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The 24 barking, jumping abandoned dogs ranged in size, breed and color, but they had one thing in common.
They were going on an 18-hour drive to Upstate New York on Wednesday where their transporters say they'll likely be adopted within two weeks. Most important, they were avoiding a fate common to stray dogs in Beaufort County: death.
Tina Murray was the driver of the van the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society of New York sent down after contacting the Palmetto Animal League in Bluffton. Murray, the operations director for the New York group, says there's room at her shelter.
"We can't keep it full," she said. "There's a huge demand for dogs ... and we just don't have them."
Beaufort County does.
"In Beaufort County, we were destroying 70 percent of the animals that come into our shelter every year," said Amy Campanini, executive director of the Palmetto Animal League. "That's a number we're definitely not proud of around here."
It's not something the Beaufort County Animal Shelter likes either.
It has reduced its euthanasia rate so far this year to about 50 percent, in part by working closely with local organizations like the Palmetto Animal League, Camp Green Dog, the Humane Association of the Lowcountry and the Hilton Head Humane Association.
The county shelter's Marsha Galyon said transporting dogs out of state to shelters that have space has gone a long way toward saving animals.
It's becoming more common nationally as a way to help areas where euthanasia rates are high, said Brad Shear, executive director of the New York shelter.
"Transport is a way to continue to do outreach and help animals without housing them here locally," said Campanini of PAL. "We can save 1,000 animals or so each year and assist our county-run facilities because they need the help."
This week's venture was the first long-distance trip for the New York shelter, arranged after Shear talked to a member of Campanini's staff. PAL places animals in pet foster homes throughout the area and has worked with other out-of-state groups, including one from Atlanta that has transported about 60 dogs, Campanini said.
The league will open a 5,500-square-foot adoption facility in Riverwalk Business Park in Okatie within a couple months, where it hopes to save more animals, Campanini said.
Most of the dogs involved in Wednesday's transport to New York were housed at Camp Green Dog, a pet-boarding business in Hardeeville. The company runs a nonprofit foundation for abandoned animals at its building, said co-owner Karen Just.
The number of abandoned pets has risen as people find they can no longer afford to keep the animals, Just said.
"We typically try to keep 15 or so abandoned dogs, but right now we have 30," she said. "You look at the economy ... and you can see why."
As Just petted the dogs Tuesday, she appeared sad to see them go. But she also knows their departure will open space in her kennel, so other animals can be saved.
"We want to rescue them, make sure they're OK and send them on," Just said. "The goal is to get them a house."