Changes at Marion Co Animal Shelter in SC

Some of you may remember when a South Carolina politician, Kent Williams, adopted a German Shepherd bitch from the Marion Co Animal Shelter in order to breed her (in violation of state law). In 2008, after the bitch was left to roam the streets regularly and while in heat, she became pregnant and Senator Williams decided he didn’t want to deal with the problem he created so called Animal Control to pick her up when she was due to whelp. As this story unfolded, it shed light on the terrible conditions at the shelter.

A group called Paws to the Rescue took over the shelter from the county in October 2008:

Before Paws to the Rescue took over for the county, the shelter had no heat, animals turned in to the shelter were disappearing and often, they were left with no food or water.


The group has installed heaters in the dog runs and cat room, improved the living conditions for the animals turned in and provided medical care such as vaccinations and spaying and neutering of all cats and dogs adopted from the shelter. All dogs are tested for heartworm, and emergency care and treatment can begin right at the shelter if local veterinarians’ offices are closed.

Adult dogs and puppies are now kept separately to help guard against the risk of illnesses such as Parvo. The adult dogs are also allowed outside to play in large grassy areas while their kennels are cleaned every day.

“Mentally that’s very good for the dogs,” [executive director Jen] Nall said. “It keeps them from going cage crazy.”

The group also keeps male and female dogs separated to guard against fighting and more unwanted puppies.

Paws to the Rescue has also been able to team up with several rescue groups through out the county to transport dogs to shelters that have adopters waiting to provide homes for the unwanted animals. This weekend they will transport 20 dogs and puppies to rescues in the Northeast.

Volunteer Irene Miller uses Web sites such as and Facebook to spread the word about the animals available for adoption from the shelter.
“I Facebook, I Tweet, I foster dogs,” Miller said. “I’ll do anything I can.”

All sounds good. But the article also goes over the shelter’s 2009 kill numbers:

“We brought in 2,700 animals last year, which is two and one half the amount we thought we’d bring in,” Nall said. “We were able to get 750 either adopted or to rescue.”

That’s a kill rate of roughly 73%. I hope the community works with the shelter in 2010 in order to dramatically decrease the kill rate. So many positive changes have taken place already but if the end result is that nearly 3 out of every 4 pets entering the shelter wind up in the landfill, that’s not “change we can believe in”.

As for Senator Kent Williams, he won re-election in 2008 and his current term ends in 2012.

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