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Aiken Co Shelter in SC Asleep at the Wheel?

The Aiken Co Animal Shelter in SC has an appalling kill rate of 86%. In order to improve, the County Council set aside $30,000 last year for a program offering spay-neuter vouchers to those in the community who qualified. Paws up! Unfortunately, the money has run out and there are still several months to go before any new money might be available in the new fiscal year. Even worse, the prevailing attitude seems to be: When faced with adversity, give up. Paws down.

Nine months in, the money ran out…during their busiest season. In the short time we were at the shelter, four more cats were brought in. Their future owners will have to hang on until next year’s budget passes, and another round of spay and neuter vouchers are up for grabs.

[Chief Enforcement Officer at the shelter, Bobby] Arthurs: “I feel like the county’s doing there part. I think it’s going to be left up to the citizens, next year, to use the voucher program, which it’s clear that a lot of them did, because we ran out of money in 9 months.”

I am loathe to tell anyone how to do their job but in the absence of any other ideas, I’m going to offer a few:

  1. Someone needed to be evaluating the use of the program’s funds on a monthly basis to make projections on future needs. When a shortfall was anticipated, steps should have been taken to address it. Perhaps contracted rates with Vets participating in the voucher program could be renegotiated to get through to the next fiscal year.
  2. Since apparently that was not done and the program is now buried on empty, steps should be taken to allow for the continuation of the program on a temporary basis until the new fiscal year starts. Again the contracted rates might be renegotiated, a community fundraiser might be in order and certainly reaching out to the media with an attitude beyond “Oh well” would be an important step in rallying community support.
  3. Give some area Vets the chance to be heroes! Rally the veterinary community, making them aware of the situation and ask if anyone can donate services to bridge the gap until the new fiscal year starts. People want to help.
  4. A report detailing the success and need for the program needs to be put together so that a convincing pitch can be made for more funding to the County Council at the next budget meeting. It may not be successful but it should at least be given an honest try!
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