Georgetown emergency shelter houses animals displaced by storm

Published: Oct. 15, 2015 at 10:19 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2015 at 10:01 AM EDT
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition is helping local animal shelters in Georgetown County by providing an emergency shelter for those pets affected by recent flooding.

"I activated the troops and we were able to mobilize several teams within hours to be here on the ground in South Carolina," Shannon Walajtys, manager of disaster response, said.

The coalition came to town at the request of Georgetown County Emergency Management and has since taken in dozens of cats and dogs who were
rescued or separated from their owners during the storm.

The animals are being cared for by a local veterinarian; some have developed respiratory infections from exposure to floodwater.

"We're helping with medical supplies, shelter supplies, and we're helping some of the people that own pets that can't get back into their homes
by providing emergency shelter for them," Walajtys said.

Animals are also being scanned for microchips in hopes of reuniting pets with their family.

Volunteers from ASPCA, RedRover, the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and the American Humane Association are partnering with the coalition in relief efforts.

Pet Smart donated supplies, and the emergency shelter is equipped to handle hundreds of displaced animals as needed.

Andy Bass traveled from South Florida to help.

"We don't know if we're are going to find five or 500 victims of any disaster," Bass, who has been a volunteer for ten years, said. "Although my team would love to have a house full of puppies and kittens to take care of," Bass said, "what's good about seeing these empty cages is we know there are not as many victims this time."

Some of the cats that were surrendered by owners will be transported to Florida to be cared for by the coalition's partner organizations.

"These are family pets and they need to be with a family," Walajtys said. "We will help make that happen."

The coalition's shelter is not open to the public, but the Georgetown County has set up a Disaster Animal Call Center, which residents in flood-impacted areas can call to report lost or found animals and see if their missing animal has been taken to the emergency sheltering location.

The call center number is (843) 545-3319 and will be manned daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reports of animals at large or needing rescue should go
to Georgetown County Animal Control, (843) 527-6763 or (843) 546-5101. The numbers are answered 24 hours a day.

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