Cats found illegally abandoned inside animal shelter shed

Norm the cat was one of two felines found abandoned inside the donation shed at Dorchester Paws on Tuesday morning.

Dorchester Paws animal shelter near Summerville is caring for two cats that were discovered abandoned Tuesday morning inside a donation shed on the property.

According to shelter officials, the shed is setup to allow community members to drop off food and other care-related items for cats and dogs, not for dropping off pets.

Shelter officials said a volunteer with the nonprofit located two crated felines—a gray-and-white Tabby named Norm and a black feline named Jazz—around 9:30 a.m. after hearing meowing sounds stemming from the shed. The volunteer then relayed the news to Ebony Slater, an animal care technician at Dorchester Paws.

With sweltering heat enveloping the Lowcountry the last several days—temperatures reaching triple digits at times—shelter workers examined the cats for dehydration, but found them to be OK. However, it’s not known how long the cats were inside the shed.

State law prohibits abandoning an animal. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail, payment of a $200-$500 fine, or both. 

The statute specifically defines "abandonment" as "deserting, forsaking, or intending to give up absolutely an animal without securing another owner or without providing the necessities of life," which include food, water and adequate shelter.

Cats found illegally abandoned inside animal shelter shed

A sign on the outside of the shed articulates the illegal nature of abandoning animals on site.

Multiple signs, articulating the illegal behavior, dot the property and side of the shed. Shelter officials said they are currently reviewing surveillance footage from cameras stationed at the property, and if necessary, will file a police report.

While Dorchester Paws does accept owner-surrendered animals, owners must call ahead and schedule an appointment. The shelter will also provide any necessary food and litter.

Norm and Jazz are currently in good health and being lodged in the shelter’s in-take center, according to Dorchester Paws. 

The shelter, a no-kill facility, witnesses its highest intake numbers of the year this month. The cat room is currently full and seeking fosters. Shelter officials said currently 94 cats are in shelter care, while another 209 reside in foster care and at off-campus adoption sites. 

In June, the organization will promote its “adopt-a-shelter cat month” to raise awareness for its packed facility. Animals at least 6-months-old will be available at a discounted rate of $30. Kittens will also be half off.