Daisy McKenzie with Buster
By: Jennifer Middleton, Executive Director
When animals first arrive, Animal Care Givers (ACGs) get busy making the animal comfortable and healthy. Sometimes the new intake need a bath to remove fleas, dewormer to remove parasites, or grooming to remove uncomfortable matts in his/her fur. All animals need to be weighed and have their vaccinations brought up to date. Many dogs and cats arrive with no prior veterinary care. Others may have vet records to be transferred and checked. Upon arrival, the dogs receive a Bordetella (kennel cough) and a distemper/parvo vaccine. Cats receive a FVRCP which is kind of like the feline equivalent to a distemper/parvo vaccine. The ACG will check the new arrival for a microchip and insert one if needed.
Next each dog (without a recent veterinary exam) has blood drawn to be tested for heart worms. And each cat has blood drawn to be tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). The results of the tests are recorded in each animal’s file. Drawing blood from the animals is usually a two person job and on rare occasions the animal may need to be sedated at the veterinarian’s office for this simple procedure. ACGs also get fecal samples on animals to test for parasites.
Daniela Schneider with Ike
Each animal is then scheduled to see the vet to be spayed/neutered and receive a rabies vaccine if needed. Any other concerns such as skin irritations, masses, lameness, eye or ear infections are also addressed at that time. Sometimes follow up visits at the specialty veterinarian are needed.
On a day-to-day basis at the sanctuary, the ACGs arrive early in the morning to feed the animals. They start with the animals in the bunkhouse preparing and distributing meals and any medications listed for specific animals on the medication log. A few water bowls that do not fill automatically are topped off and then it is off to the barn. Food and medication is distributed as quickly and efficiently as possible as the anticipation of breakfast creates anxiety among the dogs.
Once everyone in the barn is fed, the golf cart is loaded with dry food, canned food for medications, a few special meals for those with allergies and other special needs. Then the ACG drives the cart around to the outside enclosures delivering food to each dog and medications to those who need it. Each day we use over 40 pounds of high quality dog food and several cans of soft food.
Once breakfast is over, the feed cart is unloaded and the ACG is off to start other daily tasks, such as laundry, washing dirty food bowls, cleaning the bunkhouse, tack room and more.
There are usually a few small animals at HH. Currently, we have 2 rabbits that ACGs provide excellent care for by feeding, cleaning their cages, and grooming.
Josh Taber with Clark
Most days we are blessed with a hard-working crew of volunteers who serve as ACGs for the cats. They feed, clean litter boxes, clean water bowls and fountains, sweep floors, wipe down counters, change bedding, and most importantly give the cats affection. The staff will oversee that the catteries are cared for and the supplies are restocked. Then an ACG will drive out to attend to the feral cat population located just outside the main yard. This population of about thirty felines receive fresh water and food each day and they have a few litter boxes that must be cleaned.
ACGs are often on hand to put away purchased supplies as well as donations.
Another daily task of an ACG is mucking. Many volunteers have taken on this vital ACG role as they visit with the dogs. Each cat enclosure has an outside area that an ACG mucks weekly. Cleaning the solid waste makes the enclosure more sanitary and the large enclosures require a lot of walking! The small enclosures (like those behind the barn are attended to everyday.)
Introducing dogs to others is a job that takes more than one ACG at a time. Much thought and consideration is put into decisions on where to place dogs/cats. With dogs, ACGs consider their disposition and how it will blend with any potential partners. They must think about if the dog will dig, climb, run the fence or be food aggressive when choosing their placement.
Grooming is a task that keeps ACGs busy in any spare time. Trimming nails on 150 dogs is a constant challenge- especially since most of our animals do not appreciate pedicures. There are a few long-haired dogs and cats that require brushing and occasional de-matting. There are a few dogs with skin issues who require periodic medicated baths, especially during the summer. ACGs also work to clean and medicate many dirty or infected ears.
Jennifer Middleton with Bodean
In the afternoon, an ACG (sometimes a volunteer) will use a scrub brush with a long handle to walk to every dog enclosure to flush out each water bowl and ensure that it automatically refills with fresh water. At this time they also give out a treat to any well mannered dog greeting them at the fence. This task not only ensures the dogs have fresh, clean water, but allows us to check the location of each resident (sometimes they dig or climb into a neighbor’s yard) and the health of everyone. ACGs will make a note of any dog who does not have an appetite or presents some physical problem such as lameness.
As evening progresses, an ACG will start the feeding and the distribution of evening medications. In the winter, heat lamps will be turned on to give the residents a source of heat on cold nights. The dogs who will allow it, are fitted with jackets on very cold nights.
Being an ACG at the sanctuary is a job that never ends. No matter how hard or fast they work, there is ALWAYS more to do. They could finish mopping the bunkhouse, leave 30 minutes to sweep barn stalls and find that several small dogs had accidents all through the house they just cleaned. They work tirelessly and manage to have a cheerful attitude throughout the day. The ACGs at Hallie Hill are able to prioritize and are always flexible. The animals are blessed to have Daisy McKenzie, Daniela Schneider, Josh Taber and the many volunteers who have stepped up as ACGs at the sanctuary. It would not be such an incredible organization without their dedication!
“I’m thrilled to be joining the HH family! Coming from a background of working at open-admission shelters, where my passion was working with the animals who needed a little (or a lot) “extra”, I’m excited for this transition. At HH I’ll be able to work with the animals without worry of them deteriorating in a kennel or time and resources running out before they can be placed in the homes they deserve.
I live in Summerville with my husband Shawn, daughter Caeley, son Hayden and my three rescue dogs Folly, Lydia and George! I’m from Saugerties, NY. Lived in Charleston while active duty Air Force ‘95-2000, returned for good in 2013.”
