Keeping Our Pets Safe

We had a recent request for a blog about keeping pets safe on Daniel Island. This question is important because of the natural predator population on the island. The following hunting species are part of the natural beauty of our community:
— Alligator, Bobcat, Coyote, Eagle, Hawk

    We also have abundant raccoon, opossum and feral cats who would fight a cat for territory.  In 2009, a case of rabies in a raccoon from Daniel Island was confirmed; proof that the virus is present here. View the SC DHEC annual rabies report here.

    Other diseases carried by wildlife which can affect our pets are heartworms, intestinal parasites and Leptospirosis. The best way to avoid exposure to these diseases is to keep cats indoors and keep dogs on a leash and out of wildlife habitat areas. For more on the "Indoor Pet Initiative", check out The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine website.

    This question is also timely with the recent Post and Courier news story about a pet cat on Daniel Island being trapped and moved off the island because a neighbor found the cat to be a nuisance.  Our neighbors may not be pet loving people, and it is in our pets’ best interest for us to prevent them coming into contact with people who do not appreciate their unselfish, loving companionship.

    On Daniel Island, we are in the city limits of Charleston proper.  Chapter 5 of the city’s municipal code states:

    “Every person owning or having possession, charge, care, custody, or control of any animal shall keep such animal exclusively upon his own premises; provided, however, that, any such animal may be off such premises if the animal is restrained by a chain or leash or other means of adequate physical control, provided, however, that, when any animal destroys or damages any property, attacks, threatens to attack, or interferes with any person in any manner, becomes a nuisance, or strays onto the private property of another, there shall be a presumption of law that the animal was not restrained by a chain or leash or other means of adequate physical control.”

    If a neighbor’s cat is a nuisance, and you wish to keep them off your property, I recommend a motion-activated sprinkler by Contech called the ScareCrow.  The sudden noise, movement and spray of water are humane ways of teaching animals of all types to avoid your landscaped areas.


    Caring for Wildlife

    What to do if you find a sick or injured animal:

    (Contact information applies for Charleston, SC area residents)

    1. Do not put yourself in danger.
    2. Leave baby birds, bunnies and squirrels alone for a few hours and watch from afar.  Usually mom is just nearby hunting or readying a new nest, and will return for the offspring.  Wildlife mothers do not abandon their young.  If you have witnessed a cat or dog moving the baby, or the mother does not return after three hours, then pick up the young, keep it warm and covered, and take it to an animal hospital or animal rehabilitator as soon as possible (see list below).  Do not try feeding the baby.
    3. If you think you can safely get a smaller, slow-responding, ill or injured animal into a box or carrier which closes firmly, take it to an animal hospital yourself.  Call before you go, as not all veterinarians work with wildlife.  Pet Vet in Mt. Pleasant (843.884.7387) is open during business hours and routinely treats wildlife.  Nights and weekends, the Animal Emergency Hospital of Mt. Pleasant (843.216.7554) will accept wildlife.
    4. For birds of prey (eagle, hawk, kestrel), call the The Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw (843.971.7029).
    5. For wildlife pests invading your yard or home, call Wildlife Solutions (843.571.5556) or another private company to humanely trap and remove them (they do charge for services).  Contacting a rehabilitator to arrange transfer and follow-up care will prevent the animal being stressed or injured after it is trapped (see list below).
    6. For alligators over 5 feet long, call the SC Wildlife Department (843.825.3387).
    7. If smaller alligators or feral cats become a pest, call City of Charleston Animal Control (843.720.3915).

    State Licensed Rehabilitators:

    Keeper of the Wild, Inc.(non-profit)

    Mammals and Rodents:

    Janet Kinser, Director (843.636.1659) St. George, SC

    Song Birds:

    Sarah Landgrebe (843.849.6149) Mt. Pleasant, SC

    Shore Birds:

    Holly Reynolds (843.886.4933) Isle of Palms, SC

    Turtle and Tortise Society (non-profit)

    Turtles and Tortises:

    (843.871.6606) Ladson, SC

    These rehabilitators, and the veterinarians who work with them, are not funded by the state. Public donations are greatly appreciated.