Criminal Defense Attorney inNorth Charleston, SC

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CDH Law Firm: Giving Hope to
Criminal Defense Clients in
North Charleston, SC

Getting charged with a crime in North Charleston can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in North Charleston, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.

That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in – to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.

Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in North Charleston, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.

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Clients rank Cobb Dill & Hammett, LLC as the top choice for North Charleston criminal defense because we provide:

  • One-on-One Counsel
  • Free Consultation
  • Education on the North Charleston Legal Process and Its Risks
  • Ardent, Effective Representation
  • Commitment to Our Clients and Defending Their Rights
  • Prompt Inquiry Response
  • Robust Experience with Criminal Law Cases in North Charleston
  • Innovative Defense Strategies
  • Effective, Thorough Research and Investigation

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in North Charleston can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:

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The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference

DUI Cases
in North Charleston, SC

DUI penalties in North Charleston can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.

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When you hire our DUI defense firm, our team will always work towards your best interests and will go above and beyond to achieve the best outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI charges, we will investigate whether:
  • Your DUI stop was legal
  • You were administered a field sobriety test correctly
  • The breathalyzer used was calibrated correctly and properly maintained
  • Urine and blood tests were administered and collected properly

The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.

DUI Penalties in North Charleston, SC

The consequences of a DUI in North Charleston depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.

If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in North Charleston, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:

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First Offense

Offense

48 hours to 90 days

in jail

with fines ranging from

$400 to $1,000

Second Offense

Offense

Five days to three years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$2,100 to $6,500

Third Offense

Offense

60 days to five years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$3,800 to $10,000

Additional consequences can include:

1

Alcohol or Drug Treatment

When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.

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2

Community Service

Some first-time DUI offenders in North Charleston may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.

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Sanctions to Your Driver's License

Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in North Charleston, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.

First DUI Offense

First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.

Second DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.

Third DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.

Immobilized Vehicle

For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in North Charleston can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.

Free Consultation

Traffic Violation Cases

Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in North Charleston can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.

Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in North Charleston, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.

Common North Charleston
Traffic Violations That CDH Law
Firm Fights

There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in North Charleston, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our North Charleston defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:

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  • Driving Under Suspension: If you drive while your license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, you could be looking at 30 days in jail and fines up to $300.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol is illegal and often results in jail time and fines.
  • Reckless Driving: You could be ordered to pay up to $200 in fines or jailed for up to 30 days if you drive with wanton disregard for the safety of other people.
  • Racing: You can be cited and fined if you aid or participate in street racing.
  • Hit and Run: When you leave the scene of an accident that involved injury to another party, you can be arrested. This serious charge can lead to up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for first-time offenders.
  • Disregard Traffic Signals: Drivers must obey all traffic signals and control devices, less they be ticketed and sometimes fined.

As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance – call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in North Charleston.

Juvenile Crime Cases in
North Charleston, SC

At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in North Charleston can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.

This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in North Charleston, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.

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Juvenile Detention Hearings

Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.

Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in North Charleston. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.

Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in North Charleston include:

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  • Probation: Children charged with probation are released to their parents or guardians. Depending on their charges, they must abide by certain stipulations while at home and may be subject to random drug screenings. Violation of probation often results in jail time.
  • 90 Days in Juvenile Detention Center: When probation is not a viable option, prosecutors may push for 90 days of jail time in a juvenile detention facility.
  • Juvenile Detention: Children who commit very serious crimes can be sent to a juvenile detention center for a long time. These sentences can last up to the child's 21st birthday.
  • School Expulsion: When a child is convicted of a crime, their school is notified of the offense. Sometimes, the administration may decide to expel the child from school for the misdemeanors or felonies they commit.

We Fight to Protect
Your Rights So You Can
Provide for Your Family

Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in North Charleston, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope – call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.

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Call Now 843-936-6680 PH

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Latest News in North Charleston, SC

Coast Guardsman helps boater who crashed into seawall in North Charleston

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Coast Guardsmen jumped into action to help an injured boater after a vessel crashed into a seawall near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on the Cooper River in North Charleston.The crash happened at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.“I was outside playing a game of corn hole with some of my fellow classmates when we heard a boat coming by and a loud crash,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Clifford Marshall said.Marshall is currently a student at the training center and is based o...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Coast Guardsmen jumped into action to help an injured boater after a vessel crashed into a seawall near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center on the Cooper River in North Charleston.