Michele comes to us with experience as a Volunteer Coordinator, Dog Behavior/Enrichment Manager, and lifelong animal lover. She is skilled, professional, and a great communicator with people and animals alike. She is a wonderful addition to our Hallie Hill team, and we are so happy to have her! Be sure to stop in and introduce yourself on your next visit to the Sanctuary!
The purrfect gift for any animal lover this Valentine’s Day – a donation in their name to the animals of Hallie Hill!
Click here to make a donation honoring your valentine. Select which special e-card you would like them to receive – and that’s it! They are sure to love this thoughtful gift.
This year was difficult for all of us in so many ways — we want to express our gratitude for our community that still showed us love and support despite their own struggles. THANK YOU! Happy New Year – here’s to a healthy and happy year ahead!
This beautiful handmade quilt could be yours!
This expertly stitched quilt is the ‘Night Sky’ pattern using beautiful, coastal shades inspired by the Lowcountry! Winner will be chosen at noon on Monday, December 14th! This gorgeous quilt would make a wonderful Christmas or holiday gift!
About the Artist: Donna Gamble
“Like many people from the Northeast, it only tool one trip here to the Lowcountry of South Carolina to become hooked! Our family consists of three rescues, a bloodhound mix, a blue tick coonhound and our newest member from Hallie Hill, a Staffordshire Terrier named Chico! All three have unique personalities and are a tight pack that keep track of each other. We are strong advocates of dog safety and wellness and letting them shine in their own light! Our Bloodhound does search and rescue work, our blue tick joins in the search and rescue training, as does our Terrier but his passion is swimming in the Atlantic (equipped with his life jacket). I have tremendous admiration for Jennifer Middleton, the staff, and the volunteers’ devotion and good works that make Hallie Hill a success, and wanted to contribute.”
Hallie Hill thanks Donna for the beautiful quilt and her devotion to HHAS!
Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary: How it all Began!
Helen, at home on Folly Beach with two of her several rescues from Hallie Hill.
My children were grown and off to different parts of the world. The horses had grown very old and had gone to heaven. And now, the barn was empty except for one small and very lame carriage horse I had rescued from the streets of Charleston. Bert was Hallie’s very first rescue!
Then, on one cold winter’s day as I was attempting to organize the tack room, a very skinny little dog appeared at the door. She was trembling from the cold and I could tell she was hungry—every bone showing. She began to slowly wag her tail and never will I forget the look in her eyes. Rescue #2! Before long, another one appeared, then another, and soon every stall in the lonely old barn was occupied! A desperate mother cat found us and after approving the accommodations brought her wonderful large litter to the barn. In time, more cats arrived and soon our once vacant old barn was filled with happy sounds—you could feel the warmth of a welcoming home in the walls.
And then, to top it all, a very young black baby calf arrived, crying every step of the way. (We later learned a mother cow was the victim of heavy traffic on Hwy 17.) I located calf baby bottles and soon our little ‘Moo-Moo’ was enjoying a full tummy and a cozy bed in the straw.
So, the purpose of this sharing this story is to explain how the Sanctuary began – an absolute act of nature! Nothing planned, and it grew bigger and bigger over time! I had the help of two wonderful elderly gentlemen, both dedicated animal lovers. The three of us enjoyed days of rescuing, building pens and pup houses and other duties involved in the caring of our furry friends. And the numbers were increasing weekly!
After more than 20 years we had grown and expanded and reached the point where really good, professional help was necessary. And, in the usual way that things happen at Hallie Hill, this lovely new angel appeared. She was obviously an animal lover and her other talents were happiness, intelligence, energy and charm – Jennifer Middleton – ‘perfection’ – and the answer to our prayers!
Soon, Hallie Hill became a 501C non-profit organization and home to approximately 150 dogs and 50 cats, age range from puppies and kittens to elderly citizens! They are cared for no matter their condition and they are guaranteed a happy home for life. Jennifer Middleton, our Executive Director, keeps everything working like magic. Hallie Hill has a wonderful Board of Directors whose dedication is outstanding. And it must be said, the volunteers are amazing!
The next chapters will speak for themselves, but Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary began, and will continue, as a happy and humane solution to a most desperate need.
Thank you for your belief in the mission of Hallie Hill, and, happy holidays to all! – HMB
Recently I had the pleasure of traveling to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Best Friends was started just 4 years before HHAS, and in much the same way. They have now grown to be the largest sanctuary in the United States for companion animals, leading the “No Kill” movement, and starting a cooperative network for rescues and shelters to which Hallie Hill belongs. The purpose of my trip was twofold: to learn from them, and to renew my enthusiasm for our mission.
Since I had never traveled so far west, I was amazed by the landscape. The canyons and cliffs of the terrain are breathtaking. Compared to HHAS, Best Friends is huge. They have over 3700 acres of land and employ over 800 people. Usually, they care for about 1600 animals, but they are operating at almost half capacity during the pandemic.
During my short stay I was able to schedule lunch with one of the founders and take several tours of the facility including “Cat World” and the “Gratitude Garden”. Even though our policies andprocedures are very much in line, I came back with many new ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for the work we do. It is comforting to know that there are other sanctuaries with the same dedication to improving the lives of animals and that are passionate about “saving them all”.
As much as I enjoyed visiting Best Friends, my visit caused me to fall in love with HHAS all over again. I missed the green grass pastures, the verdant shade trees, AND the more temperate climate. Not only did it snow on my trip, but the temperature dropped to 16 degrees at night! So, thank you all very much for supporting HHAS. Your contributions make it possible for us to continue saving lives and ensuring a bright future for those special animals entrusted to our care right here in the Lowcountry.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary!