The Beaufort County Animal Shelter took in 72 dogs and cats on Monday and Tuesday, the start of one of the year's busiest weeks for local animal rescue groups.
Shelter director Tallulah Trice believes many of the dogs have owners, but so far none has contacted the shelter looking for a lost pet.
"We have a black Lab from Bluffton who has an electric collar on, and he has been here for a week now," she said Wednesday. "I don't know if the family is out of town, or they don't know to call us."
Summer tends to be a busy season at the county-operated shelter. Frequent summer thunderstorms can easily spook even the most even-tempered dogs, causing them to dart from a house or run through invisible electric fences, she said.
The July 4 holiday is also one of the busiest times at the shelter, when fireworks spook pets.
The shelter received 48 dogs and cats on Monday and 24 on Tuesday. The average entry rate is about 14 animals per day, according to county records.
Photographs are taken of most stray dogs that arrive and are posted on the shelter's Facebook page. Pets in the photos are often recognized by the owners' neighbors or friends, Trice said.
Attempts also are made to track pet owners using microchips, although Trice says these devices often are not registered, or they contain outdated information.
State law requires the county shelter to keep animals for at least five days, although dogs that appear to have owners are held for two weeks or longer. Beyond that, most adoptable dogs are transferred to local partners for adoption, or are sent to cities such as Richmond, Va., or Washington, D.C., for adoption.
Franny Gerthoffer, executive director of Hilton Head Humane Association, which partners with the county shelter for animal adoptions and medical treatment, says there are simple ways to keep pets safe during the summer.
For instance, even the best dogs should be left at home during fireworks shows.
Even if you "think you have world's greatest pet, this is when you leave it at home," she said, adding that it's not uncommon for dogs to run away and get lost during these events.
Visitors and residents should make sure their homes are secured to prevent spooked animals from getting out during storms, fireworks shows or other events that create loud noises, she said. Air conditioning also should be kept on to keep the animals cool.
Whenever possible, the humane association will make crates available to visitors who bring their pets to the island and need a place to confine them.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.
- New leader, community partners revamp Beaufort County animal shelter, April 12, 2013
- Beaufort County Animal Service Facebook page