When adopting a pet from a shelter or a rescue group, you not only provide a home for the pet but provide yourself with many hours of comfort and companionship from your newly acquired friend, which makes for a “win-win” accommodating situation.
Recently, in a small town on the Gulf Coast of Florida, an 18-month-old mixed-breed dog that had been adopted from a shelter when he was 7 weeks old by a dock master proved to be a hero when his master slipped on the dock and fell unconscious into the water. The pup barked and barked until someone came to investigate, grabbed the man from the water, performed CPR and resuscitated him.
Incidents such as this are very inspiring and bring to our attention the need to be aware of any abuse or cruelty to animals and report it. Also inspiring is the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.-based “K9s for Warriors,” which was founded in 2011 and matches service dogs with veterans. It now boasts a program of 228 graduate service dogs.
There are a number of local shelter and rescue groups in Beaufort County. Among them are:
▪ Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control in Beaufort, 843-255-5010
▪ Hilton Head Humane Association on Hilton Head Island, 843-681-8686
▪ Palmetto Animal League in Okatie, 843-645-1725
▪ Noah’s Arks Rescue in Okatie, 843-540-6755
▪ Brooke’s Haven Animal Rescue in Bluffton, 843-757-7387
▪ Chain Free Beaufort, 843-812-6574
These organizations are dedicated to finding good homes for their pets and reducing animal abuse and cruelty of any kind, including chaining, tethering, malnutrition and abandonment.
Under South Carolina law, a person who knowingly or intentionally ill-treats an animal, depriving it of necessary sustenance or shelter, inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering upon an animal, or by omission or commission knowingly or intentionally causes these acts to be done, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or by a fine of not less than $100, nor more than $1000, or both for a first offense.
Another part of the law address abandoning an animal without providing “necessities of life” such as adequate water, food and shelter. This covers pets left in vehicles that can become overheated. Violators face fines of not less than $200, nor more than $500, or imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both.
In many states, there are no hard-and-fast rules on leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle, although offenders can and frequently do face animal cruelty charges. After just 10 minutes, even a mild 70 degrees can turn into a scalding 90 degrees in a car with closed windows. If it’s 90 degrees outside, the inside of the vehicle can quickly rise to 109 degrees in that same 10 minutes. And if a pet is left for 30 minutes, it will face temperatures of 124 degrees. Would you want to be that pet? It’s best to leave the pets at home.
Out of the 50 states, only 16 have state statutes in place that protect pets specifically from being trapped in cars. The remaining 34 have laws in place to protect animals from abuse, neglect or cruelty.
Since no state grants legal permission to concerned citizens to break and enter a vehicle to save a distressed animal, there are steps you can take to help. You can try to locate the pet’s owner, call animal control or a local law enforcement agency to report the incident, and remain with the animal until help arrives. A good idea is to have these numbers listed and taped on the back of your car’s sun-visor, where it’s handy in case of an emergency.
By being vigilant and alert to our surroundings, we can be a hero to an animal in distress and obliterate any abuse or cruelty.
Contributor Jean Tanner is a lifetime rural resident of the Bluffton area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.