HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Horry County Animal Care Center saved 2,550 animals in 2021, raising its save rate to 83.6%, up from 63.9% in 2020. 

The nonprofit group Best Friends Society releases a pet lifesaving dataset each year. This year, the Horry County Animal Care Center’s ranked as the ninth most-improved shelter in the country. 

A shelter’s save rate is calculated by finding the percentage of animals saved out of all the animals that came into the shelter that year.

In South Carolina, a shelter must hit a save rate of 90% to be considered a “no-kill” shelter. At just 6.4% away from the goal, the Horry County Animal Care Center is working to reach that as soon as possible. 

“That is the goal of this shelter is to get to that 90% mark,” said Capt. Justin Wyatt, the center’s director. “There’s a whole different list of things that we’re doing to try to make sure that we get to that 90% mark. Cause that’s where we want to be.”

One of the things on the list is making free and reduced surgeries available. There’s also a new emphasis on spaying and neutering.

The Horry County Animal Care Center works with shelters around the country to find the best fit for animals that need extra help. 

“Instead of saying, ‘oh, well, we can’t adopt this dog. It’s been there for a long time. Let’s go ahead and euthanize it,’ we’re saying, ‘OK, let’s find a rescue. Let’s find another place that this dog would fit in and where we can send it so that it can,’” Wyatt said. 

He said the center has not and never will euthanize an animal because of a lack of time or space. 

“We do not euthanize healthy animals, make no mistake about it,” Wyatt said. “If they are healthy and otherwise just not adopted yet for whatever the reason is, then they sit on our floor until we can find something else for them to do.”

Wyatt thinks that with the right help and resources, the animal-care center will be able to reach the 90% save rate. 

“I think we’ll get to that 90% mark because of the grants,” Wyatt said. “And because of being able to possibly look at some expansion to the shelter in the future so that we can hold some more animals there.”