NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — Horry County animal shelters are reaching a crisis point when it comes to finding space in their kennels for stray dogs and cats.
This week the Horry County Animal Care Center announced a temporary closure due to increased cases of COVID-19 and potential exposures.
That comes after it announced it would be limiting its animal intake to only strays deemed dangerous or that are seriously ill.
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On top of that, the Grand Strand Humane Society has to race to find space. The city is making repairs at the Myrtle Beach kennel, resulting in 300 animals needing a new home by August 1. Then there's the smallest city-sponsored shelter in the county, North Myrtle Beach.
“If anything comes in right now, we have no space here in the shelter to safely house them," said shelter executive director Tina Hunter.
Hunter says they are well over double-capacity when it comes to cats in kennels. They have 60 cages and roughly 140 cats or kittens. Officials at the Bay Street space are asking for fosters as are the other two shelters. North Myrtle Beach's space has to schedule a time when people can bring a stray in. However, Hunter says they have intake appointments stretching through August.
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"Typically we book out a week or two weeks out on a normal basis, but right now we are booking to the end of August which is a really long time," Hunter said. "Stray animals, we do the best we can to get them in immediately because they need to be here."
Hunter refers to the policy the shelter has with the city and county. If there is a stray picked up by Animal Care Center officers, and it needs to go to the North Myrtle Beach location, they have to house it somehow.
“That’s a ton of stress onto us, our shelter is the smallest shelter out of the three in the county," Hunter said also referring to the situations with the HCACC and GSHS. “I actually just celebrated my 24th year in an animal shelter and I’ve never seen a situation like we are in right now.”
Over at Grand Strand, the situation is the same only more dire. They need to make repairs and need to move animals. The center's executive director said they still have no plans to take in any more animals.
That also trickles down. When these three shelters have no space, pets still need a home. So local animal rescues are having to work in overdrive, like Kind Keeper Animal Rescue in Cherry Grove.
“All of our kennels are full right now," said the non-profit's social media coordinator Leanne Dornseif. “We get multiple calls every day to take in more, but unfortunately we can only do so much.”
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Outside of the kennel, they have roughly 30 cats in foster care as well.
"There's always a big influx of kittens this time of year," Dornseif said. "And it pretty much stays full. Once we have an open kennel we are always bringing in more right away."
Dornseif says they have also had an increased issue of animal strays that appear to have been dumped by a previous owner. She said they are working to help with the situation by building a new facility on Highway 90 near Water Tower Road.
Until that comes the fruition, the only saving grace for these spaces is to see animals transported, adopted, or fostered. None of the spaces euthanize healthy animals, and Hunter says she never wants to see it return to that.
If you would like to look into adoption here, you can contact the GSHS at email@example.com or at (843) 455-6435. The contact for the HCACC is firstname.lastname@example.org. The North Myrtle Beach Humane Society can be reached at (843) 249-4948. Kind Keeper Animal Rescue can be reached at (843) 427-4388.