The future didn’t look bright for Buck, a Great Dane being cared for at a shelter that partners with the Greenville Humane Society. He was underweight, heartworm positive, and had been shot in the leg. But his caregivers saw past his suffering.
“He was such a wonderful dog, he became a favorite of the staff. Fortunately, we had the means to give him a second chance,” said Kim Pitman, executive director of the Greenville Humane Society. “He gained weight, was treated for heartworms, and was adopted. We were lucky to be able to do what compassionate people are supposed to — take care of animals who can’t speak for themselves.”
Thanks to strong community support, including annual grants from the Community Foundation’s Margaret Linder Southern Endowment, the Greenville Humane Society is now able to save the lives of more animals than ever, as well as provide needed services to Upstate pet owners. A recent expansion, funded by a $3.3 million capital campaign, added 14,500 square feet, bringing the campus to 24,500 square feet spanning three buildings.
Pitman, who has served as executive director since 2007, said demand for preventive-care services has grown rapidly since the Airport Road location opened in 2011. The Humane Society’s spay/neuter clinic and walk-in vaccine clinic offer reasonable prices to the public, with proceeds used to provide care for shelter animals.
“We couldn’t keep up with demand. We have seen a 47 percent increase in the number of spay/neuter surgeries performed here since 2011. We used to give 20,000 affordable vaccines annually — now we give over 50,000,” Pitman said. “This additional space tripled our capacity to meet the needs of the community.”
The expansion, completed last September, also added The Healing Place, where Buck was treated. In 2018, 38 percent of the animals placed in permanent homes went through treatment in The Healing Place.
“The Greenville Humane Society Healing Place is a totally new concept. We are the only shelter in the Southeast with space dedicated to the care of sick and injured animals, including those that have long-term health issues and otherwise would be euthanized,” Pitman said. “In 2018, we treated more than 2,300 suffering animals, providing them the opportunity to recover and find their forever homes. Because we partner with 38 high-euthanasia shelters in five states, we are helping to lower the euthanasia rates in the entire Southeast.”
Pitman credited Southern, who specified that half the annual proceeds of her endowment go to the Greenville Humane Society, with making this critical care possible, and compared her to James M. “Miss Jim” Perry, a longtime leader who was also the first woman admitted to the South Carolina Bar.
“Strong, bright women are part of our past and future — one as an early advocate and another whose gift moved us into the next century,” Pitman said.
With 6,099 adoptions last year, the Greenville Humane Society is the second-largest no-kill facility in the Southeast. About 200 volunteers care for pets each month, walking dogs, working on manners, and preparing animals for adoption.
“We’re still a hidden jewel that not everyone knows about. We’ve worked hard to make this a high-quality, compassionate, and fun destination for people who love animals,” Pitman said. “We’ve earned a four-star rating five years in a row on Charity Navigator to become the No. 1 animal-welfare organization in the country.”
Community Foundation President Bob Morris said the strong support earned by the Greenville Humane Society reflects well on both the organization and the community as a whole.
“Pets are an important part of people’s families, whether as companions or therapy or service animals,” he said. “Providing ethical treatment extends beyond the welfare of the animals themselves; it also impacts the many people who care for them.”