unwanted animal intake. After hours of work a smile crosses his face.

"2012 was the most successful year that we've ever had in our 138-year history," says Elmore.

The CEO of shelter operations says CAS has reached their personal goals and more in 2012.

"We were able to bring down this over population in our community by 11 percent," says Elmore. "That's just phenomenal, especially for the South."

By the numbers, the Charleston Animal Society is reinventing the world of animal adoptions and overpopulation.

Elmore says the shelter has drastically dropped euthanasia rates at its shelter. From 2011 to 2012 the number of animals euthanized has dropped by 43 percent.

According to the CEO, Euthanasia rates at the Charleston Animal Shelter less than half the state average and much lower than the national average.

In 2012, the Animal Society adopted out 4,000 pets, saved 3,000 more by returning them to owners and spayed and neutered more than 10,000 animals.

"This is like the oasis in the south," says Elmore. "We get calls from New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, and Tallahassee. [They ask] how are you saving so many animals down there in Charleston?"

Elmore can list off two more handfuls of cities who have called Charleston for help. He says that shows the work that he and his staff are doing at CAS is really paying off.

So what's the secret?

Elmore says it's all about dropping animal intake. And the best way to do that is employ a large scale spay and neuter program.

"We can see that we're solving the problem," says Elmore, who says the true reason can be found in the community. "It cannot be done by us alone though. We rely on the public and I can't tell you how proud we are of our community."

As Charleston's largest animal rescue organization, Charleston Animal Society cares for 90% of Charleston County's unwanted, abused and abandoned animals. In 2012, it spent over $500,000 treating animals that were ill or injured, many times in dire health, and saved nearly 75% of all the animals that came to the shelter, making it the leader among large animal shelters in South Carolina.

Last month, the Charleston Animal Society was named a top-rated charity organization by Charity Navigator, the nation's largest charity watchdog organization.

Charity Navigator's "4 Star" designation is reserved for charities that exceed "industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause." This makes Charleston Animal Society the only animal organization in the state to attain this distinction.

Founded 138 years ago in the heart of downtown Charleston, the mission of Charleston Animal Society is to prevent cruelty to animals by finding homes for homeless animals, containing outbreaks of rabies and other deadly diseases, and reuniting lost pets with their families.

The Charleston Animal Society was also recently was selected Non-profit of the Year at the annual "Giving Back Awards" gala sponsored by Charleston Magazine and the Coastal Community Foundation.

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