Guest Editorial: Hoof & Paw: Animal Shelter Needs Council’s help

Kathy Faulk, president of the Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society, addressed county council Monday night to express several serious concerns Hoof and Paw has regarding animal welfare in Fairfield County. Here’s what she had to say.

To give you a clear understanding of what’s going on at the Fairfield County Animal Shelter, let’s start with some facts and numbers for this past fiscal year, 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021.

Animals at the shelter at the beginning of the year – 155

Animals taken in during the year – 1,496

  • Cats – 848
  • Dogs – 636
  • Birds – 1
  • Donkey – 1
  • Goats – 1
  • Pigs – 4
  • Horses – 2
  • Geese – 1
  • Guinea Pigs – 2

Animals transferred out to Non-profit Animal Rescues:

  • Cats – 477
  • Dogs – 524
  • Birds – 1
  • Donkey – 1
  • Horses – 2
  • Pigs – 2

Adopted out -75

Animals that were dead on arrival – 9

Sick animals that died at the shelter -114 (108 Cats, 6 dogs)

Escaped from shelter – 29 (21 cats, 7 dogs)

Owner reclaim – 101 (3 cats, 97 dogs, 1 pig)

Trap Neuter Release – 144

Animals spayed or neutered – 743

Dogs treated for Heartworm Disease – 41 at $350 each – Total $14,350 (paid for by donations); this is a preventable dis ease. Left untreated the animal will die a painful death. It is very inexpensive to prevent.

Finances during the fiscal year:

  • Medical donations – $94,410.42
  • County revenue from shelter fees – $32,284.46.

Spay/neuter, heartworm treatment and medical emergency expenses are paid for by donations from fundraising organizations and individuals.

How has the FCAC progressed?

In 2012 FCAC Revenue Report was $255.00 in donations and $8,764.00 county fees to total $9,019.00.

The euthanasia % has gone from 65% to 6%! Neglect and abuse is a still a huge problem in our county as well as lack of owner responsibility.

Keep in mind it is the $110,000.00 for medical and heartworm treatment that cares for these animals and provides a chance for a forever loving home.

Spay/Neuter, Heartworm Prevention and a Rabies Vaccination should all be part of owner responsibility. It is unacceptable that every animal in our county is not vaccinated for rabies.

This year we had a rabid fox in Winnsboro. Unvaccinated animals are a threat to people and other animals and a public safety issue that should not be tolerated.

So how do we enforce these issues? One idea might be to budget $75,000.00 to hire an officer whose responsibility would be the enforcement of ordinances and investigation of abuse and neglect cases. Apparently we do not have the law enforcement presence needed to do so at this time. Dogs on chains, emaciated, heartworm positive, skin infected, injured and some with embedded collars, dragging a chain should not be accepted in today’s society.

I think you will agree that the above numbers are alarming and are a public safety and community problem that must be addressed. Council should be commended for the recent update of our ordinances; but even with that, are our laws and ordinances adequate? We have a responsibility to the people and animals in the community to make Fairfield County a good and safe place to live.

We need a new facility – here’s why.

Fairfield County Animal Control currently operates out of 4 separate buildings with three electric bills and 3 water bills. This situation is not only not cost effective, but it is also very time consuming for employees.

When the shelter is able to get a veterinarian to come in and provide spay/neuter surgeries the conditions are less than adequate. There is no recovery area so animals waking up from surgery are on the floor next to the surgical table.

Intake is a very depressing place. Dark, not climate controlled (just fans), terrible drainage problems, it is something you would see 50 years ago at best. We must do better for these animals. It is a reflection on our county.

If the new facility was all under one roof it would run in a more cost effective way and certainly a more humane way. It would provide much needed space. With all of the owner surrenders, strays and abuse and neglect cases animals are stacked on top of each other in crates. Unacceptable!

One idea would also be that a low cost vet clinic would be part of the shelter. Community members would hopefully be able to afford vet care at a very low cost. This would be a huge step in the right direction for Fairfield County.

Our citizens should be able to have a pet and affordable care for the pet. As it is, every animal that is abandoned or dumped must be supported by Fairfield County taxes, fundraisers like Hoof and Paw and individuals who donate. We need to provide the community with the opportunity to make better choices. This would also cut down on so many expenses such as spay/neuter, heartworm treatment and medical emergencies. The overpopulation in our county is out of control. Over breeding must stop.

This new facility and low cost veterinarian care is the vision of the director of animal control, Mr. Bob Innes, and supported by Hoof and Paw. We will continue to donate to this county as we always have towards spay/neuter, heartworm treatment and medical emergencies.

This year Hoof and Paw will donate over $25,000 to Fairfield. I’m sure we would be involved in fund raising efforts for a new facility, however, this is a county building that should be funded by the county.

We all have wants for our county, but let me be very clear – this is not a want. This is a critical need. I would like to request the following to happen immediately.

  1. Form an animal welfare committee to continue to discuss and solve these issues.
  2. Each of you, please visit the animal shelter including the intake building. I would be happy to meet each of you there.

Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society is an animal welfare organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for animals in South Carolina and advocate for their safety and well-being. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight.

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