News13 tried several times to speak with board members since Monday about the distemper situation at the county’s shelter, but none have returned phone calls.
The board oversees the Horry County shelter, which receives $536,316 in tax dollars each year from the county, according to Horry County’s public information office. However, the county contracts the operations of the shelter out to the Horry County Humane Society, according to county director of public safety Paul Whitten.
In trying to piece together a timeline of how the virus was discovered, there are conflicting reports:
Two confirmed cases of Canine Distemper Virus closed the Humane Society Monday and the closing is indefinite, according to society director Renee Macklen.
The first case was diagnosed by a Conway veterinarian on Oct. 27 after a family adopted a dog from the HCHS and took it to the vet the same day, where the doctor diagnosed the animal with “probable K-9 distemper,” according to HCSC records obtained by News13.
A second case was confirmed by the Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Clinic in Columbia on Nov. 26 after doctors there found CDV in the animal that was sent to Columbia from the HCHS.
“When we read this, we thought this was an isolated case,” Macklen said of the Clemson confirmation.
Director Macklen told News13 that she was unaware of the Oct. 27 diagnosis and had she been informed of the incident, she would have ordered the shelter cleaned and addressed the problem.
The records News13 obtained contained the records from the Conway vet attached to the HCHS record of the animal, all of which came from the shelter.
Macklen also told News13 she was unaware of the Nov. 26 case, although Clemson faxed the form containing their findings to the HCHS and the document was attached to the animal’s record obtained by News13 from the shelter.
So where does the truth lie - in the shelter documents obtained by the reporter or in the words of the shelter Director who "declines requests for interviews with several media outlets"? Unless the shelter issues a statement declaring their own records are inaccurate, it seems hard to refute the documents as evidence.
Since Nov. 20, the Horry County shelter has euthanized 36 dogs, according to records obtained by News13, but that number isn’t alarming to shelter officials, “We don’t have additional kennel space,” Macklen told News13.
Oh sure, what's to be alarmed about? No space=kill. Distemper outbreak=kill. Media asking questions=hide.
Euthanasia is a means to end suffering in a medically hopeless animal or one who is a danger to people. It is not an answer to the problems of shelter crowding, disease outbreak or any other inconvenient challenge. We are a no-kill nation. It's past time for shelters to join us.