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Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter celebrates 15 years

Posted: March 13, 2014 5:06 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

By HALEY ATKINSON

C-I (Camden, S.C.) Localife editor

hatkinson@chronicle-independent.com

 

The Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter has been serving Kershaw County for 15 years. It was officially started Feb. 1, 1999. Before that, it was run by animal control and staffed by inmates from the Kershaw County Detention Center. According to Sharon Jones, the shelter’s director, the shelter has changed quite a bit since then.

Jones said when she and her counterparts, Judy Thiel and Robin Jordan, took over, "the place was filled with sickness. It was an awful day. We had to do a total clean up. All the animals had to go -- either adopted or euthanized." Jones explained the reason for this cleansing to be the rampant spread of disease amongst the dogs there.

"The walls weren’t sealed," she said. "The place wasn’t kept up. Every disease known to man was here." Jones said that she, Thiel and Jordan ran the shelter by themselves at first. "Our first addition was the puppy wing. Kristy Taucher donated the money for the kennel, now known as the Old Land Wing," Jones said. She explained that Thiel was responsible for the large dog exercise run and "back porch" area of the kennel.

Joanne Schwartz, president of the Kershaw County Humane Society, stated that the shelter offers many services to the community’s animals in need. One of the new services the shelter offers that Jones and Schwartz are particularly excited about is the low income spay and neuter policy. This option allows community members who have monetary limitations to have their pets spayed and neutered at a low cost to them. "This helps with the animal overpopulation problem in the county," Jones said.

Shelter staff also visit local schools, clubs and other organizations to teach about pet care and other related topics. Jones said that the shelter and its volunteers are involved in a nursing home foster program where dogs are sent out to "visit" residents at local nursing homes.

Jones said she feels one of the biggest accomplishments achieved by herself and her team at the shelter is the "way the community sees the shelter." She explained that 15 years ago, "the shelter was seen as a dog pound where animals were euthanized. When we took over, it became a better place." Jones said the shelter is benefitted by the support of both Kershaw County and the city of Camden. "Also the community donates in various ways," Jones said, adding that people have donated supplies along with their time to the shelter. "We’ve had people donate cars."

Another positive aspect of the shelter is that, as Jones puts it, their dogs have a good reputation for being the "most social dogs." She explained that the reason for this is that every dog is socialized by having daily human interaction with volunteers. "People come every day to spend time with the animals," Jones said. "We depend on them. The animals love to see them."

Jones explained that what makes the shelter and its staff so special is that everyone is "addicted to making a difference. Our dream is to have no shelter, only an adoption center." She and Schwartz discussed the shelter’s future, namely concerning a move to a "much-needed new facility." Jones and Schwartz noted that the property and the building for the new shelter on Black River Road are in the process of being deeded over. According to Jones, the question of when the move occurs "depends on fundraising."

Recently, Ron Prestage of Prestage Farms donated $50,000 to the shelter’s building fund. Jones said this amount will be doubled by Austin Meyer of Columbia.

The Walter Crowe Animal Shelter is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. To make a donation or to find out more about volunteering opportunities, visit the shelter at 460 Fair St., in Camden, or visit its website at www.kershawcountyhs.org.

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