This issue’s Rescue Spotlight focuses on H.F Help, a no-kill animal rescue located in Knightsville, South Carolina. I know that most people reading this will understand what I mean when I say that, in my opinion, dogs are among some of the most selfless and wonderful beings on the planet. They are heroes! My dogs save me every day - from loneliness, from a bad mood, from eating the whole sandwich on my own. However, the namesake of this shelter literally saved the life of one of its founders and he is honored each day they continue to save animals across the Lowcountry.
H.F. Help was founded in 1982 by two military veterans, Wes and Mary Collins. Wes served in the US Navy and fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Mary also served in the Navy as a Physical Therapy Nurse. They named the rescue after Major Harvey Fine, a German Shepard who saved the lives of Wes and his crew in Vietnam when he alerted them to an impending attack upon their Army Transport vessel. The bond between man and dog was so strong that Wes brought Maj. Fine back to Charleston with him after his last deployment at the U.S. Naval Station Sangley Point in the Republic of the Philippines. According to documentation found by volunteer Chris Maiden at the shelter, Maj. Fine traveled all the way from the Philippines to San Francisco, to Atlanta and finally ended up in Charleston where he was destined to become the inspiration for Wes and Mary’s rescue. H.F. Help is currently run by Sheri Frederick, who took over as Director in 2016.
H.F. Help’s mission is to rescue dogs from high-kill shelters that are on the euthanasia list. In some cases, these dogs may have only hours to live when H.F. Help comes in and saves them. Once they arrive at the shelter, the dogs can take comfort, knowing that they will never again have to worry about a place to live, food in their bellies or a roof over their head. Wes and Mary insisted that each dog could remain at the shelter until they were adopted and this is a practice that is carried on to this day. If you visit the rescue's website (http://www.hfhelp.org/adopt/), you can look at photos and bios of the animals up for adoption. The dogs come in all shapes and sizes, ages and breeds, but one thing they have in common is how happy they all look! (To be honest….I almost dropped everything and drove all the way up to their location once I saw the picture of Gronk, the 2 year old American Bulldog!)
There are currently 30+ dogs who currently live at the shelter. They are mostly seniors and some have been with them for years! With this demographic comes not only lots of experienced cuddling but, unfortunately, lots of medical expenses. There is a great core of volunteers are also dedicated to ensuring the upkeep of the shelter and there has been an on-going restoration of the facility since 2016 and building a second facility in Summerville that will open in Fall of 2017. Animal supplies, meds, maintenance, repairs and upkeep are costly and H.F. Help receives no state, federal or county funding. If you believe, as the Collins’ did, that animals bring out the very best in people and you want to help, there are several ways to give. H.F. Help accepts monetary gifts through PayPal using their email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have a PayPal account, they have a “Donate” button on their website that you can use. You can also send a check or money order to: H. F. Help, Inc., PO Box 90, Ladson, SC 29456. Finally, if you are local and wish to donate supplies, check out their Wish List here: http://www.hfhelp.org/donate/. They are always in need of cleaning and grooming supplies, toys, flea meds, and numerous other items. Even the smallest donation is greatly appreciated by this wonderful organization.
If you are looking for a different way to help, the shelter offers many fulfilling volunteer opportunities. One such opportunity is the chance to be a dog’s FREEDOM RIDE! H.F. Help is looking for people to go pick up dogs from shelters to be transported to their facility. Many of these dogs are on euthanasia lists and, as I mentioned before, could only have hours left to live. They are also looking for foster homes so that they can increase the number of lives they save. They have a great group of volunteers including, Chris Maiden, their volunteer historian, who told me a little bit about his personal goals at the organization. "One of my goals as a volunteer is to make it known to other veteran groups that this shelter was founded by veterans and we have veterans who are volunteers. I also have a personal goal of building a memorial garden out in the front yard area in honor of Wes, Mary, Harvey and all the dogs that passed away while in their care." Chris is also currently going through boxes and boxes left behind by Wes and Mary after their passing and trying to piece together more from these extraordinary people's lives. You can feel the enthusiasm he has for this project even through email! If you want to join Chris and others like him in their quest to further the mission of H.F Help, please read more about all the volunteer opportunities available at: http://www.hfhelp.org/contact/.
Wes and Mary Collins dedicated their whole lives to the service of others - first in our nation’s military and then by opening an animal rescue. One of Mary’s personal mottos was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and offering sanctuary, hope and love to the animals at their shelter is an excellent way of carrying on that value. My thanks to them and all of the other animal rescue heroes in the Lowcountry!