In the News
GEORGETOWN -- Cindy Hedrick was near tears as she watched five wolves romp in their new half-acre enclosure at the South Carolina Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary off Choppee Road on Wednesday afternoon.
"My heart is about to explode," she said as she watched the majestic animals run to the far corners of their new home. The big enclosure replaces a pen where the five wolves have been kept since they were seized from an animal breeder in North Carolina who was selling wolf pups as pets.
"Wolves are so different from dogs, they can't even eat dog food," said Skip Yeager, Cindy's partner in the sanctuary and the candy shop Sweeties in Georgetown. "They have a carnivore's digestive system."
South Carolina Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary (S.C.-C.A.R.E.S.) provides a safe home for indigenous and exotic wildlife, including parrots, ferrets, snakes and turtles. Most were purchased by well-meaning people as pets with disastrous or unintended consequences.
Wolves Calypso and Duchess, an Alpha female, were the first into the new enclosure. Alpha male Captain Jack, Anne Marie and Kiera soon followed.
Skip Yeager, Cindy's partner in the sanctuary, said plans call for a waterfall and a storm-proof, three-level shelter where the wolves can be secured during any big storm.
The fencing, 8-foot high-tensil wildlife wire, was donated by Stay-Tuff, a Texas company, and the 4-by-4 posts were purchased at cost from Dawson Lumber of Georgetown. Volunteers Ben Ranson and Mike Shoemaker worked on the enclosure it has fencing underground to prevent the wolves from digging out during their spare time for a month.
"We're looking for a donation of a concrete spay gun," Yeager said, to finish off the shelter once it's fashioned from wood and chicken wire.
The sanctuary gets expired meat from the Meat Locker in Georgetown and Food Lion in Maryville to feed the six-month-old wolves. They each eat 2 to 2.5 pounds of meat a night, Yeager says, and when they are fully grown they will eat 3 to 4 pounds each.
The wolves are but one small part of the sanctuary. It has red foxes, a great horned owl, two white-tailed deer and exotic birds, iguanas, white rats and a python in a metal building called the Hut.
One of the inhabitants of the hut is Garfield, an orange domestic cat, like the Garfield of comic strip fame. Although Cindy and Skip will not be taking in domestic animals such as dogs and cats at the sanctuary, they do have Garfield, as well as several rescued dogs as pets.
"This is a red-letter day," Yeager said as the wolves got used to their new surroundings. "It's our first attempt at building a substantial shelter. We get a lot of good support from our volunteers."
One of those is Carol Neal, a lab technician at Georgetown Memorial Hospital. "I love the animals," she said. "I absolutely love it. My heart is right here. Last week, the alpha female wolf nuzzled my neck. It was neat, trying to make a little bit of contact."
Cindy and Skip have plenty of experience working in wildlife and exotic animal rehabilitation and care. They both worked with the same kind of facility in North Carolina caring for animals that were injured, orphaned or abandoned, but there it was more of a hobby they both had other full-time jobs.
Skip says they finally decided to make animal care their main business, no small undertaking, after selling two businesses, a lake house and a beach house after they decided to move to Georgetown County.
"There are angels all around us," said volunteer Barbara Bush of Georgetown, "and Skip and Cindy are angels. They don't have wings, just big hearts. They'd do anything for these animals."
• For those interested, there are several other ways to help support the sanctuary.
The couple will have an adopt-an-animal program whereby anyone can "adopt" a sanctuary animal. Adoptive parents will receive a certificate of adoption, a fact sheet and photo of their animal and recognition on the sanctuary's future Web site.
People can also become members of the sanctuary which will include daytime admission, and discounts at The Ark gift shop.
SC-C.A.R.E.S. is also looking for personal and corporate sponsorships and founders. Sponsors can receive recognition in various ways, including mention on the sanctuary's upcoming Web site and signage at exhibits, shelter buildings, gardens, benches, or plaques.
SC-C.A.R.E.S. is located off Choppee Road a few miles outside Georgetown. To visit the sanctuary, call Cindy Hedrick or Skip Yeager to schedule an appointment at (843) 546-7893. You can also usually find them at Sweeties in the afternoons or you can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.