Monday, May 4, 2009

New Shelter in SC and Some Misinformation

There's a new animal shelter in Florence Co, SC:

It spans about 4,600 square feet and has 76 dog pens and 86 cat cages, Christmas said. Generally, animal control officers will keep one animal to a cage to prevent problems such as fighting over food, he said.

The old facility could comfortably hold 30 dogs and 26 cats, although it was common to have six to 10 dogs in one pen, Christmas said.

Eek. Imagine 6 to 10 dogs urinating, defecating, eating, and living their lives in one shelter pen. How many adopters were able to sort out the mess and find a family pet? "One animal to a cage" sounds like a big improvement in the quality of life for the shelter pets and hopefully will increase their chances of adoption.

Another bit of good news is that the county may offer a low/no cost neuter program at the facility:

The county has about $20,000 toward operating tables, anesthetics and other surgical equipment, but needs an additional $25,000 to start a spay-and-neuter program, Anderson [a county councilman and retired Vet] said.


[Kathy Stewart, owner and founder of Home Away From Home Rescue in Florence] also said a spay-and-neuter facility will be a plus “because a lot of people aren’t going to (have their pets spayed or neutered) by themselves, and there’s a mandatory spay-neuter law in South Carolina.”

Well, no. (Is your fact checker out with Swine Flu or what?) SC mandates that shelter pets be neutered prior to adoption or that the shelter and new owner enter into a written agreement that the pet will be neutered within 30 days. Privately owned animals at shelters are exempt and there is no mandatory neuter legislation for non-shelter pets. Here is the wording:

§ 47-3-480. Provisions for sterilization; exceptions; payment of costs; subsequent notification of sterilization for animals not sterile when acquired.

(A) A public or private animal shelter, animal control agency operated by a political subdivision of this State, humane society, or public or private animal refuge shall make provisions for the sterilization of all dogs or cats acquired from the shelter, agency, society, or refuge by:

(1) providing sterilization by a licensed veterinarian before relinquishing custody of the animal; or

(2) entering into a written agreement with the person acquiring the animal guaranteeing that sterilization will be performed by a licensed veterinarian within thirty days after acquisition of a sexually mature animal or no later than six months of age except upon a written statement issued by a licensed veterinarian stating that such surgery would threaten the life of the animal.

(B) This section does not apply to a privately owned animal which the shelter, agency, society, or refuge may have in its possession for any reason if the owner of the animal claims or presents evidence that the animal is his property.

(C) All costs of sterilization pursuant to this section are the responsibility of the person acquiring the animal and, if performed before acquisition, may be included in the fees charged by the shelter, agency, society, or refuge for the animal.

(D) A person acquiring an animal from a shelter, an agency, a society, or a refuge which is not sterile at the time of acquisition shall submit to the shelter, agency, society, or refuge a signed statement from the licensed veterinarian performing the sterilization required by subsection (A) within seven days after sterilization attesting that the sterilization has been performed.

Individual shelters or a "political subdivision" of the state may adopt more stringent policies if they so choose. The existing state laws are sound to my mind. I support the neutering of shelter pets (with exceptions in case of medically unsuitable animals as determined by a Vet) and am absolutely against mandatory neuter laws for non-shelter pets. Neuter surgery is appropriate for many pets but the decision must be made by an informed owner based upon the counsel of his Vet with consideration for the individual pet's circumstances.

Additional reading on mandatory neuter laws:

No Kill Advocacy Center (pdf)

AVMA position

ASPCA position

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