Making a New Home for Dorchester Paws


Finding a new home for Dorchester Paws has been challenging – to say the least. Plans for a new shelter to open in 2021 went sideways when the county’s donated land was deemed unsuitable due to wetlands that would cost over $1 million in site preparation to develop.

Undeterred, animal lovers in Dorchester County launched a Capital Campaign aimed at raising the necessary funding by 2022. To date, more than $2 million has been raised, including a $1 million commitment from Dorchester County and $350,000 pledged by the SC Legislature.

The full cost of a new shelter is estimated at about $3.2 million, but that could adjust once a new location is secured.


Did you know that Dorchester Paws is the only open admission shelter in Dorchester County, an area that spans 576 square miles? Simply put, they work with animal control officers and the public to shelter every abandoned, neglected, and abused animal and provide them with food, veterinary care and medical treatments until they are adopted or placed with other rescues.

Animals are spayed/neutered, microchipped and fully vaccinated prior to adoption. “All this is only part of our commitment to animals,” said Dorchester Paws Co-Executive Director Maddie Moore. “We have a staff of 27 people and a number of dedicated volunteers who make sure our animals get the attention and affection they deserve, as well as proper socialization.”

Dorchester Paws is also a proud partner of No Kill South Carolina 2024. Their euthanasia rate has been gradually reducing since 2017.

“Dorchester Paws has shown great progress and we wholeheartedly support a new shelter in Dorchester County,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore.

On any given month, the shelter will see more than 300 animals come through its doors. Some are strays, while others are pets brought in because their owners can no longer care for them. “We are here for animals, no matter what the circumstances are that bring them in,” Moore said.


Richard Nixon was President when the current Dorchester Paws shelter was built in 1973. Designed to house 181 animals, Dorchester Paws routinely has 400 animals in their system. A strong foster network allows them to care for those that can’t find room at the shelter.

Last year, the shelter had to close down three different times because of flooding and repairs to kennels and a leaking roof are constant. This summer, animals had to be housed in pop-up crates because of overcrowding.

“When you service an area as large as Dorchester County, with such an outdated facility, ‘busting at the seams’ feels like an understatement,” Moore said. “We believe in our community and we know they will come through for the animals that we all love so much.”