This Thanksgiving holiday will certainly be one for the Humane Society of Greenwood to celebrate. As interim director, I am overjoyed to witness firsthand the 17-plus years of work, done by so many, to be paying off in such a significant way.

It has taken a year to adapt to the new shelter facility and examine what processes and procedures best worked and which ones did not. Most surprisingly was the mental shift we had to make after the move.

Although our mission, vision and passion were the same, we had to adjust our day-to-day mentality from working in the old shelter, which was, for all intents and purposes, a pound. And when we operated there, we had to figure out workarounds to achieve the basics. In the new shelter, these workarounds are no longer necessary. The tools and environment changed in an instant, but our ability to wrap our minds around the new circumstances did not. That took some time.

Over the past year, the HSOG organization has experienced an overhaul on many levels. We have learned to repurpose some of the original design and implement procedures to provide better care for the animals. Each incoming dog and cat is individually assessed, put on the appropriate dietary, health and enrichment plan, and a strategy for how to quickly and best move him or her into a home is discussed among employee teams.

Two years ago in the old shelter, 47% of the animals got new homes via local adoptions, rescue groups partnerships, or returning back to their families. From July through October, combining our work to save animals housed both in the HSOG Adoption Center and Greenwood County Impound Center, that number has grown to 79%. The HSOG Adoption Center, which opened as no-kill, has saved 99% of the dogs and cats that it’s transferred from the county’s Impound Center to the HSOG’s-owned portion of the facility for adoption.

Although there is no certification given or official definition of what qualifies an agency to be no-kill, the industry consensus is to maintain a live release rate of 90% and greater. In our partnership with Charleston Animal Society’s No Kill SC initiative, the goal for all participating agencies is to save every medically and behaviorally healthy pet. The majority of the pets that come to shelters don’t walk in medically or behaviorally sound. Many need a lot of TLC, time and thoughtful planning put forth by caretakers to become a pet someone would want to adopt.

As HSOG continues to evolve and put into place new industry practices, we will continue to increase the number of pets saved. We are now better positioned than ever before and have the traction, momentum and clarity to continue on the track of success. The HSOG’s Adoption Center will continue to be no-kill and we will also continue our work marching toward achieving the same for the Greenwood County Impound Center.

Yes, indeed. This is a Thanksgiving for us to relish, especially for the 2,285 dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, rabbits, pigs, roosters and birds that we successfully re-homed since moving in September 2018. And, we are eternally grateful to the people who invited these furry and feathered friends into their lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Karen Pettay is interim director for the Humane Society of Greenwood