Keep Saving Starfish, One by One

It’s incredibly rare to walk through the SPCA Albrecht Center adoption floor and see more than one or two empty rooms, if any at all. But this past weekend, thanks to the incredible success of the second annual Pick Me! SC statewide adoption event, the adoption floor was nearly empty. In just two days, 36 pets found loving homes including 12 dogs, 22 cats, 1 guinea pig, and 1 hamster. We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who donated, volunteered, helped spread the word, and adopted during this event!

Pick Me! SC is a statewide adoption event here in South Carolina coordinated by No Kill South Carolina and funded by Petco Foundation and Bobs from Sketchers. This year, 60 shelters, rescue groups, and Petco stores participated in the event and 1,556 pets were adopted during the weekend of July 12-14.

Many shelters including the SPCA Albrecht Center offered reduced or fee-waived adoptions. Our

adopters also received a free leash or cat carrier, a free nail trim coupon for the SPCA Veterinary Care Center, and entry to win our new pet starter-kit giveaway. To make this event fun for the whole family, we also had a bouncy house, movie screening, and snow cones at the shelter on Saturday courtesy of AllStar Tents and Events.

As I walk through the shelter nearly a week later, the rooms are already starting to fill back up. I look around and see the reality of animal sheltering starting to set back in. For every happy adoption, another homeless pet is always there to fill that space, and it can feel like things aren’t getting any better. It can feel like our efforts are futile when the flood of homeless pets coming through our doors never lets up. It’s at times like this that I like to reread the “Starfish Story” and remind myself of the important message it carries.

The story goes like this:

An old man walking along the beach came upon a child sifting through the debris left by the night’s tide. Every so often, the child would pick up a starfish and toss it back to the sea. The old man asked him the purpose of his efforts.

The boy replied, “The tide is going out, and if I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

The man laughed to himself and said, “Do you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf, then smiling at the man, he said, “It made a difference to that one.”

Just like each starfish returned to the safety of the sea, each adoption is a life saved, and each adoption is a reason to celebrate.

Certainly, we must continue making efforts to reduce the homeless pet population by addressing the cause of the problem. Widespread spay and neuter, as well as stronger animal welfare laws, especially those regulating puppy mills, are critical to solving the pet overpopulation problem in our country.

However, just as we cannot quell the ocean tide, we will not see this change happen overnight, and in the meantime, we must keep saving the starfish, one by one.

So, let’s take a moment to reflect on all the happy adoptions during Pick Me! SC. Let’s reflect on the tireless efforts of the animal control officers, veterinary staff, animal care staff, fosters, volunteers, donors, advocates, and adopters who are working together to save our community’s homeless pets. Let’s celebrate those 36 adoptions during the event and the 550 adoptions we’ve done so far this year.

Then, let’s get back to work because there are more animals who need us. Visit us at to save a starfish of your own.

Jessica Gladkowski is the Director of Community Relations at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from The University of Vermont in 2013, and over the next several years she traveled around Asia where she taught English and immersed herself in different cultures. Jessica is inspired to combine her passion for helping animals, teaching, and serving a diverse community through a career in animal welfare. Jessica lives in Aiken with her husband David and their rescue dogs Django and Ollie.

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The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a

tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

EIN: 57-0329782

  199 Willow Run Road  Aiken, SC 29801      Shelter: (803) 648-6863    Vet Care: (803) 648-6864

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