Dogs push Fairfield County shelter over capacity

Bob Innes, Director of the Fairfield Co. Animal Shelter & Adoption Center, checks on dog crates stacked two-high in a back room of the shelter, which is housing 22 more dogs than it has capacity for. | Photos: Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County Animal Shelter announced on Jan. 6 that it would be closing its doors for all non-emergency intakes until further notice.

“We are so overcrowded right now that we can’t take any more dogs from people dropping them off for surrender,” said Fairfield County Animal Shelter Director Bob Innes. “We have to save what space we have for emergencies – dogs hit by cars, strays that have to be picked up, etc.

“We have 65 dogs in here now and we only have capacity for 43,” he said. “At this point they have to go right into a crate when they come in, and we have to keep many of them outside during the day in their pens. We don’t have the space inside. But it’s so cold at night that we start bringing the dogs in about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

“We’re bursting at the seams,” Innes said of the situation. “At night, they’re all over the place in here. We just don’t have enough space.”

Space for these dogs was found in the shelter’s restroom between the toilet and the wall.

By the time staff leaves for the day, Innes says dogs in crates occupy every open space inside the shelter – sometimes two crates high – in hallways, restrooms, the laundry room, the entry, the back room, everywhere.

Innes’s passion for the animals he oversees has inspired a cadre of volunteers who not only help with the animals, but donate and fundraise for the shelter.

Much of the funds the shelter operates on, especially for emergencies, are raised and donated by the Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society, the Friends of Fairfield County SC Animal Shelter, and from others in the community. Innes says much of the donations come from outside Fairfield County. In December, the Blythewood Artists’ Guild raised thousands of dollars in cash and products for the shelter during the Guild’s annual holiday market.

The intake, across the street and next to the public works building, consists of a long narrow hallway with kennels along each side with no space for other offices. Only a few have outside runs.

Besides not having adequate space to properly house the dogs as they wait for adoption or transfer, the inside of the intake facility across the street from the shelter is stark and cramped – a single, narrow hallway with kennels on either side. 

Volunteers have been campaigning for and raising funds toward building a new, more adequate, up-to-date shelter. At the same time, the county has made cuts in funding to the shelter last year as well as cutbacks in temporary help, a blow to the shelter’s day-to-day operations.

Almost all of the dogs the shelter takes in are Pit Bulls or a mix of the breed. Innes says they’re good dogs, they just need good homes.

Under Innes’ guidance, the Fairfield shelter has been designated a no-kill shelter. He says euthanasia is not an option to overcrowding – that is only used for severe sickness or injury.

“We’ve been able to transfer some of the dogs to rescue organizations,” Innes said, “but we need to move more.” 

The shelter depends on volunteers to transport these dogs to other areas of the state and even across the country where their chance of adoption is better. But for the last month or so, transfers and adoptions have been slow.

According to a post on the shelter’s website, adoptions from the shelter are not limited to residents of Fairfield County. Residents from surrounding counties are welcome to adopt, he says.

To volunteer or donate to the shelter, call 803-815-0805.

The shelter is located at 1678 U.S. Highway 321 Business North in Winnsboro. Hours are Monday – Friday, 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment on Saturdays.


  1. Wanda Carnes says

    Omg, please help God’s animals. I pray in your name Sweet Jesus, there is no reason Fairfield County cannot pull “together” and do God’s work! If your councilmembers are not supporting a new shelter and making sure these animals are safe, then I beg you, vote them out!

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]