Beaufort News

Renovation, expansion at island animal shelter expected to save more of our four-legged friends

More dogs and cats will be spared an early death because of a renovation and expansion of the Hilton Head Humane Association, the shelter director says.

The no-kill shelter plans to accommodate more cats and dogs from area shelters where euthanasia is practiced, said executive director Franny Gerthoffer.

"You always hope to go out of business ... but there are just so many abandoned, neglected and injured animals needing food, shelter, medical care and loving adoptive homes," Gerthoffer said.

One to eight animals per week from other shelters are placed there, based on available space. Most come from Beaufort County, but the association also accepts animals from Jasper, Colleton, Allendale and Bamberg counties, she said.

"We are overloaded, particularly with kittens, and need more space," Gerthoffer said.

Construction is expected to begin within the next two weeks to renovate a 1,323-square-foot section of the Atherton Annex and add a 1,918-square-foot building beside it. The work will provide room for nine dog kennels and 14 to 16 cages for kittens, Gerthoffer said.

Another the goal of the renovation is to make the annex's exterior match the recently renovated Adoption Center. The work also would involve eliminating an unsightly chain-link fence, freestanding kennels and an open roof-over-concrete slab structure, according to the association's town permit application.

At any given time, the shelter handles more than 200 animals. Last year, it cared for about 2,000 abandoned, injured or abused animals, helping them find adoptive homes. Of those, 164 were from other shelters, Gerthoffer said.

The shelter, which was incorporated in 1976, also traps, inoculates, neuters and releases feral cats if asked to do so by a business or resident. This reduces disease and unwanted litters, shelter officials say.

Gerthoffer said the association is still estimating construction costs and has been conducting fundraisers to pay for the project.

The nonprofit organization is funded entirely by membership dues, private donations and fundraisers.

"It's great that we have this no-kill environment, but in order to have that, people have to consider adopting from no-kill shelters so we can make room," Gerthoffer said.