Officials in neighboring Darlington County are considering a spay/neuter ordinance.
Spurred by ever-increasing numbers of stray and unwanted dogs and cats, the Darlington County Humane Society recently proposed that Darlington County Council adopt a spay/neuter ordinance to curb the animal population.
Kathy McDonald of the Humane Society pitched the ordinance idea at council’s Dec. 3 meeting, saying it would save money and improve the quality of life for county residents.
She further justified the need for such a measure with a set of grim statistics. In 2011, the shelter took in 4,040 dogs and cats, of which 616 were adopted, 1,358 went to rescues, 77 were claimed by their owners, and 1,529 were euthanized.
McDonald said the number of animals taken in by Darlington County Humane Society has risen from 1,200 in 1998 to 4,331 through Nov 30 this year. Each animal costs the shelter $57 in housing and care, amounting to over $230,000 annually. $150,000 of that comes from county funding, with the balance covered by fund raising and donations.
McDonald noted that intake numbers are still rising, and euthanasia needs will eventually spike higher since out-of-state rescue shelters cannot continue to receive Darlington County animals at the current rate.
The spay/neuter ordinance McDonald presented is based on a successful model used in Richland County, framed on American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines. In Richland County, intake dropped by 11 percent, euthanasia dropped 20 percent, and shelter expenses fell by $104,256 over a 24-month period.
The model ordinance requires cat and dog owners to obtain a license from the county verifying their pet has been spayed or neutered. Permits would be offered for kennels or catteries, along with individual breeding licenses for specific animals. Details of fees, registration locations, and non-compliance penalties can be tailored to Darlington County’s specifications.
“The registration fees in this plan designated for implementing the ordinance would pay for the cost of the ordinance, the current expenses budgeted by codes enforcement, and add an animal health-trained deputy for the sheriff’s department,” said McDonald.
Council member Le Flowers suggested work-shopping the ordinance with Darlington County Humane Society in January so newly elected council members Robbin Brock and Bobby Kilgo could give input.