on April 19, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Four-legged freedom

April 26 (rain date May 3)

9 a.m.

Seneca National Bank parking lot

201 123 Bypass

(864) 882-4488

www.arf-sc.org

SENECA — Thrown out of a moving car. Strays. Left behind when their owner dies.

Animals arrive at ARF through myriad circumstances.

ARF, short for Animal Rescue Fund, is a non-profit, no-kill shelter in Seneca. Veterinarian Roger Ross founded ARF approximately six years ago; it operates out of the same facility as Ross’ Fox Nest Animal Hospital, located at 10445 Clemson Blvd.

“We don’t have an official staff for the shelter,” said Bonnie Chait, who manages ARF. “It’s all volunteers and we’re grateful for anyone we can get. We never really know how many volunteers we’re going to get. It could be anywhere from five to 20 for a week.”

The shelter adopts around 300 animals a year. It’s mostly cats and dogs, although there’s also the occasional bird, ferret or rabbit. ARF can accommodate up to 25 cats and 10 dogs at a time.

Helping hands are golden at ARF, and so is work ethic. While many people want to play with a bubbly pup or kitten, scooping litter or the yard isn’t quite as cute.

A Clemson University community service program provides a flow of college-aged student volunteers. Other groups, such as Girl Scout troops, assist at the facility or raise money to help fund it.

PAWS FOR THE CAUSE

On April 26, Friends of Animal Rescue Fund (FARF), the shelter’s financial support group, will hold its annual spring yard sale. Proceeds from the event go straight to ARF, where money is always an issue.

ARF relies on volunteers and donations to pay a majority of operating costs, with a $30 drop-off fee also helping offset expenses. The upcoming yard sale is a pivotal fundraiser. Stock will be similar in scope to the funky bric-a-brac of flea markets: books, toys, arts and crafts, kitchen paraphernalia and small furniture.

“The ladies in FARF have a warehouse and collect these items,” Chait said. “Once a year they go through it and set up a yard sale in the parking lot of the Seneca National Bank.”

While monetary gifts are ideal, animal lovers have been known to donate everything from paper towels to chew toys. Even used washers and dryers are welcome. ARF resells the appliances, putting the money back into the facility. Because keeping an animal’s diet consistent helps prevent digestive issues, ARF does not accept donations of food.

An animal’s stay at ARF can vary considerably, from two weeks to two years. Even though ARF is a no-kill shelter, Chait said adopting a pet from the facility still saves lives.

“That allows us to bring in another animal,” she said.

A $65 adoption fee covers vaccinations, including heartworms for dogs. In addition, all animals are spayed and neutered to help control animal population problems.

“We’re very honest about the animals’ personalities. If they’re not good with children, we’re not going to adopt them out to family with kids,” Chait said. “A lot of shelters don’t have the time to get to know the animals and their idiosyncrasies well.”

TAKING HER WORK HOME

A Walhalla resident, Chait has taken home a few ARF expatriates herself. (This is true among many of those involved with the shelter.) Her shorthaired cat, Bernie, has been through the ringer. Clemson Police rescued the cat after he’d been set on fire as a kitten. Chait adopted him and nursed him through numerous surgeries. Bernie’s ultra-pun name comes courtesy of Chait’s son, then two years old, who kept calling for the “burned cat.” After a while, the feline would come running upon hearing the tot’s request and the name stuck.

“He’s the sweetest cat you’ll ever meet,” Chait said.

Her other cat is a longhair who arrived at ARF after being run over by a car. Despite a crushed pelvis, the cat recovered. For the record, Chait also owns three dogs: a mastiff, Great Dane and terrier. Yes, it sounds like a list of Disney characters.

For many people, a pet can become part of their family — an occurrence especially true for single or older individuals, Chait said.

“These animals really are an important part of life,” she said.

Sometimes the benefits of pet ownership are amazing. Many of Chait’s favorite ARF stories involve foster parents who would pick up a little friend for a child.

When asked to explain the person-to-pet connection, Chait said it’s all about the unconditional.

“Animals don’t judge you; they just love you. They don’t care if you gain 20 pounds or had a bad day,” Chait said. “Everybody’s so harsh these days, but animals aren’t like that.”

For more information on how to adopt a pet from ARF, call (864) 882-4488.