The crash happened at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

“I was outside playing a game of corn hole with some of my fellow classmates when we heard a boat coming by and a loud crash,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Clifford Marshall said.

Marshall is currently a student at the training center and is based out of St. Louis.

He said once he heard the crash, he saw the boat up against the seawall and ran inside to tell his superiors to call base security and to call 9-1-1 for help.

He then ran toward the seawall and shimmied for several minutes on the rusted seawall, cutting his hands in the process, to reach the spot where the boat was, being the first person on the scene.

“My hands were about eye high on me,” Marshall said. “My feet were on a knife-edge, and I just had to walk sideways on it for about 100 yards to get out there.”

Once he got there, he said he made sure the boater was the only one on board and assessed the person’s injuries before help arrived.

“After doing some of that, I signaled to the fire boat that was coming in the area where I was at, announced myself as U.S. Coast Guard, told them I was there to help,” Marshall said. “Then, I began assisting them putting the individual onto the backboard and moving them from that vessel onto their vessel after we had to move some of the damage from the boat there.”

Coast Guard Lt. Nathan Ryan, an instructor at the training center, said Marshall’s actions are part of what the military branch stands for.

“The Coast Guard’s motto is Semper Paratus, always ready, and I believe that Petty Officer Marshall’s actions were indicative of that motto,” Ryan said. “We’re always ready. We rely on our training and our instincts that we’ve gathered from that.”

Marshall has since gotten tetanus shots for his cuts, but that doesn’t matter to him -- only that a person in trouble needed help.

“I don’t think anyone else wouldn’t have done that as well if they had that opportunity. Just did my best,” Marshall said.

The petty officer said he was in the right place at the right time and just a Coast Guardsmen doing his duty.

Authorities said the boater suffered significant injuries and was transported to MUSC.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is continuing to investigate the crash.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

35 food trucks unite in North Charleston for annual festival

Food trucks have become a key part of Charleston’s food and beverage industry, but it hasn’t always been that way.Roti Rolls co-owner Cory Burke recalls being one of just four Charleston trucks when he hit the road with favorites like the “Mother Clucker” and “Thurman Murman” in 2010. That’s why he decided to launch the Charleston Food Truck Festival, which will return for an 11th time in May.With 35 food trucks, almost 20 retail vendors and a new North Charleston venue, Burke hopes to ...

Food trucks have become a key part of Charleston’s food and beverage industry, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Roti Rolls co-owner Cory Burke recalls being one of just four Charleston trucks when he hit the road with favorites like the “Mother Clucker” and “Thurman Murman” in 2010. That’s why he decided to launch the Charleston Food Truck Festival, which will return for an 11th time in May.

With 35 food trucks, almost 20 retail vendors and a new North Charleston venue, Burke hopes to build on the momentum from the 2021 festival that was held in the spring for the first time.

“Last year, I couldn’t even believe the turnout,” said Burke, describing the 2021 two-day festival that brought 18,000 people to North Charleston’s Riverfront Park. “It was one of the best vibes we’ve ever had. Everyone was in it together, and I think there’s always been a camaraderie (between) the trucks.”

This year, A Peace of Soul Vegan Kitchen, The Motley Chew, Bangin’ Vegan Eats, & Lobster, Area 51 Foods, La’Son Anchor Grill, Lola’s Lumpia and many more will set up shop in the Tanger Outlets parking lot (4840 Tanger Outlet Blvd.) in North Charleston. The free event will take place from noon-8 p.m. May 21 and 22.

And moving forward, Burke says the festival will be biannual, with the fall fest scheduled for Oct. 22-23. Making the festival free enhances sales opportunities for the trucks, Burke said.

“We started this as food trucks to support food trucks, and the biggest way for us to support food trucks is to not charge admission,” he said.

Since its 2010 debut, Roti Rolls has expanded to Atlanta, where Burke operates another Roti Rolls food truck, mobile bar and brewpub called Best End Brewing Co. With these new spin-offs, Burke is continuing to prove that food trucks can be thriving ventures long-term alongside business partner Alton Ankersen.

They hope the Charleston Food Truck Festival helps newer trucks grow their brand locally.

