By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Staff Writer
Photos by Michele Bayme
Hollywood, SC has the same thrill magic and all the drama of its counterpart on the West Coast. It is home to Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary and the action there is nonstop.
150 puppies and 30 kittens (generically speaking, ages vary) currently reside on the 30-acre tract. Open fields, ponds and wooded areas are available for the rambunctious among them, but with plenty of safe spaces for the shy. Every day is a holiday for residents of Hallie Hill, and has been for some time.
Helen Bradham founded HH in 1983, though not necessarily as an animal sanctuary. It began as a horse farm and her daughters used to ride the grounds. But her girls moved on to different pursuits and interests, leading riding activities to dwindle, eventually leaving the tract vacant. Nature isn’t alone in abhorring a vacuum; dogs apparently do, too, and just started showing up.
Bradham suspects some were unneeded/ unwanted hunting dogs, turned loose and left to fend for themselves. She then began finding puppies and kittens in the woods, and what started as a slow drip became a torrent of homeless friends. It just wasn’t in her to look the other way when an animal was in need of food, shelter or medical attention. She picked up strays, animals hit by cars, and even critters from shelters which euthanize the unwanted, as part of HH’s effort to make the Lowcountry a “no kill” zone.
Funding eventually became an issue with so many hurt, hungry, and homeless to care for. HH’s move to registered 501(c)(3) charity status made perfect sense, and allowed for an expansion of services. 200 residents is a lot to handle let alone pay attention to. Animal loving staff members were hired to add to the operation, rounded out by a squad of 35 volunteers to lavish the refugees with affection.
“The property just off Hwy 17 is breathtaking, but the love and care the staff and volunteers give the animals is truly amazing. I learned about HH 3 years ago while watching television. Executive director Jennifer Middleton was [campaigning] for “Clear the Shelters,” [a nationwide pet adoption drive]. Her words and the photos she shared overwhelmed me. I had just retired from teaching and knew instantly, that I had found my passion. I emailed Jen, went out the next morning, and have been going almost every day since. HH is a magical place filled with animals that are given a second chance,” Board member Michele Bayme said.
Adoption is the number one objective of HH. Adopting from HH is a win/win; you get a new and grateful family member, and you make room at HH for another. It’s important to note however, when animals make it to Hallie Hill, they have a safe home for life so you can visit for a play date without the guilt. However, the sheer number of residents alone highlights the key issue of overpopulation.
HH is hosting a candlelight vigil in honor of International Homeless Animals’ Day on Aug 19. “The purpose of the candlelight vigil is to ‘SHED LIGHT’ on the global tragedy of pet overpopulation.
About 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs about one every 13 seconds are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, ensuring that every pet has a family to love them,” reads the announcement from HH.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event, which was started by the International Society for Animal Rights in 1992. The goal is to encourage people to spay/neuter their pets. The Charleston Animal Society will be in attendance to offer low cost spay/neuter services.
For more information on events, ways you can help or to donate, visit halliehill.com.