Pet Adoption: You’ve Got a Friend – Hilton Head Monthly

nd whether it’s a dog or cat, a ferret or a rat, it’s probably waiting for you at one of these area agencies.

It’s a lucky animal that comes by way of the hundreds of volunteers who keep the Beaufort County animal rescue shelters and adoption agencies going. They are deeply committed workers, going so far as caring for and feeding  rodents.

“We’ve taken in rats; one was riding around on my shoulder all day. We got him adopted. But no, he wasn’t the kind of rat you find in the sewer! He was specially bred to be domestic,’’ quipped Jan Hughes, a volunteer at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter and Control for 17 years until she recently became a paid, part time employee.

“We have volunteers from all walks of life here; we have a librarian who scrubs and cleans the cat adoption room every Saturday and she takes cats home to work with them to get them more adoptable. We have several folks in the military that want to give back to the community and are animal lovers and they help with everything from pooper scooper to walking the animals to cleaning and socializing them.’’

A woman helicopter pilot is a devoted volunteer, Hughes said,  as are high school students who work at the shelter as part of the school’s  Honor Society requirements.

“We had a ferret here and we had a boy who loved ferrets; he bathed it and spent a lot of time with the ferret. It was a really valuable contribution,’’ Hughes said.

Franny Gerthoeffer, executive director of the Hilton Head Humane Association, described the network of volunteers who work on  the Association’s program to trap and care for the feral cat population in Bluffton, Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island.

She herself had just trapped five wild cats the morning she spoke to Monthly, behind the Tanger Outlet on S.C. 278 in Bluffton.

Volunteers bring the “Have a Heart” trapped feral cats to HHHA’s free spaying/neutering clinic, where the cats are tested for feline leukemia, are fixed, and have a notch removed from their right ear for later identification. HHHA volunteers regularly monitor feral cat colonies.

“If needed, the volunteers can re-trap the cats one year later to keep them updated on their shots, or feed them,  but not smorgasbord feeding. They need to be able to take care of themselves, to hunt and  do what feral cats do.

“It really is a community working together. We have volunteers who donate to the program so we can provide medical care and food, other people who monitor the cats, so it’s a big circle of wonderfulness. It’s really cool and a great way to humanely deal with the feral  population.’’

After traveling the Caribbean  for eight years as a chef on privately chartered yachts, animal lover Amy Campanini moved to Beaufort County and became a mega-volunteer, giving more than 30 hours weekly to the Palmetto Animal League at Riverwalk in Okatie. After four years of volunteering, she was named executive director in 2006.

At home, Campanini practices what she preaches.

“I have 10 lovely cats. A couple are ferals; they’re all foster kitties. I tell people that I could afford to have a long, luxurious and lovely European vacation each year on what I spend on these cats!’’ Campanini said.

She said the Palmetto Animal League has an assortment of volunteers: the folks who love animals but can no longer live with one, and still want to give back;  the people who don’t especially want a hands-on experience so prefer to help by volunteering at PAL’s thrift store, or managing the organization’s database, or raising money.

“I have retired CEOs who walk the dogs and socialize with the cats. A former government employee has taken on developing and creating our dog walker training program.  One business executive from Savannah, a marathon runner,  takes the dogs running.’

Originally posted here: You’ve Got a Friend – Hilton Head Monthly.