Last year’s festival was the first time & Lobster owner Rob Cassi, who debuted his New England-inspired truck in 2020, had participated in an event of that size and stature. He’s since added more festivals to the truck’s schedule, shortening his menu for the high-volume events to feature & Lobster’s specialties: Lobster, crab and shrimp rolls, which will be available at the Charleston Food Truck Festival.

For Cassi, the best part of popping up at festivals is the chance to converse and collaborate with other food truck owners.

“The truck community is really cool to be a part of, and it is honestly refreshing to work alongside other great owners,” Cassi said. “I love these festivals because we’re generally all of a mindset that we want everyone to succeed.”

Beverage tents will be stationed throughout the outdoor venue, and vendors will even swing by individual food trucks to serve patrons who are waiting in line; although Cassi says customers won’t have to worry about waiting in line at & Lobster.

“We don’t want to keep people waiting in line,” he said. “I try to keep our wait time to order at a minute and then serving our food to less than 5 minutes.”

For more information on the Charleston Food Truck Festival, go to chsfoodtruckfestival.com.

Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC expanding operations in Charleston County

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC, a modern blacksmithing company, today announced plans to expand operations in Charleston County. The company’s $2.9 million investment will create 45 new jobs over the next three years.Founded in 2013, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC intertwines traditional blacksmith techniques with modern machining and fabrication methods to craft iron pieces ranging from custom architectural ironwor...

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC, a modern blacksmithing company, today announced plans to expand operations in Charleston County. The company’s $2.9 million investment will create 45 new jobs over the next three years.

Founded in 2013, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC intertwines traditional blacksmith techniques with modern machining and fabrication methods to craft iron pieces ranging from custom architectural ironwork commissions to volume-produced pieces of furniture, decorative hardware and cookware.

Relocating within the county to 56 Hayter Street in North Charleston, Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC’s new facility will expand the company’s operational footprint to accommodate production line growth.

The expansion is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2023. Individuals interested in joining the Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC team should visit the company’s careers page.

QUOTES

“We are excited about the next phase of Robert Thomas Iron Design’s growth and are very happy that we are able to do this on the historic Navy Base. Our expanded operations will enable our growing community of craftsmen and designers to have the space, equipment and support they need to keep the spirit of blacksmithing thriving in Charleston.” -Robert Thomas Iron Design Owner Robert Thomas

“The success of our existing industries is critical to South Carolina’s strong and growing economy. Today we celebrate Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC’s expansion and 45 new jobs in Charleston County. Congratulations, and we look forward to their continued success.” -Gov. Henry McMaster

“Congratulations to Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC on expanding in Charleston County. It’s particularly exciting to announce the growth of a modern blacksmithing company such as Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC. We look forward to seeing how the company continues to inspire modern craftsmanship in Charleston County and across South Carolina.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III

“Blacksmithing is experiencing a modern artistic revival, and we are proud that Robert Thomas Iron Design, LLC has committed to growing this craft in Charleston County. Their investment and creation of new jobs is a welcome addition to the community.” -Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor

Victim alleges years of harassment, by North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A longtime City of North Charleston employee is accusing North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey of inappropriate sexual advances both before and during her time working for the city.DeLisa Reynolds and Keith Summey have known each other for decades. In the late 1990’s DeLisa and her husband at the time, along with Keith, and his wife, Deb...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A longtime City of North Charleston employee is accusing North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey of inappropriate sexual advances both before and during her time working for the city.

DeLisa Reynolds and Keith Summey have known each other for decades. In the late 1990’s DeLisa and her husband at the time, along with Keith, and his wife, Deborah, owned a post office together on E. Montague Avenue in North Charleston.

“So, the four of us renovated, we did work, we ran businesses, we opened a post office,” said Reynolds. “I took that service on.”

Being self-employed, Reynolds said she was concerned about her lack of health insurance. That’s when the Summeys offered her a part-time job working as a receptionist for the City of North Charleston in 2001.

At that time, Summey had been mayor for around seven years.

“I started about 21 years ago and have been there ever since,” said Reynolds.

Throughout her time working for the city, Reynolds moved up the ranks from a part-time receptionist to a secretary a year later, then to an administrative assistant in 2006, a special events coordinator in 2016, and earlier this year she became archives and history coordinator.

