Residents ask Fairfield County Council to do more

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Council is looking into making a change to its animal control ordinance, though some residents are asking leaders to do more.

On April 10, council members unanimously passed first reading of a vaguely phrased ordinance to “amend and restate” the existing animal control ordinance last adopted nearly five years ago.

The draft ordinance didn’t include further details and council chose to pass first reading by title only, so there was no discussion by council members.

A councilman told The Voice that the ordinance change will give the county the option to euthanize a dog without owner permission if that dog bites someone.

Councilman Dan Ruff said the county’s public affairs committee that he chairs plans to discuss the ordinance in greater detail at its next meeting. A notice was later posted that the committee would meet in council chambers at 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 19. The meeting was public.

Kathy Faulk, president of the Hoof and Paw Benevolent Society, addressed council during public comment outlining improvements that should be made to the ordinance.

She called upon council members to adopt an ordinance mirroring the City of Aiken’s animal control law, a law that she said has proven to be extremely successful.

Faulk cited statistics that said since 2005, the City of Aiken has halved its animal intake figures despite the city gaining 2,600 more residents in that time. 

The cost of addressing animal abuse cases dropped as well, falling from $80,000 to $64,000 from 2005 to 2015, according to figures Faulk cited.

Fairfield, meantime, continues to suffer from an inordinate number of animal surrenders and cases of animal abuse.

Faulk noted the county animal shelter has housed over 100 dogs for the past several months.

“People are surrendering neglected animals, dumping them in the woods and also leaving them behind when they move, abandoning them, leaving them to starve,” she said. “This is not the fault of the animals. It is the fault of negligent owners and backyard breeders.”

Ridgeway resident Randy Bright agreed, saying Fairfield’s dated animal control ordinance and dilapidated shelter conditions paint a grim picture that likely deters industry from expanding in Fairfield.

“It’s time to clean up our brand. It’s time to clean up our reputation,” Bright said. “This is not a county that cares about humane treatment of animals. This is not a county that will do something about it.”

Fairfield last updated its animal control ordinance in December 2018. At the time it was the first update in 11 years.

The law adopted in 2018 outlawed tethering and listed guidelines for dogs to wear harnesses connected to a trolley, similar to a zip line.

It also placed restrictions on animal hoarding, and added mandatory reporting of striking a pet with a motor vehicle or bicycle. Pets must also be fed daily and have access to potable water.

Residents say the law needs further strengthening.

“There’s nothing in this agenda that’s really moving anything forward,” Bright said.

County Admin Job Still Not Posted

In other news, during public comment time, former council member Jimmy Ray Douglas lamented the apparent lack of county job postings.

Specifically, he said the county administrator position still hasn’t been posted. Laura Johnson has been serving as interim administrator since January.

“Fairfield County does not advertise jobs that Fairfield County citizens can fill,” Douglas said. “The council has been working together for four months and I haven’t seen any advertisements for a new county administrator.”

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