Midlands animal rescue groups hope to learn from upstate successes

Another pet finds at home at the Greenville Animal Shelter
Another pet finds at home at the Greenville Animal Shelter

GREENVILLE, SC (WIS) - Beyond their massive, well-run facility, Greenville County Animal Care is making a difference.

In 2004, 69% of the animals that went in, but didn't go out.  By 2011, Shelly Simmons and her staff got that number down to 38%.

"It's not anywhere where it needs to be," said Simmons. "But we're on our way"

And a coalition of Midlands animal advocates want to see how it was done. On Thursday, community leaders joined representatives from Pawmetto Lifeline, the city of Columbia, and Lexington and Richland Counties to find solutions.

"It's just a lot of fun to see what other folks are doing and realize 'Hey, we could be doing that too!'" said Marli Drum.

The Columbia Animal Services Superintendent made note of Greenville's community outreach.
They've found success with innovative adoption programs like Foster to the Rescue, where a foster family will take an animal with the intention and responsibility of finding it a home.

Another places kittens in Greenville businesses, giving shoppers an unexpected look at a potential new family member.

"We always have something new and interesting up our sleeve," said Simmons. "Some of them work and some of them don't, but finding that right combination is what will make us successful."

Greenville has big advantages. They've got nearly double the funding and staff as Columbia's shelter.

Drum has asked for four new employees, but it will take the will of elected officials, and more importantly, the community, to get real results.

"The few people I've spoken to in the community are really excited about this, and I think the more we reach out and the more we can get the word out there, I think the community behind this," said Drum. "Who doesn't want to save animals as much as we can? It's just a great cause."

The group that made the trip says this is just the beginning. They're planning on meeting again.

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