Congratulations to The Humane Society of Greenwood!
THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF GREENWOOD has been named the 2020 Organization of the Year by the statewide No Kill South Carolina (NKSC) initiative. This award is given to the organization that has excelled in implementing and/or maintaining NKSC lifesaving and humane strategies during the year. NKSC is a program of Charleston Animal Society, funded by the Petco Foundation.
Carolina Tails recently spoke to The Humane Society of Greenwood’s Executive Director Connie Mawyer.
CT: Congratulations on your award! How does it feel?
Connie: It feels extremely exciting. I have seen a change in the staff’s fatigue level. When we have an influx of dogs or cats, we now formulate a plan on how to navigate. I no longer go home in tears, dreading some days. I enjoy coming to work, and the staff are motivated, and they want to learn more in this field. Most of all, I know that we are giving our all and we are not euthanizing animals at such a high rate.
CT: In 2016 the Humane Society of Greenwood had a Save Rate* of 50% and in 2020 you have achieved a remarkable 90%. How did you do it?
Connie: In 2018, we moved into a new building and started developing new life- saving strategies we learned from NKSC. By creating protocols, standards and implementing “managed Intake” we have “streamlined” in a sense, a balance for the number of animals we can take in and the number of staff to ensure the capacity of care. We have also increased our live release rate by reaching out to the community to help financially when an injured animal comes in the doors. Working together, we can save them with proper medical treatment and the community has been very generous in donating the funds to get the appropriate medical services we cannot afford.
* Save Rate = (Live Intake minus Euthanasia, Died, Lost in Care Outcomes) divided by Live Intake.
CT: What kind of challenges did you face and what do you attribute this achievement to?
Connie: We received push back and heard from frustrated community members. But as we have moved forward, we are educating the community about our lifesaving strategies and we are able to show them that it works through the numbers. One example is with our community cats. Our policy had been to take any and every cat into the shelter that was brought to us. Sadly, the feral cats and community outside cats were not likely to become adoptable and were more likely to be euthanized. By helping the community understand that the cats in the community are not indoor cats and do not thrive in the shelter setting, we have developed a community cat program and when we have the resources and funds, we have volunteers who “TNR,” Trap, Neuter, and Release these cats. We have also developed a foster program with community volunteers and we also have a great network of rescue organizations we work with all over the country to help us when we reach capacity.
CT: What message do you have to other shelter leaders who want to save more lives?
Connie: It takes the entire team to make this work. The formula for the capacity of care, using managed intake and collaborating with the community as well as the other facilities. Here in Greenwood, we have also developed a working relationship with Animal Control. Working together we can tackle tough issues like neglect, strays and hoarding issues.
CT: What would you say to people who want to save animal lives in their own communities?
Connie: Microchip and Spay and Neuter. I cannot say that enough. The issues that plague communities are the unwanted litters of both dogs and cats.
If you see a cat, please do not think you are helping that cat by bringing them to a shelter. Do not touch the cat. They will usually return home when they are done wandering, otherwise it is a cat that lives outside. Feral and community cats do not thrive in the shelter setting.
CT: What the future holds for the animals in Greenwood County?
Connie: Working in partnership with the community to help bring the overpopulation down by being able to offer low-cost spay and neuter. We have a clinic at the Humane Society and we are working hard to get it operational. That will give the community a better opportunity to get their pets spayed and neutered. We are a resource and want to assist the residents of Greenwood by offering services and alternatives when we cannot take an animal in.