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Walker: A no-kill future for our county
Cindi edited
Dr. Cindi Prestage with her senior dog Anya. - photo by Andrea Walker

Call her a “no-kill” champion. Cindi Prestage, DVM has accepted the challenge to turn the animal shelter in Kershaw County into a no-kill facility.  Pretty easy you think? No way.  Transitioning to a no-kill format is a daunting challenge given our community’s track record at spaying and neutering pets, but if anyone can do it, Dr. Prestage can.

Dr. Prestage is a founding partner in Prestage Equine Clinic, PA of Camden, SC.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science at North Carolina State University and completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. 

“I became interested in our animal shelter after volunteering there and performing spay and neuter surgeries at the shelter,” said Prestage.  Currently serving as President of the Kershaw County Humane Society, Prestage is perfectly positioned to lead this effort.  

The Humane Society is a non-profit that contracts with Kershaw County to operate the county’s animal shelter, which was formerly known as the Walter M. Crowe Animal Shelter.  That name changed to the Thiel-Meyer Adoption Center last year after the animal shelter moved to its new location on Black River Road, just south of Camden.

“We have a beautiful new facility and now is the time for Kershaw County to transition to a no-kill shelter.”

But just what IS a no-kill shelter? 

A no-kill shelter will not euthanize healthy, adoptable animals to make space for more animals.  Currently that is the practice in many counties and states across the country.  However, no-kill shelters do have to euthanize.  “Not every animal is able to be saved in a shelter just as not every animal is able to be saved in private veterinary practice,” said Prestage.  “There are injuries, illnesses and behaviors that are not treatable, or that are so severe, it is far kinder to humanely euthanize to alleviate the animal’s suffering.”  

Transitioning to a no-kill shelter in Kershaw County will take the community’s help.

“People must join us in this effort.  We need fewer unplanned, unwanted litters of animals and we need more, a lot more, citizens to spay and neuter their pets.  All dogs and cats that are adopted at the Kershaw County Humane Society are spayed and neutered before being released to their new family unless they are too young. If they are too young they are made appointments to return for surgery.  Responsible pet owners should take their pets to their local veterinarian for spaying and neutering. You can always call the local animal shelter for help and we’ll help guide you in the right direction.”.

Changing behavior will take time, but Prestage is committed.

Shelters also find success by partnering with animal rescue groups and other no-kill organizations, which work to find long-term homes for unwanted pets.  This has proven highly successful in Chesterfield County where the shelter works with more than 200 rescues.  Last month the Chesterfield County shelter was highlighted in the newspaper for having a “very low” euthanasia rate due in part to the partnerships with those 200 rescues. 

“Right now most of the unwanted pets in Kershaw County are saved through partnerships with rescues and other no kill organizations,” said Prestage.  “But we have to do more.  We need more local foster homes, more people to consider adopting from the shelter instead of buying from private “backyard” breeders, and we need to eliminate all puppy mills.”

Amen, Dr. Prestage!  Together, we CAN do this.  Will you join me in supporting Dr. Prestage and the effort to transition to a no-kill shelter in Kershaw County?  And as we work to see this important change, will you support our local shelter through volunteering or donating?  Every effort helps!   You can contact the Kershaw County Humane Society at 803-425-6016. And you can visit the new Thiel-Meyer Adoption Center at 128 Black River Road, Camden and ask how you can help.

(Andrea Walker is an autism consultant with the S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs Autism Division, the founder of Fostering Foster Animal Rescue, and now a contributing columnist to the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.  For more information connect with Fostering Foster on Facebook, at fosteringfoster.com or via email at fosteringfoster@yahoo.com.)