Our Story


In 1874, Charleston Animal Society was formed as the first animal protection organization in South Carolina and one of the first in the nation. Its purpose was then, and has always been, to prevent cruelty to animals. Almost 20,000 animals will turn to Charleston Animal Society for caring, compassion and hope this year alone.

More than an animal shelter, today Charleston Animal Society is a thought leader in the welfare and well-being of animals. In addition to caring for homeless animals, from hamsters to horses, adopting pets into new homes, and reuniting lost pets with their families, the organization responds to animals in crisis as a result of both man-made and natural disasters.

The veterinary medical department at Charleston Animal Society is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, an achievement attained by only about 12% of animal hospitals in the United States and Canada. The comprehensive shelter medicine program not only provides direct care for as many as 300 resident animals at one time, the shelter veterinarians also spay or neuter pets to prevent pet overpopulation and provide emergency medical services to critically ill and injured animals arriving at the shelter.

Our History

  • 1874

    South Carolina SPCA (Charleston Animal Society) Founded

    Founded in 1874, Charleston Animal Society was originally known as the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  • 1880

    Formal Humane Society Organized

    In 1880, a group of citizens, including many distinguished people of the times, met for the purpose of incorporating into a formal humane society.  The group’s immediate concerns were to combat the neglect of working-animals, the inhumane shipping of cattle, and to resolve the epidemic of stray dogs.  The newly formed Society elected Professor N. Russell Middleton as its first president.

    1880

  • 1900

    Dr. John Ancrum Era of Leadership

    Middleton was succeeded as president by Dr. John Ancrum.  Dr. Ancrum served as president for several years, and died sometime in the early 1900s.  Upon his death, the Society received a portion of his estate with the condition that it adopt his name.

  • 1940

    Name Changed to John Ancrum SPCA

    The Society officially became known as the John Ancrum Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1940.

    1940

  • 1947

    First Cruelty Conviction

    The Society documented its first cruelty conviction in 1947.

  • 1948

    First Shelter Built at 667 Meeting Street, Charleston

    In 1948 the organization raised enough funds to build its first shelter. Located at 667 Meeting Street, the shelter was located on the property of Dr. Leon Willis, adjoining his animal hospital. It was approximately 10’x12′ and contained 14 two-tiered cages and an outdoor run. Dr. and Mrs. Willis managed the shelter and maintained the records at no charge to the Society.

    1948

  • 1951

    Second Shelter at 188 St. Andrews Blvd., West Ashley

    In a few years the number of stray dogs and cats awaiting adoption overcrowded this facility, and the Society was obliged to provide larger quarters. The second shelter was built on the premises of Dr. Ernest Horres at 188 St Andrew’s Boulevard.  Dr. Horres also provided services without charge.

  • 1961

    Shelter Moved to 820 Dupont Rd., West Ashley

    As the needs of the society grew, this shelter also became inadequate to meet the needs of the Society, and in 1961 the shelter was relocated to 820 Dupont Road. The Society remained in West Ashley until it once again outgrew its facility in 1979.

    1961

  • 1980

    Shelter Moved to 3861 Leeds Ave., North Charleston

    The John Ancrum SPCA moved to Leeds Avenue in North Charleston on December 31, 1980, remaining there for more than 28 years. During this time the SPCA developed a strong relationship with Charleston County.  As a result, the county closed its own animal pound and contracted with the SPCA to provide care for all of the animals collected by animal control officers throughout Charleston County.  This strong relationship between the Society and Charleston County continues today.

  • 2007

    Name Changed to Charleston Animal Society

    The organization officially changed its name to the Charleston Animal Society in December 2007. The new name better reflects our role in the community as a collection of individuals committed to helping animals through adoptions, rescue, aggressive spay and neuter, humane education and fundraising.

    2007

  • 2008

    Move to Current Animal Care Campus: 2455 Remount Rd., North Charleston

    In the spring of 2008, we completed our move into a brand new state-of-the-art 31,000 square foot adoption center and veterinary medical facility located at 2455 Remount Road in North Charleston. Through the use of this life-saving facility, we now have the ability to house and care for nearly three times the number of homeless, neglected, or abused animals than we were able to in the old Leeds Avenue facility. We have a state-of-the-art low-cost spay and neuter clinic on-site to accelerate our efforts to eliminate rampant animal overpopulation and encourage more adoptions in the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere of the new building.

  • 2013

    Led Charleston to Become the First No Kill Community in Southeast

    In 2012, Charleston Animal Society launched an ambitious, three-year plan to make Charleston a No Kill Community. With the support of all facets of the community, we were able to accomplish this goal two years ahead of schedule in 2013, becoming the first No Kill Community in the Southeast.

    2013