Reynolds says the sexual advances by Mayor Summey started before Reynolds began working at the city. She says they began at the post office the Reynolds and Summeys owned together.

“I was at the post office working and he came in. And I went into the closet and he followed me. and that’s where it all began. It was groping. and kissing me,” said Reynolds.

She approximates the time frame of that was in the summer of 1999.

“How many times? I can’t tell you…I can’t tell you that. I don’t….it was so many.”

She said things progressed over the following years and never completely stopped and Summey would still make comments.

“Up until November, this past November it was ‘Hey, let me get a kiss.'”

Reynolds says she was never comfortable reporting the alleged harassment out of fear of retaliation.

“No. I didn’t have anyone to report that to. At that time it was a man’s world. HR was a man director that was very close with the people in the executive department. So I didn’t think I was safe enough to say that or would I lose my job for saying that to HR? I didn’t want my family to know what was going on. I didn’t want my children to know, my husband. So, I just kept it.”

Reynolds considered leaving her job but was concerned about finding the same amount of money and a job she liked as much as her city job.

Reynolds says she started noticing what she describes as an “abuse of power” by Mayor Summey and other executive staffers at the city.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever really noticed so much of it until it actually happened to me directly,” said Reynolds. “Because I was dedicated to the city and the mayor. My goal always was to make sure my job reflected on him as me doing a good job for the city. It was to make him and the city look good.”

During her time working in the executive department, Reynolds says things would stick out to her.

“You notice promotions and things going on and people that were getting more than what others weren’t getting for doing double the work. Other people were coming in because they were friends or whatever. Granted, I was a friend of the mayor as well and the family. So I felt ‘well, they’re protecting me by offering me a position.'”

She says she really started to notice the “abuse of power” when she saw other women becoming involved.

“Just by the way they would disappear together,” said Reynolds. “But I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought.”

Reynolds’ job was switched and she began working at Riverfront Park, something she did not enjoy at first because she felt isolated.

“Maybe that’s because I was starting to see things a little bit differently,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds never planned on coming forward with the allegations. She tells News 2 she planned to stop working for the city at the end of Mayor Summey’s current term which ends in 2023.

“I had already started making a 2.5-year plan. That when the mayor left, I would go too. And I would go silently. And they wouldn’t let me finish out my tenure that way.”

Last October, Reynolds’ adult son made a negative comment on social media about Elliot Summey, Mayor Summey’s son.

Reynolds believes the actions of her son had a direct impact on her, even though she told the Summey family that those were her son’s beliefs and words and did not reflect her own.

“I took a direct hit. My workload got different, I did things that I should not have had to do as a salaried employee, I put in a lot of extra hours that I should not have to do,” said Reynolds. “When they stopped talking to me back in October, things were building and building and I was being scrutinized with everything I did.”

Fast forward to the beginning of 2022, Reynolds was removed from her role of being a Special Event Coordinator at Riverfront Park and given a new role.

“They created this position so they could remove me from what I had worked so hard for.”

Reynolds’ new title is Archives and History Coordinator. A job she says she’s not qualified for nor did she want or ask for.

“They were forcing me out of my position and creating a position I technically do not have the knowledge to do.”

Then, in February 2022, Reynolds filed a formal complaint to the city detailing what she calls the abuse of power.

Reynolds says because of this recent situation, she is upset and frustrated and has changed the way she is thinking about her future.

That’s why she decided to come forward with these allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse of power.

“I started to rethink…this is not the life I want to live.”

A press release sent to News 2 by the lawyers of Reynolds says if a formal investigation is not made into the allegations, Reynolds will take legal action.

The City of North Charleston responded with the following statement on Sunday. They declined a request for comment on Monday.

“On January 14, 2022, Ms. Reynolds was notified of a lateral move to Archives and History Coordinator. This transfer did not negatively affect Ms. Reynolds’ pay or benefits with the city. Ms. Reynolds’ complaint was received shortly thereafter.

Employment History:Part-time receptionist – 2001Secretary – 2002 Administrative Assistant – 2006 Special Events Coordinator – 2016Archives and History Coordinator – 2022

Mayor Summey and the City deny the allegations raised by Ms. Reynolds’ lawyer and will not comment further on threatened or pending litigation.

