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Colleton has first co-shelter for humans, animals

Colleton County leaders created the community’s first co-evacuation shelter for both humans and their pets during last week’s evacuation from Hurricane Dorian.
Colleton County residents were urged to evacuate from their houses starting Sept. 1, as S.C. Governor Henry McMaster issued an evacuation order for many coastal counties in the Palmetto State. The evacuation order applied to Zones A and B in Colleton County, which includes Edisto Beach and parts of Jacksonboro and Green Pond. This was done because of Hurricane Dorian, a former Category Five storm that impacted South Carolina’s coast on Sept. 4th as a Category Three.
Because of McMaster’s order, Colleton County leaders opened a shelter for evacuees at Colleton County High School.
Normally, those who leave their homes during a weather-related evacuation must either board their pets or take their pets with them to a pet-friendly hotel or take their pet to an animal shelter.
With the new co-shelter, however, Colleton residents who evacuate to the county’s designated shelter can bring their pet(s): the pet(s) are put into a separate location near the human’s shelter, and the pet-owners can care for their pet(s) during safe hours.
This is the first time that a co-shelter has been created in Colleton County.
“This is something animal groups have been working toward for a long time,” said Dr. Lori Campbell, creator and organizer of Colleton’s new co-animal shelter.
Campbell has asked the Colleton County School Board for several years, she said, for permission to start the co-shelter on the grounds of Colleton County High School. However, this year, Colleton County Fire-Rescue became the leadership group in charge of the shelter and the evacuation procedures at the shelter. Officials with CCFR approved Campbell’s request.
“Finding a location was the biggest challenge,” she said. “A lot of times, the best locations are in the hallways of the schools, in the same areas where the humans are housed. That way, the owners can help us take care of them.”
Last week, the co-shelter was housed across from the tennis courts at Colleton County High School, in a modular building. The building was used as a storage building for CCFR prior to it being used as a co-shelter for hurricane season.
According to Campbell, the pet’s co-shelter is only for people who are using the emergency shelters. It is not a boarding facility for those who are evacuating. “Those who evacuate should take their animals with them,” she said. Those who cannot, however, can check into the “human” shelter, she said, and then take their dogs into the animal shelter.
“We have them fill out paperwork and read and understand all of the rules of the shelter. These rules protect everyone, the dog, the owner, the volunteers,” said Campbell.
The first co-shelter was created in Florida several years ago, she said. Campbell used this success story as a model for the Colleton County co-shelter.
“I cannot praise David Greene enough,” she said. Green is an assistant chief with Colleton County Fire-Rescue. “He and the other people at CCFR are the reason we were able to get this done. I have advocated for years and they agreed.”

Heather Walters (1607 Posts)