Stream loves attention. Snow is an “escape artist” who leaps short fences. Sleigh has a hurt left hind foot, but is getting better. Cierra and Kiara are sisters who share a crate and hope to be adopted together. Amore, true to his name, is “good with people.”
They’re just six of the 45 dogs evacuated from a pet rescue in Claxton, Ga., as Hurricane Irma bore down on the Georgia coast.
Team Stinkykiss, an Augusta area foster-based rescue, took them all. They’re at the Aiken County fairgrounds, waiting in their crates in the J. Lewis Wise Exhibition Building.
Every day, volunteers come to the fairgrounds to walk the dogs, pet them and play with them. Jenny Reese, a teacher at Dearing Elementary School who lives in Thomson, saw a Facebook post and drove up Monday to do her part. Savannah Zaveri, a North Augusta college student studying diagnostic medical sonography, and her grandmother, Terrie English, did the same.
From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, Team Stinkykiss volunteers will hold an adoption event at the fairgrounds, 1566 Columbia Highway, hoping more people come and eventually all 45 dogs will find new homes.
Since the dogs arrived, “the community has really stepped up,” said Becky Peita, a Team Stinkykiss volunteer.
People show up to help every day, usually after seeing a post on social media or being contacted by someone else who’s involved in rescues. After Stinkykiss put out a Facebook call for bedding, people started bringing it, meeting their needs and then some.
There’s a similar situation at Aiken’s SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. As a member of a larger effort called the SC No Kill Initiative, the Aiken shelter works with the Charleston Animal Society and others, helping each other, said Barbara Nelson, Albrecht Center CEO.
The Aiken shelter took 25 dogs and has already found homes for some of them. The rest will be made available at future adoption events, Nelson said.
Both Stinkykiss and the Albrecht Center also took in pets from evacuees who couldn’t keep them wherever they were staying. Other rescues across the Augusta area did the same, and all or nearly all those pets had been picked up by their homeward-bound owners Thursday.
The approximately 40 pets sheltered at Augusta Animal Services had all gone home Wednesday.
Columbia County Animal Services took in all the pets of evacuees staying at Patriots Park, which included people from Miami, Naples and Savannah.
One couple from Miami had been living in their car for three or four days with a 70-pound bulldog before they made it to Columbia County. At night, they blew up air mattresses and slept on the ground next to the car.
Volunteers deal with lots of hard luck cases – animal and human – every day, not just after storms like Irma.
Peita said one of the dogs brought to Team Stinkykiss from the city of Savannah’s animal control was 18 years old and in very poor health.
Her owner took the dog to the shelter in Savannah and asked that she be put down, but she wasn’t.
Once she got to Aiken, one of Team Stinkykiss’ volunteers took her in as a foster and will keep her, essentially in hospice care, until the inevitable.
“At least she’ll know love for however long she’s got,” Peita said.
Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.