How we helped animals in a flooded South Carolina

South Carolina wrap up

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is grateful to be a tiny part of Georgetown County’s survival story.

Damage from the historic rains and flooding may be estimated to be in the billions of dollars, but you would never know by watching the families cheering on their kids playing on the recreation field right outside of where we set up the temporary animal shelter.

People are moving on with their lives and helping those less fortunate everywhere I look.

Across the state thousands of animals were affected in one way or another. Some animals were literally swept away by floodwaters and lost their lives or were displaced. Others, with their owners, lost their homes due to flood damage.

Dozens of cats and dogs found refuge in the Georgetown County temporary animal shelter established by members of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC).

RELATED: Responding to South Carolina flooding

We provided emergency food, vet care and shelter to animals rescued from flood waters, separated from their families during mandatory evacuations, or surrendered by owners too overcome with the tragedy to properly care for them.

Soon after the Georgetown County Emergency Operations Center started posting pictures of lost/found animals and answering the Disaster Animal Hotline, we were overwhelmed by the community’s support.

We were able to reunite several pets with their families. A black lab and a terrier mix got spooked by the storm and broke out of their yard; luckily Shadow and Tomas stayed together and were brought to us by a Sheriff’s Deputy. He had seen them wandering, wet and very dirty. He opened his patrol car’s back door and they ran over and jumped in. The dogs’ family came to our shelter, and it was hard to say who was happier during the reunion—the dogs or the children.

IFAW and RedRover responders provided daily care and assurance to the animals that all would be ok.

At the end of the mandatory holding period, our temporary shelter still had 7 dogs, 5 tiny puppies, and 23 cats in our care. As soon as we announced that the animals were available for adoption, family after family came in to meet them. More than a dozen animals were adopted by loving families.

Even as adoptions were taking place IFAW was bringing in one of our Animal Rescue rigs to transport dogs and cats to our partners in Florida and Pennsylvania.

IFAW and RedRover carefully prepared 16 cats and their special travel carriers for the drive to Florida. Into the very late hours of the night our responders were greeted with warm smiles and open arms at the Cat Depot, Jacksonville Humane Society and Humane Society of Tampa Bay. We gave each kitty one last snuggle as we tucked them in at each location, knowing they were in the best of hands.     

Next, it was the dogs’ turn! IFAW secured a spot for Elvis, Duncan, Stonewall, Isis, and Sally (with her five pups) with our friends at Lancaster SPCA in Pennsylvania. When we pulled into the shelter late Saturday night, it warmed our hearts as Jen and her intake team knew the dogs from the stories and pictures we had sent beforehand.

She would say, “Oh Duncan, you may have spent most of your first five years in a shelter but no longer my friend.”

Sally (my vote for mother of the year) will need months of special medical care even after her puppies are ready to take care of themselves. Elvis who was so emaciated and sick when our rescuers found him weeks before that he had to be carried in and put on a special feeding plan so his body could process small amounts at a time will also need special medical care for a bit longer.    

Precious, unconditional love from cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, and people is a gift that must be cherished and passed on.

Some may think that we leave a bit of our hearts with each of these babes as we give them a second chance at a new life but it is our hearts and our lives that become richer and stronger from each grateful set of eyes that express what words cannot say.

Thank you.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy