Greenville County Animal Care started a Safety Net Foster Program for pet owners experiencing financial hardship, housing insecurities, or other emergency situations that put them at risk of losing the pet(s) they love. They also have a robust pet food pantry called “No Empty Bowls” and have been helping pet owners feed their pets for several years now. Recently they held their first drive-through pet food pantry event and in just a few hours, they distributed food for 1,500 animals!
Greenville County Animal Care (Director, Shelly Simmons) held their biggest holiday fundraiser to date. They were able to raise enough money to start building a mobile shelter, which will allow them to support families by taking the shelter to them and provide veterinary care, spay/neuter, food assistance and more.
We’ve been able to improve our lost and found program with Lost2Found texting, more staff dedicated to customer support, and increased resources on our website which has resulted in increased return to owner rates for dogs (25% of dogs returned to owner in November 2020 compared to 19% during the same period in 2019). Our rehoming program, Home To Home, has been a huge success. Since we began the program a little over 3 months ago, we’ve provided support for 120 animals to be successfully rehomed (63% of the 192 animals listed thus far). Only 17 animals have had to enter the shelter and we have been able to keep a total of 175 animals from having to enter the shelter so far. On Giving Tuesday, we were able to raise enough money to begin purchasing equipment for what will be our mobile shelter so that we can deliver essential services to the neighborhoods who need it most. So far in fostering, 22 dogs have stayed with the finder through our Foster to Finder program. We have doubled the number of foster pets in our Half Way There program, where fosters find the animal a forever home so that it does not return to the shelter. We have also doubled the number of animals we have placed into foster homes, going from 18% of intake last November to 37% of intake in November 2020.
This month our focus has been on how to improve our internal and external communication channels. We have added a live web chat feature to respond quickly to customer questions, expanded our lost and found text messaging service to include an option for Spanish-speaking pet owners to use, and we are on the hunt for the best project management software for our teams and scheduling software for clients using our medical services. Our community outreach has been focused these last few months on immediate individual needs of clients, but we are now beginning to plan for larger scale community pet resource fairs to have more impact.
Greenville is a pet friendly town and it’s no surprise that people are embracing the idea of foster-centric sheltering. Ollie had been running lose on a busy Greenville street with an obvious injury. A group of neighbors were trying to get him to safety when our good Samaritan, Jim, was bitten. After clearing it with DHEC, Jim was able to keep the dog at home through both the DHEC and stray holds. Long story short – Ollie, now Sid, was adopted by first time dog owner Jim. As a side note – Jim committed to paying for surgery to repair the broken femur. When presented the vet bill – he was surprised to find his neighbors had chipped in and the majority of the bill had been paid. We couldn’t be happier with this outcome.
Greenville County Animal Care’s focus has been on implementing programs to support the Getting Pets Home, Keeping Families Together, and Self-Rehoming elements of HASS while also expanding remote help to improve customer support and communication. We have added a Lost2Found automated text messaging system that guides anxious pet owners and finders lost pets through every step of the process, and we have placed microchip scanners in fire stations and at parks to improve our community’s success at getting pets home. Our Home to Home program is keeping pets out of the shelter through direct home-to-home placement. We have also updated and improved our website functionality to include information and guidance on the programs mentioned above. Potential adopters now have a choice when they visit our adoption site online. They can see all of the adoptable pets in our shelter as well as pets that owners are self-rehoming in our community and reach out directly to them. We are in the final test stage of introducing a web chat feature, and we have modified staff job descriptions to provide more specialized support using a caseworker approach. We are expanding our pet food pantry reach and offering vet care and temporary boarding to pet owners at risk of giving up their pet. The response from our community about these new and improved services is positive and appreciated, and there are many more exciting programs and services in the works!