A new animal adoption center off S.C. 170 in Okatie has gone to the dogs -- and cats.
The Palmetto Animal League celebrated the grand opening of its first ever headquarters in the Riverwalk Business Park on .Saturday.
The organization has operated a foster care program for homeless animals since 2002. It has served more than 5,000 of the critters so far despite not having a home base.
That changed Saturday with the christening of a more than 7,000-square-foot space. The center has 10 cat rooms decked out with toys and shelves for climbing which can house a total of 50 kitties, separating the felines by temperament.
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For dogs, it has kennels, pens in the backyard and a living room outfitted with furniture where the film "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" played on the television during the grand opening.
The rooms are meant to encourage the socialization skills the pets learn in foster care, board of directors member Joe Baker said.
The animals got a chance to practice those skills Saturday as hundreds of people ebbed and flowed through the rooms, many bringing "housewarming" gifts of pet food, bedding and other donations. Six animals were adopted within an hour, director Amy Campanini said, and PAL added scores to its list of more than 75 volunteers who help with the animals and fundraising.
Pat Lagerman and Nancy Furru, part of a Sun City group called Cat Lovers United, admired two speckled gray kittens sleeping after roughhousing for hours to the delight of the visitors.
Lagerman has two adopted cats while Furru has four. The two said they were planning a fundraiser sponsor a cat room.
"Who wouldn't love a little kitty?" Lagerman asked. "That's why I came out to support Palmetto Animal League."
"They're a great group for sure," Furru said. "They do wonderful things."
The center will depend on the generosity of supporters in paying off the building, Campanini said. A land donor has given the group five years to do so through its capital campaign which aims to raise $600,000 by December.
PAL's goal is to find homes for 500 animals within its first year.
Each animal is vaccinated, microchipped, spayed and neutered before leaving the center. The group also shuttles animals to adoption centers from Georgia to upstate New York to increase their chances of finding homes.