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All 4 Paws: New facility will let nonprofit expand services

By Jason Lesley
For the Observer

Razz, Mackenzie and Molly Jane are glad that Shannon Prouty won’t ever give up on a dog.

Razz was struck by a car, Mackenzie was shot in the face, and Molly Jane had a skin infection that left her bald and covered in sores. All are alive and well today because Prouty, founder of All 4 Paws Animal Rescue in the Pawleys Island area, decided to go against the odds and try and save them.

“They are in my heart,” Prouty said. “I didn’t know if they were going to make it during the struggle to keep them alive and the struggle through recovery.” When a deputy sheriff brought Razz to All 4 Paws, his spine, back legs and hips had been shattered. The center’s veterinarian didn’t think the dog would ever walk again. “Razz had these big, giant, brown eyes,” Prouty said, “and I decided we’re going to try. If not, he’ll have to be in a wheelchair. We’ll get over that and find him a home.”

After four months of what Prouty called relentless therapy, Razz started walking. Within a week, he was running. Now he doesn’t even have a limp. “It’s all from perseverance and dedication to get him walking again,” she said.

Mackenzie, a hound, had been shot four times in the face when Prouty saw her picture on Facebook. She rescued the dog from Hampton County, and a surgeon reconstructed her face and jaw. “I’ve lost count of the surgeries,” Prouty said, “almost 20.”

Molly Jane looked like “the mystical hairless beast of Mexico, Chupacabra,” Prouty said, “a little mutt completely bald with a skin infection.” She still needs to wear a sweater, but most of her coat has grown back. She and Mackenzie are best friends.

Prouty’s love for animals — All 4 Paws rescues cats too — has inspired supporters to help her non-profit organization obtain land and buildings on Petigru Drive that will become a “campus” for animal rescue. Prouty hopes to move from her present location, the former JP’s Auto Center at 67 Waverly Rd., to the new facility in January.

Carpenters are transforming the former cabinet shop into her vision of a permanent facility that will allow treatment, rehab and adoption of the many “special needs” animals she accepts along with the hundreds that are just unwanted and unloved. “This building is amazingly perfect for us,” she said. “We need another $80,000 to finish. It’s going to be very special, very nice for the animals. It looks like a little barn and reminds me of my horse barn from home.

Born in Bennington, Vt., Prouty got her love of animals and sense of purpose by growing up on a small farm with a mother who was a deputy sheriff and a grandfather who was chief of police. “We are a compassionate, emotional family,” Prouty said. “My mother taught me that whatever I feel is right is worth fighting for.”

Her grandfather wanted Prouty to continue the family’s law enforcement tradition by becoming a mounted police officer in New York City. “I didn’t think that was such a good idea,” she said. “I’m too much of a wildcard.”

In college, Prouty majored in animal science but returned for degrees in art therapy and psychology. She remembered Pawleys Island as a family vacation destination and liked the idea of a warmer climate so she moved here. “It’s so much like my hometown,” she said.

After five years at St. Frances Animal Shelter, Prouty began All 4 Paws in her small house with former co-worker and friend Allison Gillespie. She wanted to do more for neglected, unwanted animals and chose a logo with four paws, three in brown and one in blue, to symbolize that one South Carolina dog in four is abused, abandoned or neglected.

“We operated on faith and prayer,” Prouty said. “I had settled in my heart that if it was meant to happen and meant to work and if we stayed doing the right thing and stayed on our core values and ethical ways it would work. And it has. It’s still been a struggle. We still need money for a building. Like all non-profits, we still need money, money, money but utilize our money much more effectively than a lot of people do. We can make a brick of gold out of a penny, I think.”

All 4 Paws quickly outgrew Prouty’s house and was able to rent a former auto center with an apartment upstairs on Waverly Road after JP’s Auto moved to Highway 17. “Danny and Sherry Palmer, who own JP’s, are just wonderful people and love animals,” Prouty said. “They thought we were doing a great thing.”

Unexpectedly, nearby vacant property became available and was fenced as an exercise lot.

Now, All 4 Paws has outgrown the Waverly Road facility. It was making plans to move when a proposed change to the county noise ordinance threatened its existence. The proposal would have made noise from a barking dog illegal if it could be heard on adjoining property. Prouty and board member Tom Carter went to the Georgetown County Planning Commission to object. County planning director Boyd Johnson had already seen the proposal was unrealistic and suggested that noise from animal facilities come under the existing county noise ordinance. All 4 Paws would not have a problem, Johnson said, because its dogs are boarded inside at night.

“There’s a lot more to this organization than just taking in animals,” Prouty said. “We have community outreach programs, shelter education programs, animal therapy programs. A lot of stuff we do to encompass our community and state. We want to make an impact in as many places as possible.”

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