City of North Charleston”

Reynolds is currently on leave from her job as part of the Family and Medical Leave Act due to medical issues. She was approved for leave on January 21st, 2022, was reevaluated on April 14th and her leave was extended until June 24th.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

SC animal shelters remain at overcapacity: ‘We’re overwhelmed’

COLUMBIA — Shelters across South Carolina are overflowing as the number of animals rises for the second time since 2020.More animals arriving at shelters in the summer is not unusual as more people go on vacation or move, said Victoria Riles, superintendent of Columbia Animal Services.And shelters have been at higher capacity since fewer animals are being spayed and neutered as COVID-19 took most of the attention of medical professionals, said Abigail Appleton, chief projects officer at North Charleston-based No Kill Sout...

COLUMBIA — Shelters across South Carolina are overflowing as the number of animals rises for the second time since 2020.

More animals arriving at shelters in the summer is not unusual as more people go on vacation or move, said Victoria Riles, superintendent of Columbia Animal Services.

And shelters have been at higher capacity since fewer animals are being spayed and neutered as COVID-19 took most of the attention of medical professionals, said Abigail Appleton, chief projects officer at North Charleston-based No Kill South Carolina.

But shelter owners have said overcrowding is worse than ever before with a shortage of veterinarians and fewer people willing to temporarily house animals, commonly known as fostering.

The overcapacity has been going on since the winter.

“We’re overwhelmed and trying to do the best that we can but the animals ultimately are going to suffer,” said Denise Wilkinson, chief executive of Columbia’s Pawmetto Lifeline.

Seventy percent of the 75 shelters in South Carolina don’t have a dedicated veterinarian, Wilkinson said. Without one, it’s harder to give away dogs since state law says any dog that is adopted must be fixed.

This creates a growing number of dogs in shelters.

Pawmetto Lifeline had 177 animals in a building meant for 150 on June 13. To fit the extra animals, they had to store their animals in an area meant for training dogs.

On May 27, Columbia Animal Services declared a state of emergency on its social media pages. It had 192 dogs in its building, which has 148 dog kennels. Almost all of their kennels had a dog or two in them on June 14. One dog was in a cage in a room meant for playing with cats.

Cheryl Price, an animal control officer at Calhoun County Animal Shelter, said the shelter has been at capacity for the past year and a half with 18 kennels. She said whenever a dog is adopted, two or three are waiting to take its place.

“It’s just mentally and physically exhausting. Your mind never shuts down,” Price said.

As more dogs arrive at shelters, the threat of diseases spreading increases.

Joe Elmore, president and CEO of Charleston Animal Society, said more dogs are coming to their shelter in North Charleston with distemper, a virus that is usually incurable, fatal and highly transmissible. State law also says dogs admitted to a shelter must be held for five days.

The growing number of animals also can result in an increase in dogs being put down, according to Shelly Simmons, director of Greenville County Animal Care. She said that the shelter usually puts down dogs with moderate to severe behavioral or health problems. Now, she said they’re having to put down dogs with only mild problems.

“They could become healthy if we had the space and the time,” Simmons said.

Multiple shelters either lowered or removed adoption fees for some time. Columbia Animal Services waived all adoption fees last week and Greenville County Animal Care has free adoptions for all of June.

“It really is still only a Band-Aid to the bigger problem, which is, the number of pets that are coming into the shelter,” Simmons said.

Pawmetto Lifeline has lowered its fees for three days earlier in June and opened up two hours early June 11 to get more people to take their animals. Wilkinson said they were considering opening early again on June 18.

One way Pawmetto Lifeline and other shelters reduce their capacity is by getting people to take cats and dogs home temporarily. The group, however, has a list of several hundred animals waiting to be put into foster care.

Despite their pushes on social media and their deals, though, Wilkinson said they received a very small response from anyone willing to temporarily house an animal.

Many of the dogs filling up shelters are pit bulls and pit bulls mix, according to Elmore. Since shelters facing capacity issues won’t be able to give the care animals need, this could make dogs more aggressive, Elmore said.

Some shelter owners favor stronger spay and neuter laws targeting pitbull-type dogs specifically.

“We’re all just frustrated with having to put them down because there’s so many flooding the shelters now,” Elmore said.

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