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Thanks to efforts of many, local shelter animals go north for new homes

Posted: August 31, 2010 3:20 p.m.
Updated: September 1, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Trevor Baratko/C-I

Michael Schofield with the Walter M. Crowe animal shelter is one of three locals that has helped deliver dogs from the Camden shelter to less crowded shelters in New York and New England.

It all started for Patsy Topping with the loss of two of her dogs in 2002.

Looking to fill the void left with the old-age passing of her pups, Topping visited the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter in Camden.

“There are unbelievable dogs that show up at Walter Crowe. A lot of people don’t realize how many great dogs are there,” Topping said in a phone interview from New York.

Topping, who lives near the Kershaw/Sumter county line, grew up in New Jersey, and still spends much of the year in the Hamptons on Long Island. Up north, she says, they have very strong spay and neuter education.

“It’s been very effective,” Topping said. “There isn’t a whole animal on Long Island ... it’s really looked down on if you’re walking a dog that isn’t spayed or neutered. People will come up to you and be very forward about it.”

As a couple of years passed, Topping began to get more involved with the Kershaw County shelter. She saw first-hand how many dogs had to be euthanized.

“Whether for health reasons or aggressive reasons, as many as 60 a month, it just became morally unacceptable to me. These are God’s creatures,” Topping said.

So she hatched a plan to transport as many dogs as she possibly could from Camden to shelters across New York and a couple in other states.

The first transport took place in June 2008, with five adult dogs in their kennels in a horse trailer. Now, two years later, Topping said in the ballpark of 300 dogs have been shipped north from Walter M. Crowe.

There’s a great need for both puppies and adult dogs in the New England states, Topping said.

Sue Sensor, who sits on the board of the Kershaw County Humane Society, donated funds to go toward the purchase of a van, which has been driven by Dave Baker and Michael Scholfield.

“Patsy’s been extremely instrumental because of her relationships with these shelters. She has spent countless hours of her own time organizing this; it’s not an easy thing to put together,” said Sensor, who added she’s known Topping basically since she moved here.

Sensor gave credit to Peanut and Helen Crolley for offering up the van at a deeply discounted rate.

With Walter M. Crowe’s influx of animals up 60 percent from last year’s, director Sharon Jones said this program has been an immense help.

“It takes pets out of here to a place where we pretty much know they’ll end up in good homes,” Jones says. “These animals are going to people who want pets and will treat them right.”

Of the lack of spay and neuter education and laws in South Carolina, Jones said, “that’s why I’m here.” She said she hopes one day the state will get tough on educating people about the benefits of having pets fixed.

Jones said Topping is a woman with a “huge heart.”

“You talk about a hardworking woman, Patsy will get in the trenches,” Jones said. “She loves these animals and spends so much of her time organizing and making sure they get to a good place.”

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