Charleston Animal Society staff members wake up early and pile into a box truck to get to the cats and dogs before the sun rises.
By 5:30 a.m., they are there — and, usually, way out there. They are out in places like Hollywood, Ravenel, McClellanville and parts of Dorchester County. Here, people line up by 6 a.m. with their cats and dogs so that their pets can be spayed or neutered, said Joe Elmore, chief executive officer of the Animal Society.
“Whenever we go out and do these outreach spay-neuter events, particularly in the rural communities and underserved communities, the response is overwhelming,” he said.
By 6 p.m. that evening, the newly sterilized pets are then returned to their owners. However, outreach events like these are often limited to cooler months, when transporting animals in a truck will be more comfortable.
Today that will change when the Simon Greer Mobile Spay-Neuter Clinic will be unveiled at the annual meeting of the Animal Society.
The tractor-size, $225,000 surgical suite on wheels includes two operating tables, among other veterinary equipment. Its purpose is to help the Animal Society reach out to rural and undeserved communities, where people love their animals but sometimes need additional help.
“We can do a lot, but this will help us go even farther out into the rural areas,” said Elmore, “because the two obstacles for people who want to spay and neuter their pets is affordability and accessibility.”
Last year, the Charleston Animal Society did 12,555 spay and neuter surgeries. Elmore said most of them were done in Charleston County but that pet owners in rural areas face unique challenges.
“For example, these folks have a hard time accessing transportation, but they still love their animals,” Elmore said. “With this, we can go to them.”
Only one other mobile spay and neuter clinic like this currently exists in South Carolina, Elmore said. That clinic, however, is located in Columbia — too far for local pet owners.
Philanthropists Laurel and Hank Greer signed the check to make the Simon Greer Mobile Spay-Neuter Clinic a reality. It is named in memory of their late cat, Simon. Pictures of the beloved feline are featured prominently on the mobile clinic’s exterior alongside Caitlyn, the dog that was found with her muzzle taped shut two years ago.
“We know there’s a tremendous need,” Hank Greer said. “We’ve been wanting to do this for 12 or 13 years, and now we finally can.”
The Animal Society meets today at 3 p.m. at River Course Club, 10 River Course Lane, Kiawah Island. The RSVP event is fully booked.
Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.