County animals find place to rest their paws

Owning a home is part of the American dream and for some animals in Barnwell County the dream of a safe home is a little closer to a reality.

The Animal Advocates, a local nonprofit group dedicated to helping the animals of Barnwell County, announced plans to build a foster/adoption facility to house animals taken from the Barnwell County Animal Shelter.

Vikki Scott, the president of the group, said this has been a long-range vision for the group.

"We decided four years ago that the best thing for the animals is to get them out of the shelter," Scott said. "It's to complement the shelter."

The group currently runs the Pick of the Litter Shoppe, next to McDonalds in Barnwell. The proceeds from the thrift shop are used to fund their low cost/no cost spay-and-neuter clinic. They use some of the proceeds to help the BCAS as well.

The BCAS is county funded. However, in recent years, like many other programs, the shelter's budget has been cut. Presently their food budget is $200 per year.

During May, the shelter received 72 dogs and 47 cats, said Tammay Bolen, the shelter manager.

Through five months, the shelter has taken in 1,203 animals, Bolen said.

The shelter euthanasia rate has been as high as 98 percent, Scott said.

Scott said the new facility would take approximately 700 dogs and cats each year alleviating and lessening the need for euthanasia.

Bolen said this facility would benefit everyone involved, especially the animals.

"By doing so, we will take a great financial burden off the county," Scott said.

The facility will include housing for the dogs and cats as well as a walking trail, fitness stations, community cat areas, large dog runs, a library and a fenced area for residents to bring their dogs to play.

Scott said her group has been working with local teachers. Once the facility has been built, teachers are going to volunteer to teach children to become responsible pet owners.

"The children and the animals have no voice of their own. So we have to stand up for them," Scott said.

They are also working with the Boys and Girls Club and Ashleigh Place, she said.

"We are really trying to collaborate with community organizations," Scott said.

The group has purchased some land and additional land was donated, Scott said.

They currently own 13.5 acres to build upon, she said.

"It is our sincere hope that residents will assist us in our efforts to provide the citizens of Blackville, Williston and Barnwell the opportunity to come together to make our town better places in which people and animals can live," Scott said.

There are opportunities for large contributors to name facility features in honor of someone as a memorial, Scott said.

For details or to make a financial contribution to the capital campaign, call Vikki Scott at (803) 571-0030.